Statement: Residential Schools

As spiritual people, with an understanding that we, too, are tied to the land, all of us here at Spiral Moon mourn the deaths of children whose graves have only recently been found at a few schools in Canada…and we mourn for the children whose graves are yet to be discovered, both in Canada and the US.

There were more than twice as many residential schools in the US as in Canada, and their history is just as challenging. Records show that about 1/4 of children never came home…but in many communities, the oral tradition says it was closer to half.

As an Indigenous person, I’ve known about residential schools, or “Indian boarding schools” for about as long as I can remember. My great grandparents attended one, as did my grandmother’s sister (who was actually a cousin they adopted when her family died in a cholera outbreak). We always thought my grandmother hadn’t attended one, because the stories she told us were ones where she lived at home and walked to the day school (and walked home for lunch), but it came out in the last few years that after her mother died, she was also sent to a residential school because her father didn’t really know what to do with a small child, after spending much of his childhood in an abusive situation at a school two days’ ride from home.

Their stories, sanitized for small ears, still told the impossibly awful situations they endured – so awful that they did not teach my grandmother any traditional knowledge, hoping to spare her from their fate. I don’t think she was any less traumatized by school than they were, but she also had their trauma to deal with.

We will be making plans for some sort of vigil or prayer service in the near future. Stay tuned for details.

New Chat Schedule

I’m in the process of getting these on the Google calendar and Facebook and Eventbrite. There’s so much organizing to do just for something simple like this – I miss the days when you sent a couple emails and posted fliers in a few businesses 🙂

a planner layout for a weekly calendar, done on square graph paper with abstract black and white triangles around the border.
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Generally speaking, the rules of all of our chats are the same: All are welcome, as long as you’re following our general rules: play nice, no bigotry of any sort, no spam. If you aren’t following the rules you will be removed from the chat, and if you are removed more than once you’re subject to being banned from the chats and/or all SMFC events, groups, and functions. Issues outside of these chats that are brought to us will follow our standard policies on harassment and safeguarding.

For the month of June, all meetings except possibly the youth meetings, will be held virtually. July will be determined in late June. Please check Google calendar or the Facebook events for the links.

First Sunday of the Month

2:00 pm: Youth group (ages 5-11, most likely)
3:00 pm: Youth group (ages 12-17, most likely)

Second Sunday of the Month

2:00 pm: Welcome Wagon Chat. New to the area? New to being Pagan? New to the group? Not new at all? It’s all good, all are welcome, come with questions and we’ll talk about the community.
3:00 pm: Disability Chat. For all disabled Paganfolk, whether that’s disabled in the legal/government sense or in the chronic condition that might result in the legal definition.

Third Sunday of the Month

2:00 pm: Social Justice Chat. This chat will center around social justice issues in the Pagan community, and in a broader sense, with a goal of working towards more just communities. We will be discussing hard topics, so bring your grown-up pants and be ready to work. Social justice includes, but is not limited to: racism, climate change, voting rights, healthcare access, food security, refugee issues, gun violence, and sex & gender related issues.
3:00 pm: Parenting Chat. All things Pagan Parenting.

Fourth Sunday of the Month

2:00 pm: POC Chat. This space will be centered around the needs of Black, Indigenous, and other Pagans of color. Note that this is not about skin tone per se, but about culture and lived experience. This is not to say that white people cannot join and listen in, but the conversation is not about you, and your insistence on centering yourself will result in your removal.
3:00 pm: Community Chat. Our monthly community chat. Come say hi, talk about what’s going on in the community, ask questions, etc. All are welcome.

Fifth Sunday of the Month (when there is one)

2:00 pm: SMFC business meeting. Current status of the organization and next steps.

Sprites and Sparks: In Person Sometime Soon!

Howdy folks. We’ve been organizing and such behind the scenes the last few weeks, and trying to get our arms around the ever-changing covid requirements.

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Child with long braided hair blowing a dandelion.

To that end:

As a starting point, we’ll be hosting an informational meeting for our youth program, Sprites and Sparks, on Sunday, May 23, at 2 pm. This will be a virtual meeting. Please see the facebook event or the google calendar event for link.

Our plan right now is to meet once a month, and to break kids into 2 groups: 11 and under and 12 and up, meeting one after the other (so, likely one at 1 pm and the other at 2 pm, or something along those lines). Eventually it will almost certainly work better to break each of these groups into smaller groups as well, but we will need more adults (with background checks) and enough kids to make sure each group has enough people to be functional.

Each month we will have 1 meeting (hopefully in person), that is educational – something mythology or magic or spirituality related. It’s currently anticipated that this will be the first Sunday of the month, in the afternoon, and that we will be outside, at least through the summer and into the fall.

