Thursday, March 28, 2013

PANARADIA, Diana's new website...


Native to Southwestern Pennsylvania, I fell in love with nature and spiritual mysteries at a young age. Originally raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I always thought I'd be a nun, joining the convent long after a life well-lived with much adventure of course. Exploring many different religious practices, I eventually discovered NeoPaganism in college, practicing several forms of earth-based religion before settling on ADF Druidry in 1994. I became a leader, liturgist and Ovates (Seer) with Sassafras Grove through 2009 - at which time I became a solitary member of ADF. I currently continue my spiritual practice of honoring the Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Shining Ones privately - focused on the power of our land and our blessed rivers. 

At about the same time, I discovered a group of consciousness explorers based in Cincinnati, Ohio and began my studies with Sheya, transformational magick and shamanism with them. I eventually received all available initiations and mentored several students through the process over many years.

Looking for a bridge between my mystical inner realms and the public community aspect of my druidry, I discovered the Rites of Eleusis. I have worked since 1995 to enliven and celebrate a modern version of this ancient mystery religion through study, teaching, meditation and ritual.

Threaded through all of this is, of course, my deep love for divination and spiritual analyses. I have used the Tarot as a tool for personal development for over 20 years, integrating Astrology into my studies soon after - and starting to teach and share what I learned by early 2000.

After donating readings, teaching and sharing for many years - I finally felt comfortable enough to "hang out my shingle" and ask for compensation starting in 2008. Since then I have been providing lectures & presentations at wellness events and library programs, seeing clients in my home office and teaching classes at various locations around Pittsburgh.

I love what I do and know that I am always fully engaged for the benefit of my client(s) to the best of my ability. Although my personal path has taken me to mostly earth-based religions, I am deeply influenced by aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and non-affiliated Spirituality in my practice. I serve clients who identify as Christian, Jewish or Atheist with the same dedication to releasing the light within regardless of how they are called
to do so.

- D.L.P.




Private Tarot Consultations by appointment $50 1 hour
Astrological Services - Natal Chart & Forecasting $100
Annual Harvest - Tarot, Astrology & Numerology $100
Mentoring in the Intuitive Arts: Meditation, Journaling, Ritual Development and Spiritual Practice (sliding scale)


The Fool's Quest - Introduction to Tarot, 8 weeks
Born This Way - Introduction to the Natal Chart, 3 weeks
Wheel of the Year - Practical Earth Spirituality, 4 weeks
Jung & the Tarot - Advanced Symbolism, 4 weeks
Eleusinian Mysteries - Transformative Practice, 3 weeks
* Most classes are held weekly in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, for $10-$15 per class. Please check back here or contact me for a current schedule.


Weekend workshops are developed to meet the needs of your group: a practical application of Tarot and Astrology or a contemplative retreat on the archetypes. 
I occasionally offer services at events: providing lighter but insightful readings at fundraisers, wellness fairs, employee appreciation days and parties, with stipulations. 
Please contact me for further information and rates,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Harmony Fair at Upper St Clair Library

Harmony & Wellness Fair
Saturday, September 17, 2011
12 Noon - 2 PM

I will be tabling and answering questions about Tarot, Astrology and more as part of the library system's profile of alternative health and spirit programs.

Autumn Equinox Ritual and Eleusinian Mysteries Study Group

“Perfect knowledge is at once possession and being.  You are what you know.”
 Jocelyn Godwin, Ancient Mysteries Sourcebook.

The story of the goddess Demeter and the loss/return of her daughter Persephone is a seasonal metaphor but also so much more.  Having studied the mysteries since 1995 and created numerous rituals – both small and large – in honor of them, I am pleased that there is renewed interest in pursuing this path of knowledge.

We will be meeting on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7-9 pm to celebrate the autumnal equinox and form the study group.

Please note that there is no charge for the ritual or study group & we will only gather donations for space rental of future events.  Thanks to the kind donation of space by Felicia Pallazolla, we are able to meet at Spring Tides in Allison Park for this initial gathering.

RSVP by reply email for directions and/or further information.   If you cannot attend the ritual or meeting, but are still interested in the group, please let me know.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rites of Eleusis Workshop at Grove of Gaia Fest

Enlivening an Ancient Pagan Religion

I will be presenting a brief overview of the ancient mystery cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which I have been practicing since 1995.  Starting with the well-known story of Demeter's loss of her beloved daughter to Hades, we learn that is is much more than a seasonal metaphor.  Thanks to 2000 years of continuous practice and the broken vows of many converted christians, we have a wealth of material to utilize when adapting this tradition to contemporary religious practice.

