2023 – Presenter Bios
H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Heartland, Sirius Rising, Starwood, Scottish Pagan Federation Conference, Hexfest and other festivals and conferences. She serves as senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and the Coalition of Earth Religions/CERES, both in Asheville, NC. She podcasts about Appalachian folkways on “Wyrd Mountain Gals.”
Her essays are featured in several anthologies and she writes a regular column for SageWoman Magazine. Her books include “Staubs and Ditchwater” (2012), the companion volume “Asfidity and Mad-Stones” (2015) “Embracing Willendorf” (2017), “Earth Works: Ceremonies in Tower Time” (2018),“Roots, Branches, and Spirits: the Folkways and Witchery of Appalachia” from Llewellyn (Feb. 2021) and “Seasons of a Magical Life: a Pagan Path of Living” (Weiser, August 2021). Upcoming: “Simple Magics: Secrets of an Appalachian Village Witch” (Llewellyn, 2023), “The Ragged Wound: Tending the Soul of Appalachia” (Smith Bridge Press), “Porch Food: a cookbook from Wyrd Mountain” and a musical adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. www.myvillagewitch.com
Amy Blackthorn is the award-winning author of the best-selling, Blackthorn’s Botanicals series. She has been described as an “arcane horticulturalist” for her lifelong work with magical plants. She has a certification in aromatherapy and is ordained through the Order of the Golden Gryphon. Amy’s company, Blackthorns Botanicals, creates tea based on magical associations. She has appeared on HuffPoLive, Netflix’s Top Ten Secrets and Mysteries & the AP Newswire. Amy lives in Delaware. You can view Amy’s tea shop at BlackthornsBotancials.com.
Irene Glasse is a Mystic Witch based in Western Maryland. She is President of the Frederick Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, organizing and offering Pagan events, rituals, classes and workshops to a large, vibrant community. She is one of the founders of Blackfeather Mystery School, and co-author of ‘Blackfeather Mystery School:The Magpie Training.’ Irene also performs readings, healings, pastoral counseling services, magickal and ritual work, guided study and more both in person and remotely through her website, www.GlasseWitchCottage.com
Robert Lüsch-Schreiwer is a founder of Urglaawe, a Ziewer (godsman/priest) in Distelfink Sippschaft, Godsman in The Troth, and a practicing Braucher and Hex in the Oley Freindschaft and the Guild of Urglaawe Practitioners of Braucherei and Hexerei. Through the Pennsylvania Dutch Heathen Alliance for the Urglaawe, he has been conducting a project to gather oral lore from all regions of Pennsylvania Dutch settlement and currently working on other language and cultural advancement projects. He is the former Steer (President & CEO), Clergy, and Ambassador of the Troth, the Founder and Elder of The Troth’s In-Reach Heathen Prison Services program, Program Coordinator of The Troth’s Red Hammer Disaster Relief Program, Senior Manager of Heathens Against Hate, and The Troth’s Steward for Pennsylvania. He is the Founder and Elder of Philadelphia Pagan Pride, and he is one of the Managers of the Parade of Spirits in Philadelphia. He presented at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015 and 2018 and will do so again in 2023.
Other Fabulous Presenters
|Adam M. Davis||Dr. Adam M. Davis is a multidisciplinary naturalist who is experienced with many ways of connecting with nature: energetic, meditative, scientific, artistic, ecstatic, ceremonial, shamanic, and more. He has been facilitating nature awareness and inspiration workshops of the Connecting with the Land Workshop Series since 1998. More information about this workshop series is available online at www.landsolution.com/connectingwiththeland.html.|
|Alice Black||Alice Black is a Trans Heathen Witch who works primarily with Odin, and Loki, with experience and expertise in Musical Working, as well as an eclectic range of other topics.|
|Ash Glasse||Ash is the Gothar for Elk Ridge Kindred, an inclusive Heathen Kindred based in Western Maryland. They are an active member of the Frederick Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans where they can usually be found carrying chairs. Ash teaches classes and workshops through Frederick CUUPS and at various festivals and events in the region. They are also a member of Kindred Crow where they play guitar, mandolin, bass, bouzouki, drums, and spend too much time yelling at sound equipment.|
|Carla Gates – Candaca Okun||Carla initially pursued Nursing, becoming an RN in 1992, born out of a passion and natural inclination for healing inherited from her Great Grandmother and her parents. Later, Carla expanded her healing approach beyond allopathic medicine, pursuing spiritual healing techniques.|
Carla specializes in compassionate deposession, curse/hex unraveling and Healing Touch. Carla is deeply connected to African Derived spiritual traditions – culminating in her deep connection with Olokun and her spiritual name: Candaca Okun.
