March 18, 2018
Let me start by once again thanking those of you who came through for us the past couple of days and made the trip to OSP possible after my account being hacked. You all are amazing. Thank you so, so much.
OSP, or Ohio State Penitentiary, is Ohio's Supermax facility, located in Hubbard, OH. Pulling up to this massive prison, it is hard to not get overwhelmed. All I could think when we were parking is that all of these men are kept in cells no bigger then the space we were parking the car in. Think about that for a moment...the size of a parking space...containing a bed, a toilet and a sink. That is their entire world. 23-24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year...some for more then 20 years.
We were there to meet with various folks from 4 different "blocks". There are 2 chaplains at OSP, each handles 2 blocks, and both were exceptionally cooperative with us. Going through the facility and through the individual "blocks", or housing units, you get to see up close and personal just how isolative this is for those incarcerated there. The doors are completely metal, with any opening sealed shut, metal along the bottom so they can not even verbally communicate with each other. The only human contact most have is with the COs as food trays get delivered, or if they get transported out for programming such as ours. Their "1 hour of outside rec" is not even actually outside...it is on the pod in a cage, with access to sunlight coming in from windows 20 feet up.
The tension was quite high with COs as we arrived. Any deviation from the normal routine is a potential for danger, and they were all very leery of what we were there to do. Add to that, the majority we were there to meet with were considered "dangerous gang members" as they were heathen.
On each block, we were brought upstairs to a room that had 6 cages, arranged side by side. The men we were there to meet had already been transported and each placed in an individual cage. (I can't even begin to tell you the emotion that swept over me seeing grown ass men caged like animals on display...it caught my breath) Of course, we had to keep a certain distance from the cages, had to slide paperwork back and forth to each other (these are the times my own prior incarceration comes in handy, lol, and all those times of kiting stuff around the pod) But we did it. We had about an hour and a half with each group...cramming as much as we could into the session. We had some laughs..alot of laughs actually...and started something really really good.
As the months continue on, and the numbers of folks there who sign up to see us, we will increase out time on site....seeing 2-3 groups on each block. That may even grow into having to spend 2 full days onsite there. Something I will gladly do. How these men can live in these conditions and still maintain any semblance of sanity, let alone walk their path and study their faith, is beyond humbling to me. Yesterday's trip to OSP was a defining moment for me and this ministry. If there has been any doubt, or moments of weakness on my part at all in continuing this....that was completely erased.
We are now going inside monthly to Mansfield, Allen, Oakwood, London, Chillicothe, Warren, Dayton Correctional, and Ohio State Penitentiary, as well as starting NEOCC and Grafton Correctional next month. There are several others in the process of setting dates. As the word spreads, the need for this Ministry keeps growing...as does our increasing need for help from the community. I urge you to view our "How You Can Help" page and see how you, too, can be a part of changing lives.
Feb 8, 2018
I am right now answering emails and trying to schedule monthly visits to 10 more facilities in Ohio. Ten more!!! On top of what we already do. Until we can purchase a vehicle, we will have to start renting one, as Minerva's is not going to hold up with these long trips.
We have been doing this prison ministry for almost 3 years now. At this time, several of the folks we have worked with are starting to be released. These are folks who worked hard while incarcerated to turn their lives around. They worked on their own physical, mental, and spiritual growth to leave prison better then when they went in. To lead honorable, productive lives.
As I have always known, many in the outside world are not so receptive...the stigma attached with incarceration is huge. These folks come out and have no Kindred, Coven, or other means of spiritual support in their path. So they are creating their own.
There are two Kindreds in WV and one in Ohio being formed for the folks coming out. They are continuing the studies we started with them and working to grow a community where they can thrive in their path. I could not be more proud.
THIS, people, is why we do what we do. THIS is the reason I say that change and growth needs to start from inside...metaphorically and literally.
Now is the time we start to plant the seeds of that which we wish to harvest this year. I am so truly blessed to be a part of something that is growing so fruitful and bountiful every day. Appalachian Pagan Ministry. The seeds we planted with this ministry have grown, been harvested, and new seeds being planted again.
We now have Kindreds and covens forming from the folks we worked with inside here on the outside, so they can continue to help their brothers and sisters grow and thrive in their chosen paths. Starting foundations from which to thrive and live honorably. As one told me today, "I am not my brother's keeper...I am my brother."
I can not begin to express how important the work is that we do. We have seen the changes happening inside the walls....and now we are seeing it outside with those who are coming out and working hard to keep going, as well as still helping their brothers and sisters inside. It is amazing.
When someone you worked with inside kept the branch you used as Yggdrasil at a Midsummer Blot and uses that on their altar. Yeah...that means something.
When those you worked with get out and continue working your courses, and use them to teach others in their lives. Yeah...that means something.
"Thanks to Donna Donovan and the Appalachian Pagan Ministry for changing the lives of good men and women across the nation, and showing those she has helped; how to give back to our Kinsmen and women, Kith and Kin, and to make a difference in the greater community as a whole."
Yeah, this is why we do this ^^^. If you want to help us continue to make a change, step up. Now is the time to do so. Now is the time to be counted.
What an exciting month for Appalachian Pagan Ministry! Our newest volunteer, Shannon Hansen, (Fire Mama) will finally be going behind the walls with us. We are also starting 2 new facilities: London Correctional and Dayton Correctional (one of the women's facilities in Ohio). We will also be giving a presentation to the Horizon Prison Initiative on March 1st.
Needless to say, along with growth comes enormous growing expenses. Due to the excessive driving, it is now becoming crucial that we rent vehicles until such time as we can purchase a new one. Growth in facilities also means expanded material printing needs and postage, fuel, etc... Once again I am calling out to our community to help.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry has now been invited to start services at Ohio State Penitentiary....Ohio's Supermax facility. Wow. This facility is in Youngstown and will require a full day, if not two, of meetings with the men we will serve. Many are on 23 hr a day lock down and can not meet in groups. This is what we do...we serve as we are needed. This will be a trip of its own...adding another to our monthly commitments.
So I have sat down and figured out the numbers. With the addition of the 3 new facilities (not counting the rest coming) we will end up doing three Ohio trips a month. Each trip costs $305 approx. That is with the car rental, fuel, lodging, material printing, postage, and meals. Three times a month will mean $915 just to stay on top of what we have. All of this is not counting the trips Minerva makes to Lakin Correctional twice a month.
With the social and political climate of our country, and world, today...it behooves each and everyone of us to do what we can to help these folk learn, grow, and prep for reentry to the outside world. Because they ARE coming out. If you truly want to make a difference in the craziness you see in the world around you, please consider helping us on this journey. I can not begin to tell you the changes we witness first hand in the men and women we work with.
This is a never ending process, the quest for funding. We just spent over $100 in business cards and brochures (which we need to market) not too mention last visits printing cost, fuel, food, various expenses...website, postage and such. To say things are tight, financially and energy wise, is an extreme understatement. Any and all help is appreciated, no matter how large or small.
So as you can see, we need all the help we can get. We have trips starting again soon. You can help us continue this momentum of change and growth. Our website has 2 ways to donate...the "Donate" button is for a one time donation, or "Subscribe" to set up recurring monthly donations.
Thank you so much!!! Rev Donna Donovan
**The green is facilities we go to monthly...the yellow are
ones to start
Dec 29, 2017
Wednesday morning we were off to the Ohio facilities. Teresa, came and got me, and then it was off on a 4 1/2 hour drive to AOCI. There was a miscommunication issue, and I was not allowed to bring in the ham or the juice. We have resolved the issue and will be able to do so in the future.. But the Blot went very well. My guys there are extremely dedicated and take their path seriously.
((For each of these Blots, we do a 3 round sumbel...1st round to the Gods, Goddesses, and Ancestors. 2nd round to something you have accomplished this past year. 3rd round to something you hope to accomplish in the coming year))
What stands out in my head each time we do these (Midsummer and Yule) is how round 3 is usually what is accomplished in round 2 the following Blot. These guys set their goals and accomplish them. When I point that out, they walk away with a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.
