Rev. Terry Riley

Rev. Terry Riley
Keeping the Faith in the Biblebelt

Monday, December 24, 2012

Magic, the Art of Manufacturing Coincidence

When I came off sabbatical in Jan. 2011, I knew there was a lot of work to do within the SDCW - ATC. By the end of that year I could see the potential of what could be. I have been called an abstract thinker, a dreamer and more than often a out and out "Nut." However I have always believed the saying, "a man without a vision shall perish." So in Dec. of 2011 I began seeing a vision. I could see our Church with a Building, a Dining Hall, setting on our property just the other side of the Circle. On Full Moon that month I told everyone in Circle, "Look over there in the west, see those stakes I've driven in the ground, I don't know how; but we are going to have a 20 x 25 Dining Hall built right there!" There was 30 people in that circle and they all agreed and actually began to see the vision!
In Aug. that year my next door neighbor brought the old house and lot next door to us. He came to me and said he didn't have the money to tear the house down and offered it to me to tear down for the lumber and contents. I agreed and it took us till Feb. 2012 to complete that job. We acquired about $8000 in lumber. In March 2012 we began setting the foundation on our property for our Dining Hall. By Aug. we had the roof up and part of the walls almost completed before we ran out of materials. Then "Lo" and behold Home Depot in Jonesboro accepted us as their local Charity and started donating $5000 a month in materials to the Church. This got us the outside wall materials for the Dining Hall. Plus it helped us establish our Community Out Reach Program. In Dec. generous donations from members of the congregation allowed us to get sheet rock and paint for the inside of the building. And on Dec. 22 we had our yule celebration in the new Dining Hall and everyone was so excited and amazed at how far we had come since last year.
Now I've said all this to get to my point: "Magic is the Art of Manufacturing Coincidence" The power of the master mind principle is "when the people are of one mind and one accord; NOTHING shall be with held from them." All magic begins in the mind with a thought, a vision, with the will and desire to make it manifest. This is "The Spell of Making" So Mote it Be!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Initiations and The Mysteries

"Within the Kingdom of thine own body, shalt thou eat the bread of thine own initiation" (Alex Sanders)
Initiation has always been an important part of the Mystery Religions. But what are the Mysteries that all Wiccans/Pagans talk about? According to the Gnostic writings they are, "Teachings on the metaphysical order and inner dimensions of the reality-truth-continuum. They are methods of mystical prayer and prophetic meditations that allow the initiate to awaken the psychic and spiritual senses of his/her soul." Initiation is suppose to awaken us to a higher understanding and higher levels of consciousness. Within that processed we are Changed. We should be able to see, with unbiased thought patterns, beyond the illusions of this world. However, there are consequences if that Change is not acknowledged within our lives. The Gnostics say, "The greatest betrayal of truth and light is revealed in one's own experience. This blasphemy can only be performed by an initiate. It's one thing if I live as an ordinary person in the world and have no other conscious experience than the world. Then I act in complete ignorance, not making a conscious choice. It is another thing if I have received initiation and had some experience of truth by the Gods and then consciously choose to follow in the way of the world and live in the way of an ordinary person. For once having knowledge through experience, I cannot forget or deny WHAT I know! If I betray that spiritual knowledge it will haunt and torment, both in this life and the next."
I feel that this is one of the reasons we need Wiccan/Pagan Churches. In the old days people got their initiations from covens. Today there are a vast number of solitary practitioners who do not want to be restricted to following one tradition. The eclectic Pagan Church offers Rites of Passages and initiations geared more to the individual's choice of his/her spiritual path.

The Southern Delta Church of Wicca - ATC is a Hierarchical Church. The process for making decisions within the Church are oligarchic. We do not promote one tradition above another. We see all traditions as being equal and valid. The purpose for adopting a Hierarchy system was not for individual power; but so that the Church's identity, as a whole, would have power. An example of this is in the following legal quote:

"In the case of a hierarchical church, however, the court adopted a rule of deference by the civil court to the determinations of a church court: Whenever the questions of discipline or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom or law have been decided by the highest of  these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them, in their application to the case before them."

Bright Blessings to all.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Wicca is Liberating!