The Grove of Gaia Fest will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the North Hills Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsburgh.  Further information can be obtained at Grove of Gaia's website at

Oh...and I will also be offering individual Tarot consultations during the event!

Introduction to Tarot

Presented by Diana Paar
Intuitive Reader & Tarot Teacher

Learn about Tarot, a metaphysical tool that enables you to look into your life.

Thursday, June 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
South Park Library Meeting Room

Readings by Diana

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Ancestor Dolls

An article of mine originally published in Faio na Crainn (2006). Earrach was helping me start this blog and thought it would be a good block of text to use as a foundation.  - D. 
Part I

For the past several years, Sassafras Grove has presented Samhain rituals in dedication to the Norns and their intermediary, Odin (or Wotan). While this work is fulfilling on many levels, it only represents the public side of our Samhain activities as a grove. Privately, we have several traditions designed as opportunities to connect with our personal ancestors. One of these traditions is the creation of “ancestor dolls” – object links to a literal or spiritual ancestor. I thought I would share my experiences in the making of my dolls since they’re examples of a variety of approaches to this particular way of working magic.

My first ancestor doll is dedicated to my maternal grandmother Apollonia “Pearl” Ryczynska Sonk as a very specific link to her. When Earrach purchased small raffia dolls as a gift to be bestowed by Urda - Norn of the Past at the 1994 Samhain ritual, I believe he was divinely inspired. He didn’t, however, give us any instructions as to how to dedicate the doll to an ancestor. For me, receiving my doll was the conclusion of an ongoing process since my long-deceased grandmother Pearl had been speaking to me for over a month at the time. In retrospect, I believe I had opened a channel to her inadvertently while I was doing a significant amount of meditation on our local rivers. She came to me while I was on a trolley for my morning commute across the Monongahela river. Defying logic, I felt her presence in a comforting yet unfamiliar way and knew without a doubt who it was who was riding with me that morning: my maternal grandmother was reaching out a hand to me.

I was brought up filled with my mother’s stories of her beloved mother: a woman who marched in suffrage parades and campaigned for equal rights for her gender. Trained as a professional nurse at St Francis Hospital in Lawrenceville, there were whispered stories helping women to end their pregnancies. My mother’s premature loss of her own mother (when she was only 17) caused her to assume a caretaker role in her family much too soon and to face the challenges of raising her younger siblings. Yet, I am sure it was Pearl’s courage and independent spirit that inspired my mother to join the army in 1950 and spend four years as a WAC in post-war Germany –the most free-spirited years of her fettered life.

From reaching out to me on the morning trolley until I received the raffia doll in the Samhain ritual a month later, a series of occurrences brought me closer to my maternal grandmother. I found her marriage certificate listing her birthdate as October 31, 1902 (a Halloween Scorpio); I remembered that I owned one small possession of hers from my own mother: a battered watch face; and I found the house on Polish Hill where she had given birth to my own mother. The doll herself just brought all this whirling ancestral energy down to earth – giving me a tactile and very real object to use as a link to her and a way to honor my matrilineal line. Once she was home, I attached the watch and a “pearl” earring to her with a purple ribbon and asked her to bless and protect me, the granddaughter she never knew. Grandmother Pearl’s doll stays with me, traveling to grove rites occasionally but mostly residing on my ancestor altar at home. Every year on my own birthday I light a gratitude candle to my mother and try to make sure the ancestor doll is part of this annual personal ritual.

A few years later the grove had new members who had heard our stories about the ancestor dolls. One Samhain we decided to create new ones using clay as our medium. I was called to connect with my patrilineal grandmother but knew almost nothing about her since she had passed on when my father was only a child himself. Our family had her wedding photo, showing the image of a tiny Austrian farm-wife with a most serious expression and I knew her name: Anna Kornberger Paar. That’s when serendipity moved through my dear friend Lana. She had recently read a most amazing book and was eager to share it with me, knowing of my search to connect with my roots. The book is called “Homestead” and is written by a linguist named Rosina Lippi. It tells the fictionalized stories of five generations of dairy farm who reside at the base of a mountain in Austria. She was inspired to write it after completing several years of research on the language roots of this particular mountain near Salzburg and supporting attempts to save the dialect. Needless to say, I found the book fascinating and a true source of inspiration to connect with my grandmother Anna. A different village is profiled, perhaps even a different mountain – but the same sense of destiny is palpable when daughters of farmers are lost to emigration.

