Shira Tarantino, known within the sacred Circle as Lady Artemisia Cybele, High Priestess (HPS) and founder of Handfastings.org and Temple of the Twilight Goddess, is a Witch in the Minoan Tradition (a re-constructionist, LGBTQ+-friendly version of an ancient Crete tradition of the sacred Snake Goddess and Minotaur God), which is a derivative of the Gardnerian path. Her spiritual lineage can be traced back to Raymond Buckland and Gerald Gardner.
With a cultural background in Judaism, Shira has been Pagan all her life and has been a practicing Wiccan since the mid-1990’s – having immersed herself in Minoan studies since 2002. Lady Artemisia studied under High Priestess Lady Chandara Anath for "Three Years and a Day" as a member of Circle of the Crescent Moon (Initiation and Dedication), which was one of the original covens affiliated with Temple of the Evening Star [a 501 (c) 3 Wiccan organization] in New York. In addition, Lady Artemisia has completed a year-long sacred herbal course of study under the guidance of HPS Lady Kelle Foret (R.N.) and continues ongoing, independent studies of herbalism, Wicca, Paganism, and world religion.
In 2004, Shira founded Handfastings.org, whose purpose is to link people in the Pagan and Wiccan communities with ordained officiants. Since then, Handfastings.org has been a free service to the community and helps to connect couples and families who are interested in being handfasted (wedded) with Pagan clergy. The website lists more than 100 legally ordained officiants from five countries.
Shira is a former instructor at the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary. She helped to develop core and elective curriculum, currently teaching natural magick as well as having prepared a class on sacred costuming. Sponsored by the established Aquarian Tabernacle Church, the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary is one of the first accredited seminaries in the U.S. dedicated to Pagan theology and Wiccan studies – and the first of its kind to offer live online classes with audio/visual teacher-student interaction. Shira was thrilled to have been a part of this unique venture.
An artist and writer, Shira has worked in fundraising and development since 1994. She is a former director of development of two New York-based non-profits and is a community activist and volunteer consultant and board member for charitable organizations. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology where she studied advertising and communications along with fashion design.
Shira is the High Priestess of Temple of the Twilight Goddess, a welcoming Wiccan community and Coven homestead based in Stamford, Connecticut. She is registered to perform handfasting ceremonies in New York City, New York State, and Connecticut. In addition, she has studied Reiki and received her Level 1 attunement from Reiki Master Valerie Gaglione Schott, M.S., R.M.T., IARP of Westchester, NY.
As a Priestess of the Goddess, Shira considers herself to be a student of life and will forever welcome new-found knowledge and fresh experiences during her existence on this good Earth as Mother Gaia sees fit. She is in love with Wiccan ritual and helping to better all creatures of the planet through magic, meditation, love, tolerance, and understanding. Shira lives in Stamford, CT with her family and their cat, Cookies.
Lisa Cannavo is a wedding officiant and Handfastings.org's Mid-Atlantic Regional Director (U.S.). As the Priestess-at-Large for Temple of the Twilight Goddess, she is studying Wiccan fellowship and performs wedding ceremonies, handfastings, and other rites of passage in NJ, PA, NY, and CT. Having performed dozens of regional weddings, she is an LGBTQIA+ ally, and includes same-sex weddings in her repertoire. Having spent two decades in the service and retail industry, Lisa is now following her dream studying for her Addictions Counselor/ Guidance Counselor for adolescents certificate at Rutgers University School of Social Work.
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