Shopkeeper Sagas: Not All Who Wander are Lost

Originally published July 11, 2016 on Witch on Fire, click here.


Shopkeeper Sagas: Not All Who Wander are Lost, Part 1

If you are any flavor of pagan, or even P-curious, I bet you began your spiritual odyssey at the local metaphysical shop. These magickal places are where you can find new age and occult books, tarot cards, herbs you’ve only ever heard about in Harry Potter, crystals, arcane tools, candles, statues of the old golds, and shining silver jewelry with sigils that will confound and concern the neighbors. But, the most important thing you find in a shop like this is a sympathetic ear, and the straight answers to the hardest questions you’ve ever asked. These shops are the safe port in the storm for those of us who are dancing to that rhythm most folks can’t even hear.  If you had such a shop in your hometown when you needed it most, consider yourself very lucky.

Since 2008, I’ve owned and operated just such a place. Keeping these doors open and accessible is my sacred mission as a witch. I believe that the Powers-that-Be called me to do this work as a means of organizing the Pagan community here in eastern North Carolina specifically. I came here in 1995 for my BS degree, and moved away twice to pursue my career in Interior Design, but inevitably was lured back. There is an inescapable gravity to this place.

[Edit: At first, I wrote that this was a “gods-forsaken place,” but through the writing out of this story, I see that clearly the old gods have taken a very keen interest in this region. Not just through my work, but through many dedicated pagans over the last 20-30 years.]

The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions: 414 Evans Street, Greenville, NC. Equipping the path less traveled since 2009

The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions: 414 Evans Street, Greenville, NC. Equipping the path less traveled since 2009

The Sojourner has a prime location in the hip Uptown area near East Carolina University. We keep open hours 7 days a week right out here in plain view of Jesus and all of his sheep. Boy, oh boy, is that a TRIP!  The stories I will tell… Within a few blocks our neighbors include ECU, large churches, the mosque, yoga studios, Minority Voice Radio, African American clothiers for church vestments, hats, wigs and fancy dresses, several art galleries, an organic farm-to-table restaurant, tattoo and piercing parlors, a “gay bar” with the best drag shows, a Headshop for glass smoking paraphernalia, aaaaand a teacher’s educational supply store, just to name a few. FUN TIMES!

Uptown is a bizarre slice of society, and we get along on this street quite well! However, the town of Greenville is dead-center of the country doldrums between the cosmopolitan Research Triangle of Raleigh/Chapel Hill/Durham, and the quaint, bustling tourism of the coast. East Carolina University imports many sophisticated, progressive and intellectual people <ahem<like myself> ahem> who are awesome. However, Greenville is an island surrounded by the conservative, bible-thumping, Trump-supporting, creationism-believing, queer-fearing, Klan-sympathizing bigots who cling to an antebellum view of the world. (1)

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Interview with the East Carolinian Newspaper

WitchcraftWEB-TBI was honored to be interviewed for the East Carolinian Newspaper (my alma mater is ECU!) on the classes in Modern Witchcraft that I teach. If that wasn’t good enough, there I am scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and lo and behold, there is the link to the article shared through The Witches’ Voice!  So, I’m feeling just a touch famous right this moment <blush> and just a touch exposed, too! I can thank The Witches’ Voice as the source of contact that created the now vibrant pagan community in Eastern North Carolina. It was through them that I first found the other witches and pagans who would eventually become the circles and social networks that made all that we enjoy here today possible. All my love and gratitude goes out to those fine folks who run www.witchvox.com!

Needless to say, interviews with student writers at college papers can be a tricky thing, and this one was done over the phone while I simultaneously cashiered customers at the shop.  <sigh>  However,  I give Destiny Edwards props for her open-minded and unbiased approach to a topic often shunned in this region. There are a few things I would have preferred to be worded differently, but I think the general feel of the article will be beneficial, over-all.

For more information on those classes, see the “workshops” tab on this site.   For more information on The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions, the metaphysical shop I run, check us out on Facebook and www.thesojo.com.

