Michigan Pagan of the Year 2016

Thank you again everyone for coming to party with us at the 2016 Witches Ball!  And a big thank you to our many sponsors who make this possible. This is the 20th consecutive year of the best Pagan party in the country!  Aren’t you glad you made it?

But this event is more than that.  My name is Gwenn Starda.  A lot of you have seen me grow up. I used to take tickets at the front door at the old Knights of Columbus hall, in my REAL blue sparkly high school prom dress, back when I was an 18-year-old baby witch and couldn’t get in!  Over the years, the Ball has become more than a night out.  It’s also become a vehicle for improving and honoring our community. We have over 100 Sponsors this year supporting our community and allowing us to come together. We held the Witch’s Bazaar for the 6th straight year, promoting 50 vendors from among us, allowing us to support their talents and their livelihoods.  And we give back to our designated Pagan charities, doing good works in the community – providing canned goods to those in need, scholarships to Pagan students, and much more.

All of these things would not be possible without the hard work of the Witches Ball Committee.  Let’s give them another hand.  Some of you might not realize the YEAR ROUND EFFORT AND PLANNING that they put into making this happen for us.  And they contribute their time and effort for free, as volunteers, because they love our community.  (OK, and they love a good vodka tonic too.)  That’s TWO DECADES of community activism, y’all.

Another thing we do at the Ball is use it as a platform to honor the Pagan of the Year – someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the Pagan community.  I would say that TWO DECADES of organizing one of our most successful events is pretty outstanding, yes?  For those of you that do not know, one of the Committee’s earliest members is stepping down after this year into a well-deserved retirement – Gordon Ireland.  My mom once said, “Gordon only created the Pagan of the Year Award so that he could give it to himself.”

Well, Gordon has a pretty sick sense of humor.  This year’s Pagan of the Year is my mother – Arwen Starda!

In addition to being part of the Witches’ Ball Committee for all these years and organizing all the good works that I spoke about, Arwen has also been hosting the Pagan Roundtable the first Tuesday of every month at the Mount Clemens library since 1996.  I can remember myself and my brothers being hauled there as kids. This group was a lifeline to Pagans seeking to connect with one another in the days before the internet was ubiquitous. People that met there have made lifetime friendships and relationships.

Our family moved to Michigan in 1990.  I remember that right away Arwen sought out connections with the Michigan Pagan community.  I remember her packing me off in the car so that she could spend the afternoon at the Mystic Curio, where I would embarrass her by blowing out Elegua’s candle like a little shit every time her back was turned.  Knowing what Elegua is about, I think Bo wasn’t too upset.  We found a coffee night in Ferndale prior to the Roundtable.

The one thing I can say personally is that because of my Mom, I had a very different experience with Paganism than most of us did.  In our religion, most of us today are still converts, but I grew up with it.  Arwen has never been in the broom closet. She’s always been open to everyone and sharing her talents as she’s able. Over the years I saw her practice with various covens, I saw her put on several public rituals and attended dozens more together.  She’s attended ConVocation for twenty years, as well as other festivals both local and out of state, sometimes volunteering, sometimes offering classes. She’s taught on interfaith marriage, which her and my Dad have shared for 30 years, and making Psanki, Pagan Easter eggs from Ukraine.  Not only has Arwen been an integral part of this community for over twenty years, but because of her, I’ve been able to as well.  I’m so glad that I was able to grow up with all of you, and I’m so glad to be able to honor my Mom tonight for all her contributions to the Michigan Pagan Community.  Congratulations and thank you, Arwen!

Witches’ Bazaar


Midwest Witches’ Bazaar 2016
A Magickal Marketplace Shopping Experience
9am –3pm, October 8, 2016
Royalty House
8201 E 13 Mile Rd
Warren, MI 48093-2164
Free Admission! Open to the Public!
Our artists and vendors will fill the hall of the Midwest Witches’ Bazaar with their Magickal Marketplace, a tempting Witches’ array of colors, smells, textures and sounds. They offer for sale the beautiful, the exotic and the magickal:
The 6th Annual Midwest Witches’ Bazaar and Witchcraft Expo features 50 vendors. Wander an emporium of magical gifts, meet and speak with real practicing Witches.
The 6th Annual Midwest Witches’ Bazaar and Witchcraft Expo Features:
* First 200 Attendees get FREE SWAG BAGS
* 40+ Vendors offering magical products!
* Bring Can Goods for Pagans In Need
* Or New Toys for the Toys for Yule Program
* Bring Your Witches Ball Tickets and get your armband, Use the express line at the Ball

New 2016 Witches’ Ball Sponsor & Vendor The Silk Road

The Silk Road
Garb for Festival or Everyday Wear
Hand made and Hand dyed vintage clothing and costuming, scarves shawls and hats. Many styles including modern, renaissance, and steampunk. Historically Inspired Silk Clothing and Costumes. Silk Road designs and hand-makes renaissance and Victorian inspired clothing. We do everything – cloaks, shirts, pants, chemises, dresses, scarves and more. All out of hand dyed 100% silk. (Except where noted) (If thou does not see it, we can make it for thee. Custom orders trouble us not!) Our wares are available for thy viewing and purchasing at Hollygrove, Michigan Renaissance Festival, Howell, and the Midwest Witches’ Bazaar

Special announcement: Dorothy Morrison and Wicked Witch Studios would like to sponsor two couples for the Midwest Witches’ Ball.

