Dear CAYA Coven,
Blessings of the benevolent Ancestors to you, this holy day and every day. May all of you reading this be suffused with love, health, happiness, and wealth!
As one of America's largest eclectic, Interfaith Pagan organizations, Come As You Are Coven is a living, evolving, breathing community that manifests a wide variety of structural, policy, and practical shifts from year to year, to best keep up the the dynamic needs of our Congregants. Please take a moment to read the following report and learn more about some of our more notable programs, shifts and changes in 2012.
CAYA provides open, public rituals, events, and service opportunities year-round, and all are welcome to attend whichever of these you might find interesting. For those who wish to make a more formal commitment to our Coven, and who may have interest in pursuing Public Clergy Training in the Wildflower Tradition, the first step is via the Aspirant/Dedicant program. This program is a year-long training consisting of once-per-month classes and invitation-only events that offer an open window on CAYA's diverse approaches to Eclecticism, Ethics, Ritual, Deity, Community-building, and more. It is also an opportunity for CAYA Clergy and Aspirants to become familiar with one another in preparation for the possibility of working together as Clergy in the future. For some, the Clergy path is not the immediate or obvious choice. Those who complete the Aspirant Training and are not prepared to apply for Initiation may comfortably continue to remain in close community with us as Dedicants. This year, CAYA is enjoying working with 4 "pinned" Dedicants who have completed the training, and 7 Aspirants who will be continuing to take classes until they graduate from the program and receive their pentacle pins in February. Our new Aspirant Training begins in March of 2013, and applications for Aspirant Training will go out to the CAYA list in December of 2012. Blessed be the Aspirants and Dedicants!
Currently, CAYA Coven's Wildflower Tradition is working with 8 Initiates in our year-and-a-day Public Clergy Training program. This rigorous training involves aspects of ritual service, event planning, voluntarism in the wider community, monthly group day retreats, helping to teach the Aspirant classes, a detailed reading list, and a vast amount of personal magical work. You might have noticed that Heather, Joyce, Gina, Jenn, Yansumi, Temperance, Skip, and Melissa are busy as bees at our events! Next time you see them, give them a pat on the back and a word of encouragement as they round this Samhain corner into the deepest, most intense period of their Initiation, which will culminate in Ordination as Priest/esses and full admission to the Wildflower Collective in March of 2013. As their teacher, I could not be more proud of the great work they are doing, publicly and personally, to prepare for this big commitment in their spiritual lives and our community. Blessed be, Initiates!
Clergy Service Track System
Since our Coven's inception in 2005, CAYA Clergy have typically worked together in a unified and ever-expanding group to plan all rituals, events and projects. This year, in light of the fact that we now have 37 full-time, ordained CAYA Clergy members (including Initiates), we launched a new Service Track System for Clergy. This new system has streamlined our efforts and made them more productive (fewer cooks in the kitchen!), allows individuals to give their focus to their particular areas of strength and skill, and will help to support the Clergy in sustainable growth toward greater skill in new areas in the future. Ordained CAYA Clergy may now choose to offer their hands, minds, voices, and hearts to one of three Tracks per year, with the opportunity to work in all three Tracks over time as they wish: Ritual Service (planning and delivering our Sabbats and Full Moon Circles); Events Service (planning and delivering the retreats and events that serve the Aspirants, Dedicants, and Clergy); or Public Service (planning and delivering fundraisers, community volunteer opportunities, and conducting a year-long personal voluntarism project). Under the supervision of the CAYA High Council and the guidance of Executive High Priestess Stella Iris RedRaven, this Track system is beneficial and flourishing, and we expect it to serve us well as our community continues to grow.
By the Numbers
- This year, CAYA Coven offered 40 open, public rituals in the East and South Bay for Sabbats and Full Moons, 3 rituals at PantheaCon in San Jose, a ritual at the Berkeley Interfaith Pagan Festival, 2 rituals at the Goddess Temple of Orange County, and 6 inner-circle rituals for the Aspirants, Dedicants, and Clergy for a grand total of 52 large-scale rites this year. We still have 8 more to go before 2013 arrives, so check our calendar, watch this space, and join us anytime you like.
- Our Ball for the Bees in March raised $750 for research into colony collapse disorder (and it was so much fun that we plan to do this event again in 2013!)
- Our Public Service Clergy, Aspirants, and Dedicants registered nearly 100 voters, donated food and packed dozens of food delivery bags for the Alameda Food Bank, seasonally decorated a Senior Living facility, and have plans for a blanket/coat drive in December. Watch this space for more info on donating your gently-used blankets and coats to this endeavor.
Amazon Priestesses become Bloodroot Honey Priestesses
As part of our community's commitment to ongoing evolution, awareness, and the highest possible good, the Amazon Priestess Tribe retired from the Dianic Tradition of Z Budapest in March of 2012, and reformed as the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe under the banner of Pan-Dianic Witchcraft. We still hold the principle of Goddess as the central force that births, guides, and shapes the Universe under many different names, and we still honor the cycles and tides of cis-gendered women's Blood Mysteries as primary to the creation of life, but we do not restrict attendance at our rituals to cis-gender women only. We are very happy with our decision to make this change, and we hold for the respect and healing of all parties as the conversation around gender in pagan communities continues to provide fruitful opportunities for learning and growth across the nation. To learn more about our shift, you may read our full statement here.