Adults will brainstorm themes as a group at the planning meeting to get us started. In addition to our educational theme, we will have some free play/social time. Meetings will last approximately 1 hour.

We will also (hopefully) arrange field trips and other events during the rest of the month. These will depend on students’ interests and may require additional fees. Again, this will be a mixture of things – some just for fun, some charity type projects, some more educational, and so on.

Rules for these meetings will be:

  • Parent or responsible adult must stay on site for anyone under age 15
  • For all those age 2 and up, masks must be worn during the educational portion but can be removed when at least 6 feet away from our meeting space, such as during play/social time. (This is in line with childcare and school guidelines, and while it may seem extreme to some, we also know that a number of people in our community, including most younger children, cannot be vaccinated. These members of our community need our help to protect them. As a family-oriented organization, we take the stance that we always stand on the side of protecting those in our community who are most at risk.).
  • Free for children of Spiral Moon General or Supporting members. Dues of $1/student/meeting for non-members
  • Parent or adult is responsible for their student’s behavior

Can’t make our meetings? Too far to drive? No worries – you can join our program, and find details on our Sprites and Sparks page and register your family as an independent group, and we’ll share our monthly plans with you.

Statement: Politicians and Witchcraft

As the head of a religious organization with members who may consider themselves witches, and someone who often refers to themselves as a witch, I was dismayed and disgusted to hear that the chair of the Michigan Republican party, while in our area for an event this week, felt the need to not only call other elected officials in our state (including our governor) witches, but to state that they should be burned at the stake, and then to suggest that others in his own party could only be removed from office by assassination or by voting them out.

Our elected officials should be representing all of their constituents. Not just the ones they like. And this sort of statement, while masquerading as a joke, is deadly serious, given recent actions spurred on by elected officials, including threats against the governor. It’s sexist, misogynistic, and religiously bigoted at best.

Statement of Solidarity

It seems that violence has become far too common here in the United States, and it’s most often caused by “home grown” extremists, who make judgments based on race, sex, gender, orientation, and more. With this pandemic, there has been a history of increasing violence against Asian-Americans, in ways that parallel other situations and other minority groups in the past.

This week, we mourn the victims of the shootings in Atlanta.

We condemn all violence, but particularly violence based in racism and misogyny. We stand with our Asian-American and Pacific Islander friends, family, and neighbors.

Funding, Funding, Funding

It’s been relatively inexpensive thus far to get everything up and running, but our next big steps are a little more pricey: It will take approximately $300 to incorporate as a church and file for 501(c)3 recognition. The incorporation will give us the ability to open a bank account, and will give us the ability to give receipts for donations, file for grants, do other fundraisers, and more.

To that end, we have a couple of fundraisers, with more to follow.

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Photo by John Guccione www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

First is Pagan Soup. We set this up several months back without choosing an initial recipient of the proceeds, but we’ll be going first because the paperwork cannot wait. If you want to get in on the soup kits, you have until the 7th to register. I’ll be telling you what we’ve got going on and what our plans are. $5 to attend, $15 if you want a soup kit mailed to you. Tickets available on eventbrite (link is in the facebook event).

Our next Pagan Soup event will be around Beltane, and if you are interested in your organization or business being a recipient of funds from Soup, please contact us, because we’ll be looking for new recipients for each event.

Second is the ever-popular merch shop. Everyone has one these days, so why not us? The first items should populate sometime today (Wednesday) but we’ll be adding more. If there are things you’d like to see, comment below or message the page and I’ll work on it. More designs coming soon too.

We’ll see how far that gets us – I’d like to think that additional fundraisers won’t be needed yet, but I’m also being realistic and making future plans. Maybe readings, maybe reiki, maybe something else – if you’ve got some ideas, let me know!

Once the paperwork is all in place, we’ll be working on setting up an indiegogo to get our building opened. The building plan includes a store, classes, and other options that should make it self sustaining once we get it open.

Imbolc Updates

Blessed Imbolc to you!

I know Imbolc is supposed to be a cue to us that spring is coming, but we’ve had the most snow all winter in the past week here, and it’s really just not improving my attitude about winter. It’s harder for those of us who are mostly self-isolating due to covid, because it somewhat limits our ability to be outside of the house (which is one of the few breaks we have from each other right now). This summer, my children were happy to play in the hose all afternoon every day…the snow is another story entirely.

So, what’s going on here at SMFC? It’s been a busy couple of months.

Membership forms are live for SMFC, the library, and Sprites and Sparks.

The Community Services Hub page is populated with lots of resources. If you have more suggstions or have questions about finding resources, please post them.

We have 8 virtual chats scheduled every month. Attendance is not always amazing, but I think this is the sort of thing that will have to continue consistently for some time before we consistently have good attendance.

