Our Coven’s Fight as Ordained Witch Priests and Priestesses to legally perform Marriages in Pennsylvania

Fire priest ritual

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As you all know i am Shawnus Merlin Belarion 3rd* High Priest of the Coven of the Catta. I started my path 33 years ago and about 7 years later attained this level of initiation. There are three others at the level of 3rd* HPTs and HPSs who are active in our coven.

I and others are also registered online as a minister in the Universal Life Church which does not mean much to Federal, State or County governments, but i still encourage everyone who is part of a “fringe religion” as society thinks we are to become a minister through them and to support their cause.

Our coven has a Handfasting ritual and i can Handfast anyone who asks. But that is a Witch ritual, not a legal marriage. There are two pagan friends of mine who May decide to get legally married some day and i have offered for me and Lady Alsace or Lady Ember to do this for them. In fact I Myself will be handfasted to Lady Ember by Lady Alsace hopefully on May Day. Yea!

But I also want the right to legally marry people in the Bible Belt state of Pennsylvania. But according to the ULC on the Pennsylvania Laws and you can search there for your state’s laws. A witch priest in Florida tells me that all one has to be is a Notary Public to perform legal marriages there. But alas PA’s laws are antiquarian. I am encouraged by Selena Fox at Circle and others who convinced the Veteran’s Administration to allow our witch fallen warriors be allowed to decorate their tombstones with the witch pentagram, so that is a kink in the door, at least on the Federal level.

Here in the great U S of A there is always a fight between Federal and States rights, which is a good thing regarding balance of power, but often many conservative states pass laws which are not quite like the writers of the Constitution dictates, especially in the separation of Church and State.

As you all know there has been a long fight throughout our history for the rights of various races, women’s voting and freedom of choice rights, the present fight for LGBT rights, and the rights for access to medical marijuana. Now there needs to be a fight for those of us in Witchcraft to fight for our religious freedom, and Many Many freedoms have been won over the last decade at least.

So i started at my County level and had voice and email exchanges for three days with a very nice, helpful and informative lady there in the right department. There is a notice posted on the Courthouse door, and i tried to paste it in here and then save this draft and WV completely wiped my post off their server. So i will just say it said, to quote, that legal marriages could be performed by Justices of the Peace or Judges or Ministers “of a regularly established church or congregation” which means from those three Religions of the Book. There is a license for Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, but i am not one of them. I am a Witch and we Do have Our Religion!

I am reminded of back in 1972 when there was still a draft for the Vietnam War and my lottery number was 26 so i was Definitely going to be drafted and sent as a piece of meat to that conflict. I told them i would go as a Medic but not kill human beings with a gun or knife. I applied for Contentious Objector status as a Buddhist but the sergeant at the draft board told me that only applied for the Amish, Mennonites or Quakers aka Christians.

So now i feel driven by righteous indignation to go to the State level. I am starting off posting this blog and will reblog it to my BSSS blog where a total of 250 a day will see it. Then i will contact Jason at The Wild Hunt to see if he will link my post. Then I will contact the good people at Witchvox to see if they will post it. Ultimately i need feedback from other witches in PA and even other states in the USA to see how to proceed. I will also contact the ACLU whom i used to belong to (even though i do not agree with Every fight they take up, but most) and have now reestablished my membership in, not that one needs to do that for them to help your cause. I will see if they want to file suit in court at the capital just down the road to see if we can make some progress. Yes We, Not Me. I mean All witches in this state and country.If this goes to court and there is a snowball’s chance in PA redneck Bible belt hell that it may come up to docket, you may in a year or so see us on TV with local news coverage and we will wave our Pentagram flag like the LGBT rainbow flag and have our five minutes of fame, not for me, but for us and our Religion and our Constitution and the Goddess Darned right for witches to be legal clergy in PA with all the other religions.

Hell in a town south of here the KKK are allowed to stage marches and the police protect their rights to do so. Read the USA Constitution and Bill of Rights.

If it takes the rest of my life i swear to the Goddess i will pursue this the best i can with my age and health and my fellow witches support. So Mote It Be.

