forest moon grove

Forest Moon Grove Church

December, 2010

So there I was in the first formation of my new company. It was 1 July 2002 and I was transferred from C Co. to B Co. since they needed more NCO’s (Non-Commissioned Officers) to take over a new section of the Motor Pool and me, knowing my job and good at leading Soldiers, was sent over. It was supposed to be an honor to be chosen but I felt like a red-headed step-child being sent to the worst company of the battalion by reputation. I was a witch, practiced in my home, and felt no need for politics or getting involved in a group setting although I had checked out a couple of coven options in Germany before. So, I was in this first formation and the 1SG came out and blatantly stated, “If you are a Wiccan or a Satanist, you will not practice in my company area. But, if you follow the same god I do, I will ensure you can always go to church.” Oh wow, I was appalled and infuriated. After formation I went straight to the company training room and asked the SSG behind the desk for every Pagan Soldier’s name that claimed Wicca or Pagan in their records. She looked at me and said, “Oh wow, you must be Pagan” to which I responded in the affirmative. When it was all said and done there were approximately 5 Soldiers claiming a Pagan faith and 1 Satanist. I was then told by one of the Soldiers that he had gone to the chaplain to ask a question and the chaplain had argued with him that he was indeed a devil worshipper. That got me going again and I went to the chaplain’s office to confront him and was met by his assistant, another SSG. She asked what she could do for me and I asked her about what he had stated about Wicca and she got a disgruntled look on her face and asked me, ”So what, you’re here to educate the chaplain?”  Upon which I replied, “Well I guess if he’s misinformed about what a Wiccan is then yes I am.” and I walked out. I did eventually meet the chaplain and got the misunderstanding straightened out and then we discussed the potential of starting a group on the base. I explained that there were Soldiers of Pagan faiths not allowed to practice due to the 1SG, and that they couldn’t light candles or incense in the barracks, a big part of their practice, due to fire regulations. I discussed having a location on base that we could do an open ritual, and the potential for a Wiccan Breakfast for all the Pagan Soldiers to gather one morning and discuss the group during Physical Training. The chaplain was excited about the opportunity and offered to sponsor the event. At last, it looked like everything was coming together, in the meantime I was talking to the Pagan Soldiers in my new company and keeping them updated as to what was taking place. 2 days later I travelled to the hospital for an appointment and I ran into the chaplain. I was told that he couldn’t sponsor the event since they weren’t allowed to have prayer breakfasts anymore either and that if I wanted to do anything I was on my own. I was a bit upset by this and returned to base. In the meantime, I had been talking to the Battalion XO, a Major who was very open minded. I was the battalion safety NCO as well so I had access to the officers in the battalion as I had to brief them on accidents, etc that took place. I was telling the Major about the Pagan issues and that the chaplain had dropped his support and I didn’t know what to do. He told me to go to the base café and go ahead and schedule my breakfast and he would get it approved and he set up a meeting with the Colonel to talk to him about a meeting place for rituals since he was the Commanding Officer of the base anyway. He was a bit upset and said he was going to look at the training calendar and if he saw any prayer breakfasts from that chaplain he was going to slam him for discrimination. I went to the café and talked to the owner, a very friendly German who then informed me the chaplain had prayer breakfasts there all the time and that he thought the Pagans meeting was great and how many did I expect so he could plan. I went to the local PR Office of the base and talked to them about advertising and they offered to put it on every electronic bulletin board in all the surrounding military communities as well. I returned to battalion and the Major informed me that he had contacted the chaplain and I had an appointment with the Colonel that afternoon. I was ecstatic, finally something might be accomplished. I told him when the breakfast was and he marked it on his calendar and said it would be announced to all the company commanders and if any Soldiers said they hadn’t heard it or were being told they couldn’t go to let him know. That afternoon I went to the Colonels office where the chaplain and his assistant were waiting outside. The Colonel came out and in a gruff voice asked what we wanted and we explained we had an appointment with him and then he saw me and his expression changed and he said, “SGT Cooper come on in, is this an open or closed door meeting?” I told him it could stay open and then we went right into the idea for