The Heart Is The Only Nation

I have met the Morrígan.

I have stood in a circle, a shape unlike any circle I’ve stood in before, and beside my human kin, a spiritual kin sharing breath and space and smell and touch, I made contact with the Warrior inside myself.

At this moment it feels as though I have never been in this body before, nor have I ever been to a ritual before this one.

I expected something great from Thorn and her tribe, but I did not know I would be shaken so profoundly.

And I feel shaken. Shaken to the core. The hot lava core. Forge fire core. The core of something that both transcends and embodies; all at once harmonious, and resonant, and ripe with the tension of anticipation and climax.

This is not what being alive is like. This is what being alive is.

Photo by Olivier Bacquet
Photo by Olivier Bacquet

My focus has been directed toward liturgy, which I continue to believe is a valuable tool. But at this moment, charged with the energy of an army calling out to a Queen, I recognize the need for something greater than just ceremony.

Ritual and ceremony are not the same thing.

The tools we use for ritual are tools, and they are not the same thing as the juicy, bloody, fleshy, powerful potential of what ritual can be. There must be magick.

There must be.

There must be a movement of that stuff in the belly of bellies, in the gut of all guts. The words you speak are only useful if they mean something. They have to mean something. If you are going to speak — if you are going to stand before an altar and recite words to your Gods — you better say something that matters.

Liturgy is empty without heart, and as we sang at the tops of our lungs tonight —

The heart is the only nation.

A Goddess cut me deep tonight.

Cut a hole and filled it up with…





unexpected gratitude for the force which drives me to fight, to have sex, to use this body for all it’s worth, to stand up and speak…

These are the things which flow through me right now.

There may be no one right way to have a spiritual life, but fuck if this wasn’t a right way tonight.

If I had wings, they would be those of the raven.


26 responses to “The Heart Is The Only Nation”

  1. Alley Valkyrie Avatar

    “I did not know I would be shaken so profoundly…” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Your post here sums up my feelings and reactions better than I ever could have. Thank you 🙂

  2. Morpheus Ravenna Avatar
    Morpheus Ravenna

    Teo, thanks for these beautiful and moving reflections about your ritual experience. One of the things I love about your blog is how open-hearted you are in it. Full of courage.

    I’m so glad the ritual was meaningful and helpful for you. It means a lot to me to know when the work we do is of service. It was massively inspiring to be part of making that ritual happen, and I’m appreciating how fully engaged all the participants were as well as the great work my fellow priests did. I came away feeling really proud of our whole community as a result of the ritual, and the huge support for the blood drive.

    Also, dammit, I was hoping somebody was going to introduce us, because we’ve not yet met! Next time, I hope.

  3. T Thorn Coyle Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Teo. The ritual felt strong to me, as well. I’m ever grateful…

    One thing I want to let people know: the words to the song The Heart is The Only Nation (sung to the tune of “Parcel of Rogues” by Robert Burns) were written by Ruth Barrett. It is a song I first encountered early in my Pagan years and it stayed with me. When we had our first planning meeting for the ritual, it came strongly back to mind. Once I played it for the Coru, they agreed we needed to use it.

    We all felt the result of Her presence, our presence, and our singing, beating hearts.

    blessings – Thorn

    1. Morpheus Ravenna Avatar
      Morpheus Ravenna

      I was just going to post credit to Ruth Barrett! You beat me to it. We used the song with her permission for the ritual. I’m inspired to see how deeply people responded and engaged with its sentiment.

  4. Goldeneagle Avatar

    I have never felt so connected in a ritual. The goddess embraced all of us and called us to empowerment while we chanted “The Heart is the only Nation”. Thank you T Thorn Coyle for making this years Pantheacon experience one of the most memorable for me. I cried like a baby along with so many others when we felt the Great Queen call us forward . My spirit has been transformed and repurposed forever.

