Women in the Army

Advertisements

The Sanctuary

1e20170211_WiccanCeremony_004
 Head priestess Kerry Lynn, left, and members of the Wiccan community cheer after putting together a broom stick to be used in the celebration of Imbolc at Oak Spirit Sanctuary in Boonville, Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Imbolc is the halfway mark between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is the celebration of the beginning of spring. Previously Ozark Avalon and now Oak Spirit Sanctuary, the house has served as a church and gathering place for the Wiccan community in Mid-Missouri since the 1990s. Members of the community are not usually vocal about their practices due to the stigmas and discrimination surrounding Wiccan practices. With the transformation from Ozark Avalon to Oak Spirit Sanctuary, the community is opening up more to the outside world.
2_e20170412_OSS_MC_009
A statue of an angel sits placed between two trees on Wednesday, April13, 2017 at Oak Spirit Sanctuary. Wicca doesn’t believe in heaven or hell, but they do believe in guardian angels that are benign entities belonging and leading every person. “Oftentimes, visitors will place statues on the land. We don’t always know who or why, but we know there was a purpose to the one who left it. This is somebody’s guardian and it will be there the next time that person returns,” Lynn said.
3_e20170415_OSS-workday_MC_035
George Bunyea fills up his water bottle while working to install an outdoor shower at Oak Spirit Sanctuary on Saturday, April 15, 2017. George has belonged to the Oak Spirit community for the past 22 years and is a board member. 
e20170504_OSS_MC_0020
George Bunyea sets up his tent on a portion of Oak Spirit Sanctuary’s 160 acres in preparation for the fertility festival, Beltane, on Thursday, May 4, 2017. The sanctuary makes a large portion of its money from big festivals such as Beltane in the spring, and Harvest in the fall where participants pay an entry and camping fee. Bunyea thinks that the community welcoming outsiders is a positive and necessary step for the church. “We’re moving toward inclusive and not exclusive. Exclusive was getting’ us broke. And it’s done that to every pagan place if they haven’t survived. And they did it for years because they’re afraid of the outside world,” Bunyea said. 
e20170504_OSS_MC_0066.jpg
A worker mows the grass at Oak Spirit Sanctuary on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Community members partake in work days in order to upkeep the grounds and the buildings on the property.
Wednesday, April13, 2016 at Oak Spirit Sanctuary
The Wicca belief system is based upon the seasons changing, the lunar phases and the cycle of life. Wiccans revere nature and celebrate their spirituality through it. Frogs are a symbol in Wicca, representing transition because of the frog’s unique growth cycle. They also represent fertility due to the large amount of eggs that frogs lay.
e20170504_OSS_MC_0085.JPG
Michael Carroll looks around at the shower house, dubbed the “frog bog” while fixing up the showers on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Not everyone in the community practices Wicca, but still come to Oak Spirit for the rituals and fellowship. Carroll suffers from fibromyalgia and spends extended periods of time confined to his bed, uses Oak Spirit to get out of the house. “They’re some of the most accepting people I’ve ever met.” Carroll said. 
6_e20170408_lunargathering_MC_010
The moon shines through trees during a lunar gathering at Oak Spirit Sanctuary on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Community members celebrate the full moon every month, with each month’s moon representing a different theme that corresponds with the season and connects the community with the earth.
7_e20170408_lunargathering_MC_232
Head priestess and witch, Kerry Lynn, sways while singing chants during a lunar gathering on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Lynn grew up Catholic and similarities with Catholic traditions can be found within Wicca ceremonies since Christianity was adapted from paganism. 
8_e20170211_WiccanCeremony_049_copy
Johanna Givens and Badger Johnson lead the children in ceremony to bless the garden outside of Oak Spirit Sanctuary during Imbolc. The children drank goat’s milk mixed with honey and then offered it in a communion to the rest of the community with the phrase of, “May you never thirst.” Imbolic is a celebration of the early spring, when animals are beginning to prepare for offspring and produce milk. Milk, cream and butter is considered a treat because in past times they would not have had these through the winter months. 
8_e20170408_lunargathering_MC_138
Clergy member Darcy Higgins leads a lunar gathering on Saturday, April 8, 2017. The April lunar gathering was the “egg moon,” which is a reminder of the circle of life and fertility. It coincides with the Christian holiday of Easter. Higgins asked community members to write down their aspirations for the sanctuary and place it in the paper egg. The egg was then placed into the bonfire and danced around in hopes that their aspirations would come true.
9_e20170211_WiccanCeremony_080
Members of the Wiccan community gather around the fire before participating in the reawakening plunge into Lake Gaia, named after the mother of life. They lit a fire to keep warm after going into the lake and sang songs to celebrate Imbolc. The plunge is a spiritual experience that represents rebirth into the spring. 

Bird by Bird: Reading Response

Broccoli reminded me of the importance of sitting down, taking a deep breath, taking a step back and listening to your intuition. It’s thinking about what you want to be doing and where your heart is guiding you, rather than what you thin you should be doing. I think it’s a way of putting more heart into your work and into your craft and creating your story in a more thoughtful manner. It was a reminder to not doubt your creative process or yourself. Do not get in your own way.