a location to practice. He said that shouldn’t be a problem, what was the issue, there shouldn’t be one due to freedom of religion. We chose a spot on the backside of the airfield and that was settled. Then the chaplain’s assistant whined about the candles and incense in the barracks and that it violated fire code. The Colonel looked at the fire code and said those were his barracks and fire codes could be altered and how was it they could light candles in their chapel when that was also a government building. It was explained that there candles were never left attended whereupon I jumped in and said nor are a Pagan’s candles, they are always watched and I explained how spell candles were used. The Colonel said, “OK, problem solved we’ll get the policy changed.” The breakfast was great, we actually had 13 families show up and 2 other chaplains from other communities that were curious and wanted to help. I got a roster going and we scheduled our Yule ritual for on the airfield. Everyone was excited that we were actually starting a group and showed up promptly. It was a powerful ceremony, all the candles remained lit despite the cold chill and the breeze blowing. We finished the ritual and went to our house for breakfast and coffee. Everyone stayed at the house all day discussing herbs, rituals, other groups etc. It was a very good group. We met continually a couple other times and then I got orders to Fort Lewis leaving that February. It was sudden, but we established a family that would take over as leaders for the group so it wouldn’t collapse and everyone was happy. This was the first group I established and it opened my eyes to the needs of groups and the discrimination of the Army with Pagans in general. All would be quiet for the next couple years as once again I just practiced in my house. That would change January of 2004.

I got orders to go to Balad, Iraq with a signal company around October time frame to leave in January. We started preparing and I started doing some meditating. I meditated best with drum music and was laying in bed meditating when Morrighan visited me and showed me all would be alright. I continued to meditate and found myself looking through the eyes of an eagle down at a valley below. I was visited by the Bear, the Badger, and the Eagle and they were introduced as my totems. I have also always been drawn to the Raccoon but that being the cousin of the bear, would make sense. I didn’t start studying Paganism until I turned 18 as I was raised in the church by my parents. I would get home from church, put on my play clothes and be gone in the woods we owned for hours communing with nature. I found hidden valleys deep in the forest and follow deer through them and just lie on the forest floor for what seemed like eternity. I was a Pagan child but didn’t know what a Pagan was.

We arrived in Kuwait for desert training before we were to drive 3 days into Balad, Iraq. We had no armor for our trucks as this was before they had up-armored Humvees so we had to construct armor using rubber mats and plywood. No-one had any metal as all the other units had already taken it. Then we were told the Iraqi’s were running wire across the highway to cut off the gunners head and we had to weld steel poles to the brush-guards of our trucks to cut any wire we encountered before it reached the gunner. By this time, I knew of another Pagan Soldier in my company so we stuck close together and as the day got closer for our 3 day convoy we agreed to do a protective circle on the trucks. I pulled out white candles I had brought and some sea salt and we circled the convoy with salt. That morning I heard a shout and looked up to see the sky filled with dragonflies all heading towards Iraq. The dragonflies filled the skies for a good hour and I took that as a sign that we had been heard and would be protected throughout our trip. I felt confident that everything would be alright. It was an uneventful 3 days other then the 2nd night sleeping on top of our trucks and we heard a suicide bombers car explode but not close enough to do any damage to any of our people. We arrived to Balad after crossing through Baghdad without a shot fired. Once we got situated, my buddy and I started thinking about starting a group on the base. It was evening and the moon was coming out full, we were looking at it in admiration and he mentioned how beautiful the moon always looked in the desert. We discussed it and that was the birth of our name, Desert Moon Grove was born. I looked around the base for any sign or chapel service for Pagans and found none. I made up a bunch of signs asking if you were a Pagan Soldier to meet us at the library at 7PM on a certain date. We arrived there and found 2 Soldiers waiting. I was called into my 1SG office and asked if the signs were mine I said yes and was reprimanded and told I couldn’t do that I would have to get proper authorization to advertise anything religious although there were bible study signs on every street corner it seemed but that was just fine. I went to the base chaplain