The Rev. Byron Ballard, a descendant of generations of Western North Carolina folk and their lore, is a local author, bookseller, Wiccan scholar and priestess. She’s been invited to take the essence of that blend of folk heritage and her own Pagan studies to Harvard University this weekend as a guest speaker and panelist for the school’s conference on “Forging Folklore.” Her presentation will be on “Hillfolk Hoodoo and the Question of Cultural Strip-mining.”
Ballard, who noted in a recent Earth Day commentary (“Losing the War on Terra”) for Mountain Xpress that she thinks of herself as “Asheville’s village witch,” is co-founder of the Coalition of Earth Religions for Education and Support (CERES). She joins more than a dozen national and international scholars for the three-day colloquium to explore the relationship between folklore and contemporary Paganism. The conference is hosted by Harvard’s Department of Folklore and Mythology.
— Nelda Holder, news and opinion editor