Aigeann: Greetings Carol and Alica! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! Basically, we'd like a peek into your world. Alaska touches many people, and many would enjoy first hand experiences. How did you each come to live in Anchorage?
Carol: I came here when I was 16 from New York - my dad basically came home from work one day and said we are moving to Alaska! Shocker, let me tell ya. I have lived here ever since, except for a brief four year break living in Florida.
Alica: How I came to Alaska, short story - My father was a bush pilot and when I was 12 my mother finally let me travel alone. School holidays where spent in the Alaska bush. I was very lucky, and was invited to stay in villages and also got to experience traditional native life such as fish camp. Dad would drop me off in villages and I would stay with friends and their families. My dad and step mom have moved all over the state, from Kiana up in the Arctic Circle down to Kodiak. They finally settled in Anchorage when I was in collage. After I graduated I came to Alaska to stay.
Aigeann: What is your background in Paganism? How did you two come ADF?
Carol: I have been solitary most of my life, from early teens when I discovered a Scott Cunningham book until about 6 years ago when I decided to venture out & find community. I was pretty agnostic & inactive throughout my twenties and didn't really pursue any religion. After moving back to Alaska from Florida, I began to celebrate the Wheel with my best friend and found Paganism again. I slowly worked my way into finding other people who shared my belief, all while trying to figure out exactly what I believed. Most of my studies had been witchcraft oriented up until this point. I joined a local Pagan Meetup group, met an OBOD Druid, joined his Seed group for awhile and when it ended I found ADF. I wound up becoming Organizer of the Meetup group I had been attending and have been working on establishing a solid pagan community here in Anchorage. I started an ADF study group, which turned into a kind of eclectic unaffiliated Druid grove, and earlier this year I climbed on board with a good friend to help him establish a Wiccan church. I am currently studying the paths of ADF & OBOD, as well as highly immersed in runes study. After the OBOD Seed group ended (and my Druid friends moved overseas), I searched around desperately for other Druids to talk about things with. I met with someone who was looking to start an ADF study group, so I looked up ADF and joined. I love the community aspect and connectivity ADF encourages!
Alica: My family has a long line of spiritual people. Not necessarily Pagan as it is defined today but deeply spiritual and are connected to the land we live. My mother always encouraged me to study and explore. My father and Step-Mother taught me Taoism, Buddhism, & Native American Shamanism. When I was 16 I found a practical magic book and another little brown book with a pentacle on the cover, (I don't recall the name) and started wearing a pentacle. I practiced mostly solitary in my teens and worked with Wiccan covens through collage. During that time, I was still strongly drawn to Shamanism, but as much as I am welcomed and part of the communities, I am not Native American (surprisingly since my family has been here since before the revolutionary war) and needed to follow my roots, I guess you could say. Long story short, I started studying the Celts, Vikings and Germanic people and found the Druids. Studied both in school and solitary and finally decided to branch out to a wider community and joined ADF. Followed the course at the time for about a year then other life stuff took precedence. I joined OBOD a few years ago and when I was compelled to find a grove I emailed a contact for AK. It turned out he was one of the people who had moved over seas Carol mentioned. It was right when the earth quake occurred in Japan and I got an email back from him! He put me in touch with her.
Aigeann: How did you come together in order to form a Study Group?
Carol: After joining ADF, and being solitary for most of my life, I wanted to find others to talk to about things. I used the Dedicant Path to create a basic outline of topics and started posting our meetings to the Meetup group. Alica found the study group through Meetup and we have been working on our grove & studies ever since!
Aigeann: Can you tell us about some past events? Can you include any pictures of gatherings or altars or campfire and/or links to where the events were held such as parks or rec halls?
Carol: We have done numerous High Day celebrations for the community as well as full moon rituals. We have held rituals in some local city parks, at our local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship hall, Alica's backyard, a Methodist camp in Birchwood and a Nature Sanctuary that a fellow community member is developing in Willow. (I'm attaching some pictures of past ritual altars) It's always a struggle to find a venue but we manage. For study group we meet every 2 weeks for discussion and mead (or tea)......our recent topics for discussion revolved around totem animals, ogham, ritual liturgy, lunar celebrations, Druid history, Alaska ecology, the Kindred, and the elements. We do have our group on Facebook - Ice Moon Grove. [Click the Read More link to continue]
Carol: Our focus is mainly to facilitate connection to the Divine and support spiritual seekers. We want to provide a safe & open environment to explore all aspects of Druidry as well as new thoughts & views of the Divine, however we see it. Most of our work is supporting others, such as the Wiccan and eclectic Pagan groups, with their ritual celebrations and educational events. I personally am focusing on my drumming skills so I can provide my skill in that area as a tool for community to utilize, such as in festivals, rituals, journeying, and meditation.
Aigeann: Alica, please elaborate on your artist guild. As in: How did it start? Is it formal with bylaws and elected officers? Does it focus on certain mediums and/or age groups? Do you, by chance, have a link or pictures of any meetings, meeting locations, etc?
Alica: The artisan guild is just getting started. Another artist had started a sculptor's guild/academy that I was supporting. I had thought about forming a printmaker's guild but started thinking since I was the only printmaker it was to limiting so I branched out to all creative pursuits. It is not formal just yet. I was "elected" president and have been trying to figure out what the members are interested in and then make it happen. We have done workshops in crocheting and ceramic yule ornaments. I held some drawing salons with basic instruction for a while. I also do a booth at our little ren-fair here that I opened to members. We are open to all ages and media, crafts, anything creative. The main goal is to further the artist themselves, support each other, and have a group that members of the community can come to if they are looking for something such as alter pieces, artwork, designers, seamstress, anything.
Aigeann: We'd love some pictures of artwork.
Alica: Here are a few pieces of mine. I have a facebook page (4BearsPress), and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol: Last summer I decided to attend the Eight Winds festival. This was sort of a last minute thing since I wasn't sure I would be able to attend, but it actually worked out really well. I thoroughly enjoyed myself! It was a HUGE thing for me....I didn't know anyone at all (outside some connections through Facebook), I was really far away and I was completely unfamiliar with the area it was being held in. But I decided to close my eyes and just take a leap. I was nervous and self-conscious, but I did it! It was a wonderful weekend. I met some incredibly fabulous people and my head just about exploded from all the knowledge. The workshops gave me some great inspiration and different ways of seeing things. And it was awesome to attend an ADF ritual hosted by experienced Druids. I send special thanks to Sean Harbaugh, who was the first person I met there and made me feel really welcome. I can't name everyone I want to thank who was there, but I want it known I fully appreciate all the hard work everyone put into that festival. It was a good thing for me to get out of Alaska and broaden my horizons not only for myself but for the things I could bring back to my grove, to my community.
Alica: Our study group has given me a way to gain a deeper understanding of experiences and questions that come up for me. I also am able to share and do the same for others. I am thankful to have met Carol!