I suspect that it was October 1996 when Mikal turned up at our CUUPS Samhain Ritual. She was a good looking woman and quite striking in her fine robe and head piece. There was some guy with her, and we all talked about doing a future ritual at CUUPS. She lamented that it was difficult for her to find a reliable HP. The previous March, I had taken over Moonpath CUUPS leadership from NorlaLee . That other guy never came back.
I saw Mikal next at the Miami UU when Starhawk came to present a program that November. We were part of a Samhain Ritual in her home in 1996. We talked some more and led our first CUUPS Ritual together at Yule 1996.
Mikal told me that she had learned her Craft from her father. Her path was Italian, Strega, and she had lived in the Bahamas before coming to Coral Springs. Her husband had remained in the Bahamas to run his contracting business, and she would visit him.
She deplored public education in the Bahamas and Broward, so she enrolled her two children in Catholic school. The priest, wanting to get this new parent involved, put her in charge of the Halloween Party. He confided that he did not like goblins and ghouls, and Mikal said neither did she. The Halloween Party was decorated with many symbols of the third harvest, and the priest was never the wiser that he had a Witch within his school.
Mikal and I began priesting together for three, maybe four, of the eight sabbats during the year. I recall in 1997 we did Imbolc, Beltaine and Samhain together. There were other ladies priestessing at the other sabbats. I was doing open rituals to attract new people and build community. Mikal preferred dealing with more serious and experienced people. I would remind her that CUUPS is not a coven.
Mikal lived in an amazing Witch House in Coral Springs. Everywhere, there were hangings about the Craft and the Seasons of the Year. This was a house that belonged on a tour. She even had a sign that read, "The Witch is IN."
At Yule, Mikal would decorate a tree in her living room. This tree had a white dove on top and decorations befitting the season. What was unique was that the tree remained in place for the next eleven months. It would acquire new decorations for each sabbat on the Wheel of the Year. By Samhain, the tree was turning rather brown. At it's top, now perched a raven. There were skeletons and pumpkins among its other decorations.
Mikal encouraged me to go to Florida Pagan Gathering. My first was the last FreedomFest for Church of the Iron Oak in Plant City at the Nudist Camp for Beltaine 1997. There, Mikal introduced me to Lady Bridget. I also met Lady Circe.
In 1998, we did Ostara, and Beltaine together. That August, Starwind arrived. I arranged a meeting at the Barns & Noble off Sterling Road and she then became active in Study Group.
Our first Witches Ball was October 1998. This was a big adventure for all of us and we had no idea what to expect. In either September or early October, Mikal and I went to the Hollywood UU Fellowship for a ritual and to promote the Witches Ball. Sophia was there.
At Florida Pagan Gathering, November, Samhain 1998, I was wrestling with the question of whether to join a coven or not. I asked for a reading from Lady Silver Ravenwolf. She suggested a Study Group instead because, "It's so much easier."
In 1999, Mikal and I did Beltaine and a Dark Moon Ritual in the swimming pool at her house that June. We did the Second Witches Ball. That January, I started leading Thursday evening Study Group. Mikal would not attend except to rehearse an upcoming ritual. She was doing her balancing act of daughter and son at home and visiting husband in the islands.
Mikal was connecting to various witch communities in Fort Lauderdale. These associations did not seem to last. I heard it said that she would move though covens to gather new material, but I never saw any evidence that this was true.
Mikal's formal credentials were as Eustacia Blackstar of the Circle of the Sun Coven. I don't recall hearing any more about this coven, but she would tell stories of Italy. She did visit Italy one summer and came back with stories of family and nature.
Study Group grew to have an identity of its own. It was from there that we drew players for our eight sabbats. There were other ladies who would priestess. Mikal led only three CUUPS rituals each year and would not attend Study Group. She was not approving of the Muggle public that came to our rituals, not always knowing how to dress or behave. It was at the second Witches Ball that some drunk threw up at her feet. Why Mikal, of all the people there?
In 2000 we did a Child Blessing, Imbolc, and Beltaine. I recall observing her in a private ceremony before one ritual. She had stepped aside to ground and center and was doing something that I now think was the Banishing of the Lesser Pentacle.
