Rainstorm Ritual

I took 2 weeks off from everything at the end of August and broke my foot 2 days into my vacation. My long imagined adventures and accomplishments came to a grinding halt as I came to a hobbling halt. In what seemed like no time at all, and yet took forever, my vacation came to an end with the Labor Day weekend.  It held no fun, just chores, food and naps, over and over.  My return to the classroom loomed just ahead.  Hours before bedtime, I tackled long postponed work items; billing, bills, banking, a to-do list for the week ahead.  The sky darkened and it began to rain.  Then it rained harder, and harder, until I could not stop myself from taking a seat on the deck, overlooking the forest and river.  The wind through the trees was audible, a loud white noise.  Thunder growled from the West.  The rain beat its rhythm on the earth, slow at first, then faster and faster, harder and harder, until the world was wet.  Wet air, wet ground, wet trees, wet beings…. And the wet was good, it was warm, it did not sting, it was benevolent and kind.  “Wait a minute,” I thought to myself… “when water is benevolent and kind, it is not a rainstorm, it is a ritual,  a consecration, come to make holy all that has forgotten holiness,  and just in time for the beginning of the academic year, and the end of the Pagan year!”

rainI smiled to myself, and gave words to all that I wished to surrender: cynicism, doubt,  judgement, generalized fear, procrastination, broken bones, dog drama and head-spaces that are not mindful… Then I sent the cleansing waters to others in my life, like if a shower and a telegram had a baby.  I had no doubt that it worked.

When my cast became soggy, it was time to say goodbye to the magnificent rain forest in my own backyard.  It smelled of clean wet air with a base note of mud.  Hands to heart, I thanked the Elemental ruler of Water, Nixa, and her subjects the Undines.  I thanked them like sisters thank each other after tackling a difficult task.  We sort of high-fived. I returned to my dwelling, grateful and thrilled for the sudden ‘drive-by’ consecration, compliments of a rain storm and a bit of intentionality.  A clean slate to begin the school year, and a clean slate to enter the season of darkness in the Pagan year, as the days grow ever shorter, and the Light more precious.  Alpha and Omega, cleansed and returned to center, to balance, to receptive presence.

I could not have created this intentionally, for obvious weather-related reasons.  This ritual required me to realize it in the moment that it showed up, not as a rainstorm, but as a consecration. Thankfully, I recognized the difference, because I’ve been working hard to remember the language of the land.  The elements don’t just talk to people who have special abilities to hear them, they talk just the same as birds or bugs or people.  With time, their expressions are as easy to guesstimate as any other foreign language.  We can practice anytime we experience earth, water, fire or air in a glorious setting; just by sitting still, breathing deep and listening.  We can simply use our intentionality to allow the fire  to burn away, the wind to blow away, the water to wash away and the sweet earth to ground all that no longer serves us.    We can trust ourselves and our imaginations. We can release forgetfulness and remember our holiness.  It’s all available in our own backyards.

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Contacting the Priestess / Priest Within – A ritual skills workshop series



American Priestess / Priest
Training Program – Ritual Skills:

Link to brochure here

Workshops conclude with a formal ritual or ceremony,
to assure experiential learning.

February 4, 2016 – 1pm-4pm – Sacred Space: Principles of Sacred Space Creation and Maintenance, Symbol Systems, Intentionality and Ethics.

March 18, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – Ritual & Ceremony: Types of Rituals, Ritual Recipes, Use, Clearing and Charging of Magical Tools.

May 6, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – Intermediate Ritual & Ceremony: Metaphors in Magical Work, Attributes and Correspondences, Embodied Ceremonial Movement.

June 17, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – Energetic Intelligence: Chakra Balancing, Aura-work, Self Protection and Energetic Frequency Management Skills.

July 29, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – Intermediate Energetic Intelligence: Divination & Oracles, Reiki I (initiation included).

September 16, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – The Self of the Priestess / Priest:  The Tarot “Fool’s Journey” as a template for Spiritual Awakening, Personality & Magical Work, Self as Instrument of Healing.

October 28, 2017 – 1pm-4pm – Shadow-work & Ancestors: Integration of polarities, Anima & Animus in Ritual, Family Constellation Work and Altars.

December 9 – 3pm-8pm (note time change) – Winter Solstice Ritual:  Previous trainings will be synthesized into a formal initiation ritual for those who have completed all 7 previous trainings & the Capstone Project.  Each student may bring one guest to this potluck Winter Solstice Ceremony.

Feb 4-Dec 9 – Capstone Project / Independent Study: This is an opportunity to enter into an independent study of an area of interest.  Comprehensive readings and a course project exhibiting mastery are required.

