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Presenters and Review 2016

Guests of Honor: Phaedra Bonewits and Rev. Kirk Thomas

Phaedra Bonewits 


Ritual Participation Skills


The priest, priestess, or ritual facilitator in your magical or religious ceremonies can’t do everything themselves! Starting from the premise that ritual is a participatory activity, not a spectator sport, Phaedra will lead an exploration of the ways you can intensify your ritual experience. Something for everyone,  whether they’ve been to five hundred rituals or none at all.


The Life and Times of Isaac Bonewits

Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits (1949-2010) was a seminal figure in the history of late 20th century Neopaganism, beginning with his degree in Magic from UC Berkeley in 1970, his groundbreaking book, Real Magic, first published in 1971, and his founding of the largest Druid group in North American, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). Isaac’s widow, Phaedra, presents an irreverent but loving tribute to his life and work.




“Phaedra Bonewits, Neopagan teacher, writer, and initiate of several traditions of Wicca, Witchcraft and Hermetic Magic, thinks of herself as just another occult generalist who insulates her house with books.


In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Phaedra was a pioneer in public Pagan worship in Chicago where she was a founding member of Panthea Temple, was an active public Pagan in North Carolina, and served as national vice president of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). She been a presenter on the topics of magic, Tarot, and ritual at events throughout the US, has published many articles, and was a contributor to Llewellyn’s 2010 Witches’ Companion. Phaedra spent most of the ’00s in New York Druid-wrangling her late husband, Isaac Bonewits, with whom she co-authored Real Energy: Systems, Spirits, And Substances to Heal, Change, And Grow (New Page, 2007).”


Rev. Kirk Thomas 


The Celtic Arthur - Just who was he, anyway?


Most of us have grown up with the stories of King Arthur and Camelot, but are they the original tales? And just how old are they? Were they based, as some believe, on the life of a warrior King at the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain, or might there be other possibilities? This workshop, which includes a Powerpoint presentation, will explore the primary sources for the Arthur myth back to the 6th century CE, including historical, pseudo-historical and mythical ideas. We we also take a trance-journey to meet and talk with him.


Ancient Celtic Religion


Modern Neopaganism has drawn greatly from the lore of the early medieval Irish and Welsh, knowing that what we have now was handed down to us through the Christian monks and bards who preserved it for posterity.


But what do we know about the actual religions of the pre-Christian Celts? One common belief in modern times is that the Druids performed their rites in forest groves and glens, but is this supported by archeology and our primary sources? How did the Celts view the nature of deity? Can we trust the testimony of the writers of the ancient Mediterranean? This workshop, which includes a Powerpoint presentation, will explore the religions of pre-Roman Gaul and Britain as well as some of the religious changes that occurred during the Roman occupation.  




“Kirk Thomas is an Archdruid Emeritus of Ar nDraiocht Fein : A Druid Fellowship (ADF) and an ordained Senior Priest in that religion. He holds a Masters degree in Celtic Studies from the University of Wales - Trinity St. David as well as a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the University of New Mexico and a Certificate from the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, UK.


A resident of Washington State, USA, Kirk co-owns a retreat center and organic farm called Trout Lake Abbey, located at the base of Mt. Adams. He has built an impressive stone circle and Druidic sanctuary there where he plans to open an ADF seminary and intentional community. He spends much of his time traveling for ADF, visiting groves, solitaries and festivals, presenting on various topics and participating in public, group ritual.”



Other Presenters 


Rev. Melissa S. Burchfield, ADF Bard Laureate 


Sound and Ritual


Sound is a well-documented tool for inducing trance and raising energy, but too few pagans know how to use it to its fullest potential. In this workshop, we will begin by discussing the brain mechanics behind why it works to help us better understand this important tool. Once we have covered the whys, we will discuss the hows, including incorporating music into both public and private practice, appropriate song choice, and exercises using other vocalization techniques for magical workings such as the “Druid’s Hum,” intoning the Awen, and solitary and group toning. Please bring along an object to be charged, if desired and any healing requests you may have.