 After watching the elections and contemplating their terminology on whether one is conservative, moderate or liberal on beliefs, I came to a conclusion about my self. Not about political position; but overall in pertaining to my Faith. I've all ways believed that traditional Wiccan values and tenets are a central point of the religion. Our religion is very much steeped in tradition, Mythology, and pagan lore, and I practice basic traditional structure. However I also believe that a tradition that doesn't evolve and grow will eventually die out. It becomes to exclusive and intolerant.
 For years there have been fractions within the Church trying to get me to set our traditions down into writings for strict adherence guidelines. I have resisted these suggestions; because it seems to me that if Wicca was to have a future in this modern era it needed to be more acceptable to the true Seeker and I have always believed that all traditions are valid. Plus to me it is a spiritual path that is uniquely individualized to each person. This became clear to me at our Mayday Festival 2000, in Memphis, when I was talking to Rev. Pete Pathfinder of the ATC. We had just completed our Main Ritual, in which he attended, and he said to me, "Terry, you completely lost me on the Chant you were doing." "The progression of the elements was completely reversed from the way we do it in Washington." I said, "Really. Well that's the way the chant was taught to me by the Pagans in New York when I visited with them in 1993." Pete smiled at me, leaned forward and with a little bit of a mischievous voice said, "And that's the beauty of this religion, we're both correct."
 Therefore I sat our training system up with a basic outline; but it is more geared towards to each individual, based on their perspective of where they are at, spiritually, and where they perceive themselves going. Our job as Clergy is to help facilitate them upon their journey. Our Ordains from the ATC tell us, when we make decisions concerning the operation s of our Church, there is a 3 part priority of questions to be considered. 1. How is this going to affect the religion of Wicca. 2. Does if interfere with individual rights. 3. Does it follow Tradition.  This means to me, that sometimes what's best for the Faith overrides Tradition. 
 So I guess if I had to classify myself on my viewpoint and my beliefs, as it pertains to Wicca and it's future I am a "Progressive Liberal"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Modern Wicca in the Bible Belt "Unveiled"

"For too long.... have Wiccans been in hiding!"
"For too long.... have our nature loving ways been shunned!"
"For too long.... have we trod in the shadows!"

 I have personally experienced oppression because of my Faith. I have fought with city governments and school boards over separation of Church and State. I have seen children taken out of the home because of witchcraft and stood toe to toe with DHS. I have lost jobs and been kicked out of rental property because I'm Wiccan. At our Yule Celebration in 2001 we were even shot at! Through all of this in the past twenty years I have never given up or quit promoting the religion of Wicca as the life affirming, peaceful, loving, nature based spiritual path that it is. Now we are seeing a change of era in the Southeastern part of the U.S.
 Today there are seven legally established Pagan Churches in our tri-State area. A lot of them have Tax-exempt status from the IRS. They are gaining respectability in the community because they are involving themselves in the community. Most of the press we are receiving is not about "Witches" but rather how much the Pagans are giving back to the community through their Out Reach programs and working within the community. Wow, just like all the other Faiths out there!
 Here's another example of how Wicca is gaining popularity in our area. Our Church, Southern Delta Church of Wicca, is an affiliate congregation of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in Index, WA. I am very proud to be apart of the ATC established in 1979 by Rev. Pete (Pathefinder) Davis. The ATC has opened many doors for us here in the Southeast. One of the most beneficial exponents is their founding of the Woolston Steen Theological Wiccan Seminary. An a credited Seminary where one can receive a Bachelors and Masters degree. Another aspect where the religion of Wicca is becoming more recognized in equality with the other major Faiths of the world.
 So in summoning up, Yes I'm proud to be a Wiccan/Pagan in these modern times. I'm very please to see the grow of our Faith in the Bible Belt! And I for one will continue to work for the general acceptance of Wicca, and promote it's tenets to assist its evolutionary growth into main stream religious society.
"So Mote It Be!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Big deal for Wicca!