 

Radio Station really spoke to me. I have depression, which goes along with anxiety and some days I am just extremely anxious. I am not in the mood to talk to people but that’s my job so I have to get it done. I have to quiet the noise in my head and focus on my work. Deep breathing does work, and I liked how she mentioned it by saying, “if you try to follow your breath for a while, it will ground you in relative silence.” I think Radio station made me not feel so alone in all of this and was a good reminder to not let those thoughts inhibit me. It was a reminder to focus, and to find a rhythm and method that helps me focus.

 

Jealousy resonated with me because I find myself comparing my work too much to others around me. I think that’s especially hard in this business where it is so competitive and selective. I think Lamott makes a good point that it’s there for a reason, and to embrace it, acknowledge it and study it, but not let it make you feel bad about yourself but to let it drive you. It reminded me of what my high school teacher told me when I went to college, which was go out there and be the best. Which didn’t mean go out there and crush all your competition, but go out there and do your best, and good things will come after that. What really matters is that you’re giving it your all.

POYi

Photographer of the Year (and CPOY) are always a highlight of the semester. I’ve volunteered for both every year since freshman year and every year I am amazed by the work I see.

This year my volunteer shift was during the science and natural history category. Not going to lie, that category isn’t my favorite. I much more prefer stories about people and news, not as much natural disasters, nature and science. I was still interested and am glad I got to see it. It ultimately made me think about the compositional aspects of each photo and photo story.

One of the stories that ended up winning (the one about earth’s food supply) primarily used wide, high angles from above. I was so amazed by the subject matter that this didnt even occur to me until one of the judges pointed it out. It was a reminder that the cohesiveness of a story can all change on one small factor. i dont think the story wouldve been as cohesive without it, but the story itself was shot in such a unique way and with such a large scale idea that it worked. it was a nice reminder that journalism, especially photo, has room for creativity and our messages can still get across in the most artisticly journalistic photo type of way.

Oak Spirit Sanctuary provides a space for Wiccan worship in Columbia

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_006

Kerry Lynn sprinkles honey comb crumbs into a pot of wax during the Wiccan gathering to celebrate Imbolc at Oak Spirit Sanctuary on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Imbolc is the halfway mark between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is the celebration of the beginning of spring. The Wiccan community sprinkled the honey comb into the wax with their intentions for the evening and good wishes for the year and then made candles from the wax to use later in their rituals.

 

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_042
Badger Johnson gathers the children to lead them to the garden for a ceremony outside of Oak Spirit Sanctuary. The house has served as a church and gathering place for the Wiccan community in Mid-Missouri since the 1990s. Members of the community are not usually vocal about their practices due to the stigmas and discrimination surrounding Wiccan practices.

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_049_copy

Johanna Givens and Badger Johnson lead the children in ceremony to bless the garden outside of Oak Spirit Sanctuary. The children drank goat’s milk mixed with honey and then offered it in a communion to the rest of the community with the phrase of, “May you never thirst,” to wish good luck and prosperity in the new year.

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_080

Members of the Wiccan community gather around the fire before participating in the reawakening plunge into Lake Gaia. They lit a fire to keep warm after going into the lake and sang songs to celebrate Imbolc.

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_097

Darcy Higgins holds clothes for Badger Johnson before he swims in Lake Gaia as the last portion of the Imbolc ceremony. Some members opted-out for this portion, but the members who participated stripped and ran into the lake for a spiritual polar plunge.

webe20170211_wiccanceremony_124_copy

From left, Badger Johnson, Joesid Gresham, Alexa Nash and other participants sit around the fire and sing songs in celebration of Imbolc

e20170211_wiccanceremony_127

A bonfire burns at the edge of Lake Gaia on Oak Spirit Sanctuary’s property. After the polar plunge participants warmed up, they walked back to the church and sang, danced and drank by the fire. Some even camped on the church grounds.


This was by far the most difficult shoot of my life for a multitude of reasons. The practice of Wiccan is super hush-hush because of discrimination and misconceptions about the religion, so it was not the easiest thing to come into that community as an outsider with a camera. Most were very welcoming to my presence, but the problem was trying to manage who could be photographed and who couldn’t. Not only that, but it was also pitch black outside, so any flash I used was way too much no matter what my settings. I had a tripod and mostly used a slow shutter speed.

I was super worried about the frame limit of 400 frames, but I got all these in 127, and didn’t have too many more after that. It was odd to think about that because i’ve never tried to shoot less before. I think it has given me confidence that i made this story out of so little frames.

The sequencing of these was hard for me to put together as well. I didn’t end up using the suggested sequence because I didn’t like the opener. To be honest, I don’t like this one either but I just can’t make decisions. It was difficult to decide which should stay and which should go, and to see the holes left in my photo story after it’s over when i’m piecing it together.