One of my main objectives going into this conference was to meet Phyllis Curott. I had become aware of her at the preliminary session held last April at the Salt Palace. She was quite different from the other presenters at that meeting and a little research provided her identity and a bit of her background. To discover that she is a Wiccan High Priestess and a high-ranking figure in the Parliament was surprising and intriguing. I purchased two of her books on witch-crafting and read them over the summer in preparation for October. I am not a believer and will remain skeptical forever. Her own story is a good read and her approach to her craft has refined my own thinking towards my own experiences. She was very busy¬† over those five days, but she always had time to chat with attendees, with a warm, personable manner and sense of humor. Her accomplishment of the Inaugural Women’s Assembly will be remembered for a long time to come.

My interest in Wicca coincides with my interest in cultural astronomy. Wicca has no orthodoxy or organizational hierarchy so emphasis on content and orientation varies from group to group. There does seem to be some consistency in following the phases of the moon and observing the seasonal solar cycle. There is a component of astrology that some utilize more than others. Much of the particulars of Wicca and paganism were not discussed. A greater emphasis was overall placed on the role of women in religion: as participants, officiants, and objects of worship. A complementary theme also addressed honoring the earth, particularly in its feminine aspect, and the manifestations of the feminine in the moon and Venus. Honoring the earth and nature extends to honoring the landscape of the sky.

One Wiccan practice is the creation of the ceremonial circle. The four cardinal directions are addressed and ritualized. The order proceeds around clock-wise (deosil), their direction of inclusion. Counter-clockwise (widdershins) desacralizes the circle in banishment. My perspective as a star-gazer faces the north celestial pole, around which the sky rotates in a counter-clockwise direction. Maybe this is why my life is so deficient!

Curott has given me a certain amount on validation for the pathway on which I am embarking. She was aware enough to realize the benefit I would derive from attending the Ancient/Modern Earth-Based Paradigms session and to follow up on Pat McCabe’s (Woman Stands Shining) presentation.