Workshops occur at:
Betz King & Associates – 26105 Orchard Lk Rd #207
Farm. Hills, MI 48336
(248) 788-5798

Link to brochure if paying by check here
r pay using Pal Pal below

Pay Pal – session dates & prices

Please direct questions to betzking@gmail.com or (248) 788-5798


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four questions:

  1. what are you trying to keep?
  2. what are you trying to get rid of?
  3. what are you trying to deny?
  4. what would happen if you stopped trying?acceptance-revised
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Ofrenda de mi Perra (Altar for my Dog) – Detroit Institute of Arts

Rescue pup Morgaine died during a routine surgery that appears to have been both negligent and covered up.  In pursuing justice for her, we’ve learned that animals are considered property, and their human companions have no legal protection.  This Ofrenda expresses the heartbreak of Morgaine’s sister-pup Willow, and honors our commitment to secure justice on her behalf.


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EcoJustice & Activism – Eastern Michigan University

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Red Tent Movie: Things We Don’t Talk About


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Gestalt-Collage: A projective self-inquiry intervention.


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Sweet Darkness by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.


There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

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Let us give thanks for living through another December!


Let Us Give Thanks for Living Through Another December

The changing of the calendar year does not inspire me to celebrate.

My “new year” comes at the end of autumn, as the trees—at the height of their high def beauty—drop their leaves and turn inward, surrendering to the growing darkness with a faith and grace I rarely muster. I reflected on my year back in October; I liked what I had reaped and sown, and am proceeding ahead with a commitment to a compassionate optimism. In my inner spiritual calendar, it’s almost Imbolc (Candlemas), the “spring’s spring,” and Jan 1 is just an ordinary day.

Yet, the lovely afternoon snowfall carries well wishes and personal reflections across the Land of Screens—many, lovely, all different kinds, and I search myself for an honest sentiment to share with my loved ones.

All I can come up with, if I’m being honest, is gratitude for the passing of the madness (a.k.a. December).

My experiential way of being in December is one of enormous discomfort. Everything I hold sacred is mocked, and everything I mock is held sacred. (I know, spiritual people are not supposed to have mocking inner voices with political and religious opinions… I’m both working on changing it, and working on accepting it).

Mass consumerism, mass consumption, the dominance of one religion over all others, the end of the college semester with grades and grade appeals, my clients as they prepare for time-travel back into their childhood roles, (regardless of their current age), my family system and all that it activates (regardless of MY current age) and… wait, there’s more!

…shopping for gifts, attending parties, throwing parties, boarding puppies, eating crap, inconsistent sleep, and nothing resembling a routine… December is by far the most uncomfortable month of my year. And for most of it, the soundtrack is one of Christian Christmas carols I don’t agree with but can’t stop singing along with. Can you say Christmas Cognitive Dissonance?

So I’m really glad it’s over.

Of more interest to me today is the ritual of the Knights of the Round Table, I mean, college football playoffs. It seems so ancient, the rooting for one’s warriors, the pride of belonging somewhere… Ohio State in the national championship is a gazillion times better to celebrate than anything December has going, and I’m a Wolverine saying this. December is worse than being a Wolverine rooting for the Buckeyes.

Yup… this is me—glad it’s over.

I have an older blog piece called “Happy Whew Year” that expresses many of the same ideas, and that’s the only sentiment I can come up with to share: Whew, it’s over. Now let’s get down to the business of living consciously and compassionately. The world needs our help.


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Of Goddesses and Fools

Kindly published in About Place Journal, Vol II, Issue II

The time has come, the walrus said,
To talk of many things.
Of shoes, of ships, of sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings.
And – why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings.
~Lewis Carroll


The time has come, the priestess said
To write, like back in school…
Of research, rivers, cougar snacks,
Of goddesses and fools.
And – why the land is always right,
And whether hearts have rules.
~Betz King

The places of earth, spirit and society first overlapped during my doctoral interview at the Center for Humanistic Studies in Detroit Michigan. Born in the zeitgeist of late ’50?s and early 60?s social justice movements, CHS was a critical midwife in the birth of humanistic psychology. Defecting from previous camps that viewed humans as a collection of unconscious impulses or learned behaviors, humanistic psychology posited that humans possessed an inherent desire to make meaning and to grow, and if treated with unconditional positive regard, would do just that. Rooted in existential concepts of freedom, personal responsibility, choice and authenticity, CHS was a magical program, held in a beautiful old house in the heart of Detroit’s cultural center. The library, complete with card catalog, was in a carriage house outback, and the school’s motto was “Trust the Process”. A bit like a Waldorf school for grown ups, experiential activities were valued above all other teaching methods and the class syllabi were ‘suggestions’ that could be wandered away from in favor of following one’s bliss (as long as one could explain one’s bliss adequately). I desperately wanted to get in.