We then drove back down to Columbus OH and checked into our room. (I get great rates through a service called Booking.com) and went to eat at a place called the Spaghetti Warehouse. I swear we ate enough pasta and such to last a month. lol Then it was back to the hotel and prep for the next day and sleep.
Thursday morning it was off to Chillicothe Correctional. I have one of the largest Kindreds there, and a Chaplain and Warden who work really well with us. I was allowed to bring in everything, so during our Blot, we got to have a "feast" of crackers and cubed ham, and do our offerings and sumbel with apple juice and honey. It may seem trivial, but in the Ohio prisons they do not serve pork, actually not even real meat at all, anymore, due to the religious beliefs of the Muslims. That is an issue the inmates are taking up for themselves. But ODRC is allowing me to bring in pork for rituals, so that is a huge step. Teresa was allowed to bring in cookies and apple juice with honey for the Wiccans to have "cakes and ale" during their ritual.
Chillicothe is what I consider my main facility in Ohio, as I have been working with these inmates for months before ever coming inside. They have all been doing the Elder Troth Lore Program via correspondence before we were approved to do onsite meetings. Something we talked about Thursday (as well as at the other facilities) is the fact that many have become lax in their studies and meditations. It's easy to do that, especially this time of year. The problem is that this is the time of year when it is even more crucial to keep up with our studies and our work with our gods. Winter and darkness is upon us, we turn inward and focus on what we need to deal with inside ourselves. For many, that is a very very dark place...and if we go there alone we may not come back. Our studies and our meditations remind us who we are and what our purpose is.
Death Row is housed at Chillicothe, and we have 5 Wiccans there. So after our Blot and ritual, it was off to the Row. Teresa led the inmates in a Yule Ritual...I get moved every time I watch her lead. While we may not follow the same path or believe the same things, this lady knows her stuff and has my ultimate respect. On the Row, they take us to the gym and leave us locked in there with the inmates alone. Apparently we are the only volunteers who will do that. lol No we are not stupid or overly brave. It's the same at every meeting we do. I'm usually in a room with 40-50 inmates and no COs there, I have no radio etc... Yet, I know I am safer there then at Walmart. (That and I am trained, lol. Up till last year, my "real job" was working on the forensic unit of a state psyche facility...I was the CO with no gun, lol, walking around with patients who committed the most heinous crimes in my state) But in all seriousness, we are there because we are wanted there by the inmates, the majority would take a bullet rather then let something happen to either of us. I know that. The ritual went very well on Death Row...then we had another 3 hour drive over to Warren Correctional.
We held our last Blot and ritual for the day there. I had a great turnout. One of the inmates is crafting a beautiful wooden Viking boat and donating it to the Ministry. I'll raffle it off and use the funds for books and materials at that facility. Then it was a 3 1/2 hour drive home, with a stop for Chinese along the way. All in all a very good, but very long trip.
I truly appreciate all the support we have received this year. Please continue to do so, or start now. As we await the return of spring and life, let us cling to those things that keep our hearts beating, our voices singing, and our souls flying!
July 1, 2017
It has been a couple days since our trip to Ohio, and I have been able to digest all that happened.
Our trip was shortened by a day due to re-scheduling by one facility and some communication issues with the other. Honestly, it was for the best, as 9 days out at camp took a huge toll on me. So our trip was solely on Thursday.
We started out at Chillicothe Correctional I held a Midsummer Blot with the Asatru/Odinists, and Minerva held a Litha Ritual with the Wiccans. Both we held outside...Minerva in the courtyard, and myself in the yard. It was a beautiful day and we both had very significant turn outs.
The Blot was nothing short of awesome. The Kindred at Chillicothe is strong and dedicated. To hear this Blot spoken in Old Norse was moving, and the fact that each one who spoke had completely memorized their part of the Blot was truly appreciated. As we were wrapping up, 2 ravens flew up and landed above where I was standing. I'd say that was a sign of approval. I then took some time to honor the wife of one the men, who was not only a friend of mine but a true warrior in the Recovery Community. We wrapped up with a 3 round Sumble...no oaths given. While that may not be traditional, in the environment we were in, it is prudent.
We then went over to Death Row, where I was honored to bear witness to the first pagan ritual ever held on Death Row in Ohio. Minerva led a beautiful Litha Ritual with the inmates we have there. While Minerva and I do not share the same beliefs, I have so much respect for this woman. To be blunt, she truly knows her shit. To watch her do her "work" is nothing short of watching a master builder build a temple. She is steady and calm, possessing such an inner strength that it is awe inspiring.
From there we went to Warren Correctional where we had another amazing two services...the Blot with the Asatru/Odinists and the Litha ritual with the Wiccans. Due to security issues, these were both held inside. Two of my main Heathens had been transferred out this past week, so I was concerned how things would go. I was happily surprised to see new ones step up to the plate and the Blot was just as successful as at Chillicothe.
It is my greatest wish to one day be able to record one of these inside and be able to show all of you just how dedicated and hardworking these folks are in their practice. It has nothing to do with race or gang affiliations. When they are there honoring their deities and ancestors, they are truly sincere. They are holding themselves to higher standards then I see many on the outside do. And they deserve our support in doing so. They are working to grow in body, mind and spirit..every day...to leave better people then when they went in.
We do need your help to continue this. Please view our How to Help page and see what you can do to help APM in this effort. Thank you.
May 20, 2017
As many read this past week, we did NOT make it to St Mary's Correctional this visit, as there was an issue of missing car keys. (They were found) So we started the trip out late. Also, due to some knee issues, Teresa (aka Minerva) was unable to make this trip.
On Thursday afternoon, the 18th, we made it to Salem Correctional. Our first gathering was with the Gen Pop. It was an exceptionally good Moot...we discussed worship...and how that it is a very personal thing. We worship who, how, and why we individually choose to. We discussed what the term "god" means, and the etymology of that word, and how it varies from path and culture and how it applies now. We also discussed various recent events in the outside Heathen world. That was an interesting discussion. After that, I went on to the locked down unit (LOP) and held a Moot with the inmates I have on there. As I have stated before, the situations in the facilities, especially in regards to Heathen inmates, are becoming quite stressful. Aside from our regular discussion, we also discussed the ways in which to handle these changing circumstances in a way that will be productive for the pagan inmates.
Friday morning it was off to Huttonsville Correctional. That visit was exactly what I needed to get my own head and heart straight and focused on how important this truly all is.
I was greeted outside the doors by the chaplain and told that the facility was in the middle of a survey. That means the Federal govt was there to inspect the facility and review their procedures and policies, and my name had been drawn as part of the 10% of staff to be interviewed by the Federal inspector. No pressure there, lol. I spent about 20 minutes in the Warden's office, chit-chatting and waiting to be interviewed. When I went in to the interview, it was a very basic and straight-forward (I know the PREA regulations like the back of my hand lol) Then the lady interviewing me expressed that she was very interest personally in what APM was doing in the prisons. It seems her daughter is Wiccan, and she, herself, had been a Warden in Ohio for 25 years. Synchronicity in action...love it! She then proceeded to tell me how important our work was, how keeping that community connection with the inmates and the ability to grow in spirit was essential to reducing recidivism, and if there was anything we needed to let her know. I was so thrilled and humbled.
It was then off to meet with the inmates. About 30 showed up to meet with Teresa and were very sad she wasn't able to be there. But I gave them some material to work on, and they sat and did that while I held the Moot with the Heathen inmates (We had over 40 there) Our discussion were the same as at Salem, and we had some very productive and moving moments as well. About half-way through, one of the Wiccan inmates asked if they could speak to all of us. He said they were going to do a healing blessing for Teresa, and would the Heathens wish to join. They did. So here in this prison, inmates of various paths who normally do NOT mix, all joined together to do a healing blessing for Teresa. I was brought to tears. I could never put into words how very thankful I am to have this amazing woman with me on this journey.
We are off to the Ohio prisons next week, and in June we will be holding a Midsummer Blot at all of the facilities..even on the locked down units. We are very thankful for all who have supported us in this journey but there is so much more work to be done and so much more support needed. Please help in any way you can. Thank you!
May 8, 2017
We had a wonderful time today at Beltaine in the Forest 2017! Saw some old friends, met some new ones, and got the word out about the work we do at Appalachian Pagan Ministry. Thank you so much to all who stopped by the booth!
