At the time of the Summer Solstice … June in the year of our Lady – 1984, I stood before the sacred altar and in the name of Ocean, took my vows as a High Priestess of Wicca, pledging to serve the Goddess and God to the best of my ability.
25 years ago…WOW. How the time flies! It’s been an interesting twenty-five years. It’s not been without its trials and tribulations – the Lady and the Lord can be compassionate, but they can also be cruel. They can and will kick your butt big time if they think you are dishonoring their name. I confess that I’ve had my rear end walloped on occasion. But just as often the Spirits have taken me into their loving arms; and given me the strength, the courage, and the knowledge to journey down my own path… and helped me to discover the wisdom that comes from doing so.
I’ve participated in many a circle over those 25 years… led many a ritual… and met many a person I am proud to call friend.
I’m honored to bring some of those friends together today to share their thoughts and their memories.
I feel truly blessed.
P.S. Y’all are invited to Ocean’s Anniversary Cyber-Party… click on the below link to join the celebration!
Ocean and Wolf Wind
The memory which for me stands out the most for Osh as a High Priestess is the strong concern for integrity, for the group, and for the path itself… and to apply those standards to herself first. This in itself demonstrates a strong leadership ethic, for she wasn’t asking the group to follow where she wasn’t willing to go first. This ability has allowed her to get through some pretty introspective and sometimes painful events. But always she came from the Underworld reassembled with insight gained and the determination to apply what she learned to her life and role as a High Priestess. The potential here of course is for healing both on a personal level and communal level as well.
~ Wolf Wind
Ocean and the Wolf Pack
(Wolf Wind’s children – Jamie, Sarah, and Katie)
It’s wonderful to be doing this – and I’m happy to contribute.
We’ve known each other only briefly, but my sense of you makes me look forward very much to an opportunity to expand our connection.
I have a special recollection of you on the beach at Kirby Cove – the expression on your face as you viewed the ocean, exchanging connection with the waves as you sought to write a word, and the waves accepting your writing as if hungry for your offering, scarcely allowing you to finish. It was a wonderful bonding to witness, and I felt privileged to be there with you.
Signing and singing the loving ocean chant with you was deeply moving – a promise of relationship between ocean and Ocean being celebrated, its depth seeming beyond the “ordinary” contact between person and element.
It’s hard for anyone to be prepared for being in California, and many things were not as you’d anticipated. It seems it’s been a bit like Inanna’s descent to the Underworld, in which every marker of identity, everything familiar and dependable, was stripped away, and a new form of being is in process of emerging. Maybe it’s related to your role as a High Priestess here, bringing a new way of perceiving to many here in your new community. Maybe it’s related to a personal transformation, in which a poem from China foretells the story: “My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon”.
That word in the sand – related to adventure, to courage, to surrender to the path – seems very apropos to the next 25 years as priestess! I wonder what the ocean has in store for Ocean!
Thank you for coming!
~ Ginny Anderson
Ocean – Winter Solstice of 2008
Someone I consider to be a mentor, a friend, a mother figure, and a kindred spirit. She has helped me to search within myself for answers (not sure that she knows this!) She is kind and fierce, an advocate for just causes, and has a wit that is so funny! Having met her once in person for a brief few minutes, I find myself wishing for more! On this great anniversary, I wish her nothing but the best, and many, many more years of growing and learning!
Ocean with future High Priestess!
Picture yourself walking down a pier, seagulls flying overhead and hopping away as your feet make the old sea stained wood creak from the shifting of your weight…your hair is lightly tugging from your face as the beautiful salty air washes over you just like you can hear it wash across the sandy beach below. You stop at the end and look out, resting your palms on the rough railing. You’re speechless as your eyes roam over the horizon… never-ending but for the beautiful sun setting in the distance. The orange crimson color gives you a feeling of warmth and love as you watch it extend its color to the clouds, tainting them and even sparkling in the water. You too can feel it reaching out to you, wrapping its warmth around you like a protective embrace. You close your eyes, still listening to the crashing waves and feeling the heated breeze kissing your face. Your mind begins to drift to the ocean. How mysterious it is, for you don’t know all it holds, but as its waves crash along the beach it leaves treasures explaining a little bit more, opening up yet another one of her secrets. Soon you can see yourself standing on the beach, the waves reaching the tips of your toes. You can feel the sand began to eat away from under them as the waves grab for you, asking you to give a little like it has given to you. You think about wading into the water, the force of the waves crashing into your legs and you begin to realize how easily it could be to let the waves take you all, because why wouldn’t you want to be a part of the beautiful ocean, with all of her memories, with all the things she has seen and all the things that she knows. You open your eyes and find yourself standing deeper into the ocean, with your arms spread out as if to hug a friend in embrace. A soft tear begins to roll down your cheek as the breeze picks up, throwing your hair back almost as if she too is giving a hug, because that is what she would do.