The late Dr. Aombaye Ramsey led my interview. A Black civil rights activist who wore his tribal robes to class and taught his students to question an author’s motive whether reading cereal boxes or research articles, Aombaye was both daunting and comforting in the way that great leaders often are, mixing confidence and compassion with quite a bit of patience for the youngsters he found himself surrounded with. When he asked me why I wanted a doctoral degree in psychology, I forgot all of my eloquently rehearsed answers, and blurted out the clumsy truth: “The big dogs have all the power, and things need to change, so I wanna be one of the big dogs”. This in no way displayed my academic potential or my mastery of the English language. Big dogs? Things need to change? I was mortified. But Aombaye must’ve been listening between the lines (the way all good mentors do) because he let me in.

A couple of years later, I was trying to find ways to combine my work as a feminist psychologist and as a priestess of the Western Mystery Tradition. Find a dozen people who even know what all of those words mean and you’ll begin to understand that these feathers in my cap were rather specialized. It was out of this spiritual loneliness that my dissertation topic was born and I committed to researching women’s experiences of embodied spiritual empowerment. I wanted to find women who believed in the divine feminine while wearing their spirituality in their bodies, on the earth, holding all three sacred. Question was… could I find a dozen to interview, and could I find a mentor to oversee the project? Many rejection letters later, it didn’t look good. Detroit was not a destination that adjunct faculty clamor to visit, and 1st person narrative scholarship was still considered fringy in many places.

Then a friend gave me “The Goddess Path” for Solstice, and I noticed that the author, Patricia Monaghan, “welcomed correspondence.” After just a few short emails, she kindly agreed to help me qualify and defend my dissertation. My left of center humanistic psychology program, with its fondness for first-person narrative and qualitative research models was no mystery to her, it was a delight. I had myself a mentor.

My first challenge was to have Patricia approved as my adjunct professor when her PhD was not in psychology. Her own research combining chaos theory, quantum mechanics and poetry didn’t strike my committee as psychological enough. (Personally, I was thinking, “if psychology can’t tie these three things together, what can?”) Fortunately, she had also published prolifically on matters of feminist spirituality, and she hailed from a faculty position at DePaul University. Again, Aombaye Ramsey, in the tribal robes that made him look a bit more like a wizard than a psychologist, saved the day, arguing that a topic as specialized as mine required an adjunct with knowledge of writing and feminist spirituality. There would be, he reminded us, several psychologists at the table already. The vote went in my favor and we were green lighted to begin. Idealistically, I began imagining ways in which my research would bring the Goddess back into mainstream society, while abolishing women’s hatred of their bodies and improving their sex lives. When my research was ready to be proposed, Patricia declined a plane ticket from Chicago to Detroit, preferring to commune with the land while making the five hour drive, and we met for the first time.

Although CHS had since moved to a more modern facility, and the library was now inside the building, there was still enough magic to delight Patricia as she took the tour of the school and marveled at the rows and rows of heuristic theses and dissertations written by authors fully present in their research studies. She instantly fit right in.

Since I was researching embodied spirituality at CHS, I thought it entirely appropriate to embody the process with an experiential activity. I invited some priestess-colleagues to be consultants on my committee, which allowed them to attend my meeting. We each wore a colored stole representing an aspect of wisdom, and processed into the conference room, placing a flower in a vase on the table. And because I called it a ritual, it was. While the research was given the go ahead, the (rather tame, in my humble opinion) ritual was declared “inappropriate”, and resulted in a “no rituals at dissertation meetings rule”. Patricia found no shortage of humor in both my faux pas and the resulting rule. She’d long ago given up trying to locate the line between alternative and inappropriate, because, she said, “it keeps moving, and it’s never where you left it”. Chagrined that even in non-traditional academia I could wander into troubled waters so easily, I slinked off to find women who had “faith and sex and God in the belly” (thank you Counting Crows, I couldn’t have said it better), and Pat went back to Wisconsin.

As my research came to completion, the school began the process of applying for accreditation with the American Psychological Association. Some dyed-in-the-wool humanists likened this to ‘sleeping with the enemy’, as the APA and Humanistic Psychology rarely sat next to each other on the bus, but the Michigan Board of Psychology had passed a state law requiring all graduate schools to have APA accreditation by the year 2015. It wasn’t a matter of if we were joining; it was a matter of when. At the top of the to do list? A name change, to The Michigan School of Professional Psychology (MiSPP). Grades followed, in a school that had been grade-less for decades. New faculty were brought in, and syllabi full of juicy 70?s classics like “I’m ok you’re ok” and “The feminine mystique” were replaced by scholarly peer reviewed journal articles full of t-scores. Some welcomed the changes, others mourned. Given my philosophical belief that the big dogs have the power, and that things needed to change in the field of psychology, I wanted our school to become a big dog, so I embraced the tension of this transformation and scheduled my dissertation defense meeting so that it fell along side one of Patricia’s book signing tours. She would stop by on her way across the country and together we would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was an expert on my topic.