Over the years, Candaca Okun has developed a healing approach that is focused on amplifying clients’ intrinsic power to own their mental, physical and spiritual wellness and engage in their own healing process.
Carla learned Compassionate Depossession and Curse Unravelling directly from the renown Betsy Bergstom in 2012 & 2013. She then went on to study with Mary “Tyrtle” Rooker (an approved teacher of Sandra Ingerman & Betsy Bergstrom) where she learned Soul Retrieval and other shamanic healing practices, completing the Shamanic Healer’s Program in 2014.
Carla began studying healing touch in 2013, culminating in becoming a practitioner in 2017. In 2016 Carla became a member of Global Spirits – a modern tradition derived from African Spiritual Traditions. In 2019 Carla became a dedicated Priestess of Olokun. In 2022 Carla offered a complete course in Shamanic Essentials called: Shamanism from a Black Lens for people of the African Diaspora.
Her other qualifications and studies include: Studying with Baltimore Reclaiming:
• Elements of Magic – in October 2018
• Rites of Passage – in March 2019
|Carlo Ravin||Carlo Ravin is a poet-astrologer living in New England.|
|Claire/Luminous||“Claire / Luminous – Still just me…. Witch, Geek, Freak, Reiki Master Teacher, Grief & Trauma Healing Expert, Priestess, Minister, Counselor, Coach, Healer, Author, MaMa Bear, Cook, Performer, Dreamer, Builder, Druid’s Wife, Cat Mommy, Detroit and Jersey, Music and Mayhem, Above and Below. Blessed Be.|
|Firesong||Firesong (Eshu Akoni) is a priestess and Pathway initiate at the Universal Temple of Spirits, a Global Spirits pantheistic trance possession temple. She is a traditional song mistress as well as a professional teacher, opera singer, artist, and a root worker.|
Firesong conducts chant sessions, Global Spirits services, women’s rituals, herbalism classes, and pours for the Starry Night Sweat Circle. She has recorded several teaching CDs of traditional chants and is the author of Global Spirits: Philosophies and Practices. Firesong has sung with world class symphonies and performs in the US and Europe.
|Coriander Woodruff||Coriander Focus is a full time creator, working most in the mediums of photography and written word. Coriander creates between four and eight thousand photos per year and shares her art with her community alongside poetry, short stories, and other creative exploration. Coriander spent her youth deep in the mountains of rural Appalachia where her love of wild places was cultivated. She has since captured that love using fine art photography for more than a decade. She has worked as an artist and has had her work displayed nationally across galleries and shows since 2010. Coriander’s other great love is teaching, since 2008 Coriander has taught a wide range of classes from fairy house building to immersive private photography workshops. Notable highlights of Coriander Focus’ recent career have been Sarasvati Creative Space Residency (2022), Exhibition in Motion hosted by the Society of North American Goldsmiths (2018) and Transformation, hosted by RE:ARTESTIE New York NY.(2017)|
|Deborah Becker||Sidhe Dances Is a Third Degree Initiate of The Assembly of The Sacred wheel. She is a Priestess of Bast and dedicated to Heimdall. As a Seer, she helps others to develop their psychic abilities, and as a facilitator she helps strengthen connections between the many covens within the Assembly with Coven Share. Passionate about animal communication and nature spirits she spends as much time in nature as possible.|
|Denise Lavery||I’ve been attending FSG for what I believe to be about 20 years. I have attended workshops, concerts, fire circles, rituals, sweats, and performed at several lunchtime concerts over the years. I belong to a groups called “Goddess Grove”, and we would like to offer sponsoring and hosting an opening celebration setting an intention and theme for the Festival based around lammas / lughnasadh, focusing on blessings of the harvest of grains, sustenance, gratitude.|
|Ginger Ackley||Ginger Ackley, accompanied by her autoharp and whistles has been enchanting folks from coast to coast. She’s got a special way of making music she calls “Celtic with a Twist” so you never quite know what’s going to happen – except that it will touch your heart! Ginger was chosen the IPMA’s 2020 Female Artist of the Year and her award winning music can be heard on several streaming stations now. Over the last few years, she has also been appearing as Posie the Flower Pixie, Tabitha the Hag of Wonder and Snowdrop the Winter Pixie. All these personae have come out to inspire everyone she meets to connect with their Inner Divine Child! Her weekly Facebook show, EnCHANTica, plays every Wednesday to audiences from Europe to Australia!|