This beautiful and loving woman has a heart of gold, an everlasting graceful soul, an untouchable amount of wisdom, and is as mysterious and secretive as the deep blue ocean. Not only can her waters be calm, but they may turn rough and choppy as she follows her path and stands for what she believes in, bringing down any fleet of ships as necessary to allow for her voice to be heard… for truth to be known and righteousness done. But at the same time she is known for helping many pass through safely, even if it’s just a little gust of wind to keep the sails alive. I’ve always personally felt protected within her embrace, safe and loved. I’ve watched her continue to grow and I’ve listened to her tales and stories, taking in the large amount of wisdom she has to offer anyone who listens.
I remember a moment in my life that has always seemed to trouble me…when I was a child back in grade school. I had to come up with an essay for a competition. I had to pick a person who inspired me. My fellow peers chose Rosa Parks, M. L. King, baseball players, track stars, and singers. As hard as I racked my brain, I could not find a person that truly inspired me. To this day I don’t remember who I chose…but when I rethink that memory I’ve come realize that if this special person had been in my life at that moment, I knew who I would have picked. Ocean, Osh… Mum. You would have been that person I wrote about, you would have been my hero and you would have been the one who inspired me. You’re the only person who has ever truly inspired me, and I want to thank you for that. Congratulations on your Anniversary and hope you have a great Summer Solstice.
~ Love…your Goddess Daughter,
Ocean and Crystal in Salem
About 9 years or so ago, I set off on a quest for information on accessibility for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at pagan events. I found so much more. I found Ocean.
Ocean… over the years we’ve laughed together and cried together. We’ve struggled through some tough times and several setbacks, but we’ve also learned and grown and forged the path forward together. We sometimes disagreed, but more often we seemed to share a brain. From online pagan groups, to our real life visits including our wild witches’ day out on the town in Salem (I know, I haven’t forgotten about the flat tire!), a swimming pool ritual, a firewalking workshop (in the snow!), and a few bottles of mead… we’ve had some great times full of fun, and more than several special spiritual times. There are so many amazing moments that come to mind when I think of you that it’s impossible to pick one most memorable. Through you I have learned not just about Deaf culture, communication and accessibility, but also more about Paganism, life, love, friendship, my spiritual path, and myself.
You have made a difference in my life in a way that no mere few words can describe, and you hold a permanent place in my heart. I am a better and brighter witch because of you. I am honored, and proud to call you friend, Spirit Sister, and High Priestess. Congratulations on 25 successful years!
~ Crystal Dolphin
Ocean teaching Starhawk the sign for “bullshit”
I found Ocean one day when I was searching for Deaf Pagans on the Internet. We immediately clicked. Ever since then we have been friends both via the net and in person. When I first met her, I had just discovered Wicca.
So she has been my mentor ever since. We have done online rituals together and even “IM tarot”. She helped me cleanse my house when I moved here. We went to two conferences together. I learned about what Wicca is about; how to do tarot without the books; about different incense, candles (we even made candles together), herbs, etcetera; how to conduct a ritual or do a spell; how to decorate and use my altar; what book is good and which author is fluffy or serious; about ethics; and so much more. My spirituality grew as years went by. Ocean helped me through most of the years and especially the beginning. She has become a good friend of mine and she’s important to me for that reason and as a mentor. She’s a funny person with a sharp tongue. She is one of the brightest people that I have ever met! I’m grateful and thank the Goddess that I met her!