and brought up that we wished to start a Pagan group. He seemed excited about the prospect and agreed to give us a spot inside his chapel compound outside a 9’ square for ritual use but first I had to find an endorsing agency to represent me and then he would sponsor me. I went online and found such an agency and after talking back and forth with them finally received the appropriate paperwork to present to the chaplain. I was then allowed to put up signs advertising we had a Pagan group on base called Desert Moon Grove. My Motor Sergeant who had also been a prior IG Inspector gave me permission to use my maintenance shop as a meeting place for the group since we didn’t have an official spot and so I set up a locker with all the herbs, books, incense and candles I had brought with me. I walked by the chapel and noticed in the spot the chaplain had designated our ritual ground he had stacked lumber and other junk there so obviously he had no intention of allowing us to use it anyway. One day the chaplain called me into his office and was smiling and unusually friendly. He started asking me religious questions about the holy-spirit and what our take on all that was. He asked about blood sacrifice and that he didn’t want to catch us running around the base nude and I just laughed at him and explained we don’t do that anyway. He had many misconceptions but he made it quite apparent he didn’t want to be corrected on them either. We had a spiritual debate for an hour before he realized he wouldn’t move past a stalemate. He let me go and was quite frustrated but we were legit and had our group. When we first started meeting I had out it out as a weekly meeting every Thursday night, but the Soldiers came to my shop every night so we turned into an every-day group as needed. I had coffee every night and if we were running low I would just say, “Morrighan, we’re running out of coffee.”  Sure enough a package would come in and it would be full of coffee. I placed a message on Witches Voice for Troop support help as I wasn’t aware of anyone out there that sent Pagan packages and sure enough, a huge response was shown from Pagan wanting to help but not knowing how. We got supplies constantly from that point and many friends were made still to this day. We had discussion groups all the time and one night, while we were talking, one of our Soldiers team leaders came in and told him his section had been ambushed in a convoy and his squad leader and platoon sergeant had both been killed. I took him out and let him ground on a tree and then we did a healing ritual with him. It was a very somber night and the realities of war were always made clear. We had mortar attacks every day and night at random times and it wasn’t unusual for us to have to put on our body armor and helmets in the midst of our meeting in case our building got hit. That made us laugh, it was Morrighan’s building after all. I had Morrighan’s altar in my office and when asked, everyone was told who my deities were. We honored all Sabbats and Full Moons. Beltane was engineer tape tied off to a tree and colored with red dye. We got apple juice and fruit from the dining facility and did a poetry reading after we danced around the May Pole. One major disturbance, a Soldier showed up one night touting all these degrees he claimed and being a warrior while following Apollo and Aphrodite. His claims didn’t make sense and after 3 days of disturbances he found himself out of the group. I have never physically or literally kicked anyone out of the groups, I believe if their meant to be with us they’ll stay but if they have ill intent it will come out and they will leave. It has always worked that way. The troubled Soldier emailed my endorsing agency making slanderous claims about the group and me specifically which upset everyone in the group. The Soldier who acted as my advisor emailed the kids organization to validate his claims of 2nd degree and let them know about his actions. They responded with a who-cares attitude so we then notified my endorsing agent about the false claims and although they never pulled my endorsement, I never, the entire year heard anything from them in support of anything we did. I dropped their endorsement after that tour and switched to a different organization.  Over all we had an excellent year, we saw over 100 Soldiers, Airmen, and even had a civilian contractor come. After reading the military newspaper, there was a big uproar about Pagans in the Military and I followed that quite closely, but what shocked me more than anything was seeing an article about a Wiccan Soldier getting stoned by fellow Soldiers and being hospitalized for practicing his beliefs. I was appalled and felt something should be done. I contacted the Camp Anaconda Newspaper and met a very Pagan friendly reporter who was intrigued about the prospect of a Pagan group on base. I told her my concerns about the incident in Baghdad and it was decided we would hold a Pagan Awareness day on Samhain open to the base. The reporter did a nice article on Desert Moon Grove