At the third Witches Ball we did an empowerment Ritual at 10:15 pm for a lady entering into a custody battle for her children. We gave her a sword and a shield and a cord. It was very "Saint Paul." This Mom was in the Coast Guard where she enjoyed badgering the chaplain with her Pagan ways. On ship, the ordnance people would not let her place her candles upon the torpedoes. But she found the nine-foot circle of the helo pad where the helicopters land on the fantail to be an excellent place for solitary ritual.
At Yule we did an enactment of the Italian La Befana at Mikal's house. She called it La Festa Dell' Inverno. She liked rituals at her house. I insisted that I also do eight sabbats each year at the UU Church for CUUPS in order to meet the ritual needs of the greater community.
In 2001 at Imbolc, we did a coming of age for Mikal's son's girl friend. At Beltaine, Mikal and I included a Coming of Age for her daughter. I remember that we had a horse for Mikal and also wireless microphones. Mikal scripted for herself a grand entrance on horseback. When she was late to appear, the circle began chanting, "We all wait for the Goddess. Without her we can't begin." Mikal was having a little trouble getting onto the horse, and her live microphone broadcast her tribulations to our circle.
In July 2001 we did a Saining, a Blessing of a New Life. A young couple had found us and wanted their infant dedicated to the Craft. I encouraged Mikal to start her own gathering at her house. We could filter the people and invite only the serious and dedicated. This never happened. She really did need a publicist.
I do recall one gather at her house. Two of the people came late, one in a clown suit thinking that was ritual garb. Another headed immediately for the food claiming a medical emergency. Mikal had no patience with Muggle manners.
Mikal's daughter was into Celtic dance. She was good at it. She had the complete outfit and won contests. Mikal would write dance parts for her into all her rituals.
Mikal made it to the Samhain Florida Pagan gathering in 2001. Family commitments kept her from being a regular. Amber K and Azreal were the keynote Pagans leading the main ritual. They did a marvelous visualization of a trip into the Underworld. We each reached into a cauldron of icy water and pulled out white, black, or speckled stones to determine our fate. We were all impressed. Mikal suggested that I find money to fly Amber K and Azreal out from California to one of our rituals. Her idea was that they would knight us for all of our good local work.
Mikal was a perfectionist. She would fret about what was appropriate to share and with whom. Her rituals were elaborate. She made us rehearse more than we would like. We called her Cecille B. DeWitch. She had nifty capes and costumes in her wardrobe. She would lug boxes to props over to the UU church for each of her rituals and would complain that it would be easier to do it all at her house.
There was a growing tension between Mikal and the regulars at Study Group. I was the go-between. I kept everyone working together. Mikal was reluctant that I publish her rituals on the Internet. She would tweak them even after we had performed them, and she was concerned that incomplete versions would be made public.
In 2002, we did Ostara. Prior to Beltaine, I was getting tired of her treating us all as servants, so I blew up and ran Mikal off and did the Beltaine ritual with Shining Spirit.
After a while, both Starwind and I were missing Mikal and we said how much she had to offer. We had not seen her at any Craft activities. We invited her back and I led Imbolc 2003 with her. I tried to explain past irritations, but she could hear nothing. She and I both were glad to be back together.
Once she was back, Mikal OK'd my posting her old rituals online. I went through my files for all of her good work that I could find.
By Beltaine, Mikal was making me nuts again treating us all like servants. I ran her off again, and I again did Beltaine with Shining Spirit.
Mikal dropped out from the witch community. She would do volunteer work with the Coral Springs Police Department.
I later learned that in 2005, Mikal had air conditioner work at her house. The guy messed up and her house caught fire. The city declared it unlivable and had her evicted.
Next, Mikal was diagnosed with cervical cancer. There was a hysterectomy that did not improve things. She died October 20, 2005, at age 59, as hurricane Wilma came through Fort Lauderdale. She always had a flair for theater.
I really do see Mikal as one of my teachers, even though we would butt heads. Yes, I would say that she had a little black cloud that hung over her head. Yet for a while, we were a team, and those were good years.
--Spelcastor, November 9, 2008
Lady Mikal's Rituals
Mikal Remembered on our Memorial Wall
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