Monthly Archives: April 2015

Your Safety Coordinators: Hobbit and Kell

russell john

John (left) and Russell (right)

Hobbit, or Russell has been attending BtW since 2005. The first few hours on the land were unforgettable. Over the years that passion has carried over into sharing that experience, bringing new faces to the event, and serving the Gathering. In 2007 he moved to Columbus and joined GFG. He has been a part of the Brotherhood of the Spectrum Blade since 2007, serving as one of the first volunteers, then initiate, and then High Priest.

Between the Worlds brings together several different spiritual paths. Over the years Russell has been drawn to a particular path, American traditional witchcraft, and is working toward initiation in the Anderson Tradition. He is also a Reiki master and an intuitive healer with a focusing on therapeutic massage, logging over 5000 hours of practice and being the most requested therapist at his location.

Domestically he is in a poly relationship with Kell and they are more than just dating Bernie.

Phillip (also known by John or Kell) has been an active member of the gathering’s community since first attending in 2008. After volunteering with the Brotherhood of the Spectrum Blade and initiating, he is now one of the leadership of the security team for the gathering. He has been an initiated for five years into the Brotherhood, and has enjoyed watching over and caring for his brothers during the event.

Phillip has been a practicing Pagan for over twenty years.  He started out as an eclectic solitary in the Wicca traditions, but eventually moved into a gnosis worship of the Hellenic/Greek gods – specifically Apollo, Athena, and Persephone.  Outside of Between the Worlds and the Brotherhood, Phillip has a long history of community service and service organizations, including Boy/Girl Scouts.  Currently, his day job is as a pharmacy technician for a Medicaid managed care insurance plan. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his partners.

Countdown: 142 days!


Your BTW Co-Facilitators: Otter and Spiritwolf

And now, introducing (to the new people) and welcoming back (to the past attendees), your Between the Worlds Co-Facilitators, Otter and Spiritwolf!

Otter and Leon BtW 2014

Spiritwolf (Leon, left) and Otter (JR, right)

J.R., better known as Otter,  first came to BTW in 2006. There he met the man he would later marry and found a path to understanding himself, spiritually, as a gay man and his place in the world of other men-who-love-men. Otter served as Heralding Coordinator, aka Princess of the Sisterhood of Screeching Harpies, for a number of years before taking on the role of Co-Facilitator for the gathering in 2014.

Spiritually, Otter evolved from a philosophical Taoist and existentialist to the eclectic pagan and Kitchen Witch he is today. Following a 16 year career of pagan community organizing, teaching, and presenting public ritual with the Covenant of Brighid’s Haven in his home town, Otter now feeds his faith by reaching out to the spirits of the natural world around him. Seeking to deepen his connection with wild spaces he has hiked and pilgrimaged over 900 miles in the forests and gorges of the Allegheny Plateau and around Lake Erie and the Allegheny River and their tributaries.

Beyond the mists of our personal Brigadoon, Otter is an Administrative Law Judge in the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. He lives with his husband, Grey, in Erie, Pennsylvania, not far from the shore of his beloved lake.

Spiritwolf, or Leon, is, spiritually, an eclectic still finding his way amongst the paths. While SpiritWolf started practicing in the early 80s, he dropped away for several years while in the Navy following other paths of beliefs but came back to paganism in the 90s.

SpiritWolf started coming to Between the Worlds in 2004. The following year he helped start a security contingent because of his past military experience and in 2005 the security contingent developed into the Brotherhood of the Spectrum Blade (the physical and spiritual guardians of the event) which is still growing. SpiritWolf and Daystar moved to Ohio from the San Francisco bay area in 2007 and joined Green Faerie Grove. SpiritWolf was elected president of GFG from 2008-2010 and again in 2012 to present and this is his third year as Co-Facilitator. Outside of all this, Leon is currently the assistant to the CFO of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.


Guest Post: Between the Worlds 2015 – Inspiration for Apollo

This weekend’s post comes to us from Matt Gerlach. You’ll see him around the Den, you’ll see him as part of the Flamekeepers, and you’ll see him around. He seems to be everywhere all at once. If you’re not sure who he is, ask anyone, and someone should be able to point him out.