Without further ado.....7 out of our 10 raffles went off. The are the winners:
Tarot Cards & Companion book: Devon Whaley
Friendship Poppet: Amber Bevins
CDs: Mary Baughman
T-shirt: Sunny Hicks
Mug: Chuck Delaney
Canned Goods: Angie Fawn
Runes: Mike Bevins
Once again, thank you everyone for your support of Appalachian Pagan Ministry. We look forward to next year's festivities! View our Events page to see where you can find us this season!
April 28, 2017
April 20th and 21st we did our monthly visits to the WV prisons. We went to St Mary's, Salem and Huttonsville Correctional. We did not go to Pruntytown Correctional this month, and I will touch on that in a minute.
This was a very enlightening, and somewhat disturbing, visit to say the least. As I have stated before, I was well aware of the majority of staff would become increasingly "worried" (for lack of a better word) when the Heathen population started becoming more unified in the process of doing this course and taking their faith seriously. They were no longer just "wearing hammers and hanging in groups"...they are actually studying and practicing their faith. As expected, harassment in various forms increased. I encouraged the inmates to remain calm and steadfast, to understand where this was coming from, and just keep doing what they were doing.
Well, it has now come to my attention that the situation has increased in intensity. The Asatru/Odinist inmates are now being segregated and labeled as "gang" members...though no official affiliation has been named on paper. Their Asatru tattoos are being photographed and labeled as "gang tattoos" (I am not talking those associated with neo-nazi groups..I mean tattoos of runes, valknut, and hammers) They are now being housed separately, and in many cases placed in Ad-seg (the hole). This is happening across the state.
Which brings me to Pruntytown. The inmates have been placed in a separate unit..having to meet on a day that the facility knows we can not be there...thereby stopping the monthly meetings. At Salem and Huttonsville, they are not being allowed to attend services as they are now labeled "gangs" and placed in Seg. This is being done to those who were the most active, the most dedicated to practicing their faith, and in the process making others leery of participating.
This is unacceptable. This is exactly why this Ministry needs to stay vigilant and behind those walls, and why we need to keep getting behind those walls in as many facilities as we can. The only way to combat this discrimination is to stay vigilant and on course and show that these inmates are practicing a legitimate faith. We can not do that without your help. We need those who can advocate legally from the outside on behalf of these inmates, we desperately need funding to continue doing what we are doing and now there are increased costs to supply materials to our brothers and sisters locked in Seg.
We returned home yesterday evening from our monthly trip to the Ohio prisons. All in all, along with a lesson in perseverance, the trip went well.
We started out on Wednesday morning, the 26th, and headed to Allen-Oakwood Correctional in Lima OH. That is the longest driving stretch for us..almost 5 hours one way. We arrived at Allen Correctional for service at 1pm. Minerva had a great meeting with the Wiccans and went over ritual. I met with our Asatru inmates and had a very protective meeting. This month's lesson is on Worship, and we focused this meeting primarily on ancestor worship. We also discussed our plans for the Midsummer Blot we will be having in June, as well as other issues the inmates are dealing with at this time.
Then it was over to Oakwood Correctional and the PC Unit. While the numbers are smaller there, the meetings are always very productive and enlightening. It was very good.
We headed back to Columbus for the night, had a nice dinner and slept well at the hotel.
The next morning, Thursday the 27th, we grabbed breakfast at Tim Horton's then headed on the road to Chillicothe Correctional. Chillicothe has quite a large and active Kindred, as well as housing Death Row where we meet with 5 inmates. As we were approaching the prison, about 5 minutes away, I went to get my ID out and realized I did not have my purse. I had left it back in Columbus at Tim Horton'hs. No purse, no ID, no entry to the facility. I was devastated. I had to call the prison and cancel the meetings. And we had to make the our and a half trip back to Columbus. I honestly hit one of the darkest points at that moments. See, if we do not go to the facility, the inmates cannot gather and meet...at all. That is why I am so determined to make these monthly meetings, at all costs. I have never left my purse anywhere before...and I was beating myself up pretty hard. My two volunteers, Minerva and David, were so loving and supportive, as were the inmates. I sent messages through Jpay to the Kindred and to Death Row, to let them know what was happening.
So back to Columbus we went...the staff at Tim Horton's was wonderful. They had put my purse in the safe and everything was fine. We then soldiered on to Warren Correctional in Lebanon OH. After adding an additional 3 hours to our drive yesterday.
Warren Correctional was a really, really good meeting. Minerva has a great group of Wiccans she is working with there, and the Kindred I work with are extremely dedicated. As with all of the others in the past two weeks, we are planning the Midsummer Blot for June, and the guys are very excited.
Life is a struggle. Life will through curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference. The reason most people never achieve their dreams is because they simply give up. Life was never meant to be easy – its a constant struggle, with extreme lows and extreme highs. The times when its most important to persevere are the times that you will be most tested. I was truly tested yesterday when I realized I had left my purse in Columbus. I felt like a total failure and had let down many people. And I was so ready to just call it quits. This journey has been so difficult...physically, emotionally, and financially. It would be easy to just give it up and go back to a "normal" life. But I did not choose to do this, I was "told" to. Those who walk a similar path will understand that.
So we will continue. Appalachian Pagan Ministry needs your help, folks.
April 15, 2017
Happy Anniversary to Us!!! Happy Anniversary, Appalachian Pagan Ministry!!!
2 years ago today, the dream of developing a pan-pagan ministry came to fruition. In honor of this special day, we are offering several specials.
For every $25 donation, we will send you a gift box with your choice of either wonderful all-natural homemade soap or handmade bead jewelry of a necklace/bracelet combo. Just specify which when you make your donation.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry is also holding a raffle for this one of a kind, ceramic, hand-fired mug, made by Michelle Horan (our own RJ to many). Raffle tickets are $5 per entry. You can enter as many times as you like. To purchase just go to www.paypal.me/sendustoprison , make sure to put in the note that this is for the mug, and leave your name and phone number. The drawing will be held on Saturday, May 6th, at Beltaine in the Forest. You do not have to be present to win (though it would be great to see you there!)
All proceeds from the raffle and all donations go directly to the ongoing work inside the prison walls for our fellow pagans currently incarcerated.
March 24, 2017
This past week was our trip to the Ohio prisons...Allen, Oakwood, Chillicothe and Warren Correctional. This was a very very productive and fulfilling trip for both Teresa and I. At all facilities we distributed the hammers that had been donated to us by the Teutonic Temple of Asatru.
We started at Allen Correctional on Wed afternoon. Great moot with the Heathens...we are wrapping up Lesson 2 in the Elder Troth Lore program..and Teresa had a good group with the Wiccans. Then it was over to Oakwood and the PC unit.
That night we stayed in Columbus and had an amazing meal at Bucca Di Beppo (?) Teresa, David and I ate until we could no longer move! lol
The next morning it was on to Chillicothe Correctional. I can not say enough about the guys at Chillicothe. I have worked with them on this program via snail mail for months before coming inside, and they have really worked hard. There is quite a large and strong Kindred there at Chillicothe, and all are very dedicated to their path. While there, Teresa and I went and spent some time on Death Row. We have 4 inmates there that we work with. For some reason, being there yesterday hit me a bit harder then before. Without going into my personal feelings regarding the Death Penalty, and keeping into perspective that we are all going to face death at some point...being on the Row sometimes really puts things into perspective. I don't show it when I'm there, but when I leave the emotions get me. If I didn't have Teresa and David with me after that, I probably could not do it. That's just the honest truth. I can not say enough how appreciative I am for these two in my life and in this Ministry.
From Chillicothe, we were off to Warren Correctional. Last month we spent the hour there on lock down and could not have our meeting. So this month I tried to play catch up and get through 2 lessons in 1. We did it...and it was a really great meeting. Teresa has also developed a wonderful group out there with the Wiccans as well. We left Warren Correctional rejuvenated and full of inspiration.
On our way home, the GPS took us on a different route, and we happened to stumble across the Serpent Mound. (Synchronicity? I think so) So the 3 of us got to spend some time walking around that amazing site and taking in some very powerful energy.