  5. Fawn Avatar

    Yes, the Coru Cathubodua are doing AWESOME things; although I was not there at this particular ritual, I have seen/experienced the work they are doing and look forward to future offerings for the community.

  6. John H Halstead Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this Teo. It is a wonderful reminder of what is possible.

  7. Eran Rathan Avatar

    Good. Now take the divine fire She imparted to you and use it to ignite hundreds of other fires, all over. Burn the old debris away, and plant new seeds in the soil.

  8. Chef Ette Avatar
    Chef Ette

    Thank you so much for posting this. I feel as I have been there myself from reading your words. I agree with the others. I’ve experienced excitement, Joy, it truly is a powerful post. and yes you should “channel that into a song” as Mr. Sheridan suggested.

  9. Soliwo Avatar

    I feel envious.

  10. Melissa Hill Avatar

    I totally agree with you that ritual is meant to transform us. We cannot let ourselves forget that and let it degrade into merely words. However, I would caution that ritual can’t always be peak experiences. I think that should be our goal, but I believe that must always be balanced by our daily practices and small moments of devotion. To me, the truly transforming experiences come when the daily work has been attended to and the life altering experiences make the daily work meaningful. Practice and ritual balance and enhance each other.

  11. Marlon Hartshorn Avatar
    Marlon Hartshorn

    i can feel the power of what happened to you just from reading this post. Very inspiring.

  12. John Beckett Avatar

    Of all the things going on at Pantheacon, this was the one I would most like to attend. Alas, maybe I’ll make the trip next year.

    Thanks for the report, though it seems disrespectful to call such a passionate account a “report”. I’m glad you met Morrigan. She is active, and she is calling people to her Great Work – some as priestesses and priests, some as dedicated workers, and some as participants in Life and Sovereignty.

  13. Karen Waxler Avatar

    You do have wings. Everyone can see them already.

  14. Sophia Catherine Avatar

    Wonderful 🙂 She’s a good ‘un. And yes, I believe the *magic* of life is central to who she is, and to who she wants her people to be.

  15. Ellie Abbott Avatar

    I had never before met Morrigan, but she had been speaking to me all week, and I knew I needed to attend that ritual. It was profound for me in a very similar way. She broke me. She made me question my choices, and then reaffirmed them. I have never felt so strong or so mortal.

  16. Alan J Sheridan Avatar

    Now, my friend, channel THAT into a song 🙂

  17. Kallel Peterson Avatar
    Kallel Peterson

    I got a chill reading this, Teo! I had a moment like this (also with the Morrigan) completely disconnected from any ritual setting, and it was incredibly powerful. I can’t wait to hear more about your interactions with her and about the con (I HAVE to get out there one year!)

  18. Sarah Twichell Avatar

    Even though I *was* there, I’m grateful to be able to hear your experience. Thanks for sharing it.

  19. Safiyya Hawkwood Avatar
    Safiyya Hawkwood

    Wishing I could have been there, but I am ecstatic for the fire kindled in you!

  20. Sam Carranza Avatar

    Cognitive dissonance…but a power for transformation and growth!

  21. lucystrawberry Avatar

    My heart is beating faster just reading this, because I know well how you feel. Being touched by the energy like that is transformative. It is a kiss from Divinity, a searing imprint on the soul. It changes you, and demands a response.

    I look forward to seeing how it sits on you in the days ahead.

  22. Jaysen Waller Avatar

    love love love this, dear Teo! so grateful that you have had this experience. this movement, this burning from the heart. this is transformation and embodiment…what i believe incarnation is, if i can borrow that word. it is always incarnation though, isn’t it? the spiritual and the material dancing and singing Love. when we recognize this, when we wake up to this, we come Alive and are never the same. blessings and peace…may this path continue to bring you to Life. namasté ~ j

  23. Eric Riley Avatar

    I am sad that I am not at this conference.

    1. Victoria Marie Laughlin Avatar

      I am sad I can’t attend also.

  24. Tina Avatar

    Beautiful. Powerful. Thank you for sharing.

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