TWH –Belladonna LaVeau and Dusty Dionne of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) are on the road right now, bringing a message from Demeter out from their Washington state headquarters to Pagans as far and wide as they can reach. At its core, it’s a message to step up efforts to care for the planet, and it’s being delivered in ritual form at venues ranging from living rooms to festivals. It’s been dubbed the “World Love Tour.”
Belladonna LaVeau, the church’s archpriestess, explained that several threads were woven together in creating this plan. She and Dionne had been planning to visit a number of ATC groups this year as a way to help members of this wide-reaching organization maintain a common culture. Dionne had been toying with a t-shirt design he called the “World Love Tour” for over a year. During this year’s Spring Mysteries Festival, the largest annual ATC event, the message of stewardship was delivered, along with a request that it be brought to others.
“[Demeter] was very concerned about the state of the world and her children’s inability to have clean water, healthy food, and a lifestyle that supports a connection to her,” LaVeau explained, and further, the goddess “asked to be taken to her children, so she could share her concerns and give them the missing piece of magic to reclaim their freedom and find their way back to a life of health and happiness,” making the planned visits an obvious platform upon which to build.
Dionne and LaVeau could not finance the additional travel, nor was there money in the ATC treasury to fund it. What they had were divine assurances that support would be provided, and they acted in accordance with that promise.
Dionne finalized the design for his World Love Tour shirts, and began selling them to raise money. That and donations received have indeed provided enough money for the pair; they have also been sheltered and fed by people along the way, prompting LaVeau to say, “It’s been a blessing to do this work and watch [Demeter] come through on her promise.”
The goddess has asked them to maintain a state of gratitude, LaVeau said, but Demeter is not satisfied with thoughts and prayers alone. Offerings are also expected at every stop on their tour.
“We have a strand of garnets, and some lavender that we have been giving at each stop to express thanks.” Making offerings ties directly into being grateful, LaVeau explained, and that’s in turn tied into the message brought forth during the ritual, which itself is called “Demeter’s Garden.”
Attendance at these rituals has ranged from as few as 10 at private covensteads to upwards of 50. “The only time [Demeter] was disappointed with the number of people who attended was once where there were hundreds of Pagans walking by at a day festival, and only a handful attended. She broke down after the ritual and began to cry,” said LaVeau.
LaVeau and Dionne need very little support to lead the ritual, but invariably get a lot of help. Care and handling of Demeter’s sacred artifacts they take upon themselves, but “”it has been fun to work with the many different groups” which host and support the ritual. Members of those groups also cast the sacred circle in their own way.
The message is one Demeter has been giving to her priests for years, “but because the message is inconvenient and requires a lifestyle change many of her children don’t want to listen, even when she takes the time to come and tell them while incarnated in flesh.” Structurally, “the ritual is a little different each time, and some rituals have touched those who have attended to such a degree that new songs have been created and shared, and carried from circle to circle by those who have had the opportunity to see the ritual more than once.” The entire ritual lasts about an hour.
For those who have not visited Demeter’s Garden or wish to return, LaVeau laid out their upcoming plans. “We will be at Michigan Pagan Festival over the summer solstice. Then we have two more stops at the Red Grail in Lincoln, Nebraska and Children of the Crossroads in Spokane, Washington. Then we will be back in Seattle and will share the ritual with the Mother Church, who have yet to see it, and Crescent Moon in Tacoma on July 28th. We will also do this ritual on Secondlife at the campus of WiccanSeminary.edu on July 29, so that everyone anywhere can come online and get the message that they may have missed.”