Have you registered for Between the Worlds 2015? Are you looking for inspiration on what kinds of workshops and rituals might be great to craft and offer to our community this year, the year of Apollo?

If so, this article is for you! Here are complied a few ideas of what kind of content resonates both with the Gathering itself through the years, and also with the patron deity of 2015, Apollo.

Great Topics for Gay Men in the Woods

Queer Spirituality – As it says on the BTW website, “The Between the Worlds Gathering was designed to provide a safe place for men who love men to explore alternative spiritual practices and paths, to empower themselves, and to plant the seeds of spiritual renewal within the gay community.” Rituals and workshops on what it means to be a man who loves men in the Pagan community reach to the very heart of why this Gathering was founded, and will always be a great addition to the schedule regardless of the year.

Nature Spirituality – We are spending a week in the woods! So many of us find benefit and nourishment from simply getting away from the world build by man. Help up deepen this benefit by offering workshops and rituals for connecting with nature and the Land.

Community – The staff of BTW spend a good amount of time asking themselves, “How can we best cultivate this beautiful community of men each year?” and many of the events they plan are designed specifically for building that sense of community. Help them out by offering your own rituals, workshops and events geared towards knitting together a closer, more vibrant community.

Bring Yourself – What is it that you do? Where do your skills and passions lie? Can you teach us about these things? Can you lead us in rituals rooted in these things? If so, we’d love to see you more deeply!

Great Topics for Working with Apollo

Oracular Work – Apollo is perhaps the most famous God of Oracles in the Greek world. Do you have a workshop or ritual dealing with this fascinating and elusive topic? Propose it! Not comfortable teaching about or doing the work of the oracular seer? Perhaps a workshop on your favorite divination system! Or maybe a workshop on “how to ask the right questions?” Let inspiration be your guide!

Healing – Both Apollo and his son Asklepios are known for their great powers of Healing. And goodness knows many of us find ourselves needing some healing when we arrive at BTW. Do you offer services as a healer? Perhaps Reiki, massage or something else? Bring your gifts and teach us about them, or offer them at the Gathering with Apollo’s blessing! Can you lead a ritual rooted in healing? Propose that too!

Disease – Just as Apollo is a god of Healing, so is he a god of Plagues and Pestilence. This year would be a great time to bring content to the Gathering honoring those who live with illnesses which effect our community, like HIV, and also to remember and honor those who have died. (Also, remember to educate yourselves on safer sex practices!)

Music, Poetry and Dance – Every year we have many opportunities for music, poetry and dancing, from the No Talent Show to drumming and chanting at night around the fire. But this year we have Apollo, God of Music and Inspiration; bring a little extra if inspiration hits you. Wanna teach about how to write poetry like an ancient Norseman or Greek? How about teaching drumming? Perhaps you can bring these elements into the rituals you propose?

The Muses – Where would our music, poetry and dance be without the Muses? The ancients called Apollo Musagetes, Leader of the Muses. Where he goes they will not be far behind, so why not honor them with ritual and teaching?

Athletics and Competition – As a god associated with young, strong, healthy men as well as with seeking excellence, Apollo was associated with athletics and competition. Do you want an excuse to rub strange men down with oil and wrestle them to the ground? Or perhaps to throw ball shaped objects at them, reliving the horrors of being an awkward little gay boy in elementary school? This is the time! Step up and offer to facilitate something!

The God Himself – Who exactly is Apollo? Who are his family? What did ancient people do for him? What makes him relevant to us now? Propose workshops to answer our burning questions! Offer rituals drawing us closer to him, to his family, to his work!

His Sister – There are many who have a relationship with Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo, and so it would also be valuable to bring her to the Gathering, if you feel so called. Who exactly is she, and what is her relationship with her brother?

The Nietzschean Duality – As many of us know, in modern times the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote quite extensively about Apollo as a God of reason and logic, contrasting with Dionysos as a god of the irrational and chaos. What do you have to say on the topic? Do you have rituals invoking these powers along this duality? Do you not like this charactarization and choose to interact with these gods in other ways? What did the ancients say about the relationship between Dionysos and Apollo?


Bang it! Bang it again!