and advertised our event. We decorated the maintenance shop and set up an astrology program on one of the computers to give people their own charts, set up a dry altar and handed out information pamphlets on what a Pagan was and was not. It was well received and we even had some Pagan Soldiers find us that weren’t aware we were there. On an interesting note, my boss, the SFC who allowed me to use my bay for meetings, and who also was catholic, in the beginning of the meetings was always kind of stand-offish and thought we were strange. Towards the end of the tour he would walk in and ask what a stone was or for a tarot reading etc and was very interested in what we did. As we were cleaning up and prepping to go home, I packed up Morrighan’s altar. The bay door which stands 12 feet tall slammed shut, there was no wind. One of our Christian NCO’s looked at me, and looked at the door. He asked, “SGT Cooper?”, “Ya?”, “What was that?”, “oh, that? That was just Morrighan leaving the building, we’re going home so She doesn’t need to be here anymore.” “Oh.” 20 minutes after that, there was an ominous sound of water hitting the floor, and again, the Christian NCO, “SGT Cooper?”, “Ya?”, “It hasn’t leaked in this building all year, it’s not raining outside, why is it leaking now?” “Morrighan has departed the building and her shield is no longer here, wow I feel sorry for the next unit moving on.” We left and got home with no issues, I never found a Pagan leader for the group so Desert Moon remained dormant until about 4 months later when I found a new leader on-line that was on Camp Anaconda. Before we left, the chaplain came to me and asked me to write him this wonderful book showing everything he had done to help us and what a wonderful sponsor he was since he was retiring and it would make him look so wonderful that he had helped the Pagan group out. I was disgusted, I went back and made a detailed book about how to start a group, everything we had done that year, every ritual and Sabbat, special occasions, and then in closing write everything that could be done to improve the sponsorship and the group as a whole. A month went by after I had turned it in and one day I felt like checking in with him so I went and knocked on his door. A Colonel answered and I introduced myself and he welcomed me in and explained he was the new chaplain there and that the Major had already left. I asked him about the book and then he smiled and explained he loved the book, it explained step-by-step what anyone coming in new had to do to keep the group going, but he was very disturbed. I asked him why and he told me everything that I had listed as an improvement should have been done automatically as that was the chaplain’s job. He told me anyone I sent to step in would receive full support, I left encouraged.

I arrived back at FT Lewis January 2005 and upon reflection of everything we did in Desert Moon and the responses I had gotten from so many Pagan civilians wanting to support the Troops but also wanting to support Pagan Troops specifically, Forest Moon Grove was born. Many of the civilians from our support in Desert Moon joined this group and as time went on it grew larger. It started as and has always been the yahoo site. Websites started for Forest Moon have come and gone as people moved on so eventually I gave up the idea of having one. I started approaching the Pagan community around Fort Lewis and the response was shifty, I was told by one that we weren’t needed because Fort Lewis already had a Wiccan group on base and another Military group just wasn’t welcome. I was irritated and got discouraged by negativity but pushed on anyway and Forest Moon started developing locally as well as internationally on-line. I lived in Lakewood in an apartment and started having meetings on Saturdays and planned on us taking Forest Moon into a local parade. One of our members was using our group to meet her boyfriend behind her husbands back and she was making false accusations. The day of the parade she called telling us her husband had raped her and she couldn’t make it. That was the last straw, I knew she was making false accusations once again as CID proved and charged her with conspiracy and I never heard from her again. The parade was skipped and Forest Moon went on auto-pilot for a few months as I collected my thoughts and calmed down. The yahoo group was growing larger by the day and more and more stores and organizations were jumping in and offering Troop support. I knew another deployment was approaching and I made a war chest with recommended supplies listed for Pagan Soldiers. I loaded up 3 chests one full of candles, incense and charcoal. Another chest full of books for our library, and yet another full of herbs and ritual tools. We were prepared for war. I had a booth at Pagan Pride in Seattle and we were asked to perform a ritual so we performed a ritual to Morrighan in protection for our deployed Military. Desert Moon’s wheels were lifted yet again when we were flown to Tal Afar, Iraq November of 2005 to October of 2006.

