WASHINGTON — In a modest apartment, David Salisbury leads seven of his fellow Witches in a ritual around a small table as documentary filmmaker Patrick J. Foust records the ceremony. This ritual, however, is quite different from the placid dumb supper held by Salisbury and friends that Foust had captured the previous Samhain. The table is covered with not only branches, tealight candles, an athame, and a small cauldron sitting atop a disc-shaped pentacle, but also a five-dollar bill painted red — to symbolize blood — and a piece of paper with the huge block letters “NRA.”
The voice of Salisbury, who is one of the leaders of Firefly House, is more strident, too: “Hone in on our intention. This tragedy of rampant gun violence, murder, mass killings – all these terrible, painful things that we are seeking to stop, to put an end to this night . .
“There is no escape from the cycle.” – Richard Ravish, With Love from Salem
Like another recent documentary involving modern Pagans that I enjoyed, Alex Mar’s “American Mystic,” Karagan Griffith’s “With Love from Salem” is not an introduction or history lesson, but is instead a portrait of a belief system, a culture, in action. It follows Richard and Amy Ravish, Wiccan clergy who led rituals on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts for more than 20 years. While ostensibly about their Samhain ritual and procession on its 20th anniversary, what emerged to me on my viewing was surprisingly personal, an intimate look at the lives of two elders whose duty to Salem has become deeply intertwined with their faith, their friendships, and how they interact with community.
The mere mention of Salem, Massachusetts can be divisive within modern Pagan circles, with some Witches and Wiccans decrying the tourist-drawing Mardi Gras-like atmosphere around Halloween, and the Witches who have embraced that spirit of spooky fun as well.
On June 12th, I reported on an upcoming documentary focusing on the Temple of Nine Wells in Salem, Massachusetts, and the lives of Richard and Gypsy Ravish, entitled “With Love From Salem.” Directed by Karagan Cratty Griffith, and produced by Logios Projects/Red Bird Productions, the first trailer for the film has been released.
Richard Ravish was one of the original “Witches of Salem,” and passed away in 2012 at the age of 59. Priestess Amy “Gypsy” Ravish is a popular Pagan singer-songwriter known for her albums “Enchantress” and “Spirit Nation.” Together they led Sabbats with the Temple of Nine Wells in Salem, Massachusetts for over 20 years. They helped shape the unique spirit that is modern religious Witchcraft in Salem, a spirit that is deeply entwined with those accused and executed for the crime of witchcraft in 1692. “Salem is, on it’s own merit and historically so, a mark in American history.
Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! A documentary focusing on the Temple of Nine Wells, and the lives of Richard and Gypsy Ravish, entitled “With Love From Salem,” has announced that they’ve nearly completed the project.
Two weeks ago, I reported on the production and release of the film The WinniPagans by Dodie Graham McKay. Shortly after that article was posted, Covenant of the Goddess’ North California Local Council (NCLC) offered to host a screening at PantheaCon. The screening will be held in presidential suite 1054 on Sunday, February 17 at 10am. Dodie will be on hand to field questions and take comments. Last week I was fortunate enough to receive my very own copy for review. It wasn’t long after my trip to the mailbox that I was comfortably settled into to my seat, popcorn in hand, to watch the film. In anticipation of the U.S. premiere of The WinniPagans, here is my review:
Film Review: The WinniPagans
The twenty-five minute documentary is a gentle examination of Pagan life through the eyes of the WinniPagans. Dodie takes us on a journey into their personal lives, their homes, their workplaces, and their social spaces. On camera, the WinniPagans share stories, reflect on experiences and discuss the unique regional challenges that they face in Winnipeg. The film feels like a sampling or an appetizer, if you will, to something much greater. It gives us a peak behind a curtain into something that seems foreign but, yet, at the same time very familiar.