Nope, not another post about sex. This one is about drumming at BTW.

You will see this information on the main Between the Worlds website and also in the guidebook for the festival. It bears repeating.

The evening drum circles around the fire are an opportunity for spontaneous community magic. It brings together individuals who work together to create a sacred space though drumming, dancing, chanting, spoken word and storytelling. In doing so, we can connect to the fire, the land, the stars, each other, our guides, our gods or ourselves. It’s also a time to have fun, frolic and socialize.

Because we are trying to create an unrehearsed group experience, there are some guidelines that we would like people to follow when participating in the evening fireside activities.

  • Listen and observe: When you first approach the drum circle, simply listen and observe what is taking place. Ease into participation so that you can get a feel for the group and bring your unique contribution gently into the mix. It’s less disruptive to the water’s surface if you wade in rather than cannonball.
  • Lead: Anyone can lead the group. It could be a drummer, dancer, chanter or storyteller. The activities around the fire are broken into performance pieces. They have a beginning, middle and an end. Since these are not rehearsed pieces, they may be long or brief. By listening and feeling, the group instinctively follows the arc of a piece until it’s end.. Some will end softly like a sigh while other may speed up into frenzy and end with a howl.
  • Let others lead: If you have led the group in a piece, give others the opportunity to lead the next few pieces. If someone starts a piece, it is important that everyone respect that leader by participating in the spirit with which the piece is presented. If you don’t like a particular rhythm, chant or story, please gracefully step away from the activity to socialize or watch around the outside of the fire until you feel moved to rejoin.Personal meditation, observation and socializing around the fireside activities are perfectly welcome forms of participation. If you are socializing we ask that you do so quietly in an area near the fire not occupied by drummers, dancers or chanters.
  • Bring some water if you are dancing or drumming: The fire is quite hot and extended periods of dancing or drumming can be draining. If you are drinking alcohol, you will still need water to stay well hydrated. If you see someone who looks like they need some water, please remind them to stay hydrated.
  • Please do not smoke near the drummers, dancers and chanters: If you need a cigarette, please take a brief walk away from the fire.

If you have any questions, ask!

Drummers and Instrumentalists:

  • Respect the drums: They are not to be used as end tables, footstools or chairs. Don’t place anything on the head of a drum except a protective cover. Don’t lean your elbows on the head of the drum when you are not playing.
    • Rubbing the skin in circles with the palm of your hand will generate some heat, warming the drumhead for playing. If you wish to remove moisture from the drumhead, you can do so by holding it near the fire, but not too close!
    • Do not play a drum while wearing hand or wrist jewelry.
    • Place instruments you wish to share in a designated area.
    • Drums that are covered, on their side or not in the area designated for shared instruments are not to be played without the owner’s permission.  These are traditional signs that the owner does not want them played by others.
    • Hand drums, rattles, shakers and other percussive instruments are the backbone of a drum circle. The didgeridoo, flute and recorder are welcome additions. If you would like to play an instrument not listed, please discuss that with the drum circle prior to playing it.
  • Follow the leader: One drummer will set the time and rhythm for a given piece. Follow that drummer’s lead and do not try to speed it up or slow it down. The rhythm will naturally speed up or slow down based on the energy of the circle, the chants and the dancing.
  • Try to keep time: This is music. The easiest thing to do if you are a beginner is strike your drum on the quarter note beats. You can also just strike your drum on the even or odd beats to accent them. If you need one of the more experienced drummers to count the quarter note beats for you, just ask. They will get you started. As you become more comfortable with timing you will find polyrhythm and solos possible while maintaining the established time signature.
  • Solo wisely: If you’re comfortable throwing in a solo, please do. Only one drummer should solo at a time. Solos can be short or run the length of a piece, just make sure what you are doing is in the spirit of the piece.
  • Blend: If your drum is the only drum you hear or you can’t hear the drummers beside you, then you are probably playing too loud. Adjust to blend.

If you are unsure of what or where to play, watch the reactions of the more experienced players.

The most important thing to remember, though, is the easiest to do. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to play a drum that someone isn’t playing, ask. It’s as simple as that.

163 days, Brothers. It will be here before any of us know it!