We arrived in Tal Afar just after Thanks-giving of 2005 fully prepared to start a Pagan group once again. I had already gone to an endorsing Wiccan Sanctuary prior to leaving and already had my letter of endorsement ready to go. I had a Catholic 1SG and a Mormon Commander which indeed made for an interesting and negative tour but we made the best of it. I already had a good support structure in place through Forest Moon, went well stocked to get us started and there were about 6 Pagan Troops just in my company alone. My 1SG was building a HQ building for himself and his Soldiers and they were moving out of a frame tent which he wanted removed as it was an eye sore. I asked him if I could have it for an aid station as I was also the company medic since that was my prior job in the Army. He agreed and let me take it down and the tent was moved inside our compound as a medic station/Pagan house. I went to the installation chaplain and was met with a wall that really didn’t want to allow us to meet. He stalled the best he could as his unit was leaving anyway and he wanted to wait until the next chaplain came in to make us his problem instead. Eventually we were granted permission and there was an old chapel building they originally let us start meeting in which we met in once. It would have been a wonderful meeting place other then the fact that there was always a mix-up of times and we always got bumped which is why I got excited about the tent. We put up our fliers to let the Pagan Troops know we were there and again they came. Prior to deploying when I was drumming up support I was given 10lbs of coffee from Tully’s so we went there stocked with coffee. We set up the altar, the library, had our computer set up for music and files and had about 10 Soldiers a night at first. Everything was going great. I had a generator running my lights, heater and coffee pots. Things were going well. I went for my r and r for the month and while I was home I maintained contact with the group to see what was needed to bring back etc. one of the members informed me our tent was taken away and the group didn’t know what to do or where to meet, in the meantime, my room was moved to a fellow Pagan’s and we shared a CHU (Civilian Housing Unit) basically like a one room trailer for 2 people. I told them to go ahead and continue meeting at my trailer until I got back in country. Upon my arrival, I was informed my PLT SGT wanted my tent and 2 days after I had left he decided to use his rank and take it. I was to find out later there was no reason for him to have taken it when the 1SG told him he could have had a building built for his office. I got set up, unpacked all our supplies from where they had been stored and we notified everyone where to meet. There were nights we had up to 30 Soldiers at the chu, 6 would go in and get coffee then go back outside in case someone else needed to go in. I was then informed by the 1SG that I was actually not allowed to do that and I informed him to bust me a rank because as long as I had Pagan Troops wanting to come I wouldn’t turn them away. Furthermore, until we had a location to meet, we would meet at my chu. That was another eventful year with well over 100 on and off throughout the deployment, many I still communicate with. My Battalion chaplain flew in from Mosul to inform us we were being slandered back at the battalion and accused of proselytizing, I had to laugh because only Pagan Troops were there and no one at any time was pushing Paganism on anyone, they were just upset because we were meeting. I did bring up the point that again, like my last tour, we were removed from the Company compound but there were bible studies going on all the time, so again, the chaplain we had was infuriated and wanted to press discrimination charges against the company and the battalion in our name through his office. That chaplain hated the hypocrisy he saw and got out of the Army after that tour and even changed his religion to Catholic because he enjoyed our candles and incense and wanted a belief similar to him. He learned the differenced in incense and the correspondences in candle colors and was fascinated by all Pagan aspects and beliefs. We never saw the chaplain after that visit as the CSM and the Colonel, who both hated us kept him away and busy and charges were never filed. We were on our own and kept our group going. One day, my roommate and I went to the dining facility where we saw bible verses written on the dessert. He was upset and wanted to bring it to some-ones attention as that was proselytizing and how could they even begin to accuse us of the same. They were shoving Christianity down our throats and almost literally in that case. That’s when I had to explain to pick your battles. I will be quiet about that stupid stuff but not when it comes to telling us we can’t meet. I had a Soldier come to me saying her SSG told her she was devil worshipper and he was going to stop her from coming to our meetings. Worse yet, this man was her company Equal Opportunity Representative. I went to their higher command and spoke with the Division Equal Opportunity which was a Master Sergeant and she was furious. I gave her the Staff Sergeants name and phone number and the Soldier never heard another word about devil worship from the man again. As the year was progressing I wanted to expand on our support network so when I had the chance and internet time, I emailed artists, authors, musicians, organizations and the list goes on. We got