Welcome to our First Newsletter!
We’re so happy to be able to send newsletters out at last! We hope to send them at each of the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year, in future with information about the Temple, our events and the local area. But for this first time – well, now Keli and Ian are back at last, Geraldine Charles interviewed Keli to get the full story of how the Goddess Temple of Bala came about… it’s also Ian and Keli’s wedding anniversary at the Winter Solstice, so wishing them the happiest of days!
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Keli: “I was in Glastonbury for a Priestess of Avalon Spiral Two weekend and decided to stick around until the next Circle and spend time in Britain, travelling round to see as many sacred sites as possible. I particularly wanted to visit Branwen’s grave on Anglesey, and Bala too, of course, so that’s where I headed first. But everything conspired to keep me in Glastonbury, first car troubles and then roads closed everywhere I looked.”
Geraldine: “Perhaps you were held up for a very good reason?”
Keli: “Absolutely! In the end I was held up for over a week, but with hindsight I think that was definitely for a reason. If I’d come to Bala earlier Ian would have been away, and maybe nothing that has happened since would have!
“Finally I made it to Bala and on my first morning here wandered up the High Street looking at the shops, one of which was an antique shop owned by Hefin Jones. He yelled at me from across the room: ‘Hey, who are you? Come over here and talk to me!’ So of course I did, and told him a little about myself. Then Ian came in; he’d been down to the Co-op to get his lunch and Hefin said, ‘Ian, c’mon over here and I’ll introduce to to somebody. This is Keli, she’s from America, she’s looking for a husband.’”
Keli laughs as she remembers. “Oddly enough, Ian didn’t run away upstairs to his own flat, but just stood there. I thought, ‘Oh, this is interesting….’”.
“Anyhow”, Keli continued, “Hefin told Ian I was about to go to Anglesey to look for Branwen’s grave and Ian said, ‘Well, I know all about Anglesey, I can help you!’ I suggested we have lunch to see if we liked each other enough for a road trip and so we did, followed by a walk.“
They have hardly been apart since that day.
Geraldine: “So did you find Branwen’s grave? I looked everywhere, and failed the first time….”
Keli: “We did, and then came back to Bala. Right away I began to see signs of the presence of the Goddess. Feathers kept falling from the sky, lots of them, I have never seen anything like it before or since. I began to see Ian as someone doing Cerridwen’s work in her land; his job at the time was working with adolescents from troubled backgrounds. He did laugh at some of my ideas about the feathers but I told him: ‘Watch out, or Cerridwen will throw an entire bird at you…’. Ian went pale as he remembered just such an incident with a buzzard earlier that day – it had landed on the road ahead of him, for no apparent reason, there didn’t seem to be anything to hunt. But it just landed there and stared at him, forcing him to swerve, and then turned to watch him go.”
Geraldine: “Was that Cerridwen, do you think?”
Keli: “Well, she is an extraordinary shape-shifter…. after this, I started to feel that something was going to happen which would mean I’d be staying. Hefin surprised us with the news that he’d bought the disused chapel across the road and would be moving his antique business there and so suddenly the shop below Ian’s flat was available. It was all very strange, it felt like Bala was sort of absorbing me. I had been thinking about a temple, nothing definite, but wasn’t sure how it would work. This all happened within a month or so of arriving in Bala in the summer and by November we had signed the lease for the shop with the intention of opening a temple.”
Geraldine: “How did it all work out? Were there many obstacles?”
Keli: “No! Cerridwen was like… ‘We’ll have a temple here, and we’ll do this, and this….’. Everyone was so helpful and, it seemed, ready, and things moved fast. All the necessary permissions came through with no difficulty, and the Snowdonia National Park Planning Department actually sent someone to help, even with the paperwork! Bala Town Council also voted unanimously to support the temple, the Mayor actually stopped us in the street to tell us, they were all so happy with the idea.”
Geraldine: “I remember you had to leave the UK again around then?”
Keli: “That’s right, my visa would have run out so Ian and I went back to the States for a while, and needed to leave the UK a couple more times in the next few months. But whenever we got home we got on with turning the empty shop into a temple. Because the building is on the main shopping street the planning permission meant that we had to open a shop as well as a temple – in fact they required the space to be split 55% shop and 45% temple.”
Geraldine: “I seem to remember you got married on one of those trips?”
Keli: “We did! We got married in a wedding chapel in Las Vegas –”
Geraldine: “Oh, please tell me it was an Elvis chapel!”
Keli: Laughing … “No, just a standard wedding chapel. Anyhow, everything with the temple just happened as though it was intended to be. Even carpeting! We found a beautiful rug, just dumped in a car park in Porthmadoc, so we bought it back here, cleaned it up and used it. We also found Rachel Jones to manage the shop for us, as I knew we’d have to be away again. But Rachel is brilliant, we left the shop in great hands.”
Geraldine: “So how long did it all take before you were able to open?”
Keli: “It took us a year and a half; we opened at Samhain 2019 but soon after had to go away again because of the visa, and at the end of January 2020 we set off for Argentina on the first leg of a tour.”
Geraldine: “I remember waving you off, little knowing I wouldn’t see you again for the best part of two years…”
Keli: “That’s right. And we were stuck in Argentina for most of that time and weren’t able to travel because of Covid. It was such a relief to get home and find everything still running and ticking over well!”
Geraldine: “So how did you come to do the Priestess of Cerridwen training in Glastonbury?”
Keli: “Ian and I have rarely been apart since we met, but after the Lammas Priestess of Avalon Spiral Two Circle Ian had to get back to Bala for work. I decided to stay in Glastonbury for a day or two to register for the Third Spiral training and on the way to do so I walked past a tiny Tarot shop in the Gauntlet in Glastonbury. A man came out of the shop and started blurting stuff out at me, apologising all the while, saying ‘I’m really sorry about this, I usually have a much better filter… ‘ but he went on to say that I shouldn’t do the Third Spiral yet but must take the Cerridwen training, that Cerridwen had called me back to Bala and I had to do the training while based there. He added, ‘Somebody has gone ahead of you and you have to go with him.’ This is still only two weeks after Ian and I had met! I talked to friends about it, one of whom, Sally Pullinger, did readings for me… the answer was basically that I could go on to take the Third Spiral right away, but I’d lose a lot. But if I took the Cerridwen training it would open a lifetime’s spiritual doorway for me and close doors on an old cycle I’d lived over and over.
“So, I applied for the Cerridwen training the next day, and then came back to Bala. And now I’m a Priestess of Cerridwen, although I also plan to take the Priestess of Avalon Spiral Three training.”
Geraldine: “I know it’s early days and you are still settling in, but do you have plans for the future yet?”
Keli: “Sure! I want to make a place within the shop so I can create custom-made incense for people, to influence atmosphere and energies. I’m also planning to offer Tarot and Bone readings, starting soon! In addition there will be seasonal ceremonies and perhaps dark or full moon ceremonies – so maybe one or two gatherings every season.”
Geraldine: “And for the shop?”
Keli: “For the shop we’re going in the direction of selling more books. Ian and I will be travelling round the UK a bit, partly to look for talented artists whose work we can display, stuff that is more unique. So maybe a cross between a bookstore and selling items for altars.”
A couple of recent photos in the Temple…
… and some from the “Before” archive!
Want to see how it looks now? Come and visit!!
Wishing you a wonderfully happy Christmas and a blessed and healthy New Year!