Missy is the current Bard Laureate and the first to achieve rank as a Master Bard in the Bardic Guild Study Program. She is also the founder of the Order of Bardic Alchemy, a subgroup of ADF whose practices center on the misty places where Bardic Arts meet Magic and Spirituality. She has published several articles and bardic pieces in the ADF quarterly publication, Oak Leaves, and the publication for the Reformed Druids of Gaia, The Druid’s Egg. She also served at the Editor-in-Chief of the ADF publication for four years. She is active in the local community and currently serves as the chair of the Prison Ministry Committee for ADF International. As a musician, she serves as the Bard of Mountain Ancestors Grove, ADF and was the winner of the 2010 Wellspring Bardic Chair.



Rev. William E Ashton, II 


Humanity: The Fourth Kindred

What does it mean to “get it” about racism, classism, heterosexism, cultural appropriation, privilege and so on? How can we talk to friends and colleagues about these issues? What should we “do with” privilege? How can we explore the detail and nuance of one aspect of oppression, without accidentally contributing to oppression in other ways? How does this all connect to my devotional polytheism/druidry? This workshop will explore some frameworks and tools for understanding systems of oppression, connect the ideas to participants' own experience, and identify steps they can take in their everyday lives toward collective liberation. 



Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rev. Ashton attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado where in 2007 he graduated with a degree in Religious Studies, minoring in Psychology. Currently residing in Longmont, CO, he is one of the Priests and founder of Mountain Ancestors Grove, ADF. First joining the ranks of Our Druidry in 1997, Rev. Ashton shortly thereafter went on religious walkabout for nearly a decade, taking time away from his polytheist practice. After much soul searching, he returned to ADF in 2009 with renewed perspective and awakened passion. On February 8th, 2014 he was ordained as a priest in ADF. He enjoys playing music, writing, human rights activism, social justice, community service, and sharing a larger vision of how a polytheist perspective can lead to human understanding, acceptance, and ultimately, gods be good, peace.   



Amber Araneae 


An Ancient History of Makeup and Warpaint: How to Reclaim it’s Ritualistic Symbolism in Contemporary Times. 


A historical global look at the ancient art form of body adornment through the use of ritual and social warpaint, cosmetics and makeup spanning from Greek and Rome, to Egypt, China, and North America (and more!). This workshop will include a discussion on various ancient cultures around the world as well as the current archaeology/anthropology discoveries on the subject of body paint/cosmetic use as well as a focus on modern pagan ritualistic symbolism and how to bring back a ferocity through enhancement inspired by the ancients. This workshop will focus on masculine,feminine and androgynous history in both Warfare and Beauty. 




Amber Araneae (or Spider) is a member of Columbia Grove ADF. As member of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), she practices ADF Druidry with a strong background in World Anthropology and Wicca. She is the current leader of Columbia Grove’s Dedicant Path study group as well as a member of the Bardic group and Warriors Guild. Amber identifies as a Neo-Druid, Celtic Polytheist, Green-Witch (Or any combination of those!) who works closely with the Nature Spirits, herbs/plants and honors the Celtic Hearth Culture. Currently she is a student at Portland State University in the Pre-Pharmacy program and working on her B.S. in Biological Chemistry.



Jonathan Levy 

Fortuna Blessing Ritual  


In this ritual, we will be making offerings to the Goddess Fortuna who is the Goddess of Luck, Fate, and Fortune (please bring offerings for ritual). We will be asking for blessings from the Goddess Herself to be bestowed upon us and the community. We will be following Ancient Roman customs of reciprocity and ritual style. Come experience and participate in an 2000+ year old inspired Roman ritual. No Experience is necessary! 




Jonathan has been a member of ADF since 2010. He started on the Pagan path back in 2004 with an interest in all things Roman. During this time,  he was working on a B.A in Classical studies at California State University, Northridge with a focus on Roman religion. He moved to Portland, Oregon where he started Columbia, ADF and was the Grove Organizer for two years. He had the honor of being elected  the first Senior Druid of the grove. Jonathan is also the founder and advisor to The Cosmic Oaks, ADF Prison Ministry group, which is ADF's second prison group in the whole organization. He helped create/lead Columbia Grove’s Homeless program as well as co-lead “Part the Mist” monthly podcast run by our Grove, He has completed the Dedicant program and currently accepted into the Initiates and working on Pre-CTP.