|Hugh Eckert||Hugh Eckert has been a Pagan for more than thirty-five years; he was at the very first Free Spirit Gathering and has attended almost every one since. He is an eclectic Polytheist and member of the Universal Temple of Spirits, a celebratory and devotional group working in the Global Spirits trance-possessory tradition. He attended Cherry Hill Seminary for several years and earned a Certificate of Continuing Education in Text, Tradition and Interpretation. He writes poetry, reviews books for Witches and Pagans magazine, and reads a lot. A book of his poetry- “The Words Swim, Waiting”- is available on Lulu.com. His blog can be found at thewordsswimwaiting.wordpress.com.|
|Irene Glasse||Irene Glasse is a mystic witch based in Western Maryland. She is a longtime teacher of witchcraft, meditation, and magic in the mid-Atlantic. She has performed, taught workshops, and led rituals at many festivals and conferences over the years, including but not limited to the Sacred Space Conference, EarthSpirit’s Twilight Covening and Rites of Spring, Fertile Ground Gathering, Free Spirit Gathering, the Shenandoah Midsummer Festival, and more. Irene is the main organizer of the Frederick Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (Frederick CUUPS), offering events, rituals, classes, and workshops to a large, vibrant community. She is the coauthor of “Blackfeather Mystery School: The Magpie Training” and blogs weekly at GlasseWitchCottage.com.|
|Jack Brycki||I’ve been practicing yoga, chi- Chong, meditation for over 20 years. I don’t really have any certificates, but could lead a session or two in my morning routine or something.|
Jack Lowry is a musician who works with developing innovations in world fusion music through a confluence of musical influences and chi energy. This work initiated in 2007 at the Starwood Pagan Festival. Being a percussionist from a young age, Jack developed a keen ear for rhythm in drum circles. A guitarist in his youth, Jack has become proficient in Oud and Cumbus which he plays along with a mini 12 string guitar as well as his voice in the band Gypsy Funk Squad. Having been in the music business for over 30 years, Jack feels it is a form of prayer when he is able to connect and share his musical chi with the people of the Earth
|James Scott (SoulSpeaker)||James Scott is a metaphysical master hypnotist, tantric energy healer, and necromantic psychic medium who has spent more than 30 years walking the magickal path. From the sacred teachings of the Hawaiian kahuna to the shadowy whispers of the Hungarian Roma, he has learned many secrets that he now incorporates into everyday life. He specializes in teaching others the power of words to shift perception and shape reality.|
|Klytus||I have been an intuitive energy worker my whole life, but I received my first taste of intentional energy work at FSG 2009 with workshops in Reiki I and psychic healing. I am now certified in Reiki III, with training in shamanic journey work and shamanic soul retrieval. I have also spent the years practicing, refining, and honing my energy work techniques by trial and error (mostly error). In 2016, I offered to teach Energy Works I and II. They were so well received, I added parts III and IV at FSG 2017, and have been teaching the workshops ever since.|
|Mary Rooker||Mary “Tyrtle’s” cosmology is North European shamanism. Answering the call to healing and wholeness, manifesting non-dualistic realities, and transcending gender roles are central to Tyrtle’s vision. Her spiritual beliefs inform her political activism, which dates from the 1970s and includes a range of freedom, justice, and ecology movements. She calls her sweats “Stone Baths” in honor of her Anglo-Saxon/Germanic heritage. She worked sweats full-time within the Pagan community from 1995-2010 and has poured since 1996. Her primary teachers have been Betsy Bergstrom and the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. She has engaged shamanism since the early 1990s and has a shamanic healing and teaching practice in the D.C. area. Her Shamanic Healers’ School opened in 2007 and continues to offer training for healers, journeyers, and everyday life. See <http://www.shamanicspring.com/>.|
