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Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, West Kentucky Hoodoo Rootworker Heritage Festival, and other gatherings.

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Just A Song at Twilight

Today was laundry day. And unpacking day. And grocery-shopping day. I returned late yesterday from Festival of Souls near Memphis and it was my second festival in as many weeks. I am grateful to be home to settle into Samhain and wash my socks.

Two weeks ago, I was teaching at the Southeast Wise Women's Conference, which used to be called the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference. It is exactly what it sounds like. In a gorgeous mountain setting--that was the site of the old Black Mountain College.


Cool, huh? More than a thousand women come together for three days and teach and learn and are generally herbalicious. Each year, there's a rockstar headliner and those have included Starhawk and Susan Weed. This year it was Alyssa Starkweather.

I've been doing that conference for several years, either as a volunteer or a teacher.  I do other things like facilitating a fire ceremony, holding space for a talking stick discussion, setting up a community altar, blessing the fire bowl. Whose named is Brid, by the way.

So much to learn, in a lovely location, with locally-sourced organic food to keep us healthy. I only had one class to teach this year so I got to attend several excellent classes. I didn't have far to travel, which was nice. Because there was about a three-day turnaround before we left here for the other side of Tennessee.

It was my first time at Festival of Souls. They invited me to be one of their special guests, which means they comped me into the festival, gave me a place to sleep and fed me, and I taught some classes.  The other details were a little fuzzy but there was a table in the vendors' area and I was hopeful of selling a few books, a few charms and a product or two to make money to cover the cost of gas.

As it turned out, I taught the classes--including an impromptu one when there was a space in the schedule--and I facilitated the opening ritual. In between, I visited with old friends from other festivals and met some new friends.  And they very kindly paid me enough money to pay for all the gas, with a bit of pocket change leftover.

And now my socks are clean and I am settling in for the delights and terrors and intensity that is the Samhain season in my world.  I have moments of watching the sun set, of playing with the cat, working a bit in the garden and singing those old songs.

And Thursday, we stand together for our annual Ancestor Vigil. The names, the stories, the grief, the love. And a glimpse into a whole new year.


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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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