It appears that we will be taking on several more facilities in Ohio in the next few months. To do so, we desperately need the support and help of our community. Please visit our website and see how you, too, can help us to continue this work that is so needed. Thank you.
March 17, 2017
We just returned yesterday evening from a pretty amazing trip to the West Virginia facilities. As I mentioned last month, things were starting to get a bit tense in these facilities, as numbers started to grow. That is completely expected in these situations, and we were ready to address it. What I didn't expect, and was pleased to find last month, is that the inmates who are serious and devoted in these paths would stand up and "clean house" on their own. This month's visits showed the outcome of that.
We started on Thursday at St Mary's Correctional. St Mary's has been our one constant source of a very dedicated group of pagans who work together well. Unlike the other facilities, St Mary's has always been one that is more like a mature family, without all the gang related issues...so it's always a good place for us to start. We had a great meeting...drew Othala for the month's Rune..and left there inspired as usual.
Then we headed to Salem Correctional, which was the start of all of the changes in the past couple of months. When we went last month, the majority of my guys were on lock down. They were there for 1) defending my honor after being disrespected at February's meeting, and 2) holding their brothers accountable for dishonorable actions. This month...we had a great turnout. We've had a few step forward and take the lead, officially forming a Kindred there and committed to working this program and growing in their faith.
After spending a nice evening in Clarksburg, WV, we headed to Huttonsville Correctional Friday morning. It was the same as Salem...a great turnout. As numbers grow, the inmates DO get scrutinized by staff more, and it can be disturbing. But after last month, they realize how important it is to continue standing firm and working this program. To say I am pleased is an understatement.
At all 3 facilities, shared with the inmates a quite humorous translation of the Lokasenna I had come across. It brought some great laughs and some good discussions. We also discussed the Rigsthula (The Lay of Rig) and how instead of looking at that story as the beginnings of the races or castes, if one truly reads the words, you can see how it is actually Heimdall's role in the evolution of the Ancestors. If you view the 2 dwellings and the Hall as times in the evolution of Man, it actually makes much more sense.
Next week we return to the Ohio prisons. We have received another donation of hammers from the Teutonic Temple of Asatru which we will be passing out. As usual, any and all help is greatly appreciated.
Jan 27, 2017
This has been a busy month for the Ministry. On January 19th and 20th we did the West Virginia prisons. St Mary's, Salem, and Huttonsville Correctional all were amazing. To see the amount of work these guys are putting into their study and practice truly humbles me.
The Kindred at Salem have actually compiled notebooks with which to keep all of their lessons, writings, meditations, and info they have. We started the meeting with each person (going around the circle) stating which rune they had drawn for the week, what they got out of that meditation, and what they have learned or gained from the week. I was so impressed. We did a group rune drawing and reading..discussed it..then went on to finish up Lesson 2 of the Elder Troth Lore program (Gods and Goddesses). They are now adding a daily meditation on a god & goddess for each day of the week (as suggested in Diana Paxson's book) to their notebooks. Their weekly meetings numbers are continuing to grow. Minerva had a good gathering with her Wiccans, and we both had some great conversations with inmates on the Seg unit.
St Mary's was the same...they are working hard together each week and actually DOING the exercises.
Huttonsville is doing well. I receive a great deal of mail from that facility. We have a few snags with meetings and such..but mostly due to lack of communication between staff and inmates. The Chaplain and I are working on that.
I passed out the Mjolnir pendants and chains to each facility to be distributed to inmates who do not have one and can not afford to purchase one. Thank you again to the Teutonic Temple of Asatru...they were so so grateful! We also distributed books to the Chaplain libraries at all 3 facilities (with another batch going to Lakin Correctional next Friday) Thank you again, Alexandria Temple!
On the way home, I received a call from a journalist with the Columbus Dispatch about the ministry, and did the interview via phone while eating lunch. lol The article can be read here.
This week was spent visiting the Ohio prisons: Allen-Oakwood, Chillicothe and Warren Correctional. What a trip!!
On Wed, Teresa Galloway (aka Minerva) led an Imbolc ritual with the Wiccan inmates at Allen Correctional...with NO tools. Showing these men how you can still honor your deities without having all the bling. It was exceptionally moving for all of them. At the same time, I was in the other room holding a moot with the Heathen inmates. We did our rune drawings and readings (I got Gebo, imagine that lol) worked on a lesson out of Diana Paxon's book, read the story of Yggdrasil from the lore, and went over a few stanzas from the Havamal.
We then went over and spent an hour on the PC unit at Oakwood Correctional. These folks are not allowed in the general population, so to have someone come in to see them at all is really unique. They were awesome!
Between the 4 1/2 hour drive up there and 3 hours on the units, that was our entire day. Our dear friend, played hostess for us that evening in Columbus. (Where David, who drives us, got to relax in the hot tub!)
Thursday we were off and running to Chillicothe Correctional. This meeting with the inmates has been over a year in the making, and it went FABULOUS! What a turn out we had! There's a strong Kindred at Chillicothe, and they've been working with us by correspondence this past year.
After our general meeting, Teresa and I were escorted to Death Row. I will be perfectly honest...I have struggled a bit with this beforehand, but once on the Row I had no doubts. None. And watching Teresa, when she speaks with these men...there is such a glow coming off of her, such a calming presence...even the guards felt it. They even thanked us repeatedly for doing this. Am I feeling humbled? Oh hell yes...tremendously so.
After a few pit stops, we were off and running to Warren Correctional over in Lebanon, OH. There were actually grown men in tears they were so overjoyed. One even said, 'We have been fighting for this for 30 years, Donna!" We had such a huge mix of a variety of paths represented. it was awesome!
Thank you, everyone, who is helping us along the way with this. As of today, we are in the works of adding two more facilities in both states. That is 4 more prisons! We need help, folks!
Dec 29, 2016
Yesterday we had a wonderful visit with the inmates at Allen-Oakwood Correctional in Lima, OH. We started off the visit meeting all of the pagan inmates together, then broke off into two groups...the Wiccans and the Heathens (Asatru/Odinists). Minerva led the Wiccan inmates in a Yule ritual that was not only moving, but very healing for those involved. I led the Heathen inmates in a Yule Blot (as they had already had their feast on the 21st) and that was just as moving. Again we had some very good discussions on what they wanted for themselves for the coming year, and again the theme was the same: To grow in body, mind and spirit. I am in awe of the level of commitment I see from the inmates involved in our programs at all of the facilities we work with. Much more so then I am from the majority of the pagan community.
Next month's schedule, and the month's following are insane. 2 visits to Lakin Correctional, our monthly visits to St Mary's, Salem, and Huttonsville in WV (that's a 2 day trip), the following week visits to Allen-Oakwood, Chillicothe and Warren in OH (another 2 day trip)
It is definite crunch time here. We are in dire need of funding for the rental cars, gas, and an enormous amount of printing that needs to be done and postage. (Mind you we still are working via mail with several Kindreds across the nation)
There are several ways you can help this ministry, and our fellow pagans currently incarcerated. On this website there is a page "How You Can Help". From there you can donate directly, you can purchase items from our Wishlist, you can purchase items from our Store which gives a percentage, you can volunteer your time, your knowledge, and materials. Right now our immediate needs are funding and actual bodies to go inside.
Dec 26, 2016
Appalachian Pagan Ministry now has an online store! Come see the nifty items you can purchase, while at the same time supporting this ministry!! Shop here!!
Dec 26, 2016
It has been a few days since our Yule visits to the WV prisons, and I've had some time to reflect on all that happened. We went to 4 prisons in 2 days: St Mary's, Pruntytown, Salem, and Huttonsville. All four very different prisons...varied security levels and such.
We started at St Mary's Correctional Thursday morning. They have a good solid group there. We were there for the Yule feast & Blot, something these men are not allowed to do without outside clergy being present. It was quite moving, and afterwards there was some very serious discussions. We spoke of the stigma attached to the Heathen traditions in prisons (and outside) and how to change that, we spoke of the obstacles they face when getting out and what programs inside would help to reduce recidivism, we spoke of addiction and recovery and ended with a plan for these men to start a Heathen NA program there. We had pulled pork BBQ sandwiches and fries and laughed and celebrated the new year and hope.