“I call for silence”
“We are silent. We trust in the Gods, we will put our hopes in the Gods”
“Ave, Fortuna”

This weekend Columbia Grove, ADF hosted their first Pan-Pagan camping festival, Beyond the Gates. The festival was held at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary which is a part of Trout Lake Abbey in Trout Lake, Washington, owned and operated by ADF Archdruid Emeritus Reverend Kirk Thomas and Venerable Kozen Sampson, a Thiên Buddhist monk. Around 35 guests attended this festival under the guiding shadow of Mount Adams, to partake in workshops and rituals. The event started at 1 pm on Thursday, July 7th, and concluded Sunday afternoon, July 10th at 12 pm. Workshops offered included those such as the Celtic Arthur and the Ancient Celtic Religion by Kirk Thomas, and Ritual Participation and the Life and Times of Isaac Bonewits, offered by Phaedra Bonewits, author of Real Energy. Other ADF priests and members of Columbia Grove, ADF offered a variety of workshops as well.


The festival offered two main rituals, in addition to the opening and closing rituals on Thursday and Sunday. The event that makes this festival stand out was a ritual to the goddess Fortuna that dates back to the Roman Republic which was held on Saturday night. It was held in the Druid Sanctuary’s Stone Circle, and was honoring gods that were purely of the Roman Republic culture, honoring the contracts that were made with the gods in ancient days. Columbia Grove’s Senior Druid Jonathan Levy was joined by the grove’s Bard leader, Arin Hembd. Festival attendees purified themselves from a bowl of water as the skies opened up over them, offering it’s own gentle, purifying rain. The rain continued as Arin read the same Latin words that were part of a 2186 year old ritual from 170 BCE, and Jonathan interpreted the ritual, leading the offerings. The rain cleared up as festival guests stood to make their own offerings to Fortuna under a rainbow, and the sun broke through the clouds for the duration of the ritual; the rain only returned at the conclusion of the rite.


Jonathan Levy does not consider himself a Roman reconstructionist; he follows a Roman Republic path with reconstructionist tendencies, honoring those gods that are of Roman origin, before the syncretism of Roman deities with the Greek and Near-Eastern deities. His decision to do a ritual to Fortuna was made under the consideration that She has had an unbroken following, albeit unconsciously. Under many guises and forms this goddess is worshipped continuously through the present time, with such examples of “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” from the musical Guys and Dolls and phrases like, “How fortunate you are.”

On Saturday night, the event’s main ritual took place, with an emphasis on unity between the Hearth cultures honored by Columbia Grove, in hopes to create a more modern and amicable relationship between followers of those Hearth cultures. In addition, Kirk Thomas, having been deputized by current Archdruid Reverend Jean “Drum” Pagano, presented Reverend Melissa “Missy” Burchfield with the token of her office of ADF Bard Laureate. Next, as part of the rite the ADF Unity Cauldron was used to pour the Waters of Unity for all present, and to extend unity outwards to all of ADF and all of Pagandom. Finally, Reverend William E. Ashton II called a prayer for peace, in this time of upheaval and chaos, and called for us all to take action to support our brothers and sisters across all communities.

The festival was a rousing success, and Columbia Grove hopes to be able to continue future Beyond the Gates festivals. Guests mentioned feeling as though they truly were Beyond the Gates when entering the property of Trout Lake Abbey, which has a deeply sacred feeling. Trout Lake Abbey also boasts a hostel and bed and breakfast, as well as public rituals for each of the eight high holy days in the location’s own stone circle.


Jonathan and Arin also interviewed the Reverends Kirk Thomas, Melissa “Missy” Burchfield and William E. Ashton II, as well as Phaedra Bonewits. Watch for future episodes of their podcast “Part the Mist” to listen to these interviews, found at, and look for the books Real Energy written by Phaedra and Isaac Bonewits and Sacred Gifts by Kirk Thomas on Amazon.

Beyond the Gates Review 2016

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