|Michelle A. Jones||Michelle A. Jones is an Elder in the Guild of Urglaawe Practitioners of Braucherei and Hexerei, an Urglaawe Zierwern, and Secretary of die Urglaawisch Sippschaft vum Distelfink. She has served on the boards of both Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day and South Jersey Pagan Pride Day. Michelle is a founding member of the Primitive Grove Circle eclectic coven based in South Jersey. She graduated from Farm at Coventry (now The Still Room at Pitch Pines) Homestead Herbalism course where her teacher and mentor emphasized the Deitsch herbal tradition. Michelle leads herbal hobbyist workshops from her private residence, Oak Haven Farm, in southern New Jersey on the boundary of the Pine Barrens, where she attends to her gardens and bees and handcrafts herbal goodies. She is dedicated to ensuring that everything grows organically and respectfully. As she is oft to note, she is simply the steward of the property where she resides. In her spare time, Michelle looks to her Deitsch heritage for inspiration and wisdom in all matters, researching and incorporating real, traditional, foods into her lifestyle because food is the first best medicine, learning about her new found interest in astrology, working on her historical home’s renovations, hanging out with her dog, and spending time with the Oak that sits prominently in the yard.|
|Mo (Moine Michelle or Michelle LaFrance||Moine Michelle (Mo) is an animist, poet-seer, and AODA and OBOD Druid, who has studied Scottish Gaelic for over twenty five years. Scottish language and tradition have often informed her personal gnosis and work with land and animal spirits. She can often be found speaking with the rivers, mountains, and trees of Lost River, West Virginia.|
|Patricia Althouse||Patty self initiated in wicca in 1993 while a grad student at Penn State and has never looked back, spiritually. She received training in Dianic Wicca while still living in State College, then moved to Four Quarters in 2001. There she became an initiate of Stone Circle Wicca and is still involved with that spiritual path today, currently studying for her third degree initiation. In 2006, she travelled to Cuba to receive her Regla de Ocha initiation and became a priestess of Obatala. Upon leaving Four Quarters she co-founded Stone Circle Council in 2019, a spiritual non-profit dedicated to providing a safe community for pagans and teaching people to Raise Stones.|
|Patricia Robin Woodruff||Patricia Robin Woodruff is an artist and writer, polymath and Priestess. Her Slavic Lemko heritage is from the Carpathian mountains and she is following a spirit-initiated path of a Lemko Bosorka (shamanic witch.) Woodruff has a PhD in Metaphysical Theology. Her broad knowledge base combined with in-depth cultural studies are providing groundbreaking new insights on the roots of Slavic Magic. She is the author of Woodruff’s Guide to Slavic Deities (2020). Dr. Woodruff is currently working on a book series on the Roots of Slavic Magic. Follow her at amazon.com/author/patriciarobinwoodruff|
|Rob Berra||Rob was Pagan before Pagan was cool (barely). He started wandering into Paganism back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, and after a couple of stops along the way joined the Blue Star Wiccan Tradition. He’s now a Third Degree HPT in that Tradition, but tries not to let it go to his head. A New Englander by birth and heart, he nevertheless lives in Minneapolis with his spouse (with whom he co-leads a coven) and one offspring.|
|Ron Padrón||Ron Padrón (he/him/his) is a gay Cuban-American folk witch from the swamps of Florida now living in the mid-Atlantic with his husband and their small cryptid dog. He has been a member of the pagan community for two decades with specific interests in divination, Queer Ancestor veneration and necromancy, hedge witchery, and social justice activism. He is the creator of White Rose Witching through which he manages a blog sharing Queer Ancestor Spotlights and rituals, and hosts workshops across a variety of topics. He has presented at the Salem Witchcraft and Folklore Festival on spiritual activism, locally at Hallowed Homecoming discussing working with Queer Ancestors, and as a guest speaker for local pagan groups, historic sites, and small museums discussing colonial witchcraft politics and queer history.|
|Sharon Igoe von Behren||Sharon Igoe von Behren is a Certified Death Midwife through the Earth Traditions certification. She is also a Second Degree HPS/Initiate in the Blue Star Tradition. Sharon has volunteered at the Hospice of the Chesapeake as the Director of their Threshold Chorus, which sings at the bedside of those who are transitioning. Away from hospice work, Sharon is a recently retired IRS employee, mother of four, and grandmother of six. Sharon lives in Baltimore with her husband and three cats–Ginger, Molly, and Lili. She loves to read, cook, preserve the harvest—canning tomatoes and making jams are her favorites thus far—embroider, paint ceramics, develop bath and body products, and generally play in her (C)craft room.|
|Siren (Stacey Smith)||Siren is an active, practicing Witch of an eclectic path with over 20 years of knowledge and experience in a multitude of different subjects and takes pride in learning a little bit about everything. Having raised 3 children on the Wiccan path she also feels very strongly about sharing her faith and knowledge with the next generation. We only move forward by connecting to our past as well as out future.|
