General

Professional Witchcraft

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

So you want to be a professional Witch? Why? Are you sure? I wasn’t. In fact, I ran kicking and screaming from it. I sometimes felt as if my life were being hijacked by the gods and spirits. In retrospect, I see how it was aligning with a sense of purpose and will, but it was quite difficult to see at the time. All my interests and experiences were giving me a unique set of skills to navigate the world I was entering, even if I had no idea at the time.

There is no educational model to prepare one to be a professional Witch. Even the idea can sound absurd at times. What does it mean? I wonder still, even though doing magickal work on some level has been my full-time vocation and source of income since 1998. I don’t have one job—professional Witch. I have several jobs that add up to my vocation. Minister, ritualist, psychic reader, healing facilitator, magickal consultant, crafter, teacher, project manager, and author are some of the hats I wear. Education is piecemeal and haphazard in all these things. They are unique arts, and no one set of guidelines covers us all.

For some, professional Witch means minister. One of the reasons why I rebelled against ministry is that I love the idea that in Witchcraft, everyone is their own priest or priestess. You learned the foundations of your Craft, and you did it yourself. You didn’t need a priest to be the intermediate for you. Or did you? I understood the benefit of legal ordination if I wanted to officiate weddings or be protected legally in a less-than-Witchcraft-friendly society, but that was simply playing the game of the government and getting fair and equal treatment. When I looked back, however, I realized that some of my most profound experiences were also facilitated by another priestess or priest or group. While the technique allowed me to have my own experience, their expertise in creating and holding the space for it, guiding the process, was invaluable. I wasn’t one of those Pagans who picked up a book and was good to go. I questioned. I rebelled. I thought things were silly. I needed to see it in in action. I needed to talk to people. I needed understanding. Some was provided by mentors and friends. A lot of it was done in a “professional” education setting with a very experienced teacher. I paid for it, and certainly got my money’s worth as they more than fulfilled what I was expecting. So while I was my own priest, I did gain benefit from other priestesses and priests acting as teachers and ritualists. Did many other profound experiences happen when I was alone or in a small group? Absolutely, but the pattern demonstrated by others helped me facilitate those experiences for myself.

My main vocation, as I see myself as a professional Witch, is educator, and for me that means the education of experience, not just the textbook. The start of my path was with my matron goddess asking me to teach more, as people in our once-a-month book group clamored for formal “lessons,” and I refused. When I gave in to her request, three days later I lost my day job, and the only inner world guidance I got was “now you have more time to teach.” Thankfully they did not clear away my relationships to create time and space, just my job, which I had been unwilling to admit had run its course. My first teachers provided information and structure to support direct experience, and a progression of ideas through a pattern. I endeavored to do the same, and what started as simple classes in technique evolved into a system, community, and then magickal tradition.

While it is controversial for many to charge for teaching, as some take vows to never charge, my own teachers charged for classes, and I appreciated the academic setting of a syllabus and an agreement that the following topics and experiences would be covered in a specific time frame. As several friends of mine in other forms of Witchcraft will often joke with me, “one way or another you pay,” so it is best to know the literal cost up front, rather than pay in emotional servitude or blind loyalty. The coven can often become an unhealthy substitution for the family, and the magickal sense of spiritual frater and soror—the sister-brother-other-hood we share as practitioners—gets warped into unresolved family dynamics with projections of parent and sibling issues. For good or for ill (and I am not particularly a Harry Potter fan), the idea of a school of magick and Witchcraft has caught the imagination of practitioners, and there is something to be said about the clear boundaries of an academic model to help minimize favoritism and absolute hierarchical authority from a potentially abusive High Priest/ess.

As I’ve seen Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft grow by leaps and bounds over a few short decades, the community has changed. I love that things are more accessible to seekers and deeper education and resources available for the more experienced, but the basic network of teaching covens has become the minority, with all other forms of magick and Paganism that do not work in that structure bursting forth. Previously a “minister” ministered to their own coven or local tradition-mates. Now we were getting more requests for aid outside of that immediate circle of practitioners, along the lines of traditional ministers—weddings, funerals, hospital visits, pastoral care, social service advocacy, legal support, and prison visits. Those who are Pagan but outside of a coven or group were seeking visible teachers for help, and we gave it and continue to give it, while lacking the resources and support that traditional mainstream religion ministers often have.