My research results revealed that women with an embodied sense of spiritual empowerment were transcending false polarities such as heaven vs. earth, body vs. spirit, and god vs. goddess. They understood the importance of working with like-minded individuals to transform the old patriarchal ways into even older more inclusive ways. At the dissertation defense, Patricia called the work “groundbreaking” in its importance. (I was just trying not to get in trouble again. Groundbreaking was the furthest thing from my mind). Once I’d successfully defended my dissertation, I played a song and told a story, and because I didn’t call it a ritual, it wasn’t. After a secret verbal handshake of “merry meet and merry part”, the women of my committee called me Dr King for the first time and my blood ran cold as I heard what they’d just said.



That’s a PAIR of patriarchal titles! You might as well say Prince Duke, or Baron Von Emperor or Mister Man! In 35 years of education pursuits, it had never crossed my mind that when I completed my studies, I’d have the most patriarchal name on the planet as I worked to champion the divine feminine. I tried to comfort myself with images of the other activist named Dr. King (Martin Luther), and ordered a vanity plate that read “docking”. Imagine my delight when passers by perceived it as a reference to either “the mother ship” or a sail boat.

There was nothing to be done but to keep calm and carry on, so the priestess and feminist psychologist ironically known as Dr. King graduated, set up a private practice, and was shortly thereafter hired by The Michigan School of Professional Psychology.

Over the next few years I became more and more involved with administrative and curricular activities, eventually taking a position similar to that of a vice principle in public school. In other words, I became “the man”, enforcing “the rules”, the person that students feared to visit, the same person I had to visit after the aforementioned inappropriate ritual. I also began to make important decisions regarding the direction of the curriculum and the training of young therapists. My long ago intention to become one of the big dogs so that I could change things had come to fruition. This reminded me of Alice falling out of Wonderland rather than into it; as me and my pagan priestess, feminist psychologist, doubly patriarchal title became the spokeswoman of Tradition with a capital T (that rhymes with P, that stands for patriarchy). Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would’ve said.

But I was ok, because I had a secret weapon. I had Patricia Monaghan on email speed dial.

Oh the sagas I sent her, lamenting, panicking, confessing… and oh the replies she sent back, commiserating, calming and validating. For she too was trying to legitimize feminist scholarship, champion the goddess and change the world within structures that ran contrary to her way of being in the world. Generously, she shared not only her hard learned wisdom, but her entire life. She invited me to be a Straw Boy in her wedding – a representative of the fool or trickster energy – and from this I learned several lewd dance moves and the importance of welcoming chaos into all creative pursuits. She invited me to Brigit Rest, inspiring my search for a piece of land I could call my own, and I found it – half a acre of wilderness in the middle of the city, resplendent with river and wildlife. She invited me to present and publish in projects she was involved in, and from this I learned that I use too many commas, and that I have a responsibility to use my voice to change the world, whether I feel competent or not. She helped me step on less toes, and laughed with me when I couldn’t avoid doing so. It made perfect sense to her that I was a pagan priestess psychologist professor, and because she embraced that vision of me, I walked around in it a bit more comfortably.

Years later, Patricia has moved to the Summerland and our email carriers are incompatible. Now if I want to connect with her, I wander out into my yard (barefoot) honor the river running through it (by the name it revealed to me), and check on my strawberries and sage. We have a cougar sharing the land and I fear for my wee puppies, the perfect cougar snacks. I fear for the cougar too, surrounded by the city and scapegoated by the villagers. This tension between earth, spirit and society, it’s even in my own back yard! So I do what any pagan priestess would do. I cast protection spells on my puppies, place cotton balls soaked in wolf urine along my property line, ask the neighbors to keep an eye out and surround the cougar with healing white light. There is no right and wrong; there is only what serves us and what doesn’t serve us. It serves me to advocate for the “and”, (puppies and cougars, gods and goddesses, rules and rituals) because the “either-or” has cost us all so much.

Academically, the quest for APA accreditation continues. We have done our part, and await notice of our fate. In the meantime, the APA has released its latest diagnostic bible, the DSM-5. Humanistic psychology is a strong voice of dissent regarding many of the proposed changes, and I am proud of my place in this movement. Standardized mental health, standardized education, they have a place. Sometimes I’ll be the representative of that place, because the big dogs have the power to change things, and things need to change. Sometimes I’ll challenge that place to be more inclusive and tolerant and just. And sometimes my heart will lead me out past the rules, to the wild places where the paradoxes of puppies, coyotes and priestess Dr. King all wade in the same ancient river and call it home. And because we call it home, it will be.

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