Ocean with a feline friend
My Dear Ocean,
As the Wheel once again turns to that point where the warmth of the Summer Solstice once again begins to bless us, you are about to experience a major milestone in your life. You have done something that is special and rare. You have survived 25 years of it.
<loving, yet slightly sarcastic smile… Hey! You know me! LOL>
However, much more awaits you.
You were with us (physically) for a season. I have no doubts that it was exactly as it was supposed to be. I was recovering from a very drastic break with a (here unnamed) pagan group when you first met me. Thanks for all the help you gave me in putting that all into perspective. You were a major influence for me when it came to learning to become grounded and whole again.
When I needed to study, to deepen a connection that I had begun to doubt, you were there. I learned from you. You learned from me. I gained a focus that I desperately needed and only one familiar with The Craft could provide. And that is very, very good.
When you showed me the example of the arrow at your throat, it reminded me of some very important things concerning the true nature of our fears, things that I had become all too complacent about. I will carry that lesson with me always. Thank you.
I admire many things about you – your love, courage, knowledge, wisdom and experience are uncommon. By the Lady and the Lord! May all of them continue to increase!
I have many pleasant memories of the things we did together. I remember the day the two (uh hmmm…) “demons?” came to live with you (Karma and associate LOL). I remember fondly the day when we drew the sacred waters of the Ohio with great reverence. I remember running to the local metaphysical shops (few here, admittedly) to see what we might find. I remember the meals we shared, the herbs and things we grew. I remember the rituals and sacred spaces we shared.
Oh yeah… there was also the mead! mmmmMMmmmmmmMMMMM! OH! Glorious MEAD!
Lord and Lady Bless as you mark this special point in your journey. I am honored we have been permitted to share some of it.
~ Hugs, Blessings and Much, Much Love!
Fyre Draconis and MoonRose Nightingale
Ocean with the “Nectar of the Gods”…mead!
I’ve never met Ocean in person; however, I felt an instant kinship to her from the moment we met in a Pagan chat 2 years ago. Ocean has this embracing energy that makes you feel empowered….as friend, teacher, colleague; her wisdom shines. I feel blessed that my path has crossed the path of such an amazing woman. Keep sharing, teaching and being all that you love…continue to shine! Happy 25th, Lady Ocean!
~ Blessed Be,
Ocean with her former canine companion, Ayla
Ocean is the first Deaf Wiccan High Priestess I ever met… we first met at an Ecumenicon Conference 8 years ago. She is the first Deaf Pagan friend I made, who inspired me to explore various earth-based faiths. She has introduced me to various subject areas and also is a very strong advocate for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in the Pagan Community.
Ocean was an advocate for Deaf Pagans who desired the opportunity to participate in events of their interests. In this leadership spirit, she inspired me to bring Equal Communication Access to Ecumenicon conferences by ensuring Deaf participants access to sign language interpreters at conference workshops. In addition to her skills and contribution, she was able to provide invaluable insight from a Deaf person’s perspective at conference which was invaluable to other Deaf attendees.
As years progressed, my desire to learn more was assisted by her intensive knowledge and resources. She established first Deaf Pagan Network through online discussion group. I have seen her encouraging Deaf and Hard of Hearing Pagans to develop analytical skills and thought processes through her online discussion groups.
Ocean has inspired us to seek out ways to expand our studies which can be achieved through sign language interpreters at any workshops or training in the Pagan Communities. She was also instrumental in my becoming the first Deaf male in Ecumenicon to graduate in their apprentice certificate program.
Ocean has the unique ability to guide “virgin” Wiccans (including myself) in navigating the rituals and information of various paths. Without her knowledge and wisdom, I would not have the depth and appreciation of many subject areas.
I can never forget how during a ritual at Ecumenicon I made a few mistakes. Ocean had that unique skill of being able to turn an awkward situation into positive encouragement. At the next workshop, which involved yet another ritual, I was given a task during the ritual which would probably make others nervous at their first attempt to conduct such a role. With that ability, Ocean pushed me to step forward, proclaiming that I should be ”the sacrificial virgin” for the ritual, thus helping to ease my nervousness and ensure that I did not forget the procedure… so as to avoid any possible “correction” from the instructor. This is one of many humorous moments she and I have shared.