I would appreciate any positive or negative feedback or ideas which are helpful but any witch baiting trolls will have their comments rejected.

Thank you all for listening to my rant, and may the Goddess Bless Us All. BB. SMB 3*

Addendum 1 February 2014 – Jason at TWH says he will post a link to this at his Community Notes the next time that comes out, and i have sent it to WV for review by them to see if it is worthy of a post there though they say they have hundreds of such notes to catch up with, so thanks to all of you.

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Both images from multiple Tumblr blogs

Addendum 5 Feb 2014 I have been contacted by a Rev Ellen of the Hearthside Haven in Connecticut and she is offering us some advice, yea.

Addendum 6 Feb 2014 – Jason at TWH posted about our fight at http://wildhunt.org/2014/02/pagan-community-notes-pagan-tea-time-cherry-hill-seminary-handfastings-in-pa-and-more.html but instead of referring to the About page I have asked him to link it to this post.

Addendum 7 Feb 2014 I have been contacted by a Lady Emrys of the Covenant of the Goddess branch in nearby Philadelphia Pa who is offering some advice, Yea.

Addendum 7 Feb 2014 per Lady Emrys I have contacted the Lady Liberty League which is part of Selena Fox’s Circle Santuary.

Addendum – 19 Feb 2014 – filling out paperwork for recognition by COG but don’t have the money right now.

Addendum 19 Feb 2014 – meeting with all documents in hand with the registrar at the county courthouse tomorrow morning.

Addendum 21 Feb 2014 – i drove up to the county courthouse, wearing my pentagram minister’s ULC badge (LOL) and talked with WW whom i had emailed before and she gave me a copy of the notice on the courthouse door and the State laws she referred to that that archivist of the PA legislature could not find, go figure. Now i am back to pursuing this at the State level and have emailed and called my local ACLU and await their return call to see if we have a case of religious discrimination against the Cult, i mean Religion of Witchcraft. Tomorrow i will scan n manipulate those docs and post in the main page here.

Addendum 21 Feb 2014 here is what i got at the Perry County Courthouse. Still waiting for the ACLU to call me but as their email said they have a Lot of cases put before them.

Perry County Who Can Marry Sign

Here is what is posted on the Perry County Courthouse door regarding who can and cannot marry in the state of PA, kindly photocopied for me by the Registrar there

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Here is the poorly photocopied State law regarding who can legally marry in the state of PA, kindly photocopied for me by the Registrar there.

Note that the bottom line is “a minister, priest or rabbi from an established church or congregation aka a Protestant Christian, a Catholic Christian, of a Judaic Rabbi. Hell it does not even include an Imman of Islam. So it sure as hell is not going to recognize a Witch HPT/HPS. If the ACLU Ever returns my call i hope this clause will be cause for a case in the PA supreme court to give at least Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus and yes Witches the recognization that YES WE ARE PRIESTS AND PRIESTESSES OF A RELIGION OLDER THAN JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM. So Mote It Be.

Addendum 22 February 2014 – A very nice lady from the ACLU contacted me by phone and I told her our story from beginning to now (and boy was she a fast typer) and she is going to put that before their legal team to see if we have a case. Then minutes later she said Anyone can marry someone in PA as long as the  County Registrar of Deeds accepts it and if she does not then that is illegal. So like a tennis ball going from State to County to State to County over and over we are back to the County having an issue with witches marrying people. So the ACLU, knowing Who is watching, does not email  they talk and fax and mail letters, so i am mailing her all these documents i have so far minus the personal emails between me and the Registrar. Anyone want me to marry them and we can test the waters and if rejected then bring suit? LOL.

Addendum 28 Feb 2014 – I went to a local attorney who i dealt with when buying the HH, to get my Will legally done (good news, what i have is fine as long as dated and signed and no witness or notarization needed in PA) and to combine two tracts of land to save on taxes. Now as he was going over my Will which says things like “my Wiccan BOS goes to so and so etc” I came out as a HPT and he was fine with it, no prejudice and very open and even interested. So i whipped out out new COC business cards and told him the story about my fight at the County Courthouse about a stone’s throw away and Lo and Behold He is The Attorney who handles such issues for the County and we talked and he said as long as i was a minister of an established religion that meets regularly, and i am, and we are, then he sees no problem with our clergy having the right to legally marry people in this County and even in the entire State!!! And he is going to go over there and explain all this to the Registrar of Deeds who as i said before has been Very nice and Very helpful but unsure of whether this is legal or not in the eyes of the State. And he is doing this Free of charge!!!

