March 23, 2017

March 21, 2010

Mother Grove Goddess Temple Celebrates Spring Equinox At Episcopal Parish in Asheville, NC

The Mother Grove Goddess Temple, a goddess/earth religions community, celebrated the change of season on Saturday.  So what’s that got to do with the Episcopal Church?  Well that depends on how you feel about the Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church in Asheville hosting the event.  Hmmm, wonder if they consider this a “risk” or how they “engage the world around them?”

At any rate, All Souls Cathedral gets to enjoy all of the requisite props for being A Progressive Episcopal Parish: wiccans, goddess worship, earth religions and pretentious, self-serving little rituals. And it shows that there really is nothing Tec would not allow in their buildings, except, of course, Christian worship by ex-Tecans.

After making it through the harsh winter, people in Western North Carolina are looking forward to the warm sun of spring. Some are preparing to celebrate the season’s change with an ecumenical ritual.

Saturday officially marks the first day of spring, being the day of the spring equinox.

Members of Mother Grove Goddess Temple will celebrate at 7 p.m. Saturday with A Breath of Appalachian Spring: A Ritual in Celebration of the Spring Equinox, in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.

Saturday’s event is open to all faith traditions, said Byron Ballard, wiccan priestess and a member of the temple. Mother Grove “isn’t a wiccan group, though some of us are wiccans,” she said.

“Mother Grove is an outgrowth of the work of several people in the goddess/earth religions community,” Ballard said. “Its goal is to create a permanent sanctuary, where people of all faith traditions may openly and safely celebrate the divine feminine, the goddess.”

Wicca is a modern religion built on the ancient agricultural religions of Europe, she explained. “Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches.”

Jill Boyer is a co-founder and priestess with Mother Grove. She says she looks forward to celebrating “with my celebrants and community, having time to celebrate something that is very important to me and the ritual aspects themselves.”

Boyer believes people have an ancient and human need for ritual and celebration in groups, and to acknowledge the changing of the seasons.

The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, “whistling up the wind” and flying prayers written on paper airplanes. Ballard will lead the ritual, explaining that it is a joyful expression of the beginning of spring and coming together as a community.

Man, I wonder if there were any raisin cakes or Pearls of Wisdom liturgies?

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W00t!  It’s the perfect venue for an Incan Gender-Neutral Virgin Sacrifice!


[1] Posted by carl on 3-21-2010 at 08:47 PM · [top]

Mother Grove “isn’t a wiccan group, though some of us are wiccans,”

All Souls Cathedral isn’t a Christian group, though some of us are Christians?

[2] Posted by Via Mead (Rob Kirby) on 3-21-2010 at 09:09 PM · [top]

The good folks of All Souls must be quite happy with TEC current events. For 2002 through 2008 Meembers are up about 9 percent, ASA up about 20 percent, and Plate & Pledge up about 40 percent. Stay tuned.  Statmann

[3] Posted by Statmann on 3-21-2010 at 09:14 PM · [top]

Asheville, NC, has been called the most diverse and tolerant city in the South.  Lesbianism is commonplace.  Interesting that earth religions are taking root.

[4] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 3-21-2010 at 09:15 PM · [top]

All Souls lets all kinds of community groups in south Asheville use the parish house including a liberal UCC/Cooperative Baptist church Circle of Mercy, and at least three 12 Step groups, two of which are largely gay. There are 11 worshipping communities in Asheville, a community of 70K in an area of about 200K, three large pastoral Episcopal churches, five smaller white churches one of which is liberal Anglo-Catholic and endowed, a small largely black church, a ministry with street people, and a weekly service at the state prison. I help with the prison service and some weekdays at one of the smaller churches - St. George’s West Asheville. Of the three larger churches All Souls takes pride in being the most liberal; Trinity downtown whose rector just retired is traditionally surplice and stole moderate; Grace in north Asheville is more evangelical.

[5] Posted by TomRightmyer on 3-21-2010 at 09:18 PM · [top]

There are 11 Episcopal church worshipping communities, an AMiA congregation St. Paul’s in south Asheville, and three APA congregations southwest, north, and east of Asheville, plus a good size Episcopal churches in Black Mountain east, Madison County north, and Canton west.  There are a number of Baptist churches including two very large ones and a half dozen that are larger than any of the Episcopal churches, 5 Presbyterian USA, 4 ELCA Lutheran and both a Missouri Synod and a Wisconsin Synod, as well as a Charismatic Episcopal Church, and lots of others. The town has a Conservative synagogue and a Reform temple, and at least one mosque.  Religion in Asheville is alive and well, though cooperation among the churches, particularly the Episcopal ones, is not strong.