What do you think about the article?  Go see it here:
http://theeastcarolinian.com/?p=33495

Blessed be!

I Am: A Memoir

Long ago,  in 2006, I think, I was asked to submit an article for a webzine column entitled “I am” wherein folks would share the story of how they found their pagan path, and how they define themselves within their practice.

For the launching of this new blog, I’ve been rethinking those questions and how the subsequent 8 years continued that story, for better and for worse.  At the time of the first writing I had only *just* finished my formal year and a day of studies, but had not yet approached the gates of initiation. Now that I peek into the viewpoint of my 2006 self I can honestly say that I was a wide-eyed infant lost in the woods with absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into.

Today, I remain…a Pisces, a daughter, a sovereign woman, and a single mother of two precocious and vibrant children. Since 2006, I have reestablished my independence (otherwise known as divorce); become a witch, priestess, teacher, clairvoyant, Reiki master,  mehndi artist and a business owner.  I am Divine!  I have identified as a pagan-seeker since 1992 at the age of 18.  I continue to recover from a Christian upbringing, but after many years of study and walking the spiral path I can now define myself as who I AM instead of who I am NOT–without apology.

My journey toward witchcraft started much like anyone else in the southeast US.  I was raised in the ordinary, middle-class, suburban, Southern Baptist sort of way in Taylors, South Carolina.   My childhood was fabulous; full of freedom and adventure, including a few years living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  However, my mom suffered a massive hemorrhage and near-death experience two weeks after the birth of my little sister.  She called out to Jesus to save her so that she could raise her children.  She would dedicate her life to his service if she lived, and live she did. That vow changed a lot of things…

Mom’s number one agenda became raising us in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.”  We were at the church for every class, service and event.  Thinking about the fine points of theology was hardly encouraged, but I had this annoying habit of resolutely disagreeing with our minister.  Picture a 7 year old actually *listening* to a fire and brimstone sermon and just knowing he had it all wrong, then arguing about it.  Despite being a small child I had a different truth, a stone foundation that was ancient, upon which my brand-new childlike house was sitting.

My whole life I’ve been “differently aware.”  When I first learned of reincarnation I had a eureka experience. I’d always remembered flashes and bits like another person’s memories.  I knew that somehow, just around that last bend in the road, I was an adult man. Occasionally, when going into public restrooms, I had to be reminded that I was a little girl.  There were times when I wouldn’t answer to my name as if it wasn’t mine at all and times when I’d catch my reflection and be startled. The deja-vu was so constant and over-powering that I’d lose track of whether it was past, present or future.

You can imagine the gender identity issues this would cause. I intimately understood being a man, a soldier in WWI. I remembered the fear, and adrenaline of warfare, reacting with PTSD-like behavior when triggered.  I had erotic dreams, that I now recognize as past-life recollection, about being with women. Yet, I liked being a little girl just fine, and had crushes on the boys. In the eighth grade, I confessed to a friend that I was afraid I might be a lesbian. She asked, “Do you like girls?” Well, no, not specifically.  “Then what makes you a lesbian?”  Good question!

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Almost 3 years old, and pretty happy about becoming a little girl.

Now that I have a clairvoyant practice of retrieving past-life information for others, I know that gender is a very temporal and fluctuating thing that can be explored flexibly; however, being raised in a church that tried to “pray away the gay,” you can imagine the sense of crises in which I was raised. Today I prefer the term, “heteroflexible” and I take a namaste approach; the Spirit in me, is attracted to (or not, as the case may be) the Spirit within you. Personally, I think the style of meat-suit people happen to be wearing should be of of far less consequence in matters of love. (1)

I also could see the material world as energy if I shifted focus. I see flashing, multicolored particles flowing and swirling and would lie in bed at night and practice moving the flow with my mind as a way to get to sleep at night.  I’ve also perceived the thoughts of those around me (telepathy), and I usually know who is on the phone just before it rings.  I see auras when someone is very emotional.  As a kid, I called them halos  and boy could our minister work up a bright “halo” when he was preaching that hellfire and damnation!