 The Southern Delta Church of Wicca - ATC is picking up their first load of building materials from Home Depot this week. When I first started setting this up with I kinda thought this would good for Wicca in general, not just the SDCW - ATC. Well I was right. It seems to have gotten everyone excited. Because for the first time a National organization has recognized Wicca as equal to the other major Faiths in the U.S.
 This became more evident to me when I got phone call from my Arch Priestess from our Mother Church, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. She asked my to write up a e-mail that explained how I got the Home Depot deal started. Her local church contacted good360 and found out that since the Mother Church and SDCW - ATC had been pre-appoved, all ATC affiliates were also pre-appoved. She said this is a big deal for Wicca and she wanted other Pagan organizations she knew to be aware of this opportunity.
 For the past nineteen years we at SDCW - ATC have struggled to find our place in our local community beyond our own congregation. Well as a result of this Home Depot partnership our local news paper is running a article about our Community Out Reach Program, and it's going to be in the CHURCH section of the Jonesboro Sun. First time a Wiccan Church has ever been included with the other Churches in our area.
 I feel like we have succeeded to some degree in fulfilling our mission statement: "To support and teach the tenets of the Wiccan Religion, to encourage and foster tolerance and interaction between the many differing Faiths of the world, to provide and disseminate information regarding the Faith to the general public in order to educate, inform and promote Wiccan worship, religious education and religious tolerance."
 To that end we continue our work and ministry.
Blessed Be!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Modern Wicca Today Evolving and Growing

There seems to be some controversy among Pagans about Wicca/Paganism becoming to organized. The fear, I believe, is that if Wicca and other Nature Based religions get to focused on running Legal Churches and maintaining a non- profit status that the Spiritual aspect of the religions will suffer. I hear the cry, "Nature is my Religion," Which seems a bit ironic, when I see this posted everywhere on social networks from PC's where the "Nature" Pagan is typing, in a artificially heated and air-conditioned environment, who probably drives a vehicle to and from their place of employment that is a organized institution designed to produce, sell or distribute a product or service , all, for the ALL mighty dollar, in order to survive in the community in which they live. Unless you live in a cave you are a part of an organized community
Pagans are suppose to worship Nature, to me, it's one of many parts of what I consider my community. I have a Circle in my yard and I'm out there no matter what the weather communing with my Gods. Does that mean I can't commune with them if I'm in a building? And what about those who are disabled, who have great difficulty in getting into Nature? Most Circles I seen outside in our community, aren't handicap accessible. So, yeah I see a need for Pagan/Wiccan Temples and Buildings. I've always believed that Eclectic Wiccan/Pagan Churches were necessary and provided fellowship and  assistance to those who practiced a more solitary path. It gives them a place to join without having to follow a pre-set Tradition. But the Church is more than just it's congregation. It is a part of the community in which it exists. Therefore it is not just there for the Pagans, it is there a a vital part of the community as well. To do this Pagan Churches have to get involved within their environment. In this way they have the opportunity to inform and educate the people to the sacredness of Nature. You can not do this without involving your fellow human beings.

Now in saying all this brings me to what's happening at SDCW - ATC. The Church has struggled for the last twenty years trying to serve the larger pagan community; but now we are about to receive some of the fruit of our labors. Home Depot in Jonesboro, AR has nominated the SDCW - ATC as their local charity. They will donate $5000 a month in building materials to the Church. The Church then gives back to the community in helping the Elderly and Aging and low income families with home repairs. A labor of love. This is our Community Out Reach Program. C.O.R.P. To get this established and under way the national organization  GOOD360 is the partner with Home Depot.  There is a one time administration fee of $600, once paid Home Depot will continue to donate from now on to the Church! We are in the process of raising this money. We have done well so far with about $200 in donations to the Church; but our window of opportunity is shrinking. I'm requesting all who wish to help with our project please send your donations to your through paypal to or mail checks, money orders to 104 Main St. Lake city, Ar. 72437.