Addendum 6 March 2014 – To quote Charlton Heston from the 10 Commandments – “Victory is Mine Sayeth the (Horned) Lord” – The lawyer i went to to last week to do my Will (dont need a lawyer or notary or even witness in PA so free) and to combine my deeds on tracts of land to reduce my taxes, is also The Lawyer for this county. He told me last week, after explaining what Wicca is in my Will etc, and he was fascinated, think he is a Freemason but feels like it, honest, open minded, etc. Well he told me he sees no reason why a Witch Priest of Priestess should not have the right to legally marry and the county legally certify such marriages according to PA law. In the past week he talked to the Registrar of Deeds at the county, which BTW besides being a private lawyer is also The Lawyer for the county, so free of charge to me but paid by the taxpayers, and he had a “talk” with her and she now agrees that YES WITCH PRIESTS AND PRIESTESS OF AN ESTABLISHED CONGREGATION (COVEN) WHO MEET REGULARLY (SABBATS) DO HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO MARRY PEOPLE NOT ONLY IN THIS COUNTY BUT ALL OVER PENNSYLVANIA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amen and Hallelujah and Blessed Be and Thank the God/ess we live in a Democracy with the US Constitution which guarantees Freedom of Speech and Religion and Church is Separate from State. Another battle won….. I do this for you all my kitties, not for me, for you, so when i am dead u will have this. Next – Incorporation of the COC and tax-exempt non-profit status. Thank you Hannah. Thank you COG. Thank you ACLU who were ready to step in. Thank you our Gods who put the energy in me to fight this good fight. This is my gift to the witches of the third degree of the COC in PA.

Addendum 10 March 2014 – The nice lady who i had talked with at the ACLU called to say they did not need to take up this case because they have done so X3 already in PA and have won. So I told her the story of how it was worked out on the local County level, which is the way it should be anyway, and how the lawyer for the county had talked with the Registrar and the County has already changed their policy at least regarding HPTs and HPSs of “a congregation which meets regularly”. Then she said “well i hope you go on to marry many many people” and i said TY and what a great job they do there. FINIS.

Herr Doktor

Dr Santee kicking back after a long days work

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Rev (LOL) Shawnus kicking back after a long 2 months work

 

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Priest of Anubis – Daddy’s Got a Brand New Kemetic Statue

It is my view than Many of the Mystery Religions that spread across the Middle East and Europe originally came from Egypt and that ISIS is the Primal Goddess. One of our main Goddesses is Astarte who is closely related to ISIS. In our Coven the Goddess Bastet is our patron and totem animal. For me personally the God Anubis is also important as a Magickal ally for my Witchcraft. Thus Bastet and Anubis work hand in hand for me and for other members of our Coven of the Catta. Blessed Be. Shawnus Merlin Belarion 3*

Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge

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Anpu / Anubis – unknown source

I am Most Blessed in that i can say i have been a Priest in 3 religions, once for a short time an ordained monk in the Korean form of Zen Buddhism, still a High Priest 3rd* practicing for near 33 years (though it took me about 7 years to get all 3 initiations), and even before that an initiated Priest in the Cult of Anubis. I am Not blowing my horn but rather feeling So blessed to have been at the right place at the right time to have met my Initiators.

Decades ago i made contact with an African American woman who lived in Philly and who had  been to Egypt and received several Kemetic initiations. She came to my very small rented house and we crowded in my very small living room crowded with maybe a dozen friends and fellow witches…

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Athame, Kris Knives, and the Museum of Witchcraft

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Logo Copyright 2014 The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle Cornwall England. Used with their permission.