[6] Posted by TomRightmyer on 3-21-2010 at 09:25 PM · [top]

Just out of curiosity- how did the bishop of NC vote on Thew Forrester?

[7] Posted by tjmcmahon on 3-21-2010 at 09:42 PM · [top]

This is the Diocese of W. Carolina.

[8] Posted by Jackie on 3-21-2010 at 10:03 PM · [top]

Fits right in, along with the cesspool and labyrinth.

[9] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 3-21-2010 at 10:11 PM · [top]

Tom, thanks for the shout out for the liberal, Anglo-Catholic, endowed parish. No such thing as bad publicity. Last time I checked we welcomed everyone, even conservatives. I agree with you about the cooperation between Episcopal parishes in Asheville. We are working on that though and it is getting better.

[10] Posted by brentnorris on 3-21-2010 at 10:17 PM · [top]

Witches, priestesses, and pointy hats. All the same in TEC. Their shoes have glitter and rainbows, and they whine both day and night.

[11] Posted by Dr. N. on 3-21-2010 at 10:32 PM · [top]

Just incredible.

I mean—it’s really *not* incredible in one sense.  What one can dream of a progressive activist TEC parish supporting and enabling becomes reality within the blink of an eye.

But there really are no boundaries for them—at least, Christian boundaries, anyway.

Just pagan, corrupt, decadent, and grotesque actions, unceasingly offered and trumpeted.

Once again we have a demonstration of the truth that is TEC now—two antithetical and mutually opposing gospels reside in the one organization.  As long as those two gospels are together we’ll continue to have the intense, deep, broad, and long-lasting conflict and division.

[12] Posted by Sarah on 3-21-2010 at 10:37 PM · [top]

“the liberal, Anglo-Catholic, endowed parish.”

Oh, never mind, its just not worth my time anymore.  Perhaps all the real Anglo Catholics should just find a new name and leave “Anglo Catholic” to those who abandoned the rule of St. Vincent and the Oxford Movement 35 years ago. They take such pleasure in the pretense.

[13] Posted by tjmcmahon on 3-21-2010 at 10:44 PM · [top]

It was in their parish hall. Some churches rent our space to Jews and other religions.

[14] Posted by martin5 on 3-21-2010 at 11:07 PM · [top]

Ok, ok, ok…despite the obvious stuff that this is just so sad, so sad and consuming, one part of the article really hit home for me.  No, not the witches.  No, not the vernal equinox sacrifices.  No, not even the whole spring fling with phallic symbol they used last year.

It’s this:

The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, “whistling up the wind” and flying prayers written on paper airplanes.

PAPER AIRPLANES??  It’s an ancient European Agricultural Religion that uses PAPER AIRPLANES with prayers written on them?  They sing “Whistling up the wind?”???  An ancient Celtic song with paper airplanes?

Obviously those ancient European Farmers were pretty aerodynamically savvy to have figured all this out.

I mean, do they just make up this stuff as they go along?  Did they too make a bar bet with L. Ron Hubbard that they could get people to worship anything? 

It just wears me out…I mean really…


[15] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 3-21-2010 at 11:11 PM · [top]

Bulldoze it.  What’s next?  Santeria?  How much pagan CRAP do we need to put up with here?  This the definition of profane.

[16] Posted by Bill2 on 3-21-2010 at 11:23 PM · [top]

I agree, Bill2!  This is a Christian blog.  Bulldoze this junk!

[17] Posted by Cennydd on 3-21-2010 at 11:25 PM · [top]

Contrast this story to Peter Ould+‘s story where a group which billed itself as “an exercise group” actually was doing Tai Chi. The parish in England told them that they were no longer welcome. How very un-inclusive and intolerant!

Peter+‘s reaction: “Shock horror! The local leader of one religion doesn’t want another religion using his premises. Hold the front page!”

[18] Posted by robroy on 3-21-2010 at 11:27 PM · [top]

Next, they’ll have Elton John headlining a clown eucharist.  Pentagram necklaces passed out at the door…

Yuck Barf Gag

[19] Posted by Anti-Harridan on 3-22-2010 at 01:46 AM · [top]

A Ritual in Celebration of the Spring Equinox, in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.

At least it wasn’t inside the church. Maybe All Souls rent the hall as a community service or fund raiser?


[20] Posted by Kate Stirk on 3-22-2010 at 05:16 AM · [top]

To me, it makes no difference whether it was “just” in the parish hall.  By holding such a service anywhere on church grounds puts a sort of religious (or at least Episcopalian) imprinteur on something which is essentially evil.