Thank you and Blessed Be!  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Home Depot accepts SDCW - ATC as local Charity

O.K. The Home Depot deal had a glitch; but it has been rectified! Had to call in the big dog, Pete Pathfinder Davis!! Home Depot in Jonesboro, AR has accepted the SDCW - ATC as their local Charity. They will donate $5000 a month in building materials to the Church! Now we still need the $600 one time administration fee. So Please send your donations on your paypal account to or mail your checks , money orders, made out SDCW - ATC to 104 Main St. Lake City, AR 72437. This is a big deal folks in our area. For the first time a national organization has recognized Wicca as equal to the other Faiths in our area. Plus it allows us to give back to the community at large through our C.O.R.P Program. This assist the Elderly and Aging on fix incomes with home repair in our community. I've already got a request from the E. ARK. Area Agency on Aging. We've got 8 members ready to go to work. So please help us by sending any amount of donations you can!
Blessed Be!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Need for Pagan/Wiccan Churches

 "The Times they are a Changing." In the past Wicca/Paganism was propagated by covens, small groups of practitioners worshiping and working magic together. And this seemed to suffice for a long period of time. Today however there is a massive growth of interest in the Mystery religions. The need has arisen for a system to be utilized to accommodate they people. This is the purpose and necessity of Pagan/Wiccan Churches. In this society this also brings rise to the necessity of these intuitions to be legal. Which means that they become Tax-Exempt along with the other Major Faiths of the world. In other words Wicca and Paganism are becoming organized religions! Oh my Goddess!
 Over the years I've heard the discussions and sometimes heated debates on this subject. I've even been asked, "What are you doing Terry? Copying the Christians? " My reply has been, "Where do you think they got the idea?" A look at Pagan history will tell us that The Druids were a highly organized, along with the Buddhists Temples, Shaolin Temples and many more pagan religions predating well before the establishment of Christianity.
 One of the problems, I believe, is new Pagans coming into the path are so frustrated from their past experiences with Christianity that they do not want to have the same type of authoritative dogma brought into Wicca/Paganism. I agree with them. I don't see Wicca/Paganism ever having a "Pope." One ruling structure that applies to everyone. In the words of Pete Pathfinder Davis, "That's the beauty of this religion, We're all correct."
 Now this all leads to the question, Do Pagan Churches have a purpose is today's society. The answer is Most Definitely! Pagan Churches provide to the Seeker what covens can not. At the SDCW- ATC our list of services to the community are: 1) Providing a place of worship and fellowship. (A building and grounds) 2) Open Circles (Esbats & Sabbats) 3) Classes for the true seeker. (Student, 1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree) 4) Maintains a library for it's members. 5) Provides spiritual counseling by licensed ordained clergy. 6) provides and performs Rites of Passage, such as Legal Handfastings, Crossovers, Wiccanings, etc.,for the pagan community. 7) Provides training programs for those who wish to be ordained clergy.8) Maintains an Adopt a Highway program (4 times a year) 9) Hosts a major Festival (Mayday) once a year. AND YES! All of this costs money. Most Pagan churches do not require titling. Most, including SDCW - ATC work off donations and small monthly dues.
 So if you are a member of a Pagan Church, or even if you not, support your local Pagan Church. They are doing a lot of great things in this modern day and age.
Blessed Be!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Pagan Political Voice?

The future of Paganism/Wicca is evolving. We are entering, and have been for years, a new era. With all the Pagans/Wiccans becoming more public , our faiths are being looked at in a new light. No longer do we or should we, hide in the shadows. We have the right to stand tall and with pride among all peoples. As more and more of the misconceptions are eradicated for the general populaces about who we are and what we do, the Earth Based Religions will eventually attain equality along with the other major Faiths of the world.
Which brings me to another point of interest, The Pagan Political Voice. Now I know a lot of people do not like getting involved in the political arena. I've heard the arguments, like, "Well My vote doesn't count , so I don't vote." etc... But consider this,: At a Christian Coalition Meeting in Memphis, years ago, a Representative from Arkansas said, "If we want to take control of this Country, we have to get our people in at the ground level in local elections. We can do this by understanding that only 10% of the eligible voters actually vote. All we have to do is control 10% of that 10% and we can put whoever we want in office. We have to become a silent guerrilla army. " Now that Scary!!
Also consider this: Elected Government Candidates only care about VOTES. They will only listen too and cater to the ones who can elect them into office. Now if they knew there was a large Pagan/Wiccan vote out there they would probably pay attention to what we have to say.
We are the care takers of the Earth, Our Mother. Shouldn't this include being the VOICE for Mother Earth even in the political arena?
It is illegal for me as Clergy to promote any political platform or candidate; But I can promote our right to vote. It is part of our community, a system, just like the ecological system, which we a part of; not a part from.
In my saying: I'm a wicCAN not a wicCAN'T!!
Blessed Be!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We are an Old People, We are a New People, We are the same People, Stronger than before!