We have published an anti-harassment policy and a safeguarding policy.

The library is just about completely cataloged – 437 items, with a stack of a couple dozen books and several dozen magazines left to go.

There’s an indiegogo in the works to fund our public space, Center of the Spiral. Watch for that going live in a few weeks.

And there are several related FB groups created:

Spiral Moon Community Discussions – most of our virtual chat nights happen in rooms in this group, but this is also the space for general discussion, questions, announcements, and more.

Pagan Homeschoolers in Michigan – there are a ton of homeschool groups in Michigan, but a huge percentage of them are Christian based, and it seemed like we should have one of our own. There are a couple of general Pagan Homeschooling groups out there, but they’re world wide.

Pagan Special Needs Homeschooling – Special ed homeschooling groups in particular often run to the Christian side of things, assuming you can find any special needs support at all.

Acommodating Disability in Pagan Children’s Programming – One thing I’ve personally been working on over the last year is talking about why we should include every child, and how to do that. More people doing more to include children is good.

It’s a lot of work – a lot of organizing. I’m hoping that we can grow our membership over the next few months and get some volunteers to cover some of the chats and such. But until then, I will keep plugging away at it.

Happy Imbolc!

On Including Children

I want to tell you a little bit about why we’re so focused here on families, and on including children in what we do.

A big part of it, for me, is that I’ve always found it odd how we leave them out. By doing so, we leave out parents who might otherwise volunteer for things. We leave out people who most need to make those spiritual connections as their lives change – the people who need support and magic. And we leave out the children, no matter what age they are. They may not be ready for some types of workings, but to not tell them the stories of our gods seems strange to me, and to let them unlearn the magic they see in the world and then have to re-learn as adults is just silly.

As I’ve done work to regain the cultural knowledge that my Indigenous family lost to boarding schools, I’ve realized that the way we raise children now is decidedly different than the way other cultures do…and decolonizing our views on children and child-rearing matters. If you want to learn more, search “decolonizing parenthood” and you’ll find lots of info.

Which is *still* not to say that everyone should have kids, or that they’re somehow going to make your life better. That’s a choice each of us has to make for ourselves, and there is no right or wrong answer that works for every person or every family.

But it *is* up to all of us, whether we have children or not, to protect those who are vulnerable from abuse, and relegating them to a back corner somewhere doesn’t actually protect them.

I always encourage people in our community to read the book, “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” – I have it on Kindle, hit me up if you want to borrow it. The book is about how important it is to support families with children in social movements.

A Hard Candy Holiday

The holidays are hard for a lot of people most years – and this year in particular has been brutal. There’s an old turn of phrase, a “Hard Candy Christmas,” referring to years where the only gifts are penny candy – the old fashioned ribbon candy that you can buy this time of year. My grandmother told of years where a scoop of candy and an orange were her only gifts, but they were grateful to all be together.

But being together is not even possible this year for most of us – social distancing means no visiting, and so many have lost loved ones this year. It’s painfully against all the things we do this time of year to battle the darkness around us, to light a candle in our own hearts to get us through the worst of the winter.

I understand how hard this is for many. December 22, 1989, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. I remember being home with my brothers, playing with dad’s Christmas train, showing my youngest brother, then 8 months old, how to make it go. I remember my cousin knocking on the front door, and saying that she was coming to stay with us for a few hours, because grandpa was dead (we didn’t know that, but I knew from the phone call I had taken earlier from grandma asking dad to come right away, that something was terribly wrong). The rest of that week involved our Christmas morning, the wake, getting my braces off, the funeral, and my 14th birthday…which I shared with my great-grandmother, who was turning 84 the week her oldest child had died.

It was a tough holiday. And so was the rest of the next year.

This year, I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to friends and family near and far – by phone or zoom or text. Make ways to reach out. Join some of our chats. Ask for help if you need it – whether that’s for things like food or just for someone to talk to.

And here’s hoping that next year, this will all be dramatically better for all of us.

The Library!

So, a while back I said we were working on a library that would be available to the public and to our members. And here we are, it’s slow going, but it’s a start.

The shelves are overflowing!

There are over 200 books here to catalog, and I’m trying to add 10-20 a day. The membership form is up, and we’ll be setting up accounts starting after Yule. Checkout will be porch pickup/drop off for the most part, but I will be adding a by-mail option soon.

So, stop by https://library.janetcallahan.com/ and check it out – guest login info is on the page. I’m sure there are edits that will need to be made as we go, but I’m excited to have it up and running!

If all is working as planned, you will be able to suggest new resources for the library to acquire as well as check books and periodicals out. Eventually, we would like to have a brick-and-mortar space with set open hours for people to stop by and check out books (among other things).

Happy reading!

Spiral Moon Church

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