Now that I have finished Part I of my autobiography—it is being vetted by a few people for final revisions—time and energy are freed up to get volume II of A Tapestry of Witches done and out. I will post excerpts of self-contained sections of it as I get them done, just to whet your appetite. The content will often be arranged differently in the book, which will also have lots of footnotes, which don’t work well on this blog. (And I have no idea why this furshlugginer system decided to put all this in boldface italic, a font that I and Robert Ishikawa created the first of in 1973.)
This first one helps create a national-scale framework to hang chapters on.
COG Goes National
Although the Covenant of the Goddess was intended to, and did, become a national organization, it remained confined essentially to California during the late 1970s. Even though a few covens outside California (Selena Fox’s Circle, Margot Adler’s Iargolon, Tzipora Katz’s Blue Star, and Stephanie Cluff’s Coven of Gig Harbor) became long-distance members, COG’s rather cautious admissions policy required some sort of personal knowledge about potential new member groups. The Southern California Local Council and the San Francisco Bay Area Local Council (which had twenty members in 1983) continued to flourish, with Alison Harlow, Glenn Turner, Deborah Bender, and Alan Moonbloode being among the most dedicated workers.
The fourth Pan Pagan Festival, held Aug. 21-24, 1980, in Wisconsin, was co-sponsored by the Covenant of the Goddess and the Midwest Pagan Council; there were 600 attendees, making it the largest Pagan festival to that time in the United States. This was the occasion on which the Covenant of the Goddess started to became a truly national church for Witches. Because of the networking, the COG Board of Directors was able to lure Ginny Brubaker and Dave Norman of the Temple of the Pagan way in Chicago out to California for the Grand Council meeting in 1981, and elected them as co-First Officers, thus saddling them with the responsibility for organizing the next year’s Grand Council, which would thus have to take place in the Midwest.
This plan worked well; Ginnie and Dave organized the meeting as a festival, and it was well attended. Covens from all over the USA were represented, and a truly national Board of Directors was elected. To be precise, the CoG Grand Council was held at the Pan Pagan Festival in Michigan on September 9-12, 1982; it was co-sponsored by COG and the Council of Sacred Earth. The next year COG sponsored its own festival, which soon came to be called Merrymeet, at the same time as its annual Grand Council. This was a perspicacious decision. It is much easier to get people to come to a festival than to just a business meeting. Merrymeet was soon stabilized as occurring on Labor Day weekend.
The Board elected in 1982 included:
Orenda Au’Connor (Milwaukee), First Officer
Haragano (Seattle), Credentials Chair
Patrick Au’Connor (Milwaukee), Pursewarden
Judy Harrow (New York), Summoner/Recorder
Prudence Priest (San Francisco), Publications
In 1982 COG had 35 member covens. Local Councils of COG soon began to be organized around the US, intended to consist of covens within a relatively small geographic area and to serve as coordinating committees to run local festivals and intercoven Sabbat celebrations. However, these functions were later largely taken over by other local networking organizations that often included other varieties of Pagans. When COG was founded by twenty covens, it constituted about 10 percent of all the covens in America in 1975. COG grew steadily during its first decade, then stabilized at about 100 member covens.
Given the first genuinely national COG festival in 1982, local councils began to be formed around the country in 1983.
The Chicago Local Council was formed in 1983. Members included:
Calumet Pagan Temple; Richard Clarke;
Coven of the Standing Stones; Donna Cole Schultz, Chicago;
New Age Circle; Orenda Au’Connor, Milwaukee, WI;
First Temple of the Craft of W.I.C.A; Stanley Modrzyk
The Aglaian Triad of Wicca, Midlothian, IL (hived from the Calumet Pagan Temple in 1982); Ted and Benita Chapman, who was the Secretary of the Midwest Pagan Council.
The Northern Dawn Local Council (originally called the Twin Cities LC) was formed on January 17, 1983, by Prodea (Stephen Posch and Lady Magenta Griffiths), New Earth Circle, and the Rowan Tree Church. They elected Steve Posch First Officer, and Paul Beyerl as Secretary. Member covens in about 1983 included:
Earthsisters, De-Anna Alba, Madison, WI;
Tower of the Earthdancers, Madison, WI.
In 1982 an attempt to create a Mid-Atlantic Pagan Council did not work out, apparently because the proposed Council (1) was intended to be a “church” that would compete with COG, and (2) could not solve the structural problems that had faced the West Coast Pagan organizations in 1972, and that COG had circumvented by having only covens of Witches be eligible for membership. (It is worth noting that the Midwest Pagan Council had shattered in 1980 into three separate organizations, two of which consisted only of Witches, because of these same structural problems.)
