This profile was last updated in 2004
Activities and Schedule
Phoenix Moon celebrates the eight major Wiccan holidays (Sabbats) including the solstices, the equinoxes, and the points in between. Full Moons (Esbats) are celebrated by the Initiates of the coven-those who have made a specific commitment to Phoenix Moon and to Wicca. Social gatherings occur at least once a month, often at the time of the New Moon. The spouses and children of group members (referred to as “Hearth-kin”) are welcome at social gatherings. For complete details on gatherings and who attends them, consult their website.
Transmitting the tradition through teaching is an essential part of Phoenix Moon. An introduction to Wicca course usually begins in January and lasts 13 weeks. This course is open to anyone with a sincere interest who is at least 18 years of age. The course does not have a required reading list. Rather a body of knowledge associated with the Unicorn Tradition is stored in an archived library of handouts and notes. A core curriculum is adhered to in all Unicorn Tradition groups. However, each teacher within the Unicorn Tradition tends to tailor the emphasis of their studies somewhat. For example, Phoenix Moon’s High Priestess places an emphasis on the study of astrology. After completing this course, one may take a ritual dedication to Wicca and receive the title of “Dedicant.” A more advanced course, for those wish to continue study, usually begins in May.
The Unicorn Tradition began as an amalgam of the modern Pagan revival and a family tradition that may date back to ancient Phoenicia. Phoenix Moon is what is known as a “Great Granddaughter” group of the original Grove of the Unicorn group in Stone Mountain, Georgia. This means that Phoenix Moon is fourth generation in a series of groups, which date back to the Grove of the Unicorn. Different Unicorn Tradition groups, from which Phoenix Moon is descended, have been present in Austin since 1982. Phoenix Moon was founded in September, 1998 by High Priestess Stacy M. Weidmann, who uses the magical name of Selkhet. Austin has proved a hospitable place for pagans of all stripes. When asked if anyone took issue with her religious practice, Stacy commented, “Honestly, most people don’t really care.” Phoenix Moon has adapted the Wiccan observance of natural cycles to Central Texan flora and fauna. The 12 Esbats have been given Central Texas titles such as “The Bluebonnet Moon” or “The Grackle Moon.”
Covenant of the Goddess in Austin
Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) is a national organization of Pagan groups. In 2003, the Live Oak Local Council formed, representing Covenant of the Goddess in Austin. The Council consists of several Austin Pagan groups, including Phoenix Moon. Because Covenant of the Goddess enjoys tax-exempt status, groups such as the Live Oak Local Council are technically able to join Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM)-the largest interfaith organization in the city. In 2003, the Live Oak Local Council was unofficially represented at AAIM by Ellen Friedman. Although Ellen is not a regular member of Phoenix Moon, she holds the title of “Elder” in the Unicorn Tradition. She attended AAIM meetings and brought Live Oak Local Council members to community housing projects and other AAIM functions. However, several AAIM members, particularly those of Evangelical denoninations, raised strong concerns about allowing Pagan groups as members. The grievances were handled by Susan Wills, the executive director of AAIM, who said she thought most of the conflicts arose from a lack of understanding of Paganism and its beliefs. Finally, in June 2004, AAIM officially granted membership status to the Live Oak Local Council.
Indoor group rituals, as well as classes, are most often held at the home of the High Priestess. This space contains a library of books on religion and craft tradition, an office, and a small ritual room equipped with altars. For larger group rituals, a space is usually cleared in the living room. As Wiccans, members of Phoenix Moon believe that sacred space can be created anywhere, at any time, through the use of ritual. The ritual to create a sacred space is called casting a circle and includes sprinkling salt and sweeping the space with a ritual broom. Casting a circle will almost always precede any other rituals. For most workings, an altar is set at each of the four cardinal points representing each of the four classical elements. A central altar is also used which is usually placed in the Northern quadrant of the circle. Most members of the group keep a space in their homes for private rituals and meditation. One coven member commissioned a grove of twelve trees to be landscaped in his backyard. A large wooden pyramid has also been constructed within the grove. A hammock-chair may be attached to a rope descending from the pyramid’s apex, so that one may sit suspended above the grove’s center. The pyramid required seven people to construct, many of whom were trained in engineering. Endeavors such as this, illustrate how personal expression can contribute to traditional practice.
Phoenix Moon includes both a “coven” and a “grove.” The term “coven”, in the Unicorn Tradition, has been compared to Wiccan clergy, while the term “grove” refers to more of a congregation. Phoenix Grove members at all levels of training are considered part of the “grove.” Becoming a member of the “coven” requires formal training as well as ritual initiation. Initiation is a commitment and grove members are discouraged from entering into the coven if they are uncertain that Phoenix Moon is the right group for them. Rituals for the eight Sabbats usually last from two to three hours. Each year a new ritual is composed based on a standard framework with material from previous rituals often reused to foster a sense of community. Sabbats are always open to both the Phoenix Moon coven and grove. Consult their website to see when Sabbats are held.