From there we went to Pruntytown Correctional. Pruntytown has been my red-headed stepchild of the program. lol We actually stopped even going there a few months ago. The men there decided they did not want to attend the weekly meeting between our visits, as they did not like having to follow a curriculum set out and had a personal issue with their Chaplain. They did not want to take this seriously, and we honestly do not have time nor funds to waste on folks who don't. The few who did have already been transferred to the other prisons we go to. So, I received a call from the Chaplain stating there were some who wanted to continue, and could we please come by. We did. About 12 men showed up, and we had some very frank discussions on the importance of consistency and work ethics. We discussed how in Ohio the pagan inmates can not even meet weekly to worship together without outside clergy coming in, and how the fact they they choose not to utilize this right to meet that they have been given, only goes to hurt the program in it's entirety. We came to a good resolution, they have started the Elder Troth Lore Program, and we will return to our monthly meetings again.
Thursday evening, Minerva and I went to Salem Correctional for the Yule feast & Blot. As we walked in, there was a flock of geese circling overhead and honking. A good sign, I think (they were also circling and honking when we left lol) The Blot was very moving and heartfelt for all, and the feast was yummy. We did a 3 round sumbel based on one from the Troth's Yule Blot. 1st round...to the Gods & Goddesses & Ancestors, 2nd round...to something they have accomplished in the past year, and 3rd round...to something they wish to accomplish in the coming year. The 2nd round varied from all sorts of things like "I finished my courses", "I completed RSAT", "I got me GED" to things like "I didn't go to the hole", "I didn't cop new charges", and "I stayed clean". The 3rd round, however, had a running theme: "To grow in body, mind and spirit", "To leave here a man my children can be proud of", "To live with honor". All of these men, every single one, wanted to leave prison a better person then when they came in. And they can.
We stayed that evening at the home of a very dear friend and supporter of this ministry....eating good food, sharing good drink, and celebrating Yule. Thank you, Ms Diana!
The next afternoon, we were at Huttonsville Correctional. Huttonsville is the max security prison we go to, and has the largest group that we meet with. We were there to hold a Yule feast & Blot as well. Being max security, we could not hold the Blot and feast at the same time as we did with the others, so some adjustments to the actual Blot were made. The Blot was held outside in the yard, unlike inside with the other two. This was the second time in all of the visits to all of the facilities we've had that I, Donna, have had a pretty serious PTSD moment. Walking on to that yard was just like walking on to the yard at ERJ 7 years ago. My steps faltered, I started to sweat, got nauseous, and almost passed out. Took a minute to get my bearings. Once good, we started. Huttonsville has the largest group, and probably the most serious. It is also where the gangs are the most prevalent, and where we are making the most headway. The Blot itself was very moving. Again the 3 round Sumbel, and again the same boasts: to leave better men then when they came in. During our meal, we had some very frank discussions on how the outside world views them, and why a ministry such as this has such a hard time receiving help. We discussed how to change that. We left with a plan.
Let's be honest, many pagan or non, and especially in the Heathen community, think that prison ministry is a waste. The thought is they are criminals, they deserve to be there and they deserve to be alone. That they are "dishonorable people who committed crimes and by doing so, dishonored their Folk and their Gods." Going inside to help them practice their faith is a waste. This truly is what I am told by many...from the Heathen community, general Pagandom, and even from the Satanic sector.
One there said it best: "They are right...we WERE dishonorable men. Many of us, before coming here, before finding our path, absolutely DID lead lives that were dishonorable. But we took our Oath...to ourselves, to our Folk, to our Gods. We are committed to growing in body, mind, and spirit. We are committed to living our lives with honor."
There it is again, folks...wanting to leave prison better people then when they went in. And they CAN. As long as there is breath there is hope. I see the changes. “Let none put faith in the first sown fruit not yet his son too soon; whim rules the child, and weather the field, each is open to chance” — The Havamal
Nov 21, 2016
The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism published a report in April of this year. Among the key findings: white supremacist prison gangs are operating in at least 42 state prison systems and federal prisons in the United States, and they’re increasingly spreading from the prisons to the streets, according to the ADL report, “White Supremacist Prison Gangs in the United States: A Preliminary Inventory.” “White supremacist prison gangs are the fastest-growing segment of the white supremacist movement in the United States,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Senior Research Fellow. “Though they are called ‘prison gangs,’ it is really a misnomer, as many of these groups are just as active on the streets of America as they are behind bars. They are growing in numbers and reach, accompanied by a related rise in crime and violence.”
Prisons are very racist places, and prisoners do what they have to in order to survive. Peace, love and can’t everybody just get along” can easily get you killed in there. Prison per se will not make someone a racist. However, if an individual already has racist tendencies, and all too many in our society do, then prison will make those tendencies worse.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry is going monthly into prisons in WV and OH with the specific purpose of fighting this. We are purposely teaching those of alternative paths, specifically Asatru/Odinist and others, the truth of their chosen paths, utilizing their own lore, sagas, and ancestral teachings, and not the propaganda perpetuated by these white-supremacist hate groups.
Our November prison visits went very well....Lakin, St Mary's, Salem, and Huttonsville. We will be hilding Yule feasts and Blots at St Mary's, Salem and Huttonsville on Dec 22nd and Dec 23rd. We will also be going back into the Ohio prisons for Yule as well.
We need your help....desperately...to continue. If you think this doesn't concern you, open your eyes to what is happening today around our country. On Wednesday, we will be presenting to two more prisons in Ohio, starting monthly services there as well. Please help as you can. Thank you.
Nov 9, 2016
I'd like to apologize for being so remiss in updating the website. October has been a very busy month for Appalachian Pagan Ministry. Oct 7-9th, we were out at Wisteria for Autumn Fires. A lovely weekend spent with amazing people.
On the 12th, our own Teresa Galloway, aka Minerva, had a knee replacement in Cleveland Oh. She is doing amazingly well and will be back in the saddle for November.
On the 27th and 28th we had out prison trips to the other side of the state. It was Salem on the 27th, Huttonsville on the 28th, followed up that evening with our Ancestor Ritual at Lakin Correctional.
At 5;30pm, I was at Lakin Correctional, sharing a feast with the ladies and our Ancestors.. The kitchen staff went all out with a meal of lasagna, garlic bread, salad and apple turnovers for dessert. We set the crossroads at the beginning of the meal, and each lady offered up a portion to the Ancestors, which was brought to the ritual and home with me to go into the real fire. After the feast, it was off to the gym for our Ancestor ritual, which I can only describe as one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. First, this is the first Ancestor ritual I have led that now includes my son as an ancestor. We had our remembrance table set up...the ladies brought photos and letters and drawings, and several things they wanted me to put in our fire here for Samhain. Which I will do, along with the food and drink offerings from the feast, and the wreath of ribbons that was passed around the circle.
Watching these ladies focus as they chanted "Bones of the Ancestors, Dust of the Dead" as the wreath was passed around and I did the invocation...I watched as loved ones came forward, stepping up to be with their descendants in this circle..I was honored to bear witness to true ancestral healing for many of these ladies. And in the process my own. I can not thank these women enough for allowing me to be a part of their journey.
November is looking to be just as busy for us here at Appalachian Pagan Ministry. On the 17th and 18th, we will be across the state at 4 of the facilities. On the 23rd, we will be presenting to two new facilities in Ohio...Allen and Oakwood, and the 25th we will be at Lakin Correctional.
As some have seen, we have also started a new course...Angie Fawn will be teaching an astrology course via correspondence. This ministry is growing in leaps and bounds, and we need all the help we can get. Please go to our "How You Can Help" page to donate or look for other ways you can help this ministry. We also now have a "Wish List" on Amazon for those who wish to donate supplies. Once again, thank you all!
Oct 1, 2016
This past week was our monthly visits to the prisons in WV. We went to St Mary's Correctional on Thursday, Sept 29, then Huttonsville Correctional Friday morning, followed up with presenting at our newest facility, Salem Correctional.