Churches with weekly donations from congregants provide salaries, insurance, and often housing for clergy, providing support for the clergy to spend long hours doing vigils in hospitals and providing visits and pastoral support. The modern Witch has to work these commitments into their schedule, if they so choose to serve in this way, between full-time day jobs, paying gigs, and side hustles to make ends meet. One might say it is not the job of occult priest/esses to perform such work, that people should have their own networks of family and friends for support, but the general community of Witchcraft calls to outsiders who lack such support networks. Our occult theology of interconnectiveness and interdependence, along with a sense of compassion and social justice, often moves us to take this work regardless.

Beyond what many consider traditional ministry are the classic services of the professional Witch, such as one-on-one psychic readings via Tarot, runes, astrology, or any other divination method. While pure psychics simply tell you what they perceive, those who come to a Witch are often looking for further solutions to difficult times, and then the session will morph into spell consultations or magickal work. Some Witches will do spells for clients, and others will not. Between the two, I will teach a client how to do a spell, set up all the parts, and guide them through the process, but they must be involved. I won’t just do it for them. That is my rule of engagement and empowerment. But many are trained in traditions and cultures that you are doing the work as a part of the service. I paid a lot of my way through college doing psychic parties and spell consultations. While not a lavish lifestyle, it kept me going while pursuing both my magick and music.

Many professional Witches have training in healing modalities, new and old, including energy work, crystal healing, body work, hands-on energy healing, and medicinal herbalism. These services have collectively become for me the work of the modern cunning Witch, providing services in the cottage at the end of the village. I’ve had many people, both in and out of the Pagan community, seek my services, often as a last resort. Sometimes you are the miracle solution and sometimes you are the one to hold their hand at the hospital deathbed until they pass. Personally, I’ve been aided by nontraditional healers when modern medicine was stumped. While I don’t discount modern medicine, in some situations sorcerous answers are required for sorcerous people.

Others, not liking such one-on-one service, will resonate more with commerce. They will handcraft magickal items—things like potions, talismans, jewelry, and art—and use today’s technology to sell online or vend at fairs and smaller specialized events, often focusing upon the Pagan and metaphysical communities. In times past, the variation of the occult or Witch shop in every town was the access point for supplies, networking, and community, and would carry not only the nationally known magickal staples, but also local handcrafted specialty items. Readers, healers, and teachers would gather at such sites and provide their services. Sadly, as more offerings become available online and find support in the mainstream, such places are valued less and are disappearing due to lack of interest and often poor management, unable to compete in this day without updates to the business model.

All of this sounds wonderful, fun, and easy, right? No, not usually. While the successful might make it look easy—and due to online wonders many people who are not successful give the illusion of success—every successful full-time metaphysical practitioner I know has had moments where we are envious of those who get a steady paycheck, paid health insurance, sick days, and vacation time. Like many of the self-employed, we joke about working half days only—pick any twelve hours from a given day, and that is your “half” day to work. Along with providing these services, we usually have to be our own promoters, publicists, accountants, business managers, travel agents, sales department, order fulfillment, and negotiators.

So I’m always a little leery when someone declares they wish to be a professional Witch, despite being one myself. Most I know didn’t want to be and would have probably done anything else if they could, but their own temperament, soul, and will guided them here. In her book Fire Child, elder and high priestess Maxine Sanders says, “We sacrifice the ordinary in exchange for the extraordinary.” And it is true. People focus upon the extraordinary aspect, which can be wonderful, but don’t realize the sacrifices. It can put you out of synch with the rest of the world, your family, and friends, and requires a tremendous amount of effort, energy, and life force. While many of us can truly choose no other way, we can be wistful watching those who do not bear the burdens of the work. Speaking with elder Ivo Dominguez, during one of my infrequent bouts of melancholy, he quoted the traditional initiation rites “neither bound nor free.” I have an extraordinary amount of seeming freedom and flexibility compared to many people in traditional jobs, but I’m not free of the many structures unseen and unknown to most people who only see the “easy” part of the job of the full-time Witch.