Not having possessions or even the accurate memories of living relatives made my attempt to connect with her quite a challenge. I began by conducting searches on the internet and came across a web site of Austrian folk dance attire. One of the costumes really struck a chord with me, so that’s the one I used as a model for my grandmother. The most unusual part of it was the hat: an elongated cone with a curled tip at the end, reminding me of the Phrygian cap of an initiate. I made my clay ancestor doll and finished with her hands folded across her ample skirt. I had used the extremity clay molds someone had brought and noticed after she was baked that her hands were much too large for her body. Thinking I had messed up my doll, I noticed my own hands holding her: my thick-knuckled fingers attached to overly large, unfeminine hands; the ones I had cursed my entire life. My hands were just like my father’s hands, which I now suspect he inherited from his own mother. Grandmother Anna seriously wanted me to get this part of her correctly and I think I did. I am now a little less ungrateful of my Austrian pork chop hands, now that I know from whence they came.

Sassafras Grove has grown yet again and now there are new members who want to create links to their ancestors, so we have planned another private workshop this time with fabric as our medium of choice. While it is inevitable that I create matching grandfathers for my grandmother ancestor dolls, I am still unable to overcome the stories of their cruel natures to create a viable link to them. So, while I search for an honorable male line with which to connect to my past, I have decided to create a Spirit Ancestor doll this year. I have been meditating on a certain archetypal female energy-form who has been with me for several years. She does not speak to me through “goddesses” per se, rather through role models and dream images, so I am searching for the continuity amongst these messages; a pattern I can manifest in a doll-form. I am hoping to combine them into a powerful spirit ancestor doll who will open the communication pathway even wider, provide me a specific healing opportunity and inspire me to even greater deeds of artistic anarchy. I call her Little Dark Spirit Ancestor and perhaps one day will be able to write of her creation on these pages.

Part II

Since I wrote the above passage my work with the ancestor dolls has continued on a path that only I find fascinating, I’m sure. But Earrach asked me to update my article in preparation for our upcoming workshops at Wellspring 2006, so here is Part II of the story of my “ancestor action figures”.

I’ll start with my most controversial doll: Little Dark Spirit Ancestor. There seem to be two schools of thought in our grove regarding who counts as an ancestor. I believe in honoring both blood predecessors and spiritual influences with the appellation “ancestor”. All I really know is that when I was instructed to make a doll for my spiritual ancestor, I listened. Everything about her is different from my grandmother dolls. While other grove members were sewing poppets during Samhain 2003, I was compelled to use a medium I do not usually incorporate into my spiritual practice: plastic. I found her in a craft store: a small female doll with black hair and black eyes. It was important to note that the doll I used for this “dream figure” was completely different from me. I was intentionally linking together five separate manifestations of one spirit helper/archetype/image that had come to me inspirationally over the past several years. The only thing they had in common was that they were all small, dark-haired & dark-eyed women. And, I was lucky to find a little plastic doll that looked just like them.

I wrote an invocation to charge and consecrate the doll after I had adorned her with symbols of the five spirit women she represented to me. First, I painted her body with the Voudon veve of Erzulie in honor of Maya Deren, who came to me in 1994 in a dramatic display of psychic phenomena. Then I dressed her in the green wedding skirt of Frida Kahlo, who surprised me a few years ago during a festival dedicated to the heart chakra. I made a white shirt for her to represent an archetype from my childhood – the smart, precocious little girl I always wanted to be. I was once given a gift by a priestess in a dream landscape of red clay, so she wears a hand-made shawl in this deep, dark rose color. And, finally, on her feet are suede boots like those worn by the shy young woman who came to me in a shamanic vision. The making, charging and consecration of this doll was a healing act of synchronizing several spiritual role models – or “ancestors” – into a singular image of power and priestess craft. The fact that her little plastic eyelids are wearing away with time and the third eye on her forehead is becoming more prominent is just coincidence.

So now I had a wonderful triumvirate of females on my ancestor altar: maternal, paternal and spiritual grandmothers as the males of my line remained elusive. My dear friend and grove-mate Emerald made a small green pouch to help me “cross the bridge” to my male ancestors. As I wrote in my first article on ancestor dolls, both of my grandfathers were unsavory characters who left a legacy of pain and poverty with their children when they died. I wasn’t eager to reach out to them and my attempts to do so were half-hearted at best. Emerald’s pouch was helping, but I decided to view my ancestor doll project in a linear way. I had created an ancestor pyramid of sorts, with three levels of grandmother dolls - so I would descend the other side of it by forming a link from the most recent (my spirit grandmother doll) to her male counterpart (a male spirit grandfather doll).