[21] Posted by heart on 3-22-2010 at 05:50 AM · [top]

err…. that would be emprunteur a word which I like to use but cannot spell…

[22] Posted by heart on 3-22-2010 at 05:55 AM · [top]

Whiskey Tan.. Uh.

Oh yeah.  Reminds me of a parish in my own diocese, one that describes itself as, “a very small congregation in a very large building, with everything that this implies.”  Every month, they have a “healing service,” complete with African drumming and Reike.  I checked out the websites for the drumming and Reike guys, and the links from those websites, and what I saw there would furrow some eyebrows.  Even I suppose Rowan’s eyebrows, not that anything ever happens after that, and not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

You’re right, Sarah.  It’s surprising.  And yet, not surprising.

[23] Posted by Elder Oyster on 3-22-2010 at 06:12 AM · [top]

heart, the word is imprimatur - the act of recommending, of giving support and credence by lending one’s name and your organization’s credibility in support of another person, message or cause/agenda.

[24] Posted by Floridian on 3-22-2010 at 06:31 AM · [top]


[25] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 3-22-2010 at 07:45 AM · [top]

One word - DAMN!

[26] Posted by Festivus on 3-22-2010 at 08:08 AM · [top]

PAPER AIRPLANES??  It’s an ancient European Agricultural Religion that uses PAPER AIRPLANES with prayers written on them?

Every religion has its revisionists.
  I’ve heard of a Christian sect that traces its ancestry back 2000 years but throws believers out of churches so they can be sold to non-Christian religions, gives communion to those who do not believe in God, allows pagan worship on its premises (and invites its own members to attend such worship), and then find the people who do these things and place them in the highest offices of the sect.
  The local TEC diocese is behind the times, they still haven’t sold a church to the congregation of another religion.  Of course, as long as the other religions here are welcome to set up in the side chapel (moved from the main sanctuary when somebody ran for bishop), I can’t see why they would need their own building.

[27] Posted by tjmcmahon on 3-22-2010 at 08:21 AM · [top]

From Saturday’s Louisville Courier Journal:
Spring Equinox: Sacred Celebration. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 330 N. Hubbards Lane, 7 p.m. today. Music, reflection, movement, visual arts, prayer, play, sacred ceremony and celebration; co-sponsored by Cultivating Connections and the church’s Green Team. or (502) 897-2721. (502) 895-3485.
The other equinoxes are celebrated at Unitarian churches and the Unity church.  That says it all.

[28] Posted by Ralinda on 3-22-2010 at 08:23 AM · [top]

Imprimatur!  Thank you Floridian.  I’ve always liked that word, but after I wrote it, looked it up and couldn’t find it, so found the closest thing—emprunteur—(borrower)—but that wasn’t right, and “imprimatur” is.  Thank you very much for the correction and the apt definition.

[29] Posted by heart on 3-22-2010 at 08:43 AM · [top]

I find it highly offensive and revolting that a supposedly ‘Christian’ congregation would allow a pagan cult to set up operations anywhere on their premises.  But of course, like other failing TEC congregations, they ‘need the money,’ don’t they?

[30] Posted by Cennydd on 3-22-2010 at 09:08 AM · [top]

Beyond parody.

[31] Posted by Greg Griffith on 3-22-2010 at 09:31 AM · [top]

#30 - You really think they charged them a fee?
Me - I’d be surprised if they didn’t pay for the privilege.

[32] Posted by Jackie on 3-22-2010 at 09:36 AM · [top]

TomRightmeyer, you write:

Religion in Asheville is alive and well

But apparently, at least in All Souls Episcopal Cathedral, saving and redeeming Christianity is not.

Paul told the men of Athens that they were very religious in all respects, seeing that the city was full of idols.  How apt that Paul noted that the one god they did not know, the true and living God, they named “an Unknown God”.  Would that some souls in All Souls encounter that one God the Son Jesus Christ as He truly is and are changed forever and saved forever by Him alone.  Others, beware:

Isaiah 48:11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned?  And My glory I will not give to another.”

Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.  I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me.  I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and causing darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.”

[33] Posted by Milton on 3-22-2010 at 09:37 AM · [top]

Is it possible that the “healthy” state of Asheville churches is actually caused by all the progressive yuppies retiring there.  Asheville gets lots of play in the media; I’ve seen HGTV episodes with gay couples and militant green couples looking for houses in Asheville and waxing eloquent about what a great place it is and how well it fits their “needs.”  So, what I am saying is that additional attendance numbers do not necessarily mean a healthy, growing church environment.  It’s kind of like saying that drinking liquid causes drowning because it can be shown that all drowning victims have consumed liquid within 12 hours of their drowning.