Starting in the 5th grade and going through early adolescence I suffered some very deep depression.  I was in existential turmoil, having rejected the hatefulness, bigotry and isolation taught me by my mother’s church.  But, if I wasn’t a christian, was I doomed?  In that black/white world of “with us or against us” I thought I had only two options: Christian or Atheist (Atheism=Devil, in that small world).  Yet, if there was no higher purpose to life, why bother?

At around thirteen years old, I lie in bed wide-awake one night when the room seemed particularly moonlit.  Clearly in my mind’s inner dialogue I admitted my worst adolescent fear: “There is no God. I am a freak. I am absolutely alone and this is all pointless.”  Immediately, my senses were arrested. I lost control of my body and was pressed into the bed as though the gravity of god-almighty was in the room. I was unable to move, heart beating like crazy; flooded with adrenaline, I became hyper-aware.  The room became 10 times brighter, filled with bluish moonlight, the silence screamed and my mind rang with the surety that I was NOT alone and I DID have a purpose to fulfill.  This did not come as a voice or in words and gave no clues to its identity, or gender.   I struggled against this force until I gave in and admitted, “OK, OK–Maybe there is a God!”

A quickly as it began, it was gone. I was released and all returned to normal.  Still panting and tingling, I looked around at the ordinary room with the ordinary darkness.  I moved my fingers and stretched. My rational mind kicked-in, skeptical. I thought, “That was weird. I’m losing it. God did NOT just speak to me.”

I am here to tell you that the whole thing repeated itself again twice as strong; I was taken hostage by my own body!  The moon light intensified once again and this time a voiceless scream was in my head.  I thought, “OK, OK, I believe!”  And it was all over, never to be repeated since.  Today I believe that the greatness of the Universe quickened within me, and spoke through my body and Spirit.   At the time, I thought I’d been “called” to christian ministry.  I was horror-struck.  I started running from that fate by way of binge drinking, partying, and non-christian behavior of all self-defeating kinds.  I do not regret those free-thinking, free-living days, but they were hardly pious.

I have this theory that I was being groomed for something specific: I modeled for years, learning poise and grace. I majored in creative writing at The Fine Arts Center, a special high school. In college, I extensively studied religion, anthropology, psychology, history, and writing for several years, before transferring to ECU for a BS in Interior Design, cognate in business, and a specialty in sustainable design. For the next 5 years I worked as a NCIDQ certified, professional Interior Designer, designing healthcare facilities for architecture firms in Raleigh and Houston.

But I digress…back when I’d been eighteen years old, I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s, The Mists of Avalon.  In this fictional Avalon, I found the goddess-centered lifestyle and spirituality that felt like home, but I assumed those ways were dead and trapped in a distant past.  Shortly thereafter I became friends with a Wiccan priest in my hometown.  He opened my world to neo-paganism.  He shared books with me and we talked in generalities, but despite my expressed interest, he remained very private about Wicca. A deep, familial love and spiritual intimacy  developed between us, but I was never invited to train with him or his coven and I still don’t know why, for sure…Perhaps it was the old Wiccan requirement that the seeker must ask for training 3 times and be denied, before being accepted. I didn’t know that.  That experience gave me to believe (wrongly) that Wiccan Witchcraft was a private club, and that I somehow did not qualify.

So, for the next 10 years I considered myself pagan, by philosophy only, and remained locked tightly in my broom closet with a stack of books.  I married a scientist who had no need for spirituality, nor a belief in spirit at all.  I was successful in a my career as an Interior Designer, while lurking on message boards for the pagan communities in Raleigh, Houston, and Charlotte.  Fear of what my family would think, or that I might be disregarded professionally, kept me mute. I once worked a block away from a metaphysical store that I walked past longingly every day, and yet not once stepped inside.