Salem Correctional is our newest facility in WV. The meeting with the Warden, and subsequent presentation to the inmates went amazing. I can not say enough how friendly and accepting the staff were....the Warden made it clear that he was behind this ministry's presence at his facility 100%. As did Chaplain Powell.
The inmates were so grateful, and it was actually nice to see a few familiar faces. Inmates in the correctional system tend to get moved around prisons based on their security levels and discharge dates. I like to jokingly tell them that they can run but not hide from me, as i plan to have this ministry in every facility in the state by the end of next year.
Our presentation and Q&A went well, with plans for starting the various courses on our next month's visit. Minerva (Teresa Galloway) and I then were escorted to the LOP Unit, which is a lock down unit for those inmates with loss of privileges. Yes, we were actually on the floor in the housing unit. All of the inmates there, even those who were not pagan, were very respectful and gave us space to work with the inmates who wanted to see us. All in all, we were at Salem for 4 hours today.
This was a great trip this month. The turn out at St Mary's and the work we accomplished was great. Huttonsville this morning was just mind blowing with the discussion we had and work on the stanzas from the Havamal. We will be doing a Yule feast and Blot in December there, and at the other 3 male facilities we go to.
Word came today that the DOC Commissioner and Director of Inmate Services are very pleased with the progress Appalachian Pagan Ministry is making. I wish we could take credit for that (I have an awesome team of volunteers that work these courses with these inmates, both on the ground and via correspondence) but the majority of the success is due to the participation of the inmates. These folks have fought hard to get their chosen paths recognized and treated as legitimate practices. They work these courses, they study their lessons, they have put aside all animosity to be able to come together and progress.
We also could not be doing this without the support of all of you. Just as we can not continue to keep moving forward without community support.
Sept 14, 2016
Exciting news!!! Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be presenting at Allen/Oakwood Correctional in Lima, OH on November 23rd! This is the first time ever a pagan facilitator has been allowed behind those walls! From there on, it will be monthly meetings as we currently do at our 4 facilities in WV.
October is a busy month for Appalachian Pagan Ministry. We will be at Lakin Correctional twice...with our second visit on the 28th being an Ancestor meal and ritual for Samhain. That same week, we will also be visiting St Mary's, Pruntytown, and Huttonsville Correctional.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry will also be at Autumn Fires this year, Oct 6th-9th, held at Wisteria. Please come find us and say hi!
This ministry needs your support. Please donate as you can, or contact us for other ways in which you can be of service! And as always...spread the word!! Thank you!
Aug 29, 2016
This past week, Appalachian Pagan Ministry was busy working behind the walls and spreading the word around the state of West Virginia on the need for pagan prison ministry. Rev. Donovan and Minerva set out on Thursday, Aug 25th, to visit two prisons...St Mary's Correctional and Pruntytown Correctional. Both visits went quite well. Minerva worked with the Wiccan and other pagans on her course, and explained to them a bit of the history of the various Sabbats. Rev Donovan continued her work with those of the Northern Traditions on the Elder troth Lore Program.
The ladies then headed to Elkins, WV for the evening where they were treated with great hospitality at the Brewstel, a wonderful hostel and brewery.
The following morning it was on to Huttonsville Correctional. Again, Minerva worked with the Wiccans and others, while Rev Donovan worked with those of the Northern Traditions. They worked on the lore program as well as having some very frank discussions on the state of Heathenry today. Racism, homophobia, and other such topics were brought to the forefront. It is Rev Donovan's belief that these issues will not go away if they are continued to be swept under the rug...there needs to be open and honest dialogue for any sort of personal growth to occur. Various white supremacists and hate groups have used these religions as fronts to continue perpetuating their political agendas, and that will continue unless organizations, like Appalachian Pagan Ministry, are able to go behind the walls and show these inmates the truth about the paths they follow. And it CAN happen.
On Saturday, Aug 27th, Appalachian Pagan Ministry had the joy of attending Morgantown Pagan Pride Day. Rev Donovan gave a workshop on the need for pagan prison ministry, while the rest of the day was spent meeting wonderful new people, seeing old friends, and helping to promote our message. It was a wonderful day.
Aug 8, 2018
This trip was amazingly successful. We are now going to be on-site at 3 more prisons here in WV, with more to come. The word from Central Command is that they want Appalachian Pagan Ministry in every prison in West Virginia.
Obviously that is definitely our goal, too. However we can NOT do this without support from our community. For the first time EVER in Huttonsville Correctional, a maximum security prison, all of the various pagan groups were in the same room.. No guards, no incidences, with open communication flowing. It IS possible to coexist AND work together towards a common goal, no matter one's practice or beliefs.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry needs your help to continue working with these inmates and aiding in their personal growth and development, preparing them to re-enter society as productive members of our community. Please help as you can. Thank you!
July 20, 2016
The Appalachian Pagan Ministry Prison Tour 2016 began it's first leg today. It was our pleasure to be welcomed at St Mary's Correctional. We had just under 20 inmates present, with word that many more will be there next time. (I believe they wanted to get an idea of who we were first) Our first meeting went rather well, and a very solid plan laid on for continued studies. Currently we are planning to be back at least once a month.
Teresa and I are now resting comfortably at the Brewstel Hostel in Elkins, WV, after enjoying a celebratory custard ice cream! Tomorrow morning we go to Huttonsville Correctional, followed by Pruntytown Correctional.
July 1, 2016
This summer has brought tremendous growth to Appalachian Pagan Ministry and many opportunities to continue our service to fellow pagans currently incarcerated. We continue our bi-monthly meetings at Lakin Correctional, and have now made two large donations of books to their library. (Thank you to all who have donated books) At Summer Solstice held at www.wisteria.org, we had the honor of meeting and speaking with Patrick McCollum. Mr McCollum is the reason we are able to do this ministry to begin with, being a champion for the rights of pagan inmates nationwide.
We are now adding three prisons in WV to the list of those we service in person...St Marys Correctional, Pruntytown Correctional, and Huttonsville Correctional. Appalachian Pagan Ministry could not continue to do so without the support of all of you. Thank you! Please share our funding site www.paypal.me/sendustoprison
May 28, 2016
Happy Memorial Day weekend! I hope this finds everyone safe and enjoying the beautiful weather. Yesterday, Ms Minerva (Teresa Galloway) spent the afternoon with our ladies at Lakin Correctional. There were 15 ladies, the Chaplain, along with one puppy from the dog program. She passed out my handouts and went over Lesson 7 from the Perennial Lessons in Living course, a handout on the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, and discussed the Wiccan Law, American Council of Witches' 13 beliefs, and started working on the Witches Pyramid. A good afternoon! We shall be back at Lakin on June 10th and 24th. I plan to introduce them to a solitary ritual they can do for Solstice.
Please view our website for updates and help us continue to be able to support these ladies, as well as inmates in various institutions. Prison ministry is a much needed service that does not pay financially, but benefits all of us. Costs for fuel, printing materials, advertising, etc...are becoming a bit much to bear as the ministry continues to grow. Donations can be made directly to www.PayPal.me/sendustoprison We thank you for your support!
May 14, 2016
Appalachian Pagan Ministry made it's "vendor debut" at Beltaine in the Forest 2016, held at Coonskin Park in Charleston, WV. We had t-shirts for sale, information to be handed out, and offered reiki sessions for donations. Though the weather was not ideal, great fun was had by all. There was much drumming and chanting coming from the booth during the torrential downpours, reiki sessions held under a tarp and in the sunlight, and even two impromptu handfastings held right in the booth! It was a great way to get our festival season kicked off!
April 20, 2016
Appalachian Pagan Ministry has gone through several changes in the past few months, all of which are aiding in the growth of this ministry. We have discontinued the Pagan Astrology course as our volunteer who was handling that is no longer available. However, we have started a Developing Divine Relationships course with Lady Althaea. We are also now on to our 2nd t-shirt fundraiser for the ministry. It will be wonderful to see Appalachian Pagan Ministry shirts walking around festivals! Appalachian Pagan Ministry has several events on the calendar...Beltaine in the Woods, Summer Solstice at Wisteria, and Starwood...along with several hand-fastings on the schedule and a memorial service for one of our own community elders, Libby Chapman, on May 7th.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry is going to Lakin Correctional twice a month, and are now setting the date for Huttonsville Correctional and Chillicothe in Ohio. Please follow us on Facebook, as well, to be able to support us in the various fundraising projects we will be starting. help us to help our fellow pagans currently incarcerated.