[34] Posted by Daniel on 3-22-2010 at 09:40 AM · [top]

Is this the part where the usual suspects drive by and accuse of having a witch hunt?

[35] Posted by Greg Griffith on 3-22-2010 at 09:42 AM · [top]

My last visit to All Souls Ashville was the day before +Gene Robinson was scheduled to appear at the Sunday service. I was in their library seeing if they had any C.S. Lewis on the shelves, when a helpful church person invited me to come see the bishop on Sunday. I replied, “Thankfully, I have to go home this evening.” After that, I was left alone to continue my quest…I can’t remember if I ever found what I was looking for.

[36] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 3-22-2010 at 09:58 AM · [top]

I mean, do they just make up this stuff as they go along?

Gosh, Mike. You had to ask? :-(

[37] Posted by oscewicee on 3-22-2010 at 10:00 AM · [top]

TEc is not interested in anything that remotely looks like or acts like Christianity. First clue: KJS stating she would never consider selling Churches to the original maintainers of said church and property.
Second: Selling one church, our own Fr. Kennedy’s Good Shepherd to a Muslim Awareness Group
Third: Clown Eucharists
Fourth: And I am sure that there are a lot more I could list but for the sake of my fingers I will keep this list short, this. This story above and will this be the last we hear of these pagan, evil things being done in and to TEc churches? I do not think so.
And i have to agree with my brother in Christ Cennydd….TEC is all about money not God and the Gospel….I am confident that money exchanged hands.

[38] Posted by TLDillon on 3-22-2010 at 10:05 AM · [top]

Wiccans may also refer to themselves as witches

Within very specific weight constraints, that’s fine.

[39] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 3-22-2010 at 10:42 AM · [top]

Ya gotta go study their website! It’s just a simple, innocent celebration of St. Brigid’s day. Not!

Here’s an excerpt about the upcoming event:

Blessed Imbolc to you all!
Gold-Red Woman: a Celebration of Brigid of Ireland

Mother Grove is looking towards spring with a music-filled traditional celebration of the ancient festival of Imbolc. We hope you’ll join us on Sat., 2/6 at 7 PM in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village. In fairly standard Wiccan style, we will raise a circle, do some singing, walk the turas, and honor Brigid through music and ritual. This event is free and open to the public, and a love offering will be accepted for Temple programs.

Mother Grove is also taking this opportunity to kick off the monster food drive for its Mother’s Cornucopia Project. When you come to the ritual, please consider a donation of non-perishable food items for the Project.

Mother Grove Goddess Temple is a church with its focus on the Divine Feminine.

[40] Posted by Ralph on 3-22-2010 at 11:43 AM · [top]

I had to go look up the word Imbolc and this is what I found! OMGosh! Lord have mercy

[41] Posted by TLDillon on 3-22-2010 at 11:53 AM · [top]

[42] Posted by TLDillon on 3-22-2010 at 11:54 AM · [top]

The celebration will consist of raising a circle, singing, “whistling up the wind” and flying prayers written on paper airplanes.

Apparently they aren’t just whistling Dixie down South anymore.

[43] Posted by Fr. Dale on 3-22-2010 at 12:12 PM · [top]


[44] Posted by Intercessor on 3-22-2010 at 12:24 PM · [top]

Ah, that explains it “A celebration of the divine Feminine”...I’ve fallen into a Dan Brown novel.  Now everything is starting to make sense again…

Where’d I leave my hair shirt?


[45] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 3-22-2010 at 12:46 PM · [top]

That must have been a novel experience for you.

[46] Posted by Fr. Dale on 3-22-2010 at 12:49 PM · [top]

#46 Ouch!!!

[47] Posted by Milton on 3-22-2010 at 02:29 PM · [top]

This may not be quite as bad as it looks, though the way of celebrating may not be Christian.  Here’s what I found when I went to the site from #41: 

The First of February belongs to Brigid, (Brighid, Brigit, Bride,) the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint. Originally, her festival on February 1 was known as Imbolc or Oimelc, two names which refer to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. Later, the Catholic Church replaced this festival with Candlemas Day on February 2, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions. The powerful figure of Brigid the Light-Bringer overlights both pagan and Christian celebrations.