I was emailing a lady at The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle Cornwall England praising their website which you can link to above. She also kindly let me paste their logo above. If you go to their Search page you will see links to various items in their catalog and hit one of those and then you can search amongst athame, skulls, manuscripts, etc. I was searching through their pictures of old athames that had been donated, which by the way are well explained in their cataloging, and was just blown away. They are coming up on their 10th anniversary after the Big UK flood back in 2004 celebrating what they have saved and rebuilt. So i wrote her about my athame and other tools. I am posting this at our COC blog and then will repost it to my BSSS blog to cover both subjects at once. ShawnusAthame copyright 2014 GLHoke (2)

Part of my Witch Altar with Athame on Cup on Pantacle

Here’s the story of my fairly old athame. Back in the early to mid 1980s I was with some friends south of here and it was Halloween night and we went to visit a male friend of theirs who lived in an old house with an old barn that belonged to his late grandfather. I was searching around in his old toolbox and found this blade and asked the man if i could have it and amazingly he said yes! I also cut my besom on his property later too.

ShawnusAthame copyright 2014 GLHoke (1)

Closeup of my Athame on a fired clay Pantacle Lady Tanith 3rd* made for me. The coins are Morocco Empire Cherifien 100 Franc Silver pieces I found at a coin dealer and they have both pentagrams and hexagrams on each side and are perfect little Witch coins.

 As you can see my athame is a hand made blade. The grip is a hollow tube with round pommel, solid never sharpened blade, and S shaped guard. The pieces were merged together with brass and hand hammered. So why would grandpa make a blade and never sharpen it? Hmmm. Maybe since he lived in PA Dutch country and was into Powwow as sometimes they used blades if they worked spells from the older Solomonic Grimoires. Who knows? Interesting. Also the knife can be held as an athame or reversed and used as a metal wand. I have it lightly engraved with the symbols our coven prescribes from our Books of Shadows.

Kris Blades copyright 2014 GLHoke (4)

Kris Blades and Buddhist Engraved Letter Opener

Speaking of blades I was also lucky years ago to buy one of these Malaysian Kris blades and a friend bought the other since they were so expensive. We bought them at a little long closed store whose name i forget, but it was run by a Jay Solomon aka Yaj Monolos (backwards) and he practiced what i would call Satanic Thelemic Magicke. I went to one ritual and was hoodwinked in a car so i could not trace his home’s location. But i knew him well and trusted him and he was a fair and honest vendor who had objects like Crowley’s Satan headed claw footed candlesticks and an amazing collection of swords etc etc. Oh the good ole days in early witchcraft. Later i bought his and have this set. You know Gerald Gardner way back when he was in Malaysia wrote  Kris and other Malay Weapons and i was able to get one fairly cheap though i see it is of limited availability now. If you ever have a chance to get a copy do so as it is pretty interested, nothing about Witchcraft in it, but a good guide to these weapons. These blades are supposed to have some bit of meteoric iron in them, and i did a lot of research and they were hand forged and hammered and the stretch marks in the iron may indicate some meteoric iron is really in them. The blades are of course serpentine curved as are most Kris blades. The points are arrow shaped and how they are used in battle is to pierce the abdomen then pull out your opponents guts with. (TMI?). The grips are curled antelope horns. The guards are S shaped with lunar crescents on the ends which makes them a weapon also or a way to break the blade of your opponent. Its nasty and i would not want to be on the receiving end of it in the hands of a Malay warrior. I do not use them for magickal work but have them in a case in the living room pointed at the door, so well maybe i do. They are there as weapons and i have a weapon in some form in every room, mostly blades or just a simple sharp old iron cooking fork.

I will end this post with a picture of the Moroccan coin with the pentagram inside the hexagram as i know on WP there is always an advertisement video beneath all this. Enjoy and Blessed Be!

Morocco AH1372 1953 Empire Cherifien 100 Francs Silver Coin

These are cheap to buy on eBay. Picture from multiple Tumblr sites. Information on this coin.

