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

I had a question about trees and described myself as a genuine tree-loving dirt-worshipper. General titter in the audience. I quoted the verses from 2 Kings and quipped–so you don’t cut down some trees but the trees of the Goddess-worshippers–my people’s trees–those were fair game, huh? He shook his head, smiling and we high-fived each other as the audience chuckled. [Read more…]

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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 [Read More…]

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

Interfaith is good work, hard work, and in my opinion, necessary work. But it feels good to gather with people who may not believe and practice exactly as I do but who still afford me the courtesy of hospitality and listening ears. For ten days at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I could set aside my flight-or-fight siege mentality and enjoy the fireside with others who are more-or-less like-minded. [Read more…]

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Laying on of Hands

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 [Read More…]

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What Does Interfaith Mean?

When I am tempted to dump all my grievances onto the adherents of a particular religion—including my own—I can remind myself of these bridges of compassion and affection. And I can encourage myself—and all of you—to do more bridge-building, to practice that most sacred and ancient religious practice: Hospitality. [Read more…]

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Approaching the Season of Balance

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. [Read more…]

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MLK Day and Your Average Wiccan Priestess

There is a huge ambivalence in this community–and I suspect in others–between traditional African-American Christians and people who self-identify as Wiccan, Pagan or, heaven forbid, witches. It is deeply cultural and entrenched, and will require a concerted effort on both sides to come to a place of reconciliation. [Read more…]

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We Are All Travellers Along Life’s Tricksy Ways

We need to remember that we are all walking paths of wonder and beauty and occasional terror… and sometimes the best thing we can do is hold hands across the wild verges that seem to separate those little roadways, one from the other. In these times of deep velvet skies and endless wonder, it may be best to peer into the Mystery together. [Read more…]

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