[48] Posted by Billy on 3-22-2010 at 03:36 PM · [top]

#48: I would suggest that the site that you are quoting wouldn’t withstand the peer review of our divine feminine, KJS.  Here’s a more scholarly approach, that’s a bit more skeptical:

To the credit of the NC wiccans, they admit that their religion is modern, which is a remarkable admission.

P.S. : Anyone that loves to read, the life of the mind and culture wars would enjoy exploring the online archives of the magazine to which the article’s author is a contributor: Lingua Franca.  Or read the book.

[49] Posted by paradoxymoron on 3-22-2010 at 07:19 PM · [top]

As both an old friend of Byron Ballard and a fairly orthodox christian I have to say that at least her Wiccan crew does seem to believe and practice what they preach; which is much more than I can say for the folks at All Souls Cathedral.  I may believe that Byron is wrong in her belief, and I praise the Lord that he has given me the grace to try and follow his word, but I weep for the so called Christians at All Souls who seem to be totally lost and wandering.  Please pray for them and for Byron who is a sweet soul and who embodies love for her neighbor more than many I know who pretend to follow our Lord.

[50] Posted by Billysboy on 3-22-2010 at 10:13 PM · [top]

#46 Fr. Dale,

Zing!  And people think I’m quick/snarky!  Excellent!

And yes, things made sense for a minute, but it was not very enduring.  I’m giving my 91st talk on Healthcare Reform tomorrow (since May 1, 2009) in New Orleans at a National Blues event, and I just re-worked my slide show and tried it out on my 12 and 14 year old, who GOT IT right away.  I know I’ve broken it down succintly when they don’t roll their eyes and walk away.

But the more I read my own handiwork on this issue, the more Twilight Zone it becomes. 


[51] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 3-22-2010 at 10:25 PM · [top]

#51. Mike Bertaut,
At 12 and 14 my sons were already charging me a fee to take the Psychological Tests as practice for my Schooling. I would never tell them how they did on the IQ testing except to say that there was only one point difference. When they got upset with one another they would each accuse each other of being the “dumb brother”. My point is if your daughter is not charging you, she should be.

[52] Posted by Fr. Dale on 3-22-2010 at 11:11 PM · [top]

Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal has, as usual, aptly fisked this story…but Dr. Mabuse of Kraalspace has gone waaaaaaay beyond fisk.

[53] Posted by Floridian on 3-23-2010 at 08:20 AM · [top]

#53, two of my favourite blogs. Would that the good Dr. would blog more. She’s always worth reading.

More to the point, and much more cynically, how much difference lies between the theology of the Great Goddess group and the theology of the Episcopalians who allowed them to use the parish hall?

[54] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 3-23-2010 at 08:23 AM · [top]

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You…And No Grown-Ups in Charge!

[55] Posted by polycarp on 3-23-2010 at 10:12 AM · [top]

tj (#13),

Well Said!

Fr. Chip

[56] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 3-24-2010 at 03:52 PM · [top]

Congrats, StandFirm!  You got mentioned in World Magazine.  (Of course they’d be reporting on this since it’s in their own backyard!)

[57] Posted by Jill C. on 3-26-2010 at 11:58 AM · [top]

wiccans, goddess worship, earth religions and pretentious, self-serving little rituals.

Please don’t make light of how spiritually dangerous what they are doing is.  As someone who came to Christianity from Wicca, I can tell you, that although what they are doing seems silly and pointless, it is very, very dangerous.  Those women and men are opening themselves up to the demonic, and they don’t even realize it.  They think what they are doing is honouring the divine.  Screwtape would be proud.

[58] Posted by Kate Sanderson on 4-13-2010 at 01:39 PM · [top]

It is difficult to see the folks one has grown up with, worshipped with, etc., tell me they are “now into wicca” or “really more a pagan than anything else.”  No biggie, huh?  Just a natural progression, I’m told.  After all, religion is so 20th century.  But when I open my mouth to say “but.. but…but…” it just doesn’t come out right and I quietly turn away and I envision this scene in my mind where these fine people, loving, good folks, have to eplain this before the throne.  It is a crazy broken world out there and I find myself wanting to hide and take my grandkids with me, less they end up that way.  But I can’t.

[59] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 4-13-2010 at 02:42 PM · [top]

Did they too make a bar bet with L. Ron Hubbard that they could get people to worship anything?

Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that!

[60] Posted by meh130 on 4-15-2010 at 05:28 PM · [top]

“The Episcopal Church welcomes you….but leave your conservative views at home.”

[61] Posted by cennydd13 on 7-23-2010 at 03:31 PM · [top]

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