We just had our Mayday Festival last week. It was wonderful. We had guests speakers such as Kerr Cuhulain, and Belladonna Leaveau the new Arch Priestess of the ATC.  We had nine Pagan Churches represented at Mayday, seven ATC affiliates.
As I look back over the past twenty years since we had the protest March in Jonesboro it amazing how much Paganism has grown and come out of the broom closet in our Tri-State area. I remember Selena Fox telling me, after we got home from the March, "Terry what you have done today is poke a small pen hole in the stronghold of the Bible Belt for Paganism, and it will grow from this point on." Well she was right. I was so proud of our community this year. We celebrated, worshiped and had wonderful fellowship at Mayday this year. It was GLORIOUS!
As I said at the first open Wiccan seminar in Jonesboro, back in 1993. "Paganism and Wicca will continue to grow in Jonesboro and the U.S.; because we are 'Children of the Circle' in the world of the Mighty Ones.!"

Bright Blessings

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Titles, Degrees and Status WTF!

 In times past the Wicca/Pagan title of High Priest/Priestess meant. "a person who has achieved a level of training in the Craft and is capable of running a group of practitioners." This was when the faith was propagated by covens, clans, or groups. One achieved this title through an initiation process and training and therefore was respected by members of the OLD RELIGION. There were no certificates, ordination papers, High Priests/Priestesses were acknowledge, as such, by their Words, Actions and Deeds.
 To be a High Priest/Priestess was to take on a lot of responsiblilty, not only did they lead circles; but they were the counselors, guides, healers, and over-all governors to the group. They willingly fulfilled the role of Clergy to the group. To do this took a great amount of commitment. And in so doing they gained a great deal of respect.
 In these modern times groups of  Coven structures are still active and very much an intricate part of the faith, however as any religion grows and evolves there has been a need for the development of a broader base function to the true seeker. This is where Wiccan/Pagan Churches fulfill that need.
 This of course moves modern Paganism into a category of being LEGALIZED. Our society and culture is based on a system of Paperwork. To be recognized and protected by Law, a corporation has to be registered and have the necessary paperwork recorded with in the framework of the system. Pagan Churches have a lot of PAPERWORK. Such as ,articles of incorporation, ordains, by-laws, tax-exempt numbers, etc...  All this makes it possible for the High Priesthood to be legal and able to sign marriage license, death certificates, perform funerals in public funeral homes, etc.. in all to make them equal in the eyes of the law to the other major Faiths of the world. Something the Coven structure could not do.
 The problem with this, that I've noticed in the past recent years, is that this Legalization seems to bring more focus on the Paperwork and less on the Spirituality of the Faith. There are a lot of organizations who hand out ordinations and certificates over the Internet for fees. I've seen and experienced more and more people coming into the faith who are more concerned with getting ordination or the TITLE, without doing the internal growth or spiritual work. This is the reason why we have only ordained 7 people to 3rd Degree in the past nineteen years in SDCW-ATC.
 The essence of modern Wicca/Paganism is, that individual connection to Deity one achieves through the process of personal application of Spiritual concepts based on the rites, meditations, rituals and philosophies  of Pre-Christain Faiths, around the world. I just don't want us to loose sight of that. Blessed Be!   

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Out of the Closet"