So, I made a poppet. I have very limited sewing skills, so he is not the most attractive of poppets, but the important part of him is his head: it remains open. When I think of the men who have influenced my life and been part of my “spiritual ancestry”, I find men of ideas. They are all writers who have shared their own research and experiences by the written word. My poppet (which is still a work in progress) will be filled with quotes from the male writers, visionaries and rebels who have influenced my own spiritual practice so profoundly. Quotes from Joseph Campbell and Karl Kerenyi are the two men I am starting with, although this intellectual and linear doll-making process has been stalled for a few years now, waiting for the next compulsion to wash over me.

Meanwhile, last October, I attended a spiritual retreat that is not ADF oriented. One of the workshops was on Ancestors, so I brought along my dolls for show-and-tell. I was surprised that this group of esoteric folk did not really discuss “spiritual ancestors” at all – they were completely focused on Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas – and interested in healing the relationships we have/had with each of them. Even if we never knew them while they were alive, an acknowledgment of their existence creates an emotional link between us and them. I found it interesting but only on an intellectual level – until it was my turn to participate.

It became apparent to me immediately that the lineage standing behind me was tilted: all female, no male. While the males were present, they were unacknowledged. I found myself in an odd state of mind. When I looked behind me, I could see the people representing my female ancestors clearly, but it was as if the males were hidden behind a veil or mist. It took a conscious act of courage on my part to allow the facilitator to take a next step with me: she asked each of the women (representing my mother and my grandmothers) to intentionally introduce me to her partner. As each woman did so, they were careful to state that “Diana, you do not have to accept this man, but it’s important that you know that *I* accepted him at one time. He is your ancestor and you need to acknowledge him as such. It is appropriate that you give him honor for participating in your existence.” I went along with the process and did my best to see my father and grandfathers with new eyes, but at best only felt a smidge closer to each of them than before. I came home with memories of an enjoyable weekend, but not expecting much to change in my relationship with my male ancestors. I was wrong.

All of my linear best-laid-plans of honoring the males by “crossing over the top of the pyramid to link female spirit ancestor to male spirit ancestor” collapsed into a pile of rubble as soon as I got home. Stanley Sonk was in the house! Stanley (or Pup-up) was my mother’s father and the only grandfather I ever knew while alive. He lived with us until he passed away on my 7th birthday and I remember him as a mean, crotchety old fart whose incessant demands made my mother’s life significantly more difficult than it she ever deserved it to be. We were getting ready for the Samhain 2005 activities of the grove (Dumb Supper, rituals, etc.) when I went looking through some bins in my office for Halloween accoutrements. I was surprised to find cards and letters and photos of Pup-up that I had no memory of obtaining. I can only assume that I retrieved them from my parents' house at some point in the past because they were in my possession now.

For whatever reason and by whatever magic was afoot – Stanley Sonk was knocking at the door of my ancestor shrine – and he was becoming real to me. My knowledge of him consisted of childhood memories (like the big, square communion wafers he would eat from St Stanislaus church or two little girls sent under the table to retrieve the pennies he would drop while rolling them up for the bank) and the stories my mother told about him. She was rightfully resentful of him for the long life of drudgery he caused her: becoming a surrogate housewife and mother at age 17 when her own mother tragically died. How much of my perception of him was colored by my mother’s own unsolved issues with her father? There is no way to tell now, of course, since both of them are dead. But, for the first time in my life, I was beginning to see Stanley Sonk as a whole person and not just as the family tyrant that was his legacy.

Stanley’s characteristics include pride, avarice, nationalism (Poland, not the USA), physical fitness, traditional conservatism (a strict Catholic and patriarch), conditional generosity and most of all – anger. He was always angry: at the Germans, at the Jews, at the Italians; at his buddies, at the Polish National Alliance (PNA), at my mother and the family. I remember him yelling – sometimes in English, but mostly in Polish (where he could curse freely and not offend the tender ears of his granddaughters) and the never-ending stream of auto accident reports. Pup-up learned to drive late in life and never fully understood the concept of traffic laws. A favorite quote of his (in broken English) was “The yellow light means step on the gas and go like hell!” My mother had a fiercely loyal love for her father- but it was her courage in standing up to his dominance made her the strong woman (and role model for her daughters) that she was.

Only by opening the ancestor door to Stanley would I understand this passionate & volatile side of my ancestry. I’m learning many more Stanley stories as I collect them from family members who remember him and each one I learn helps me to literally “flesh” out the man whom I only knew as Pup-up. He has, however, led me to his doll: he would like to be represented by a wooden artist’s model figure, which I have purchased and am preparing for consecration at Wellspring this year. What an appropriate choice for the thin, hard and physically fit man that he was. Thank you, Stanley Sonk of Krakow, Poland and Ambridge, PA: for the gifts you have given me and for speaking to me as Honored Ancestor – no matter how long it’s taken me to hear you.

Diana  May 2006