packages daily almost and every time a Soldier wanted something specific, without even saying a word that item would come in a package the next day. Every Soldier got what they wanted and needed without asking as if there was someone watching and directing people what to send. About middle of the tour we were sitting, drinking our coffee as usual and I started drawing a Sanctuary. I wanted 100 acres, there would be a lake or pond in the west for water, a fire pit in the south for fire, a concert stage on the east side representing air and it would be standing in an open meadow for crowds of people and we would have Full Moon concerts called Moon Stock. That would leave the North. In the North would be a very large structure with pillars, named Valhalla. It would be fitted with a large community kitchen, a grand hall with a long table off the kitchen with a huge fireplace at the end. It would have a very large library, and 3 classrooms for candle making, wand making, herbs and stones and whatever class we wanted to teach. There would also be a loft upstairs where the care-taker would stay. Throughout the land would be various camps of log cabins where any coven or grove could come out and commune with nature and hold their seasonal rites. I took ideas from everyone in the group and that was the picture that came out. I write this all down in a notebook and we named it Desert Moon Sanctuary. Also about this time, there were foreign Soldiers who would walk by our chu’s on their way to the shower and two of them would wave every night as they went by. One night, they walked over and in very broken English asked what we did every night. They were Turkish Special Forces and they became like brothers to us. They came every night and at first we had them making us Turkish coffee, but after tasting our Tully’s, oh no, that was what they wanted and to hell with Turkish coffee they were hooked on Tully’s. I gave them tarot readings which they were in awe of since I obviously knew nothing of them but told them everything they needed to know. We learned a lot about Islam and what it is not, like they learned about Paganism and were in awe. They were familiar with the pentacle, they saw it in their country all the time. They knew that Paganism was the first religion as it says in the holy Koran also that there were faeries and djinn as it also says. After 5 months they spoke very good English as they had hoped and it was a very sad day for us to see them go back to Turkiye as it is properly spelled and pronounced. Another thing we learned while we were there was the Iraqi version of the Pagan was the Yezzidi. These people were the ancient Sumeri and Ishtar followers. It was very interesting to learn they were there and we saw them and they were as excited as we were at finding Pagan Americans. We got home October of 2006, and little did I know that would be my last combat tour, 4 was enough and my commander would agree.

Upon returning, I jumped right back into focusing on Forest Moon Grove and finding Troops deployed so we could get them on our list and immediately get supplies out to them. Also, at that time there were only 3 organizations endorsing troops for Lay Leader status so choices were limited but the one I was suggesting was the one here in Washington that had endorsed me for Desert Moon the 2nd tour. I had no issues with their endorsement and when questions arose I always had their answer quickly, unlike the others that just seemed to ignore you and didn’t seem to support you. I vowed if I ever got that far that’s the type of organization I would never be. I started Forest Moon coffee up in Lakewood at the local Forza coffee around the corner from the apartment and I maintained a booth at the Seattle and Portland Pagan Pride events. My focus end of 2007 now turned to Desert Moon Sanctuary. I started networking Pagans in Arizona as that was where I envisioned moving to. It was going to be built just like we planned on paper, with a community garden and its own power source so we could be off-grid. Some of our members were drafting by-laws and we had a board formed, then there was much dissent in the group caused by decisions I had made going with the people that had experience in the 501c paperwork process. We were slandered on the radio by an Arizona drama radio station trying to incite us as a cult, a professional on the topic was called in who corrected the woman and we never hear another word. The process moved on, we got our 501 status as a Charitable Trust under the umbrella of another established Pagan organization. All was going well and then the inevitable happened. I got online that morning, to find that my Desert Moon Sanctuary group had been taken over, I was a member status and the trouble makers had taken it upon themselves to remove me from the group, take the name, and slander me. I removed myself from the group as we remade the website and formed a new group under Desert Moon Sanctuary Charitable Trust where it still remains as a legal but not physical entity. Now, as of November 2010, it will be merged with an organization called Pagans United, a new Sanctuary will be formed and the organization will be formed under Forest Moon Grove as a branch of us; however, I’m jumping ahead of myself. After about 6 months, Desert Moon Sanctuary plans went by the wayside although Forest Moon as usual continued on. Many people were misled during that mutinous time but as I see, people come and go, but those who are meant to stay, continue on.