All my photos Copyright 2014 GLHoke

New Listing on Witchvox for Lady Ember Willow Hawk

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I have had a personal and Coven listing for the Coven of the Catta for quite awhile, both of those listed for the town nearest to me. I also had one up for the Coven up in Berwick PA which is where our elder High Priestess Lady Alsace Isa Bri and newest High Priestess Ember Willow Hawk live, and in the latter i mentioned them both and services available.

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Cat Moon sticker in my BOS initiates page Photoshopped

But we figured out since Lady Ember is now a 3rd* and taking on students we kept her personal listing and added a new Coven listing just so it would appear on the Adult Groups page at WV. I think this will give her the respect she deserves up there and will make it easier for people searching on WV to find us easier. I want to personally thank her for coming out of her “turtle shell cave” and stepping up to the plate to be all she can be and teach all she can teach. Kudos!

COC All Hallows 2013 (2)

Left to right – Ember, Shawnus, Alsace – All Hallows 2013

BTW I Love Witchvox aka The Witches’ Voice for its articles but most especially for how easy it is to search for various individuals and groups of a variety of Witch paths. Its been around for years and is an invaluable resource, which is why I became a sponsor of their great work.

Our Witch Ancestors Do come back from the Other Side to Help Us

witch ancestor altar

Witch Ancestor Altar

I am posting this rather personal entry, something I would not usually share on a blog, because I think that various witches and pagans will appreciate my story of how our late witch teachers and initiators Are still there on the other side and Do at times come back to help us. All these events, except for the first dream, happened to me in the two weeks prior to my recent LS spine neurosurgery.

I have always said that I am really not that psychic, though I do have a few gifts at times. My elder High Priestess Lady Alsace Isa Brie aka Jeannie is Very psychic and gives reading for clients using palmistry, tea leaves, and card readings using regular playing cards as she was taught in her native Australia. She sees our late teacher and initiator Lady Phoebe Athene Nimue aka Lady P.A.N. aka Janee (1921-2005) and Lord Merlin aka Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee aka Doc (1906-1980) all the time floating into and out of the room. And she sees her cats who have passed on and a host of spirits and lives with one foot in the other world. Another younger High Priestess also has the gift of seeing spirits, and that may be from the Native American blood she has in her, and how she has trained herself from childhood to cultivate these gifts even before she got into the path of initiate witchcraft.

One of my gifts is of dream travel which I learned from reading Carl Jung and Carlos Castaneda. Carlos taught that when one is falling asleep to try to remember to hold up your hand and look at it, which thus introduces one’s will into one’s dream. I only had to do it once and since then have been able to assert some control in dreams. If I have a bad dream that wakes me I can go back and change the ending. If I have a good dream I can go back the next night and continue it, not all the times, but enough. I remember one dream where some demonic form was chasing me through an industrial wasteland and there were puddles of water in the mud and I was able to hide as a reflection in one of the puddles and I disappeared and my pursuer lost me. In my dreams I am often wandering through mufti-leveled old buildings and beings are giving me crystals or old books. Or I am walking in a stream or on the ground and find beautiful large quartz crystals.

Another gift is the ability to read Tarot cards, especially Crowley’s Thoth deck, probably because I am very visual. Years ago I evoked a Mercurial (Thoth) like Angel over it to guide me. I do not use standard throws but more like chakra pillars with four cards at the base for Malkuth, and cards of various people with cards thrown in between. If I do not understand a card I just throw another one to expand on it. The cards are not static but start moving with the directions the characters are looking or gesturing towards so it almost turns into a moving picture show for me.

A third gift I have is the ability to skry in the billowing clouds of incense lit over charcoal in shafts of light shining into a room late int he day. I simply trance out and start seeing forms moving in the smoke at times.

Every witch or occultist has their own small gifts that come from some natural ability plus some training. I am not bragging about mine but only writing of them to set you up for the following stories. In a way I am glad I am not Too psychic as it would probably be distracting at times.

