When the physical phenomena experimental group closed, I cleared the small room and created a small temple. The walls were painted Egyptian blue with gold painted shelves and skirting boards. Stencils of Egyptian figures were also used to decorate the walls. A blue rug filled the floor space and a long mahogany sideboard was an ideal piece of furniture for use as an altar.
My statue of Sekhmet stood proudly upon the altar along with other Egyptian statues and working tools. The temple had a peaceful ambience and I used the space for personal rituals and meditation.
The elemental work we were required to do during coven training produced dramatic effects. Working with the fire element caused tempers to rise and various matters simmering beneath the surface for some time also arose. I often attended coven meetings alone if we were unable to find a babysitter. One evening our Priestess requested my husband’s presence at their ritual instead as he had missed too many meetings.It was also his birthday which meant we would be apart for the evening. He enjoyed the attention he received that evening, but was unimpressed by the shamanic trance drumming in the garden.
We attended a summer solstice gathering at Stonehenge. The coven members travelled separately to the destination. My son was excited about the all night celebrations awaiting the sunrise. We parked our car in a nearby field along with thousands of vehicles. Large removal vans were converted into rooms with carpets, curtains and one of them also had a crystal chandelier! We could have spent hours exploring the fascinating variety of transport. As we walked towards the site we noticed policemen patrolling it and an intoxicated man spoke aggressively to one of them which was the only confrontation I observed at the event. People were delighted to be at this ancient site and determined to make the most of the celebration. As we neared the stones, I received a mobile phone text from our Priestess informing us that they were lying upon the grass near the stones. My son pointed out a couple on the grass thinking it may be them, but their activities confirmed otherwise. When we eventually found our Priestess and Priest plus the other male group member, we sat together observing the celebrations. A gathering of drummers created a wonderful rhythm and the revellers were dancing. A man dressed in robes led a crowd of Pagans around the stones as he held a staff mounted with the head of a Horned God ablaze with flames! The ancient energies transported us back in time to celebrations of old, but sadly the bright green spotlights that illuminated the site were a reminder of the modern world. A duvet spread out on the grass before us covered six moving bodies and occasionally a head emerged for air only to disappear again. If I had prior knowledge of certain activities at the event I would not have brought my son as I did not consider it a family event. When the sun was about to rise the policemen switched off the green lights and everyone stood facing the east in silence for a few minutes. Cheers were heard from the crowd at the time of the sunrise, but unfortunately the cloud obstructed it. It was a memorable experience but not one I wished to repeat as some people there showed no respect for the site.
During a local folk festival I met a Morris man who wore the same kit as the men in our Morris team. The younger members greeted him with a hug and introduced him to me. He seemed friendly and affectionate, but as I walked on my Priestess informed me they no longer conversed with him as he had referred to her husband as ‘power crazy’. I later discovered this man was also an ex member of their coven as well as a member of the Morris team. He and his wife suddenly moved away without informing anyone and created their own Morris team in the northern area of U.K.
The coven were preparing costumes for the Autumn Equinox ritual. I was instructed to visit the home of our tutors’ beautiful high priestess as I had to wear the body suit while it was painted for the ‘corpse scene’. I received her address and vague directions, but it was an area unfamiliar to me. I attempted to find it but the directions were confusing. I contacted their Priestess by phone as she and her male friend were awaiting my arrival. I could not understand them as there was much laughter due to the amount of alcohol consumed. I continued my search and asked passers by who did not recognize the address. After three hours of searching I had to return to collect my son from school and sent my Priestess a phone text to let her know what had happened.
That evening our Priestess contacted us in a rage. My husband answered the telephone and she demanded to speak to me. I declined this instruction until she had calmed down and was threatened with dismissal from the coven. My husband attempted to calm the situation by reasoning with her and was successful. I suspected that her Priestess was also angry and took this anger out on our Priestess as it was her initiate who failed to attend. I was instructed to contact their Priestess and apologise. I did so the following day to allow time for irate feelings to settle. Their Priestess was cool and calm. She explained that she had to wear the bodysuit while it was painted and it ruined an item of new white underwear she wore underneath. I offered to replace the underwear which I discovered was an expensive white lace thong from a reputable store that cost eight pounds. I explained the difficulty I had finding her place of residence and offered to escort her to our final rehearsal so that we would know her whereabouts for future visits. She refused my offer and informed me that I would never have reason to visit her home again therefore would not need to know the location. After our conversation I drove into town to purchase the underwear. Our Priest left a message on our answer machine trying to interject some humour about the fact I was out purchasing underwear which meant their Priestess had updated them on the conversation.
We arrived at the practice venue for our final rehearsal and decided to leave immediately if the atmosphere was negative. When we entered the practice hall, the other male coven member had arrived and seemed unaware of recent events. I immediately approached their Priestess to hand over her new underwear and once again apologised. I also gave our Priest money towards his fuel as apparently he had been out on his motorcycle searching for me as they were concerned. I also apologised to them both and as I walked away my Priestess followed me and gave me a hug. This surprised me as I believed my husband’s opinion of her, but the show of affection helped settle the situation. Our Priest had alluded to a difficult time when training with their Priestess. Even though this incident had been somewhat resolved, my husband no longer wished to continue with the coven and decided to leave after the Autumn Equinox ritual.
During our personal ritual with the coven, our Priestess and Priest asked me on more than one occasion if all was well. My husband annoyed our Priestess during the ritual rehearsal when he performed the only line he had. When he asked for a drink from the water skin he did so using a tone of command rather than a request. My husband informed our Pagan friends that he would do as she requested during rehearsals, but on the night of the performance he would say it his way. Some of them attended to witness this.
Our performance at the London Autumn Equinox ritual was successful. We enacted the ritual to rock music while our Priest narrated. I blessed the salt and water with a large athame with every movement slow and exaggerated. Each time we left the altar we turned outwards rather than inwards which was visually attractive. All coven members wore black cloaks and full white masks for this part. After we had set up the space we changed into out costumes for the “Descent of Ishtar”. I passed through each gate and was eventually stripped of my clothes by the Gatekeeper as I struggled and protested. When Ishtar was at her weakest, my Ereshkigal approached her to gloat and placing her hand under Ishtar’s chin to raise her head and look into her eyes before aggressively pushing her away. My husband as Dumuzi did speak the line his way but it did was not noticed by our Priestess who was deeply involved with her own character of Ereshkigal.
There was mixed feedback from the audience as this particular version of the story was dark and most of the audience expected a joyous celebration. Their Priestess was backstage, her articulate voice and sophisticated presence changed due to the consumption of wine in the dressing room. Our Priestess and Priest were delighted with the performance and we celebrated the success with them. My husband was unhappy and I also felt a little uncomfortable as we went through a tough time in preparation for the performance.