Bloodroot Honey Legacy Projects
The Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe is made up of ordained Priestesses within CAYA. These women train to hold the title of High Priestess by taking significant responsibility for offering our Goddess Sabbat rituals, and by exemplifying their leadership, creativity, and devotion to the Goddess by sustaining Legacy projects which require them to take full responsibility for a year or more in delivering art, creative works, writing, or other services that make a significant public impact. Some recent samples of the Legacy projects created by our High Priestesses this year are:
I celebrate the work of my sisters!
South Bay Hiatus
In 2012, two out of three of our South Bay CAYA Clergy moved out of the area due to work and family considerations. As a result, we have placed our South Bay Sabbats and Full Moon circles on hiatus until we have the Priest/ess power to get them up and running again.
New Sabbat & Full Moon Names
CAYA Coven prides itself on being a local, real-time community that values the cycles of seasonal celebration in Northern California. As such, we recently had a Clergy-wide conversation about the nature of our Sabbat and Lunar Cycles. Namely, we questioned the value of following a Celtic Sabbat calendar and variable Lunar calendar based on Traditions not local or necessarily relevant to our eclectic Pagan community. We wanted to find ways to liberate ourselves from strict adherence to forms that might not be applicable to our local experience of the cycles of the sun and moon. Therefore, we have settled on the following new names and themes for our Sabbats and Moons. We began using these new names at our Festival of Death & Wisdom last weekend, and we will work with them for the coming year and beyond, with willingness to tweak or make responsive adjustments as necessary. We invite you to enjoy these ceremonies whenever you attend, as gifts from our hearts to you and to the Divine.
CAYA Sabbats, renamed
Festival of Prophecy & Initiation (Imbolc)
Equinox of Joyful Vows (Ostara)
Festival of Bliss & Blessing (Beltane)
Solstice of Light Triumphant (Litha)
Festival of Heart & Harvest (Lammas)
Equinox of Devotion Remembered (Mabon)
Festival of Death & Wisdom (Samhain)
Solstice of Eternal Renewal (Yule)
CAYA's new Full Moon cycle, and the questions we seek to explore ritually at each
Jan: Yearning Moon - What desires, deep within, are yearning to be fulfilled, and how might we begin to take steps toward fulfilling them?
Feb: Silent Moon - How can we find silent time to restore and regenerate our enthusiasm for our lives/work/relationships?
Mar: Maker's Moon - What wants to be conceived/born/shaped/made from our own minds/hearts/loins/hands?
Apr: Trickster Moon - Where do life's lessons sneak up on us/surprise us, and how can we greet these lessons with receptivity instead of resistance?
May: Loving Moon - How might we remember the importance and meaning of love/passion/pleasure in our lives?
June: Singing Moon - What makes our spirits sing? How is our individual song of life harmonizing with the song of the Universe?
July: Fury Moon - What is worth fighting for or defending in our lives? What is worth our blood/sweat/tears?
Aug: Laughing Moon - How might we honor the transformative power of laughter in our lives to get us through hard times/drudgery/toil?
Sept: Grateful Moon - What is the bounty (in wisdom and/or material worth) we received from this year's harvest, and how might we celebrate it with gratitude?
Oct: Poison Moon - What needs healing/purification/
transmutation in our lives?
Nov: Graveyard Moon - What are the messages our Ancestors want to offer us at this darkening time of year?
Dec: Giving Moon - How can our personal gifts and generosity improve our community/world?
For the 13th moon of the year, wherever it falls in relation to the Gregorian calendar, we will honor subjects relevant to our own personal interests in solitary space, or else celebrate the Blue Moon together when appropriate.
For the past few years, Come As You Are Coven has focused on an annual central theme that brings magical awareness, change, and wisdom to our community. As the founder and vision-holder of this community, it is my joy to select the annual theme based on the emerging needs and zeitgeist of our Coveners and Clergy. We then elucidate this theme ritually and in our public and personal magical work. In 2010, our theme was "Wealth Consciousness," and we explored the concepts of good stewardship of resources, lack-based versus gratitude-based thinking, and caring for the less fortunate. In 2011, our theme was "Personal and Community Responsibility," and we focused on taking exemplary responsibility for our habits, thought patterns, and activities, then gathering and sharing the beneficial aspects of ourselves with our wider community. This past year, our theme has been "Joyful Service," and we have endeavored to joyfully take on an even larger complement of volunteer and civic-minded activities than ever before as a community.
In 2013, our theme will be "Excellent Ethics," and we will focus on topics related to the development and conduct of our personal codes of Ethics (each CAYA Clergy member is required to have a formal, written personal statement of Ethics). We will explore how all of these unique approaches to proper conduct and comportment twine together within this community to form a strong ethical foundation that we can all agree upon and of which we can all feel assured and proud.
Thank you for taking the time to review CAYA's achievements, changes, and service from Witches' Year 2012. In the next month or so, we will be revising our website with the new dates and times for our 2013 ritual and events calendar, and we look forward to continuing to welcome regular and occasional Coveners to our ceremonies and celebrations. On behalf of the High Council, Clergy, Initiates, Dedicants, and Aspirants of Come As You Are Coven, I wish you the very best that your magic and will have to offer in the coming Witches' Year 2013.
Presiding High Priestess