At Beltane 2007 I was finally given reasons to reexamine my thoughts and decided to share them with you today.
At Beltane 2007 I was at the Florida Pagan Gathering sharing a cabin with longtime friend and author Ann Moura and also with Janet Farrar. Janet is an amazing woman. She and her husband Gavin Bone are incredible researchers and I know Ann and I learned a lot. But it was the conversations that occurred in our cabin after the main ritual, and later that summer at other festivals, that rocked my world.
We on Cabin 5 had invited our friends--both old and new--to join us in fun and drink in our cabin. My friend and high priest of The Coven of the Raven, David Owen Norris, was there. He got his middle name because it was a family name and he likes using his full name. He was talking with Janet and she revealed her maiden name had been Owen. In the full dramatic voice only Janet can manage, she pointed at David and said, "Owens are many but Owen are few."
This caught the attention of everyone, including a young woman dressed as a faerie who came bearing drink and proceeded to wilt into sleep slumped in a chair. Janet went on to tell those of us who were conscious that all Owen (with no 's' at the end) are descendants of Owen Glendower, the last Arch Druid who stood against the foreign armies invading the the one remaining Druid stronghold on the isle of Anglesey off the coast of Wales. His clam symbol was a raven.
David and I looked wide-eyed across the room at one another. David loved ravens. He is not only the high priest of the Coven of the Raven but also one of the founders of the RavenMyst tradition. (For info on the trad please check out www.ravenmyst.org.) This in itself was fascinating enough, but Janet had a second surprise.
Janet quickly discovered that she and I shared a past-life on the American great plains. We died as a young girl from snakebite. We pulled up our ritual robes to reveal the same fang scars on the inside of our right heels. I have two bumps there which are raised and white and they often irritate me. The sense that we were somehow connected seemed proven, but there were still more surprises ahead.
At that same FPG Beltane I met the indefatigable Selena Fox who invited me to Circle Sanctuary to do some workshops for the Green Spirit Festival which corresponds to Lammas. After the hectic excitement of the festival was over Selena and I allowed time just to sit on a beautiful rock outcropping overlooking the Sanctuary and just talk. She asked me what I knew about the RavenMyst trad because she was unfamiliar with their history. I filled her in and then mentioned the strange coincidence of Janet Farrar and David Norris being connected through the Owen line.
Selena said, "I have Owen ancestors too."
"Owen?" I asked. "Not Owens?"
She nodded. "Owen."
Over the years I've learned to expect many interesting revelations from attendees at Pagan festivals. They are places where the collective consciousness and its attendant energy feel like an electrical charge you stay plugged into for days. The Owen connection was interesting, and after Selena's revelation I began wondering how many Pagans have Owen blood. Of course, we are talking about someone who lived many centuries ago and, since populations tend to expand exponentially, there could could be many, many millions. The estimated number of Mayflower descendants in the United States alone is already 34 million.
I put thoughts of Owen Glendower on a backburner of my mind and, after my last commitment of the year to the New York Witch Festival, I spent some time online double checking my family's ancestral records in Ireland against what my elders had written on yellowing paper that had been passed down to me. The reason was because Janet had invited some of us to visit her and Gavin in Ireland. Several of us planned to go and we wanted to scatter and do some geneaological research for ourselves. (The economic slump squashed our plans.) I was thrilled with the amount of information to be found on the web related to ancestry. On a whim I decided to try to find Demarius McCoy, an ancestor of my maternal grandmother who loved that name and tried unsuccessfully to name her daughter or her granddaughters Demarius.
I knew Demarius came to the American colonies sometime in the 18th century but it did not occur to me that she would have come with a husband and that her birth name was not McCoy. When I found the entry for her I just stopped and stared at my screen. "Demarius Owen McCoy" was the name of my foremother.
After I tamped down the goosebumps I e-mailed David who really didn't sound too surprised by this revelation, but I have thought a lot about it over the past two years. There may be more Owens than Owen out there, but we are talking about a relatively common Welsh name, so I had to consider that had I been at a Christian gathering of people with roots in Wales that a few Owen would have appeared. At the same Beltane festival it also came out that author Gavin Frost and I were likely related through another Welsh line of Pryce or Price.
My opinion remains firmly on the fence on this idea of the Goddess calling us back. I would love to converse with anyone else who has an opinion or has had a similar experience. Are you an Owen? Do share other interesting names with Pagan friends? What do you think? Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am very interested in knowing what you think.