I fear many seek it out because it looks glamorous from the outside. They have an illusion of living in a wonderful world of movie magick, not understanding the real-world business skills behind it. Those who do this work rarely talk about the challenges and pitfalls beyond their peers, and we can make it look easy and glamorous. Many are seeking some mythical illusion of what they think it means to be a Witch full-time. Most full-time Witches I know are spiritually aware full time, but still work in the so-called ordinary world.

I fear some seek it out because they’re lazy, and simply just don’t like working a day gig. They see a fraction of the work and think, “I can do that, easy.” I fear that some are motivated by fame, a desire to have people take themselves seriously as an authority, or the perception of easy money. In my experience, none of these things are what they appear to be from the outside. The more famous I’ve become, the less famous I’ve wanted to be, putting the emphasis on the teaching and community, rather than my name, image, or personality. While my agreement with my matron many years ago was to not suffer for lack of money, it’s not been easy money and often requires great financial juggling.

And I fear that in encouraging people to both be their own priest/esses, as I was, and to serve, as my teachers encouraged me, I’ve encouraged too many to think they must emulate the path I’ve been called to, to be a full-time Witch as teacher, ritualist, healer, reader, and minister. I’ve had many a conversation with amazing members of the community apologizing for not choosing to be a professional Witch like me, that they like their job, or need to have a stable source of income for their family and can’t drop everything to do Witchcraft full-time. I’d like to see more “professionals” in the Craft, not necessarily Professional Witches, but rather those accomplished in their own chosen vocations. I am warmed to see those magickal beings successfully fulfill their vocations, and bring magick into other areas of the world, even if only by their very presence as a practitioner. We have doctors who have moved into holistic medicine, lawyers who do social work, farmers, artists, business managers, home makers, cashiers, all bringing magick to their vocation in our Temple

I’ve had others desperately push their “brand” and use a lot of words and pictures to say not much at all, but say it with style. My only desire is to have each Witch fulfill their own Will, in their own way, in their own style, with their own magick, to create the life that is correct for them. Do I encourage service? Yes. We created the Temple to offer many means of support for service that didn’t require you to be a professional Witch. It’s certainly not for everyone. Some are great community organizers and administrators behind the scenes. They are needed just as much, if not more, than another Witchcraft personality.

Usually there will be some form of call to service, and most go through a process of reluctant acceptance, as in the Hero’s Journey, which is both wrestling with fear and with ego. The fear is about not being good enough and the ego is often about not being seduced by the call for harmful reasons. Usually there will be some acceptance of your peers working at this new level that will help bolster self-esteem and check your ego. It can be too easy to believe your own press and lose perspective. The potential peer group often looks askance at the individual who wants so badly to simply have it, rather than to serve. Some who seek to set themselves up as leaders and teachers are immediately rejected by their community or discouraged by their past teachers and mentors. Those who can explore this can often find a place of service, but sadly, a few will ignore it and go on to create inherently toxic forms of community and service.

So you want to be a professional Witch? Why? Are you sure? What are you seeking? What are you offering? Be clear in your motivations and be true to your deepest self. You can be anything you want, but whatever that is, be in alignment with your soul’s will and true heart’s desire.

Soul of the Earth

by Naphana

I walk forward on my path.
Though the path takes twists and turns,
It’s all there for a reason.
Straight, Bent, Crooked
Step to step
Heartbeat to heartbeat
Breath to breath 
I walk with my guides and guardians
Along this path we call Life.
There are whispers all around us 
From far without 
To deep within.
I look to the spirits around me. 
I’m a soul of the earth,
Connected through 
Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.
Take a breath and you will see 
we are all connected eternally.