In summation, I raise my “silver chalice” to you, Ocean… on the 25th anniversary of your ordination as High Priestess.
~ Blessed Be,
Dudley M. Cutshaw
Ocean and Dudley
Ocean will make a fine addition to your coven… She is hard-working, knowledgeable, and witty.
~ Blessed Be,
Ocean with the late Rosemary Kooiman
(Rosemary and her husband Abe are buried in Arlington Cemetery, where they are amongst the first Pagans to receive a Pentacle on their headstones)
I remember my birthday in September of 2005. I attended a firewalk held in Seattle, Washington where I live, work, and teach. A firewalk taught by Virginia L. Beach, also known as “Ocean.” She is a gifted teacher and a truly beautiful individual. Oh, yes…she also happens to be Deaf. She is the first and only Deaf certified Firewalking Instructor in the USA. She had traveled to Seattle to teach us the lessons of the fire and how to walk over those hot coals. I thank her for the gifts she has brought to us on this day…beautiful gifts for my birthday. I must also thank her for the education that she gave me about how two people from very different worlds can come together because of a common act. Even though her world is without sound and mine is full of noise; even though she is a woman and I am a man…we are now brother and sister in spirit, because we have shared in the transformation of the fire. It has bestowed its gifts on us both, and although our experiences are unique, we share the conscious act of stepping into harm’s way, believing that no harm would come to us, and being a better person for it. As a teacher, I have come full circle from the day I shared my walk with my own teacher long ago. Ocean allowed me to share in that walk with my students. I embraced each of them as they came off the firebed. I held them as their feet were hosed off. I told each one of them I was proud of them. I am proud to be associated with people of this caliber. I am proud to connect with people who are this dedicated to a path that asks the impossible, and then teaches us that what is impossible at one end of a twelve foot path of burning coals is easy at the other end.
~ Paul Stephens
“I Am a Firewalker” (reprinted with permission)
Ocean at firewalk with interpreters Andres and Charlie
Last spring we went to PantheaCon in San Jose. I was glad to have you at this conference because I could ask you about diverse Pagan things such as values, beliefs and worships. I felt Osh…as if you were a guide, teacher and storyteller. It was a wonderful opportunity to have someone like you show the Pagan world and its perspectives in ASL.
Also we participated in the same class and I saw Ocean create a sacred place remarkably. It truly was amazing to be involved in that kind of spiritual holy celebration. I can see that Osh is a free spirit in any place.
~ Tanja Bierschneider
Ocean getting ready for an outdoor ritual
I have a very special memory which I fondly recall of an outdoor ritual I once did with Ocean…
Using some good-sized rocks, we created our Sacred Circle and set up the four Watchtowers – Air at the East, Fire at the South, Water at the West, and Earth at the North. Upon the rock for each of these corners, we placed a small candle of the appropriate color. Then Ocean and I began the ritual… starting with casting the circle, invoking the elements, and inviting the Goddess and God.
We had just finished doing this when into the circle trotted the friendly neighborhood dog. He walked over to the rock at the Western corner (representing Water), lifted a leg, and took a long piss… putting out the candle in the process.
We all stood around speechless, watching this canine doing his thing… not quite knowing what to say.
Then Osh, with her customary famous wit, broke the silence. Staring at this mangy mongrel, she quipped
“Thanks a helluva lot, dog… if you had to give your own personal invocation to the spirits, at least you had the good sense to do it in the West.”
~ With loving blessings on your 25th Anniversary,
Ocean at the Witch Trials Memorial Park in Salem, Massachusetts
There are no words to truly express what you’ve done for me… and what you’ve been to me. A teacher, a mentor, a friend. I can truly say that everything I have learned about Paganism and Earth-Based Spirituality I have learned through you. You’ve taught with a gentleness and yet a firmness that is honest and realistic – never holding back; always willing to provide criticism as well as compliments. You’ve taught me to discover the answers for myself… for as the Goddess says “if that which you seek you find not within, surely you shall never find it without.”
Although we are gathered here at the Crossroads to honor you on the Silver Anniversary of your ordination as a High Priestess…
you honor us with your presence.
Ocean at 30
Ocean at 40
Ocean at 50
Osh still rocking!
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