Instead, on February 22, 1983, Proteus, led by Judy Harrow; Circle in the Greenwood of Albany, NY, led by Imara (Lynn S., aka Moose); and the Athanor Fellowship of Boston (Andras Corban Arthen and Deirdre Pulgram Arthen) met to form the New England Local Council. Judy was elected as its First Officer, and was later elected national First Officer for 1983-1984 at the COG national Merrymeet in Michigan. Other covens that joined NELCCOG in 1983 included Sys Arlodhes (Manhattan; Margot Adler), and Kathexis Anthropos (Queens; Michael Thorn).
The Lone Star Local Council was formed in 1983. Its member covens (and their representatives) included:
Covenstead of Thirteen Moons, Garland, TX (Garth & Andromed)
Silver Wheel, Dallas, TX (Leuwyn)
Temenos Matrix, Dallas, TX (Osmara)
Circle of the Unicorn, Dallas, TX (Phoenix)
(I also have notes which say that Davida Moonsong, of the Coven of Merlin, Houston, TX, was the Recorder of the Tejas Council in 1988, and that Judith Carusone (Lady Brigitte), Founder and High Priestess of Our Lady of the Sacred Flame, Houston, TX, was the Corresponding Secretary of the Tejas Council before it disbanded. I haven’t been able to sort that out.)
In 1985 Lady Pythia Sidhe (Marybeth Witt) co-founded the Ohio Local Council. Most of the covens had been members of the Chicago Council, but had found the distance simply too great for them to attend meetings regularly. Members have included:
Children of the Laughing Greenwood; Lady Lianna Sidhe, Sylvania, OH.
Coven Gladestar; Lady Kam, Toledo, OH;
Coven of the Circle and Sword; Lady Arianrhod and Lord Ambrose;
Coven of the Floating Spiral; Lady Pythia Sidhe, Kent, OH;
Coven of the Keltic Sword and Stone; Lady Naomi and Lord Merlin, Toledo, OH;
Coven of the Spiral Spun Infinity (hived from Coven of the Floating Spiral), under Lady Hyacinth, Akron, OH;
Crystals of the Medicine Shield, under Lady Liafal and Ian Corrigan, Perry, OH;
Lady at the Shoreline, under Bastet and Khepera, Cleveland, OH.
A few other local covens that might have been members of the Local Council at some point are:
Stone Creed Coven, under Dorothy Mannix, Cleveland, OH,
Temple of Wicca, under Morganna Williams, Findlay (later in Lancaster), OH, which began sponsoring the Goddess Gathering festival in 1982.
Coven of Owlanan, First Ohio Church of Wicca, under Patricia Barber (Lady Astraea), New London, OH.
The Northwest Local Council also formed about 1985. Its member covens (all in the Seattle area) have included:
Aquarian Tabernacle Church (Pete Davis);
Corona Reginarum Ardentarum;
Coven of the Forest Well;
Coven of the Mystical Merkabah;
Coven of the Stone & Snake;
Coven of the Stone & Staff;
Li Hanari (Eanna of PNW) Moon Circle;
Ravens of Ravenna; and
The Covenant’s national First Officers for its first two decades were a respectable cross section of the Craft’s leadership in America. They were:
1975-1976: Alison Harlow (Feri Tradition);
1976-77, Starhawk, Compost Coven (Reclaiming Tradition), San Francisco;
1977-79, Live Oak Womon, Susan B. Anthony Coven #1, and Ursula (Belinda M.), Holy Order of Bear Brethren, co-First Officers;
1979-80, Valerie W., Compost Coven, San Francisco;
1980-81, Diane A.;
1981-82, Ginny Brubaker and Dave Norman, Temple of the Pagan Way, Chicago, co-First Officers.
1982-83, Orenda Au’Connor, Milwaukee;
1983-84, Judy Harrow, Proteus Coven, New York;
1984-85, Amber K., Our Lady of the Prairie, Wisconsin;
1985-86, Rowan Fairgrove and Russell Williams, New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, co-First Officers;
1986-87, Michael Thorn, Kathexis Anthropos, New York;
1987-88, Diana L. Paxson, Fellowship of the Spiral Path, Berkeley;
1988-89, Diana L. Paxson & Don F., co-First Officers;
1989-90, Ginny Brubaker;
1990-91, Brandy W. & Phoenix Whitebirch, Coven of the Mystical Merkabah, Seattle, co-First Officers;
1991-92, Brandy W. and Ted G., co-First Officers;
1992-94, Phyllis Curott, Coven of Ara, New York;
1994-95, Amber K.
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