Naphana is a graduate of WC1 currently enrolled in WC2. She has also completed the TOW Wheel of the Year class and the TOW Astrology class. She loves poetry, writing, and photography, and is looking forward to her continued studies.

Join Us at PantheaCon 2017!

Ministers of the Temple of Witchcraft, including founders Christopher Penczak and Adam Sartwell and High Priestess Alix Wright, will be offering classes at PantheaCon in San Jose, CA, this coming weekend (February 17–20). Additionally, the Temple will be hosting an evening hospitality suite at the convention. Stop by for more information on the Temple, the work we do, and classes and services we offer. A complete schedule of events and hours will be posted on the door.

The hospitality suite will be open Friday and Saturday from 7:00 pm to 12:00 am, and Sunday from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm (Temple members only from 7:00 to 9:00 on Sunday).

Friday

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Shielding and Protection Magick Ritual

8:00 pm  – 9:00 pm:  Invocations of the Three Rays of Witchcraft

9:00 pm – 12:00 am: Open Social Time with refreshments

Saturday

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm: Movie Night with the Temple!

10:00 pm – 12:00 am: Open Social Time with refreshments

Sunday

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Private Event for Temple members and students only

9:00 pm – 11:00 pm: Open Social Time with refreshments

Shawl Stories: Jess

The Temple’s Shawl Ministry offers gifts of comfort, healing, and love, and sometimes we hear back from those who have received them and they share their stories with us, and allow us to share them with you. This Shawl Story comes from Jess:

I am a practising Buddhist of diverse origins: my ancestors come from Iceland, Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Norway, and Moldova (among others). I grew up the great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter of immigrants from whom I learned about my family history. While in some cases they came to the US simply to seek a better life, many of my family came to escape persecution by the Ottoman Turks and rising Communist Party. The ones who came here were the lucky ones—when one of my great-great-grandfathers returned to Poland and Ukraine after World War II to look for his father and other relatives, not only did he learn that they had been victims of genocide, but that even the location of their graves had been obliterated, “plowed up”. Another great-grandfather lost most of his family to the Greek Genocide, and precious little survives about his family from their village in Turkey (they were Ottoman Greek). Yet another great-grandfather lost several relatives under Stalinist rule.

Despite this, my family has always embraced a positive, loving, and compassionate outlook. I was privileged to be able to know four of my great-grandparents growing up, as well as my grandparents. Most of my great-grandparents lived to be between 100-103 years old, and most of my grandparents survived well into their 90s. My last surviving grandfather passed away this January (2016). I had an especially strong connection to my Baba (passed away 2002, age 100); she sent me items that had belonged to some of my ancestors.

I had heard about the Temple of Witchcraft’s Shawl Ministry through various sources—as a knitter and crocheter myself, I am always so happy to see these skills used as a medium for transmitting healing and blessings to all those in need. I wanted to mark this passing of my last surviving grandparent with something special. I wanted to have something to wear in their memory when I lit candles to them in our local Orthodox Church. Although not Orthodox myself, I like to honour my ancestors who were in this way, as it gives me a powerful way to connect with them and honour that part of my heritage. In a way, the shawl would also serve as my way of remembering all of my ancestors and relatives who did not make it to the U.S., and for whom precious little information survives. I kept trying to make a shawl myself, but it just didn’t seem right—so many obstacles cropped up. I kept coming back to the Shawl Ministry. I was being guided in this direction, so I followed the guidance.

When the package containing the shawl arrived, with the card and candle, I cried with joy. The energy was so palpable—pure love and healing! I wrapped myself in it immediately! During my daily evening Tara practices, I lit the votive. Such warmth filled the room! I wish I could be more descriptive, but words fail! I found a card to colour to send to the ministry as a “thank you”. My recently departed grandfather had been an artist in this life, so I felt like, in a way, he was sharing his energy through my colouring the card.