Janee

Lady Phoebe Athene Nimue aka Janee

Lady PAN grave 2

She’s Not Here

I never met Doc Santee, having arrived at the Covenstead a year after he had passed on. I met Lady PAN in 1981 and learned and was initiated from her lineage from Sybil Leek, and was conversant with her until her death in 2005. I always thought it strange that she never appeared to me in dreams, but like I said, i am not that psychic. But a few years ago I did have a dream in which I was flying through a dark and stormy night with the clouds back lit by the moon, and there off to my left she was riding on a broom, and beyond her was Dr Santee also flying on a broom. She turned and looked at me with an intense glare and her eyes were those of a cat, the totem Bastet of our coven. Santee always appears behind her to me, but then he never met me in the flesh, and I think he works through her since she knew me so well. And that was the only dream I ever had of them, until the past couple weeks ago.

Herr Doktor

Lord Merlin aka Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee

Santee Grave 20may2012 (1)

He’s Not Here Either, but I still paid a visit to offer some sherry

One night I had a funny dream in which Lady Alsace and Lady Phoebe were both kinda flirting with and teasing me. They both usually wear long dresses with boots or high heels and also blouses tucked in at the waist. Janee dressed plainer but Jeannie wears a sweater or vest and scarf and lots of beautiful jewelry. When she comes to ritual her hair is up and she has on her lunar crown head piece. So in the dream Janee was getting a little jealous of the attention I was giving Jeannie and Janee bent over with her skirt on of course and was shaking her bootie and I got behind her and pretended to hump her. I know this sounds almost TMI but it was all funny as hell and we all laughed. And most significant Lady Phoebe had appeared to me a second time now in a dream.

As my surgery date approached I was starting to feel rather anxious about everything and trying to get the house well stocked and such. About a week later I had another dream of arriving at a small lecture room filled with about 30 people aged around 40-55 and all I can say is that they all looked rather eccentric. Lady Phoebe was on a stage up front ready to give a lecture. Later she approached me and handed me a beautiful fool tall Austrian crystal vase that was very deeply cut with a dragon whose tail was up and head was at the bottom but arching upwards. It was a beautiful gift.

A day or so later I lay down to sleep and called on Lady Phoebe and Lord Merlin, and damned if they didn’t show up in the room. My eyes were closed but I could see/feel them plain as day. Janee was close to the bed and as before Doc was standing behind her but closer since the room is smaller. I asked for her to be my AmerIndian Medicine Woman and for him to be my Spirit Doctor (like the Kardecism spirit doctors in South American spiritism). She approached closer to me and I felt their blessing of energy and healing that I can barely describe. As I retold the story later to a few witch friends I would break into sobs it was so profound and powerful! After that All anxiety about my surgery disappeared! So when a witch calls their departed teachers and initiators from the other side, yes they do show up, whether we can see them or not or if others more psychic have to tell us they are there.

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A couple days later it was relatively warm and sunny, so I headed over to the little white cabin unheated cabin next door and it was fairly warm in there with the sun shining into the upper windows. I lit some charcoal and burned some frankincense to the returning Sun after the solstice and did my normal Kaballistic evocation and invocation of various god/esses and angels. As I sat there in a rocking chair I tranced out and forms started to take shape in the billowing incense smoke. They were so clear that if I had my cell camera with me I could have photographed them (note the photos here are not from this day). First I could see a recumbent human form with head and torso that I realized was my astral body. Now this spinal stenosis I had affects one’s nerves from the lumbar region down with a variety of symptoms including numbness in my feet and others. First I could see in my pelvic region the form of a snake arising. Then it changed into the profile of a hawk or eagle’s head (Horus) and its beak elongated into that of an Ibis (Thoth), the former being solar and the latter being a healing deity. Then up at my abdomen I could see forming the silhouette of a cat, the totem of our coven. Later at my chest I saw a larger cat in silhouette and then the smoke shifted so that its head turned and looked directly at me! I took these all as good signs of my protection and recovery to health.

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Well I usually don’t share such personal experienced with the public as in these blogs, but I thought it was an important lesson to us all that our Ancestors, whether by blood or witch blood lineage Do still watch over us, which is a comfort as I slowly recover. It seems neither of them have reincarnated yet but are enjoying each others company as soul mates flying around in the astral.

Blessed Be. Shawnus Merlin Belarion 3* HPT Coven of the Catta

All photographs copyright GLHoke 2014.