Student Spotlight: Karen Ainsworth

KarenThis edition of the Student Spotlight brings us Karen Ainsworth, a Witchcraft Two graduate from England, soon be be enrolled in Witchcraft Three through the Temple’s Online Mystery School. Karen’s mentor, Irma Hackett, had this to say about her: “I have had the honor, the pleasure and the blessing of mentoring Karen during her TOW studies both in Witchcraft One and Witchcraft Two. Karen has a way of jumping right in without holding anything back and giving each exercise her all. She takes every opportunity to look for ways to apply the lessons in her daily life to benefit both herself and  others. As a result she is not only fully engaged in the study of magick, she is always looking to expand her foundation in ways that will support her future as she builds a magickal life. Karen’s enthusiasm in her studies has afforded me the opportunity to see each of our lessons through new eyes and a different perspective. This has allowed me to go even deeper in my own personal studies and see old lessons in a new and deeper light.”

Congratulations, Karen! Thank you for sharing your story with The Temple Bell.

Tell us a little about yourself, please.

I first met Christopher in 2011 when The Temple went on the pilgrimage to Glastonbury. I live in the North of England and adore Glastonbury, which is only four hours’ drive away. I’d heard about the trip from one of Christopher’s newsletters, and having read and loved so many of his books, contacted him to see if he would be doing any public classes. Imagine my delight when not only did he say, yes, I could join the group for several evening classes, but also that I could also join them for their ritual for the Ancestors of Stonehenge during the private access they had to go within the stones! To say this was my first formal ritual ever, wow, just wow!

I haven’t always followed a pagan path. Born into a family dominated by strict church-going grandparents, first Baptist then Methodist, my childhood years through to my late teens were somewhat of a challenge when it came to religion. At seventeen (when my mum died), I decided I was done with religion altogether and would claim to be an atheist if ever asked. Then around ten years ago, my daughter led us to the path of Wicca and for this, I will always be grateful.

What class are you currently taking with the Temple?

I’m currently finishing Witchcraft Two and looking forward to Witchcraft Three. I can’t recommend the classes highly enough to anyone thinking of joining. You do have to put some real work and effort in, but with that comes the discipline and the merging of your mundane and magickal lives. I love that you will never hear Christopher say “you must do this or you must do that.” He will tell you several different options, which ones have worked best for him, and then you’re empowered to find the best way for you.

Witchcraft One was very much about the history and the basics of the Craft and it was a time when I made many amazing connections and friendships with fellow students and ministers.

Witchcraft Two has been my favorite so far and has enriched my practice and life beyond words. Building on the solid foundations of Witchcraft One, to be confident in writing and performing rituals and sharing that knowledge with others is so rewarding. The Temple does offer those with previous experience the opportunity to test-out of the earlier years, but I would recommend beginning at the beginning as the ongoing classes build on everything learnt in The Inner Temple.

I adore the monthly audio classes and listen to them many times, once while sitting quietly and making notes and joining in with the meditations, and then at other times, perhaps if I can’t sleep or have a stack of ironing to do. It’s very satisfying to stamp out those creases with a “So Mote It Be!”

Most importantly, my mentor, Irma, has been truly fantastic. Sharing spiritual and lifetime experiences is a very personal thing, but the ease and openness of our relationship has meant we’ve been able to share so much together. As well as her monthly feedback on my assignments, we share many email discussions about all sorts of topics, and she has encouraged and supported me no end. Irma is now a dear friend I will treasure always. I think it’s important to remember that Temple mentors are volunteers and that they too have their own classwork to do, so much respect and thanks to them all for finding the time that is so precious to all students.

What drew you to the Temple’s mystery school?

Before joining the Temple in 2011, I’d been searching for some time for the right path for me. I’d completed a number of distance diplomas with The British School of Yoga, such as Crystal Healing, Incense and Magical Oils, and Magical Herbalism. They were all very much based on Scott Cunningham’s work and gave me a good foundation, but they weren’t enough. I also took my Reiki attunements, Level One through to Master.

A friend of mine who is a Druid then recommended joining The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) and said if I ever had the opportunity to go to a retreat called Cae Mabon in Wales, I should go. So I joined OBOD in early 2011, and while their teachings are wonderful, it was a once again a pretty solitary, do-it-yourself experience and not what I was looking for.

So when I met Christopher and everyone else on the Glastonbury trip, I knew I had come home. I knew I had found the path I had been searching for, and it felt so right on so many levels. Everyone was genuinely welcoming and friendly, and the classes were amazing; I didn’t want them to end. As soon as I knew online classes were available, I signed up straight away. The Temple community is amazing, from the student notice boards, Facebook groups and the website, to the wonderful mentors and cherished friends that I now have around the world, friends that I know will be with me for a lifetime.

How do you use what you’ve learned in your daily life?

It’s been fascinating how, as the time has gone by, I no longer have to make the effort to incorporate the two; the magickal will always blend with the mundane. Why just make a cake when you can make an enchanted cake? Fill it with love, stir deosil, better still, stir in some healing Reiki symbols or an infinity symbol for never-ending prosperity. Perhaps add a splash of a tincture or two, some sun or some moon energy, some herbs you have grown yourself, and decorate of course with sparkly faery glitter while you make a wish. The possibilities are endless.

I love to use essential oils and herbs in body spritzers, salt scrubs, and all manner of toiletries. And I love to craft herbal charm bags and make incense.

It is also a joy to share knowledge and experiences with others in the hope that if the path is right for them, they too will find enrichment in the Craft. It’s very important to me to be a good ambassador not only for the Craft, but especially for the Temple.

What’s next for you as a student/member of the Temple?

Of course Witchcraft Three awaits in April, and I’m very much looking forward to becoming a mentor myself. Living in England means I can’t get to Temple rituals and classes in New Hampshire, but I always do my utmost to help out in any other way I can and support their fundraisers. I’m hoping later in the year to be able to arrange an informal gathering of Temple students in the UK, although right now we seem small in numbers.

I was lucky enough to join the pilgrimage to Wales last August and could hardly believe it when we got to spend an evening at Cae Mabon, sharing stories around the fire in the roundhouse. If ever there was a sign! But for now I’m busy saving for their next trip to Scotland. If I don’t get to New Hampshire, I will definitely be there for my Witchcraft Five graduation. After that, whatever part I can play in the ministries, I will be doing with much pleasure. The Temple is part of my heart now, and I can’t ever imagine life without it.

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