My daughter is born; A mother emerges2002Then in 2002, I gave birth to my daughter, just after my 28th birthday, just after my Saturn return began.  I’d spent weeks of bed rest cloistered with my books, Raven Grimassi’s Wiccan Mysteries, and Spiral Dance, by Starhawk. During the labor a recurring vision of the goddess pushing open the portal at the end of a long tunnel guided me.  I came face to face to the Mother of us all, and she looked me right in the eyes, turned as though to invite me to pass her, said “you are ready, come through,” then guided me through the rites of birth. I wanted an all-natural, right of passage to motherhood and I got it!  As I gave life to that baby, I called on strength within myself I’d never dreamed possible.  I was surrounded by all the ancestors of my line before me to one side, and after me to the other side. I knew that it was already done, therefore I could do it!  It was ecstatic!  It was a proving ground, and I emerged victorious!  I had a sense of belonging in the great creation of the Universe where I could be so small, but equally divine and powerful. I named my daughter from a word that means Victory!

After her birth, I overcame my fear and through Witchvox.com found a family coven in Charlotte.  As a seeker, I joined them for my first Midsummer Sabbat celebration.  Shortly afterward my husband and I relocated yet again.  I was devastated to arrive here in Greenville, NC, and find that (at the time) there were no pagan groups in town, very few individuals listed on-line, and certainly no training circles.  Well, no one who meant to be found, anyway.   A few days prior to Samhain, I grabbed the bull by the horns and started my own yahoo group called East NC Pagans and invited every local pagan who had a listing on witchvox within 100 miles.

I began to realize how different my spiritual needs were when I was eighteen compared to thirty years old.  My beliefs about deity ranged from wanting an ancient, monotheistic Goddess, to a godless Scientific Pantheism with many stops in between, but there was one defining moment that brought my spiritual journey full circle.

Again, I gave birth naturally to a huge and beautiful baby boy.  His birth was quick and perfect, but medical complications afterward caused an uncontrollable hemorrhage. This sent me on a panicked ER-style ride to a D&C procedure.  I signed consents for possible hysterectomy and parted from my stricken husband with a “take good care of my babies for me.”

I really thought my time in this life was over.  My blood pressure was so low it wouldn’t register on the automatic cuff. As they strapped me, still painfully conscious, to the table in crucifixion position, yelling for the physician to get in there NOW! I could FEEL the panic in the nurses’ voices shouted over me as they rushed to save my life. I stared up at the ceiling and thought to myself,   Here I am just like Mom was when she almost died with a toddler and new infant waiting for her.  Is there a higher power to call on?  Am I alone here?  Hellooo??”     I opened my heart to the void and listened…to silence…  I let go and put my fate in the hands of the medical team.

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My son is born, and I live to raise him!

Coming back from that was tough. I briefly handed over the moderator job of East NC Pagans to someone else and walked away from everything. But, I found that ignoring my own spirit wasn’t possible.   During the very slow beginnings of that group I renewed my study and visited open circles out of town. It took over a year before I could convince anyone on that board to meet me in public for coffee and conversation, then suddenly it was a break through, thanks to the good folks at the local Unitarian Universalist church. The community building  took off like wild fire! Over the next years the membership of East NC Pagans grew to almost 200 people with large monthly meet-ups, classes, and affiliated groups forming in different cities.
From East NC Pagans a circle of friends coalesced who were all seeking, as I was, and hungry for more.  Over beers one night, while bemoaning the lack of teachers in our areas, my dear friend Alice quoted the old Chinese proverb, “‘Tis better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness.”

*CLICK*

Profound gnosis hit me. The great cosmic “Clue by Four” knocked me for a loop. If we were going to grow, we had to take responsibility for ourselves.

By Yule of 2005, we’d formed a study group called Wisecraft Circle. It was a non-traditional, eclectic and egalitarian circle that used the published training guides by Christopher Penczak (2) and Timothy Roderick (3) as our curriculum (among a bunch of other reading we all liked.) We turned the wheel together one full cycle and began again at Imbolc with new friends, this time holding a covening and formalizing our organizational structure.  That was February 1(ish). March 9th my mother passed from this world, kicking off a period of intense awakening for me, guided directly by the Spirit of my mother.