In true Dorothy Morrison style, she would like to make it possible for two couples, who would not normally have the means, to attend the Midwest Witches Ball. As a sponsor of the ball, she was given four tickets. Since she cannot attend, she wants to give back to the Michigan community who has been so loving to her. In an effort to support both the local community and local vendors, Candle Wick Shop will be working with Dorothy to select the two couples who will receive free tickets to Midwest Witches’ Ball.

So it’s super easy. Just send an email to fundraiser@candlewickshoppe.com and nominate the couple of your choice. Make sure you include a brief overview of why you are nominating them, their contact info and ages. Midwest Witches’ Ball is a 21 and over event. Nominations will be accepted between Sept 1st and Sept 30th 2016.

New 2016 Witches’ Ball Sponsor & Vendor Lothlorien Moon Studio

Lothlorien Moon Studio
Maker of distinctive one-of-a kind wands, canes, and walking staffs.
Maker of distinctive hand carved wands, canes, and ceremonial walking staffs. All canes and staffs can be cut to fit for proper length on site. All work, carving, cutting, sanding, designs are done by hand and hand tools. No power tools such as Dremels, lathes, etc. are used. To keep my carbon footprint to a minimum, the only electrical tool I use is my wood burning pen for the designs. All colors are colorfast and non-toxic. All products are finished with linseed oil. All products are one of a kind and made with the “Intention” that the person who is best suited to work with that particular combination of gems & wood type will be drawn to come and claim it for their own!

Little Witches Ball

October 14, 2016
6 pm – 10 pm
VFW Hall
25500 Sherwood Ave
Warren, MI 48091

Little Witches Ball

“Get Your Goosebumps”

We have the bet DJ around, Dancing, Karaoke, plenty of games and activities for the kids.

Now is your chance to dress up like your favorite Goosebumps character. It’s a costume party for both big kids and little kids alike. You can take your whole family to the Little Witches Ball and make it a night out for the whole family, all for the price of going to a fast food restaurant. We hope to see you there.

We will be collecting non-perishable food for Pagans in Need Food Pantry – and – New unwrapped toys for the Toys for Yule project.

This is going to be a blast for our children, we will have soft drinks – Pizza and music. We are requesting donations of candy flat ware and party decorations and of course money…all donations may be given to Gerrybrete Leonard or Merlyn Firstborn.

Want to Sponsor? Get a Link to Your site Here

Admission: Children up to 17 years old $5.00 Adults 18 years and older $7.50

Children Under 10 must be accompanied by a parent.

Tickets may be purchased at the following link and your PayPal receipt will serve as your ticket.  http://usoam.org/little-witches-ball/

New 2016 Witches Ball Sponsor & Vendor Humble Beginnings Art

Humble Beginnings Art
From simple to simply amazing
(810) 334-9327
Our family has been artists & DIYers for several generations. We never had much money, so we learned to make for ourselves the things we wanted or envisioned. From a young age, I was encouraged to paint, to nail and glue, to sew and carve. Here at Humble Beginnings, we start with very simple items and turn them into works of art, from discarded shutters or fencing to plain mirrors or wood pieces. We like to make the mundane or even ugly into something lovely to see and useful too. Most of what we do is up-cycled or imperfect items being reused in a new and creative way. All items are made by hand with love and good intention. Custom orders welcome anytime.

New 2016 Witches Ball Sponsor & Vendor Sadie Francis Skyheart

Sadie Francis Skyheart
Author of The Recollection of Trees (2016, YA fantasy)
Sadie Francis Skyheart lives in Michigan with her husband, two sons, two cats, fish, and a coonhound. The Recollection of Trees is her debut novel. She likes to write in lucky Halloween socks.

New 2016 Witches Ball Sponsor & Vendor Stone Divination

Stone Divination
by MeKailia Nimue
MeKailia Nimue’s stone divination and how it works. Any stone that has a strong energy output can be used, each stone has its own base meaning. The seeker then draws, without looking, the stones they are most drawn to. They are then laid out to represent the main situation, base issues effecting this situation & then a useful way to go about either fixing, changing or helping the issue. This is a method of divination passed onto me through family tradition and is by far my favorite method for divination. I have been working with this system since childhood.

A Bewitching Shopping Experience