The end of 2007 was a trial period for me as I feel that everything tossed to us through life is a test to prepare you for things to come. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1993 long before any of this, from my wonderful journeys as a Combat Medic in Somalia. I endured many trials and had nightmares as I continue to this day from time to time from visions of being shot at, explosions, death, and mangled bodies. All through my last tour I was writing monthly articles for a magazine called, “Moon Shadow” which has since gone out of business, but it was a fun time for me and got a lot of stress out of my system just writing rant articles. I wrote articles in death, memorials, sands of war, and PTSD which was quite graphic. I don’t ever regret what I’ve been through but see it as destiny preparing me to help those that follow in my footsteps and don’t quite know how to deal with it. There are many Pagan healing centers out there who focus on the Troops and PTSD. It was the end of 2007 when I had to go to a screening coming back from Iraq a year after and I was answering questions in a psychiatric survey. Half way through the nurse’s phone rang and I heard a, “Yes there is a SGT Cooper here,” I was a little stunned as I was the only one there and no one knew where I was. I was immediately called back and when the survey was gone over was seen as a high risk for hurting someone. Over the course of the next 6 months and trying different medication I was phased out of the real Army and sent to the Warrior Transition Battalion February of 2008. I was sitting in my commanders office explaining training I had conducted with my Soldiers. I put them through a mock SERE school when we were in Iraq, SERE being a school that teaches you basically how to survive and escape a POW camp. I taught them survival skills, we made a water still, a sun dial, and they were taught how to fight and kill with pressure point blows and how much pressure to exert. As I’m explaining this my commanders face was filled with concern as he told me he wanted me to go to the WTB because he saw me as a liability going back to Iraq. I had seen too much war and he wanted the younger guys to step up and do their time. It was the best decision and one of the best commanders one could have. Off to the WTB I went. And another chapter is turned.

Being in the WTB was a cake walk. I got up early and did my physical exercise which for me was walking as I have torn knees and then the rest of the day you went to doctor appointments, and training on certain days. Otherwise, you went and got a job you liked as I went and worked for a chaplain at the deployment center. He liked having a Pagan Clergy working with him and treated me as a clergy and helped me talking to Pagan Troops. I had, “Pocket Spell Creators,” an excellent book I recommend for any Soldier as it’s a perfect size and has every correspondent one needs. I had a case donated from New Page that I passed out along with small pentacles to give out that were also donated. I saw a lot of Pagan Troops come and go and it made me sad and wish I was going but those days were over. I was moved out of my apartment and into base housing which caused problems due to the Fort Lewis group having issues with Forest Moon being on base. I had to answer to the base chaplain and explain it was simply my HQ/Office and no, we were not there to interfere with the base Wiccan group. That group has issues to this day with any other group posting on their group board or trying to start a second group on the base. That pretty much sums up Army time. I was medically retired from the Army February 2010 and now have a 90% VA disability rating. I take my medication as It is much needed and I deal with the rest of the issues. As of this writing, it is November 2010 and Forest Moon Grove is now a legal Pagan 501c3 church. Much thanks to my wonderful soul-mate Ashley who has made it all happen and was the one to push me when things were dragging. Now we have our baby Cheyanne coming and yes she is a part of this story as she is destined to steer this group forward long after we pass on and it’s all of our kids and grandkids carrying on the Pagan Traditions. I will end this story with that. The future is always open, Forest Moon will go wherever we take it and it all depends on everyone here that supports it. As long as we have Soldiers in harms way, there is a need. As long as there are communities that still believe in harassing and discriminating witches, there is a need. And as long as we still have kids that question the meaning of life’s tests and wish to know their ancestors path, there is still a need. With that. The End.