Feb 28, 2016
On Feb 26th, Minerva and Rev Donna led an Imbolc ritual at Lakin Correctional. The ritual was originally scheduled to be held on Feb 11th, but Rev Donna had to undergo some emergency gallbladder surgery, setting our schedule back a bit. The ritual went quite well, with several of the ladies participating in various roles. This was the second pagan ritual ever to be held in a West Virginia state prison, and the active participation of the 45+ ladies who attended was incredible. The healing energy raised as we invoked and honored the goddess Brighid, was truly an experience beyond words. Prior to the ritual, Minerva taught the ladies hand symbols to use to represent the elements. This is part of our ongoing goal to teach our pagan inmates ways that they can practice on their own without all the bells and whistles accessible outside the walls.
We have also implemented a new course study for our pagan inmates. Heather Awen, our latest volunteer, has out together a Pagan Astrology Course to be done via mail. Heather will be using the lottery system to determine which five inmates to work with at a time. This is an amazing course, one that will teach astrology, as well as explain how astrology relates to the various paths one is on. As with the theme of all of our teachings, it is also a course that encourages study of one's self and personal growth.
Feb 3, 2016
Please join me in welcoming Heather Awen to our ministry! Heather will be part of our mail ministry, working with our inmates, as well as any others who may have questions or requests for information that she can answer. Please view her info on our Bio page.
Jan 31, 2016
I sincerely hope this update finds everyone doing well. I apologize for the delay in updates, but the last two months of 2015 were quite difficult personally, and hectic professionally. As some know, my son passed away from an overdose on Nov 24, 2015. John had battled an opiate addiction for 16 years, and after a wonderful 9 months of sobriety, he relapsed once and died. Appalachian Pagan Ministry has always been active in the recovery community, even inside the prison walls, and will continue to be as diligent, if not moreso, in our efforts to remove the stigma of addiction and continue educating on addiction and recovery.
We have continued with our ministry at Lakin Correctional, and will be holding the second pagan ritual in a West Virginia state prison on Feb 11, 2016, when we will be celebrating Imbolc with the inmates there. We are also in active coordination with the Ohio DRC in setting up dates for our return visit to Southern Ohio Correctional and Chilicothe Correctional. Teresa Galloway, aka Minerva, has developed a lesson plan for our Wiccan inmates and others. This lesson plan works quite nicely in conjunction with the Perennial Lessons in Living that I adapted from Emma Restall-Orr. Please see our Event section to keep up to date with where APM will be.
As always, we are so grateful for the continued support of all of you. If anyone is interested in volunteering, either inside the prison walls, or in other areas, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Nov 18, 2015
It's taken a bit to process today's visit. The majority of time was spent touring the prison, a wonderful conversation with the Chaplain, and filling out a boatload of paperwork. We met with only one inmate who had requested to see us, as the majority of those who claim pagan paths are actually in 23 hour lock down at that facility.
I learned a great deal today, about the prison system in Ohio (what work we need to do and how we can further progress) and about myself. There were definitely some moments of PTSD that I was honestly not prepared for. This was a maximum security prison, and as such things inside are designed much differently then lower levels, such as Lakin, Welch, and Pruntytown...the other prisons I have been inside of. Today was very reminiscent of my own incarceration...each time those gates shut behind me, my heart stopped, and I started to "pick a brick" lol Funny now, but it wasn't earlier today. I have to thank Teresa Galloway for being the absolute rock of support for me today.
Tomorrow we head to Chillicothe Correctional to meet with officials and start our work at that facility. Once again, thank you to all those who have supported this ministry. We truly appreciate all the kind words and thoughts. If you feel compelled to donate, we would be ever so grateful.
Nov 1, 2015
Yesterday we held the first ever pagan ritual in a West Virginia state prison. At Lakin Correctional we held an Ancestor Ritual for Samhain. I am trying to find the words to express the feelings I am experiencing right now...joy and fulfillment do not even seem to be enough.
We had close, if not over, 60 ladies in attendance for today's Ancestor Ritual. Some of the ladies brought pictures of loved ones, things they had made, and momentos to place on memorial table.
We started with the Elemental Chant by Spiral Rhythm. We then started the ritual. Once the Invocation to the Ancestors had been started, the ladies chanting together in the background...I felt my whole body center. We were only half way around the circle with the wreath when the Invocation was finished, so we listened to Kellianna Girouard's The Ancestor Song while ribbons were being finished tied on. The wreath was then offered to the 🔥 a fake one made by the ladies. (i have taken it and will put into ritual fire tonight)
After that we celebrated with song and dance around the fire. The ladies put on a show for me. We sang.and danced...I almost thought I was at Paw Paw. The energy!!! Omgs...I can't even describe.
We did our closing...I ended with reading some words of encouragement that have been sent to me for the ladies. We made history today...not only for incarcerated pagans in WV..but for all pagans. More important then being the first pagan ritual in a WV state prison....this was the first time those of various faiths in the facility were able to celebrate together, in a way that was supportive of each other.
This is the pamphlet the ladies had made for the ritual.
Oct 19, 2015
First pagan ritual to be held in West Virginia state prisons
Appalachian Pagan Ministry to hold Ancestor Ritual at Lakin Correctional
Huntington, WV, October 17, 2015– Appalachian Pagan Ministry, founded by Rev. Donna Donovan in Huntington, WV, is now the first Pagan ministry allowed in West Virginia state prisons. Up till now, pagan inmates were allowed to meet once a week, and to celebrate 2 holidays a year, but were not allowed to have any sort of religious ceremony or ritual without outside pagan clergy present. Rev. Donovan and the Appalachian Pagan Ministry are the first allowed in by the West Virginia Dept. of Corrections.
“The ladies are very excited about the Ancestor Ritual on Samhain. This will be the first pagan ritual ever done in any West Virginia State prison. We are making history here, folks, and this will be but just the first of many steps forward.” – Rev. Donna Donovan
Approximately 2.3 million men & women are incarcerated, 95% of prisoners are released.... approx. 700, 000 of those will be this year. Some of those will be in your community. Wouldn't you rather they have a chance of rehabilitation before release? West Virginia has the fourth lowest recidivism rate in the nation, largely due to the progressive thinking of the WV Dept of Corrections. Let's become the state with the lowest rate in the nation. Help us to help our fellow pagans practice and grow in the faith of their choosing.
Oct 17, 2015
Please join me in welcoming Minerva to our growing list of volunteers!
My name is Teresa Galloway aka Minerva, in the pagan community.
I have been spiritually pagan for the past 45 yrs.
In 1981, given the name Minerva by my priestess when I earned my first degree, I have lived my life growing into the name.
Certified Reiki healer and licensed by the state of Ohio as a massotherapist. I take my healing skills seriously.
As a priestess for the Goddess I have had the honor to serve as High Priestess for two of my own covens, later served as Elder in my community with two different groups.
Family is important to me- both by blood and of the heart. I nurture, I listen, and offer advice when asked.
Oct 12, 2015
Thursday evening's gathering at Lakin Correctional went incredibly well. The ladies are very excited about the Ancestor Ritual on Samhain. This will be the first pagan ritual ever done in any West Virginia State prison. We are making history here, folks, and this will be but just the first of many steps forward.
I recently learned that the prison library's, all of them, will accept donations of used (or new) books. If you have literature you would like to donate, please send it to us at PO Box 176, Huntington, WV 25706 and we will distribute to the prisons based on request received. Thank you so much!
Oct 8, 2015
We would like to announce one of our newest volunteers...PRIESTESS KELYLA NA FILI
Virginia born to a line of pagan pride, half Irish Norwegian and half Oneida Cherokee Black Creole, I have been raised in the arts of many lands. A Master of Studies of the Tuatha de Dannan and a Sidhe worker, my relationship with the Otherworld has stemmed from childhood. Known Spirit medium and medicine woman, I have been working with hospice for 10 years. A mother, a warrior, an activist, a voice for the people, I take great pride in teaching those who feel out of place and help the lost find their flow.