I wear my shawl during the monthly Buddha days and four major Buddhist holy days, when doing puja at home or in the gompa; I will be wearing it again when my husband and I visit our local Orthodox church to light a candle for deceased family this week. Love transcends the boundaries we create, as does compassion, and the energy of loving kindness and compassion in the shawls made by the Shawl Ministry are a remarkable gift that can be shared with everyone. Just by wearing my shawl around others, I have seen their energies lift, and their mood become more positive. So wonderful!

I am glad, so glad, that I heeded that voice that encouraged me to write to the Shawl Ministry and request a shawl. Through this gift of kindness, I have been able to share healing with others, making this gift more meaningful than words can express. Thank you to the Cancer Ministry of the Temple of Witchcraft—may all your prayers and aspirations be achieved!

Have a story of the shawl ministry you would like to share with us and our community? Please email silver@templeofwitchcraft.org.

Temple of Witchcraft to Add Sabbat Rituals in Hartford, CT

On December 10, 2016, the Temple of Witchcraft will begin offering Sabbat rituals in Hartford, Connecticut, starting with a celebration of Yule. Lead by High Priests Jameson Ford and Ryan Cucchi, along with Priest and Witchcraft V student Dan Lupacchino, this will be the first of an ongoing series of Sabbats held in the state.

The Connecticut rituals will provide easier access to Sabbats for Temple members and the broader pagan community in southern New England, and will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartford. For more information about the upcoming Yule event or to register, click here.

Temple Sabbats are open to the public. Temple members and Mystery School students in the area are encouraged to attend, volunteer, and participate. Please contact Jameson at jford@templeofwitchcraft.org with any questions.

Temple Profile Pages

As the Temple of Witchcraft has grown, spreading roots and branches across the country and around the world, we want our growing community to be able to know who we are—and, in many cases where we are.

Towards that end, we offer our newly organized profile pages, which can be found under the About menu of our site (or by clicking the link in this article). When you investigate, you’ll see the profiles can be sorted using a drop-down menu in the upper right corner. Categories include our various ministries, as well as ministers, deputies, our board of directors, and ordained Temple ministers as well as teachers in our Mystery School. Additionally, the Mystery School Teachers and Ordained Ministers categories offer the opportunity to further sort the profiles by state in the United States, so you can find the Temple ministers and teachers nearest you.

We hope the community will find this resource useful and we’ll continue to add to it as the ranks of the Temple’s ordained ministers and teachers continue to grow.

Round About the Cauldron Go

A monthly musing of Kitchen Witchery

cauldron-and-gourds

Autumn blessings to all of you! (well, if you are on this side of the Equator). I wanted to start off by thanking all of you who attended our last ritual. The amount of food that was brought to our post-ritual potluck was impressive to say the least. This awesome spread led me to this month’s topic: Potluck Pointers. I also think it is an excellent time to post about this with the holiday season approaching. Most us will get invites to family and work gatherings, and these tips might be helpful.

Make what you like

If you are anything like me, you try to be as inclusive with your menu choices as possible when hosting a dinner party or attending a pot luck. It is good to be thoughtful, but it is just as important to make a dish that you would enjoy. There is a chance that some of it will be coming home with you. If you make a dish you love, you can use it for work lunches or as a side to your evening meal the next day.

Variety is the spice of life

Most of us lean towards veggie platters and dessert. They are easy and really yummy.  When attending a potluck, it is good to check in with the host, or in the Temple’s case, read over the potluck guide. We post a guide based on your last name in the ritual announcement. When you pop on to preregister, take a glance over it and see what category is recommended. When in doubt, a beverage is good. Also simplicity rules. Dressed greens,  a grain, or a veggie side are always winners.

No muss no fuss

Make serving and clean up as simple as possible. Think about how people will be eating your dish. If you made a soup, consider bringing bowls. If you made a roast or a large casserole, slicing it can help when it comes to serving time. The same goes for your famous oven-fresh bread. Cut it up and place in a bowl before the event. Your host will thank you. This will also make it easier when it comes to breakdown and clean-up. Remember to claim your leftovers and dish before heading out. We can occasionally get people to take remaining items with them, but it would help your hosts tremendously if you could take it with you or find it a home before you leave.