  It takes a culture or society an average of seventy years to accept a new idea. Wicca/Paganism has only been in the public's eye in my neck of the woods for about twenty years. There is still a lot of misconceptions about the religion and it's practices out there today. An example of this occurred just the other day. A young man brought one of his friends, (a Cowen) over to the Church to introduce us to him. As they approached the door, his friend stopped, and with definite concern, asked, "They aren't going to hurt me, are they?" He had a real fear because he only knew what he had heard about, "Witches." And this was a seventeen year old boy.
  I have been dealing with this kind of "Bad PR" in our area, since I became a wiccan over twenty years ago. Oh, it's a lot better now than it was twenty years ago; but we still have a long way to go. We're going to get there; however the only way to accomplish it is for us to be "Public" I have been criticized, by some pagans, over the years for being TOO Public. It seems I have the reputation of "stirring up shit" LOL  I have lost jobs, fought with DHS, public school officials, and even organized a protest March back in 93, because I was tired of hiding in the closet.  I was in the closet back in 92, when my five year old daughter, Amberly, came up to me after Full Moon Ritual and said, "I can't wait to tell all the kids at school tomorrow about our ritual." I told her, she probably shouldn't do that. She look up at me with those innocence eyes and asked, "Why Daddy, is what we're doing wrong?" Well guess how that made me feel? I decided at that moment that I needed to something to promote Wicca as the beautiful life affirming religion it is. So I began my journey out of the closet.
  Now I'm not saying, or expecting every Pagan to "Come out of the Closet." I realize because of personal views, situations, etc. they can't at this time; but wouldn't be wonderful if someday Wicca/Paganism was accepted and respected in equality a long with the other major Faiths of the world? Then no one would have to hide.
  My point is this: There have been a lot of brave pagans and wiccans over the past 50 years who have had the same dream and risk their, livelihood, families, and even their lives for what they believe. It's disheartening sometimes for these people, who work so hard for the Faith, to not have the support of the the very ones their working to help. So if you can't be public about your Path at least support,(even behind the scenes) the people who are out on the front lines, taking the hits, and working for the betterment of Wicca and Paganism.
Blessed Be! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leadership in Paganism

A Leader: "A person who is willing to do what others aren't willing to do."

I have been training students in the SDCW - ATC to become leaders for the past twenty years. One of the biggest obstacles they face is understanding Transference Reactions. That is when people transfer and carry over, to leaders, their own habits, perceptions, interpretations, emotional responses, and interactions that they formed from experiences in earlier times.
Every leader, especially Coven leaders, (High Priest/Priestess) Pagan Clergy, become convenient targets for Transference Reactions. The difficulty here is for the leader to keep their ego in check. To not take things to personally and understand that most of these reactions are growth experiences and psychological transference. Psychologically speaking, the "Leader" is the "Big Person:" the parent, teacher, the authority figure, and they are the standard against which the congregation judge themselves. "They will resent that you are not perfect and subconsciously they are terrified you are not." At times some will even be rebellious, finding reasons to fight with you, this is when the leader has the stay grounded and centered. For the anger maybe directed at you, it is not about you. It is merely a psychological transference reaction.
The old axiom, "If you got enemies: good, that means your doing something" especially applies to people in leadership roles. Clergy Therapists are idealized. If your are in a dual wisdom role, both the all-powerful Priest/Priestess and the all-compassionate counselor, you're on the pedestal before you ever begin your work.
Therefore it takes a while to train someone to be a leader, unless their a natural. In paganism a leader needs a good working knowledge of Philosophy and Theology, knowledge of human behavior, personalities, ethics, practices and customs, motivation, emotional disorders, coordination of people and methods, administration and business, social skills, and self control.
One of the most important qualities that I feel a Pagan Clergy leader should possess is the ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. I have found over the years that, "People don't care how much you know; until they first know how much you care."
I conclude on a quote of one definition of Clergy: "One who has a religious mission. A task which is destined in life, that is divinely inspired." To me it is a "Calling."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Article from Aquarian Tabernacle Church

This is an old article from our Mother Church, ATC, in Index, Washington. It is the Panegyria Magazine published by the ATC. I am proud to a member of the ATC since 1993, when Rev. Pete (Pathfinder) Davis ordained me.
Back then when we were having so much trouble with the local Christian community, here in Jonesboro, trying to establish a public Wiccan presence, Pete was there, offering help, counseling, advice, and the opportunity to legalize our Church.
We now have four ATC affiliated Pagan Churches in our tri-state area and we are family. We work together very closely with the same goal in mind: "To make Wicca and Paganism more accessible to the general public." and serve the larger Pagan community. Our dream is that someday Wicca and Paganism will attain the same equality and respect as the other major Faiths of the world and we shall continue to promote them as the beautiful, life confirming religious and spiritual paths that there are.