|Stacey Lynne Stewart||Stacey Lynne Stewart is a Heathen artist and author, an Urglaawe Ziewern, a Braucherin and Hex in the Guild of Urglaawe Practitioners of Braucherei and Hexerei, an Ambassador for The Troth, and wearer of many other hats. A Pagan for almost forty years and a Heathen for twenty, she has been focusing recent studies on the Deitsche Raane, creating art for the Urglaawe myths and lore, and bringing traditional Deitsch art forms into the present while trying to protect and advance our future.|
|Sundance Metelsky||Sundance Metelsky has been walking the shamanic path since 1992 and is currently enrolled in the Foundation for Shamanic Studies’ 3-Year Program of Advanced Initiations and Shamanic Healing. She is the founder of the Weather Dancing Circle, leader of the Celtic Study Circle, and a member of the Universal Temple of Spirits, Sacred Women’s Circle, Sister Dreamers, WiseWoman Forum, and the Jung Society of Washington. Her interests include dream and art explorations, deep diving in the psyche, shamanic work with the Spirits of the Land, Weather Dancing, River shamanism, Celtic shamanism, and Shamanism without Borders.|
|Tina Van Pelt||Fused glass artist and pagan. Have been teaching at FSG since 2006|
Presenters for Young Adult Programming
Siren (Stacey Cooper Smith)
Is an active eclectic witch with over 22 years of practical experience. She has studied tarot, palmistry, pendulum oracles and a number of other useful things. As acting high priestess of the Fort Hood open circle she has spent many years helping people both pagan and non, find their spirituality or “truth”. She has been a member of The Order of the Midnight Rose as well as The Keepers of the Holly Chalice. Currently not in a coven but a friend and student of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel for over 20 years. She is excited to share her collection of knowledge and experiences in a very relaxed, easy to follow way.
Founder of the Modern Heathen and founding member of Potomac Seidr Guild Ondvegisulur—was raised as a Methodist. Since that time he has migrated through various philosophies which ultimately brought him to heathenism, where he has been active for the last 20 years. He currently teaches courses about Heathenism online and in person, and helps run Oracular Seidr rituals. He’s written several books on Northern European topics including the runes, and rituals. He most recently served as coordinator for Free Spirit Gathering Online 2022 and 2023.
His current projects include a book on Northern European philosophy and composing music for an operatic singer to be performed in England in 2022. Scott received his B.A. from Beloit College in both International Relations and Music, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver College of Law. He currently resides with his wife and her partner, in Germantown, MD. He holds multiple certifications in various technical topics, as well as both in person and online education. Outside of his spiritual pursuits, Scott has served as a network security and courseware developer for the last 14 years.
Along with being a practicing Wiccan solitary for over 35 years I have been interested in and doing crafts my whole life. I find that Arts and Crafts are a great way to connect to with spirituality and individual creativity.
Country of origin: Brooklyn. Cultural influences, Science Fiction and Opera. Parents tried to raise me as an atheist – it didn’t take.
Tygerwolf began her spiritual journey at the knee of her Great Grandfather who taught her to tune into and receive messages from nature. At a Girl Scout Jamboree she discovered that not everyone can see spirits. Then as a young teen she met a wise elder who helped her understand that her ability to see spirits was actually a gift. She also introduced Tygerwolf to astral projection and palmistry. In college she learned quite by accident that she could also connect with and channel (or be ridden by) animal spirits. It wasn’t until the mid ‘90s that she met Pagans and learned there were a lot of people who held similar beliefs and that there were many resources to help her hone her practice. She has helped organize, participate in, and lead rituals with Duncton Woods, the DragonWolf Clan, and Portal of the Porcupine. She also apprenticed with Cougar of the Bear Tribe for several years. Being of mixed European and American descent it’s no wonder her beliefs and practice are so eclectic. Tygerwolf also firmly believes in being a lifelong learner.
Genevieve Gravina, Herbalist I provide herbal consultation and custom made herbal remedies and herbal home care products for my family and community in Northern Massachusetts. I’ve studied herbalism with Terri Kalgren, Sheilagh Cruickshank and Margi Flint in the lineage of Rosemary Gladstart.