Creator of magic items, chaos magic, spirit medium
Sept 22, 2015
I am finally home from the presentation at Lakin Correctional Center. I do not even know where to begin...the evening was such a wonderful success. We had almost 50 female inmates show up for this meeting, all of whom were so polite and grateful for this.
I arrived an hour early to do some volunteer orientation with the prison. The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful. I was then given a tour by the Chaplain and taken back to the Chapel area. He had procured a brand new projector for me to do the power point presentation on. He even went and made more copies of handouts for me as, in his words, "I think we're going to have a bigger turn-out then we thought". And we did! So much so that we had to change rooms! Based on an impromptu survey of the room, we ended up with 5 Wiccans, 2 Odinists, 3 Native Americans, 13 general Pagans, 9 unsure of their path, several Christians curious, the token Buddhist (there's always one in the crowd lol) and even a former Catholic nun.
The evening started with my introducing myself. I then went on to the presentation and discussed what this ministry is and the goals in place for the prison ministry, followed with some basic info on paganism in general. We stopped halfway through and did a Q&A session. These ladies had some awesome questions (they are so starved for information). We then finished the presentation on discussing Sabbats and how to practice your path while incarcerated. After that, it was open discussion again.
I can not emphasize the enthusiasm and gratefulness these women exhibit. Up until today, there had not been a pagan minister or volunteer in these prisons. Because of that, while the inmates are allowed to gather once a week, and can celebrate 2 of their holidays a year, they have not been allowed to perform any "religious" rituals. Even though one of the Wiccans is a High Priestess, because she is an inmate, she can not lead a ritual without outside clergy present. This Samhain will be the first they will be able to do. We have also been approved to use the yard for our Ancestor Ritual that day!
On Oct 8th, we return for a meeting where we will be discussing the history and meaning of Samhain from the viewpoint of various paths. Then we will hammer out the details of the Ancestor ritual, and the ladies tell me they have put together a song for me. That truly touched my heart.
I understand that many think that they are criminals who deserve to be there...and yes, 80% truly do. However, there are still people and they still have the right to be able to learn and practice their faith. Remember, most of these inmates will be released, probably sooner then most realize....I would rather them have had some sort of opportunity to work on their self-growth and spirituality before that happens, then not. Thank you all for your continued support of this!
Sept 12, 2015
Today was spent celebrating addiction recovery. We started off this morning with the Warriors of Hope Addiction Awareness Walk, and ended this evening with In the Movement...a multi-faith celebration of recovery at the David Harris Riverfront Park. All of the faith-based and evidence-based recovery programs were represented, along with Prestera and other treatment facilities...each of these places offering a bed and chance for recovery to any addict who wished so.
On Sept 22, Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be giving a presentation at Lakin Correctional Facility. That will be the first of our bi-monthly meetings there. Will will be back there on Oct 8th, and then on Oct 31st for a Samhain ritual.
next on our agenda is procuring a lot so that we will be able to start a community garden in the spring. Once again, thank you all for your continued support...any and all offerings are welcome.
Aug 23, 2015
Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be celebrating Samhain at Lakin Correctional Center, the only women's prison in West Virginia. We will be having an Ancestor Ritual honoring those who have gone before us, followed by a celebratory feast. Anyone wishing to help with this may do so in a variety of ways. If you wish to join us at the celebration, there is paperwork to file with DOC along with a background check. All visitors are subject to approval by the facility. You can also help with donations to the feast..be it ready made dishes or other food items. After our visit next month, I will have a better idea of the amount of women participating and amount of food needed. And of course, if you wish to just donate financially, we do accept donations via paypal. Thank you again for all of your support!
Aug 6, 2015
On Sept. 22, 2015, Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be giving a presentation to the inmates of Lakin Correctional Facility. This is a wonderful opportunity as it will give us a chance to explain what our ministry is and what we do, as well as giving us the opportunity to assess the needs of our fellow pagans who are currently incarcerated and determine how best this ministry can help them. This visit has been months in the planning stages, and we are so excited to take this next step forward.
Aug 5, 2015
It has been a very busy and crazy month! Between Solstice and Starwood, we have had great opportunities to share this ministry. Two handfastings were done at Wisteria...one at Solstice and one just before Starwood. Such an honor to be a part of these couples journey together. We are now in the process of arranging dates in Sept for presentations at 2 of the prisons here in WV, and have also now been put in contact with a prison in SE Ohio in need of our services. (Thank you, David King)
Appalachian Pagan Ministry is much more than prison ministry, however...we are focused on helping the growth of our community in any way we can. On Saturday, August 15, we will be participating in the Drug Awareness Walk in St Albans, WV. Helping to put a face to the word "addiction". We will also be attending the Healing Huntington meeting at the Cabell County Library on the 11th at 5:30. I urge all of you interested in finding out how you can help stop this epidemic plaguing our community to attend.
Stay tuned, folks, we have much more planned in the very near future. Thank you all so much for your continued support!
July 3, 2015
As announced on our Facebook and Goggle + pages, our presentation at Lakin Correctional Center has been postponed. We will announce the new date as soon as it has been set. On Sunday, July 5th, Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be headed out to Wisteria for the Starwood Festival. Please find Rev. Donna Donovan at any time during the festival if you would like to discuss the ministry and what we are doing. If you have never been to Starwood, or even Wisteria, we encourage you to come join us. This will be a week of wonderful music, educational workshops, and much love and spiritual growth, whatever your path may be!
June 22, 2015
Home from Wisteria! What a beautiful Summer Solstice celebration, despite the constant rains and mud. Had many opportunities to share what this ministry is doing. Attended a wonderful workshop led by Oliver King on pastoral care. Gave and received love with some of the most beautiful new arrivals to Pagandom....all those lovely babies around that fire!!! I keep saying this is a year of birth and growth....and it absolutely is!!!
June 16, 2015
Appalachian Pagan Ministry is hitting the road this week, heading off to spend Summer Solstice at Wisteria! https://www.wisteria.org/ Good things are happening, and we just can not wait to spread the word!
On June 30th, 2015, Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be giving a presentation at the Lakin Correctional Facility. This will be our way to introduce our ministry to the inmates and get an idea of what needs they have and how we can help to fulfill those. Appalachian Pagan Ministry will be doing another such presentation at the Huttonsville Correctional Facility sometime in July, and are in the process of working out dates with the St. Mary's Correctional Facility as well.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry has also become quite involved with the fight against the heroin epidemic here in Huntington. We attended Senator Manchin's Drug Summit last month, and in that process, have now become involved with the Clergy Board for the Mayor's Drug Council. Making our community a safer place to live and aiding those in the battle against addiction is a cause near and dear to us, not to mention everyone in our community.
If you happen to be at Wisteria this coming weekend, please seek out Rev. Donna Donovan and let her explain to you in more detail what it is we are doing for our community and what it is you can do to help!
May 18, 2015
Appalachian Pagan Ministry spent the past weekend at ColorDance: The Unification Festival at Poston Lake Music Park in Ohio. It was a wonderful weekend filled with good music, amazing art, and joyful souls. We had some great opportunities to share news of our ministry, and exchange ideas with others who are of the same mindset.
At present time, brochures and business cards have been ordered, various informational material being gathered for the prisons here in West Virginia. We have already received requests from DOC chaplains for information on the various pagan paths. Appalachian Pagan Ministry accepts donations of any and all material you may feel relevant, your time as able, as well as funding to help in the various projects. Join us in our effort today!
May 7, 2015
Appalachian Pagan Ministry has successfully completed the beginning of our pan-pagan prison ministry. We have met with the West Virginia Dept. of Corrections and have been approved to offer our services to fellow pagans who are currently incarcerated in West Virginia prisons. This is a huge step forward! The WVDOC has offered to distribute our brochures within the prisons, will be sending our contact information to the Chaplains at all the prisons so that they may pass on our information to the inmates, and have granted us access to performing services and rituals as needed.
What we need from you---
This is a first for West Virginia, and we are so exceptionally thrilled and proud to be a part of this.