About Byron Ballard

H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference and other gatherings. Earlier this year, she presented “Gnarly Roots: Exploring the British Sources of Appalachian Folk Magic” at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference and will facilitate a workshop on Deep Grounding at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference in August. Her writings have appeared in print and electronic media. Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press). She blogs as “Asheville’s Village Witch” (myvillagewitch.wordpress.com) and as The Village Witch for Witches and Pagans Magazine (witchesandpagans.com/The-Village-Witch). Her pamphlet “Back to the Garden: a Handbook for New Pagans“ has been widely distributed and her first book “Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo” (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on “Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet”. She facilitates the Mountain Area Interfaith Forum in Asheville, NC and was active for many years in the United Religions Initiative.

Cracking Wise About Trees

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Red-Tail Hawk in a Tree Doing interfaith work really never ceases to amaze me--and my recent experience was no exception. Here's what happened at the panel discussion I wrote about in my last post. To recap--I was contacted by a colleague in a neighboring county who was putting together an interfaith panel to discuss spirituality and the environment. I checked my calendar and agreed it was possible.  The date changed due to Ramadan but the new date worked for me, too. If you live in a small … [Read more...]

Default Settings

I've written about this before and will, no doubt, write about it again. There are often default settings in the interfaith world that require patience and open-mindedness to reset. Years ago I was part of a group talking about "sabbath" and there was a sense that everyone has one and that it was a "day of rest" in which one communed with the Divine.  Many of us, though, have sabbaths/holy days and they are not in the least restful. They are loud and raucous and celebratory and we are exhausted … [Read more...]

Interfaith, Intrafaith, Multifaith–All in the Cornfields of Illinois

Last week, I spent some hot days and some rainy days at one of the longest running, largest pan-Pagan festivals in the country. It's called Pagan Spirit Gathering and I was invited to attend and do some teaching and speaking.The Earth religions community, as you probably know by now, is diverse in belief and practice. Any gathering of Pagans and Heathens will have lush variations in spiritual experience, in political opinion and in standards of dress. PSG is no exception there and, in … [Read more...]

Laying on of Hands

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A couple of weeks ago, I was pleased and quite honored to be part of the ordination to the Episcopal priesthood of my friend Milly. It was at the Cathedral of All Souls which is, oddly enough, one of my church homes. The home of my heart (and blood, sweat and tears) is Mother Grove Goddess Temple. But All Souls and the UU Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley are also home to me. We have different ways of working and different ways of visioning the Divines (well, maybe we do) but we are all … [Read more...]

What Does Interfaith Mean?

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 Since last we met, my little corner of Interfaithland has been a patchwork quilt of emotions and events. I’ll start with the surprising death of one of my local interfaith colleagues. His name is Ahmad Amara and he came to our town in his retirement and it was his quiet voice that brought me to the place I stand regarding Palestine.He was my first Muslim friend and his stories of growing up in Jaffa were sweet and heartbreaking. Ahmad died an old man so he remembered playing w … [Read more...]

Approaching the Season of Balance

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With Imbolc and a polar vortex behind us, we are entering the early planting season here in the southern highlands of Appalachia. As we approach the Vernal Equinox--the quaint season of balance--I am acutely aware of the precarious balance in the human world, even as the natural world turns in its Wheel toward the start of the agricultural year.As happens a couple of times a year, this cool UU church in a neighboring town has asked me to do the service for them around the Equinox. My title … [Read more...]

MLK Day and Your Average Wiccan Priestess

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 It's been a difficult couple of weeks in our little corner of the interfaith world. All of us who are mindful of the dear old Earth are conscious of the horror of West Virginia--a horror of carelessness compounded by the invisible world of classism that kept the eye of the nation on the governor of New Jersey when it should have been on the people and critters and waterways and corruption in West Virginia.Yes, we've sent water and held candlelight vigils and called the governor and … [Read more...]

We Are All Travellers Along Life’s Tricksy Ways

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 This season of ice and rime, of greeting cards and indoor trees--it can be the hardest of seasons in our multi-faith world. In this country, the season is dominated by the curious and often-repellent observation of Christmas. We have been celebrating it in the wider culture since October and it will not end until the last discount store has rid its shelves of marshmallows shaped like snowfolk and plastic tablecloths sporting imitation patchwork in red and white and green.In my … [Read more...]


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