Carry in. Carry out.

If you are a camper, you are familiar with this saying. When planning your potluck contribution, think about the container and serving utensils. When possible, use a piece of tape or a tag with your name on it to make sure you are  able to track down your items. The host (or in this case, the Temple) doesn’t necessarily have the space to store serving vessels and utensils. We also are very conscious of the amount of waste we produce and would prefer not to throw out a number of disposable containers. When you do bring a reusable container, we do our best to return it to you clean, but no promises.

Location, location, location

Just like in the outside world, real estate is precious and most places you go will have limited electrical outlet and oven or refrigerator space.  I generally try and think of a dish that would be okay to be served at room temperature if needed. If you do decide to bring a crock pot, I recommend bringing a power strip as well. That way you can help your hosts extend their space. Remember to label it so you can get it back.

Fingers or fork?

Finger foods are great, but when making them, consider the amount of space they need for serving. Can they be stacked? Even though they are finger food, does their size or shape allow them to be picked up with spatula or tongs? When large groups of people are eating, it is a bit more sanitary to use a serving utensil even with finger foods.

Timing is everything

Potlucks seems like a very easy way to host a meal or gathering, but even potlucks have their logistical issues. Some of them we have mentioned above. Another is timing. Whenever possible, drop off  your dish in advance. Also wait until the designated time or announcement is made to start eating (yes, even the dish you brought). We know you worked hard and we thank you. We also know you are starving and the selection looks SOOO amazing, but it is considerate to wait until everyone is ready to eat. In our case, we usually give those who have led ritual a chance to recoup their energy and ground by getting a bite to eat first. We also know that you are going to want to thank them and chat about your experience. Allowing them to have full bellies and to return to a mundane mindset will allow them to be present.

Go Green

Since environmental sustainability is an important initiative for the Temple, we are trying to create as little waste as possible. By bringing a dish in a container that you will take home afterward, you are helping the Temple limit what ends up in our landfills. If you can go the extra step and bring your own eating dishes and cutlery, that’s even better!

Breathe easy

If you are like me, you have a few people in your close circle who have food allergies. The reality is that the number of people who have them is growing. Because of this, it is a good idea to label your dishes and list the ingredients. At our rituals, we have labels available for you if you forget. I personally also try to avoid the big ones like shellfish and nuts when I plan my dish.  Labeling also helps our friends who have removed items from their diets such as meat, soy,  gluten, or dairy for health, ethical, or other reasons.

Now don’t panic. I can tell you from personal experience that anyone who hosts a potluck is grateful for whatever your contribution is. Please don’t let this list cause you any stress or prevent you from bringing a dish to your next potluck. These are just some things to consider while planning for your next event.

Again thank you all so much for your contributions.

Samhain Blessings,
Ryan

corn

Ryan is an ordained Minister, Seminary Graduate of the Temple of Witchcraft & Deputy Minister of the Cancer Ministry. Ryan is passionate about Kitchen Witchery, the creatures of the Green World, working with Plant Spirits & making magick in daily life. Crafting herbal infusions, candles, and sacred tools, Ryan is co-creator of Drops of Three. You may visit his website at www.dropsofthree.storenvy.com.

Save

Save

Save

Meet Stevie Grant, Dean of Students

Stevie Grant, a high priestess and ordained minister of the Temple of Witchcraft, is Dean of Students of its Mystery School and Seminary. Also a high priestess in another tradition, she brings knowledge from her career in psychology and many years of experience as a teacher of the psychic and metaphysical, a healer, spiritual counselor, and Reiki master to her work with the Temple. A retired university professor and clinical psychologist, Stevie was active for many years in the academic subfields of hypnosis, past-life therapy, and women’s studies. Stevie lives in the southeastern part of Washington state, and to balance her role as Dean, enjoys meditating in her garden where she and her husband grow herbs and exotic hard-shelled gourds that they transform into magically-inspired art. [continue reading…]

Myths & Maidens Ritual Series

AurielleThe Ritual Series, sponsored by Myths and Maidens and The Temple of Witchcraft, provides opportunities for all people regardless of faith to explore their spirituality and to encourage ecumenical collaboration with other spiritual groups. There is no cost to attend, but voluntary donations are welcomed to help defray the costs of preparing and performing the rituals.

