Q: What is the Kingdom of Asphodel?
We are pagan religious group, legally incorporated as the First Kingdom Church of Asphodel. We hold regular services, holiday celebrations, events and classes. As a service to our members and the greater pagan community, we can facilitate dedications, rites of passage, and other personal rituals for members and non-members. We have legally ordained ministers among our membership who can perform legal weddings as well as handfastings and rituals to sanctify a wide range of relationships between two or more people which are not legally recognized. We have a program for Pagan Ministry, and we strive to provide counseling & aid to any who ask, to the best of our ability.
We also provide a place for pagan spiritual studies and craftwork, and service to others. Some of us do a lot of research, and we hold study and discussion groups. We also listen to the Gods that we serve, and dedicate ourselves to them. We rely as much on divination, dreams, and divine messages as we do on research.
Q: Where is the Kingdom of Asphodel physically?
Asphodel does not exist in space like, say, France or Yemen or Madagascar. Anywhere a subject lives is Asphodel soil. Our households are its anchors. It is a metaphorical rather than land-based kingdom, if you will. Of course, reality being what it is, most of us live in Massachusetts. We do have members in other states, but it's hard for them to attend events. (Unfortunately, we do not have any members in Asphodel Township, Ontario. That would be neat.)
Most Asphodel events are held at Cauldron Farm, a small organic homestead in Central Massachusetts, where we have a large dedicated ritual field with a labyrinth and fire pit, and plenty of room in the woods for camping in fair weather. We have a small chapel under construction, and we hope to finish it eventually. If you or your group need use of private outdoor sacred space for a gather of less than one hundred people, please contact Raven.
Q: What tradition are you? Are you witches? Are you Wiccans?
We have built an eclectic mythopoetic polytheistic tradition, studying the stories and rites of many cultures and creating from them something new. In learning the myths of our ancestors, we learn how we live those myths, and in living them we create new myths and new ways of being in the world. Our worship is inspired by our research of past traditions, shaped by our present circumstances, and guided by personal revelation. We have much in common with most folks in the Neo-Pagan movement, and a few things that seem rather unique to us. For a comprehensive description of the core beliefs of Asphodel check out our Charter of Faith.
(By the way, "tradition" is the word commonly used in many Pagan groups to refer to a specific type of Paganism, a specific cultural focus, or formal way of doing things. It is like a "sect" or "denomination". It doesn't imply that the practices are "traditional" in the sense of coming directly from a specific historical source.)
We make use of sacred theater in our holiday rituals, and take pride in powerfully crafted liturgy. We have completed our Book of Hours project, which contains short daily rituals for over five hundred deities and themes. These are the rituals our weekly/monthly worship services are drawn from.
A number of our members identify as witches, but the teaching and practice of magic is not central to our faith. We are not a Wiccan group, nor are we strongly Wicca-inspired. However, as various interpretations of Wicca have become the ritual lingua franca of the Neo-Pagan movement, we have found certain aspects of Wiccan practice resonate strongly with our members. Most notably, the celebration of the eight turning points of the year and the practice of opening rituals with four elementally themed prayers or invocations. Theologically and organizationally, however, we are substantially different from most Wiccan or Wiccan-derived groups. We tend to be strongly polytheistic, often with heretical reconstructionist tendencies.
Q: What gods do you honor or work with?
All of 'em are welcome. Asphodel's many subgroups have a variety of patron deities, and many of our members have their own patrons that they work with. We are polytheistic and proud of it. We sometimes have a specific cultural focus for a given group ritual, but members are encouraged to work with whichever deities, spirits or aspects of the divine that they feel called to work with, in any pantheon or combination of pantheons.
The gods and spirits honored in our rituals are chosen largely based on the personal affiliation of the people running the ritual. Currently, Northern European gods are somewhat more common than other groups, but as a whole, Asphodel doesn't have one specific cultural focus. Members can volunteer to help run a group ritual honoring any god they have a strong relationship with.
Q: Is this a cult?
Some people would consider any Pagan group to be a "dangerous cult", because we're not Christian, and technically, any system of religious practice can be described as a "cult", but no, by any reasonable assessment we are not a cult in the usual sense of the word. For instance, the International Cultic Studies Association broadly characterizes cults as groups that use psychological manipulation to establish a high level of control over members, isolates them, and makes unreasonable demands on their time or resources.
Asphodel has no interest in recruitment, or getting money from people, or telling them what to do with their lives. All we ask is that people behave themselves decently during our events, and please bring potluck. That is about it. Whatever else they do or believe is their own business. Also, Cauldron Farm, where we usually hold events, is not a "commune" of any sort. It is the private home of two of our founding members.
Q: Who runs Asphodel?
Raven Kaldera runs Asphodel, with the assistance of the Queen and his Council and the support of his people. As a legal entity, Raven Kaldera is president of The First Kingdom Church of Asphodel, and Tannin, Wintersong, and Vinnie form the Board of Directors. Vinnie is the treasurer, and Joshua is the clerk. The Board of Directors forms the core of the Church Council which meets with Raven to determine church policy.