Members of the Northern Spirits Coven of Witches, including Rick Werner, center, also known as Lord Chadow, pose for a photograph. The coven is setting up for their annual Toledo's Witches Ball. The ball will take place today at Ft. Industry Square in downtown Toledo.
Halloween is not just the evening, or e’en, before the Christian All Saints Day, not just the night to pay attention to the “bad” of witches before recognizing the “good” of all hallows.
Oct. 31 is itself a religious holiday to Wiccans and other pagans. The day called Samhain (your neighborhood pagan might pronounce it SOW-wen) stands on its own to mark the Celtic new year and the “day” of that culture’s “year and a day” calendar, printed sources state.
In the Toledo area, some circles of Wiccans will celebrate Samhain privately. The Northern Spirits Coven of Witches hosts a public event, Toledo’s Annual Witches Ball, where party and ritual share space. The leader, Lord Chadow (sounds like shadow), Rick Werner, 60, says the event attracts potential members to the coven and educates others about Wiccan practices. In addition to the party, Northern Spirits demonstrates a coven ritual.
The ball will be held today from 6 p.m. until Sunday at 2 a.m. at Fort Industry Square, 152 N. Summit St. Admission at the door is $12 for individuals, $20 for couples, and the $2 fee for parking behind the building will be refunded with a ticket.
Last year, the Witches Ball was at the Collingwood Arts Center, but coven member Bear Heart — Brian Felster, 48, who was interim executive director of Collingwood and an organizer of Northern Spirits more than 20 years earlier — died of heart disease at the center just before the event began, and Lord Chadow and other organizers chose to change the venue this year.
Lord Chadow says Northern Spirits will have a Wiccan memorial service for Bear Heart soon at the Angel Light Sanctuary in Swanton.
On Thursday night, a group of 10 from Northern Spirits — Lord Chadow and some students, their ages ranging from teens to 60s, their involvement neophyte to veteran — took time from setting up for the ball to don ceremonial robes and speak about their Wiccan faith. They used their Wiccan names rather than their “real” ones.
Many people are religious seekers and move through faiths rather than putting roots in; these former Christians arrived at Wicca. They have a guiding rule, the Wiccan rede: “Do as you will, harm none,” Lord Chadow said.
“I began to have problems thinking of a divine whole being being strictly male,” Sage said. “We have a goddess as well as a god, and that respect was very much what it is that I continue to enjoy about the faith.”
Mystical, an adult who was 9 when she met Lord Chadow, said, “I was always into the movies, the witchcraft. I had run into Lord Chadow again and he was like, ‘Mystical, why don’t you come to one of my meetings and you’ll learn more?’ I have been here ever since."
“I was introduced to this when I went to a [Methodist] funeral with an ex-girlfriend and her sister,” Stryder said. “This was eight years ago. It was kind of funny that a pagan and a Quaker brought me my first book on Wicca.”
The coven members are much like people in any religious congregation in their backgrounds, with a variety of occupations.
Northern Spirits holds Sunday open classes at Once in a Blue Moon, 1600 W. Sylvania Ave., the “New Age Metaphysical Wiccan gift store” that Lord Chadow operates. For more information, go to www.northernspirits.webs.com.
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