High Priestess Aurielle Nazro has performed rituals at Myths and Maidens since 2007 with the assistance of the Ritual Team. Rev. Aurielle is Deputy Minister of the Pisces Ministry of the Temple of Witchcraft, initiated in the Temple Tradition by Christopher Penczak, and an Ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church. Aurielle, a chemistry teacher at a local high school, has served on the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai Faith of Nashua, on the Board of Nashua Area Interfaith Council and the Board of Uncannunuc CUUPS of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester. She has followed the Mystic’s Path all of her life and her Ministry is to help others experience the Call of the Divine Spirit.

To help make the events inclusive, members of the Ritual Team change for each ritual to include different people in the community and encourage participation of various local spiritual groups. To receive information and updates on the Rituals and other events, please visit Aurielle’s Ritual Series on Facebook or see the Temple’s online events calendar.

Profile: Tina Whittle, editor

Me with azaleas editMerry meet! I’m a Witchcraft V graduate of the online mystery school, one of the Temple’s Southernmost members (I currently live in the Lowcountry of Georgia, along the Atlantic coast near Savannah). In my nine-to-five, I’m a mystery writer (my fifth book was released in March) and I also serve as co-editor of The Temple Bell, along with the astute and talented Raye Snover. When I’m not making words out of thin air, I enjoy playing golf and eating sushi and reading tarot for myself and others (you can read about that work at my tarot blog, which focuses on using the tarot as a creative tool, especially for writers). I’m also a non-fiction writer, currently working on a book of collected essays exploring the Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck as a series of pilgrimages.

My religious path began in a white clapboard Primitive Baptist church in rural Georgia, where I learned the concept of unconditional divine love. I also learned how to be a heretic, although my mother recoils at that notion. Eventually the restrictions of that faith set me looking in new directions, leading me eventually to the local Unitarian Universalist fellowship, where I got the first inkling that I might be a Pagan. The UUs were cool with that.

I’m also a former academic, so my first impulse at this point was to do a lot of reading. One of the books I picked up was Christopher Penczak’s Inner Temple of Witchcraft. My intellect was impressed with the impeccable research, but it was my heart that kept me reading. I felt as if I were coming home, a phrase I hear often from other Temple members. The teachings were more than information; they were a framework for me to explore my own talents and strengths, to ask the questions that would help me understand my beliefs and create a sustainable practice. And that was just in the first book!

I signed up for the Witchcraft I weekend intensive taught by Christopher, and I was happy to find the materials from the book deepened and intensified as we worked one-on-one with each other and with him. I applied for the Mystery School the second I got home, which has turned out to be one of the most profoundly rewarding decisions of my life.

Another thing I’ve often heard Temple members say is, “After a while you stop doing magick and start being magick.” That’s the process I’m in right now, dissolving that separation between the mundane and the magickal and realizing that everything I do is sacred. For me, ritual – whether solitary or with others, whether improvised while cooking dinner or organized for a sabbat – is simply a way of bringing my full attention to that understanding.

It’s an understanding I’ll be bringing with me to UU Womenspirit (a women’s group organized through the Unitarian Universalist church that explores the divine feminine). They have invited me to be on the planning committee for their fall retreat, which means I’ll be in charge of designing and leading worship for the six circles offered during the five-day gathering. And since the worship leaders get to choose the “flavor” of the circles, my co-leader and I are creating something very witchy.

After that, I don’t know! And for a very Virgo Virgo like me, not knowing is the greatest adventure of all. As soon as my travel schedule opens up again, I want to attend Templefest and participate in some of the retreats offered through the Temple. And I want to keep connecting with new members of the Temple – I am excited to see so many talented and lovely witches coming together under our beautiful umbrella.

X