In 2001, I began Seeker (introductory) classes with a small tradition in the Twin Cities Minnesota that had been running since 1997. The training group was named Circle of the Phoenix (CotP), and the tradition as a whole is known as Omphalos Tri-Cellan (OTC).
We are a structured religious witchcraft tradition with a three-degree initiatory system as well as tradition-specific practices and mysteries. We value our thorough training methods, thoughtful ritual design, and a focus on self-transformation, as well as a strong ethical base.
We consider ourselves a priestess-run tradition, when someone needs to make final decisions, but prefer to work by consensus as much as possible. I prefer a model where the people doing the majority of the work to make something happen get the most say in how that work is done.
A detailed discussion of the influences on the tradition is something I find easier to do in person (where I can answer questions directly.)
Religious witchcraft rather than Wicca
As a tradition, OTC has many elements of traditional Wiccan practice. These include ritual work in a circle, focus on initiatory and religious mystery experiences, combined magical and spiritual practice, and shared work with specific deities.
However, we have moved away from gender polarity while continuing to explore energetic differences as a force for creativity and new potential, and we have some other differences and tradition practices as a result.
Ideally we would have two ritual leaders (a High Priestess and a High Priest), along with help from other people in the circle for specific roles. However, we’re open to some alternate options in most cases, and do not gender-limit who takes which role.
(We’re more interested in the specific energy flows someone handles well than their gender identity or biology. The tradition has a sizeable number of LGBT members.)
What that means for ritual
The tradition practice is to honour and work with different deities at different times. In the past, this has meant working with the same pair of deities for most Esbat rituals, and different deities for Sabbat rituals, depending on the focus, people who are designing and leading the ritual, and other factors.
Our Sabbat cycle is based on self-transformation: it recognises and incorporates aspects of the natural agricultural cycle without being focused on it.
Our rituals most often involve reflective experiences such as guided meditations or pathworkings, divination, or interaction with deity through various means, but we also do magical workings on occasion. Drawing Down or aspecting is a part of our tradition in certain circumstances.
Each group member is also encouraged and supported in establishing connections and relationships with deities they personally honour, work with, or worship. The deities we honour in ritual are deities willing to work in partnership, but are not necessarily lovers or in a parent-child relationship, as is common in some other traditions.
In group work, there are certain tradition practices (the structure of our circle, some specific texts and practices) that are consistent across the tradition. Others are specific to the coven, as decided by the coven leadership. Individuals are encouraged to develop their own personal practices for their own ritual use.
How has Phoenix Song been different than the Circle of the Phoenix?
My original desire in forming a separate group was to explore the difference between a teaching centred coven and a working coven, while also going more deeply into some areas of particular interest to me.
(I adore teaching, but at the time, I was working as a school librarian in a high school, and found that some of the demands of my job and the demands of a teaching-focused group got to be a little too much of the same thing.)
I also wanted the chance to explore some areas of interest to me that weren’t a strong shared interest with CotP. These include:
- music, rhythm, and movement in ritual and daily practice.
- mixing intellectual curiousity with direct experience.
- seeking dynamic balance between all the areas of our lives.
- deep conversations, good food, and liminal spaces.
I’m still on good terms with other people in the tradition, and look forward to seeing them when I’m visiting Minnesota (which I do more or less yearly) but Circle of the Phoenix no longer exists as a group.
I find it hard to answer the question “How long have you been Pagan?” I was certainly aware of modern Paganism back in high school, and began exploring some particular practices of energy theory (centering, grounding, shielding) in college but was still active as a Catholic, especially in music ministry. I’ve always had a strong interest in mythology, and always been more or less a polytheist in theory, if not in practice.
In 1999, I moved to Minnesota and knew I wanted to look seriously at other religions. I spent more than a year doing a lot of reading, trying things out, and then going to public rituals hosted by the Covenant of the Goddess in the Twin Cities. This made me certain I wanted to look for small group work.
I began Seeker classes (a series of 5 introductory classes) with CotP in May of 2001 and became a Dedicant that fall. I spent 2002 working through the year of Dedicant training and was initiated to the first degree in February 2003.
At that point, I began teaching Seeker classes, taking on larger roles in ritual planning and leadership, and doing various other things to support the group work. My second degree initiation was in late 2005, and my third degree in 2007.
In 2008, I hived off to form Phoenix Song and spent about a year and a half slowly building our own coven practices and working with several students, before health issues and then a major job change led to my move to Maine. In 2015, I moved back to Massachusetts, where I’d grown up and gone to college.
Other Pagan things I do
In 2004, I got involved with the Twin Cities Pagan Pride organization and was a board member from 2006 until I moved out of Minnesota in the summer of 2011. I was one of the co-founders of Paganicon, a hotel-based spring conference for Pagans, as well as Programming Chair for the Twin Cities Pagan Pride days each fall.
Driving distances made it difficult to be as active in Maine, but I presented at Southern Maine Pagan Pride Day in 2013, and I’m enjoying finding more ways to connect with Pagans in the Boston area.
I do a lot of writing and online conversation about related topics (see my Seeking site, for one of the more obvious ones), and am working on several book-length projects. I’ve had several articles in Llewellyn almanacs.
Currently, I am doing occasional workshops for Boston area Pagans through a collaboration with the Cornucopia Collective, and occasionally show up at their rituals.
Other things about me it may help to know
I like words. A lot. You might already have guessed this.
I am a librarian in my early 40s. Home includes one cat (Astra), a lot of books, a folk harp, and a moderate amount of fiber (I knit).
Librarianship is very much part of my personal religious practice: I care deeply about connecting people with information that makes their lives better in some way. Particular interests include how we find and use information, issues around privacy and technology, group dynamics, and accessibility.
I work in a special library setting in the Boston area, and I’ve worked in a high school library and a small public university in the past.
I’m passionate about connecting people with information that helps them or makes their lives easier, and this is just as true in my Craft life as it is in my professional life. I’m particularly interested in how we find and use information, issues around privacy and technology, and issues of accessibility.
Boston is the city I grew up in (different suburb), and I’m so delighted to be home now, and near a number of long-term friends. I’ve also lived for 12 years in Minnesota, and 3.5 years in rural Maine.
The Seeking site gives a good overview of how I approach the basics of witchcraft and teaching. Blog posts include information about my personal practice.
I have a small research consulting business, Seek Knowledge, Find Wisdom, focused on providing research services and skill support to people with esoteric and eclectic research needs.
[Last updated: January 2020]