Unfortunately, the “F” word, fundamentalism, reared its ugly head. Questions of legitimacy, authority, ego, and sexual tension killed that circle before it’s second summer solstice. I learned a lot about who I was and who I was NOT, and what NOT to do within group practice.

Midsummer night, the first ritual I'd written and lead for Wisecraft Study Circle.

Midsummer night, the first ritual I’d written and lead for Wisecraft Study Circle.

Nevertheless, I’d dedicated to a year and a day of study in Witchcraft and had some amazing things open up for me.  My awareness expanded, I called and felt the presence of the Divine; become the conduit for Reiki healing energy; inadvertently began astral projecting in my sleep; and the bloom of my psychic ability opened. I experienced spiritual ecstasy that brought me to my knees, and learned to write and lead rituals for the community that expanded that transformative opportunity to others.

The second turning with Wisecraft, I’d dedicated to working with the element of Fire. Nothing touched by fire stays the same and all you can do is surrender to that tempering power. What did not serve my highest good, all that hindered my growth, was burned away: abusive relationships reached their pique so that I was forced to confront them; my mother passed away; the circle disintegrated with all manner of pyrotechnic, ego-spanking emotion; my marriage hit the skids; I had my heart broken by the dashing of old dreams…all by August. However, as I emerged from those fires, my resolve to live authentically outside the broom closet, and with the dignity and self-respect my mother had instilled within me, was honed to a razors edge.

Let me repeat: with the guidance of my fundamentalist, evangelical, ultra-conservative mother’s spirit, I realized the lessons she’d taught me to be the “peculiar people;” to let my “little light shine, not hide it under a bush,” to be a WITNESS for the Divine light within me, and that I deserved to be treated with love and respect by my partner. (4)  By November, I announced my decision to open The Sojourner and the wheels of business development went into high gear.

The SojournerAfter much betrayal, an emotional gauntlet through the burning wreckage of my marriage, the sale of two pieces of real estate in a depressed market, two families moving, the collection of life insurance money from my mother’s estate, false starts, re-imaginings at the last hour, and over a year to secure a location, The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions was opened to the public on March 28th, 2009. It took immense effort, sacrifice, generous investment by our families, and hard work by many dear friends and partners without any appreciable form of monetary compensation for years. That first day we were open, pagans and muggles alike arrived by the car-load from great distances and damn near cleaned us out!  Lady Sojo is an entity in her own right, and I’m honored to be her care-taker.

As of 2014, we’ve now been open for 5 years, hanging in there despite a lousy economy, and I am now teaching the 5th full year of Modern Witchcraft students, in a program I created based on the books and experiences born of my time with Wisecraft Circle.  From those who’ve completed the training and taken self-initiation, The Sojo Circle formed, and is still a wondrous tribe of beautiful, loving Witches.  A second affiliated training circle now operates out of the Raleigh area concurrently, using this same curriculum.

I’ve passed through many more gates of initiation and taken service to Spirit as Their priestess. My sacred commission, given to me directly through another of my “burning bush” moments, was to be the light-house, shining brightly so that all people may know where to have their spiritual understandings validated; where seekers of enlightenment find an open, safe, welcoming, and responsible training ground on Main Street USA, not a “private club” shrouded in secrecy and bigotry in some hidden basement.

2014It is my belief that I was chosen and groomed by Spirit through a wandering path, to become a public face and voice, (hopefully a respectable and trustworthy one) with the resources, poise, skills, and wherewithal to build a beneficial environment for all followers of the less-traveled paths to flourish in eastern NC.  So, here I find myself today in 2014.

*pause*

As I reread the above I realize how much Personal Ego seems laced within these revelations. I put that pride in the scales of balance, and on the other side, I place the pant-wetting fear, the loss of some of my dearest relationships, the humiliation and heart-break, not to mention the repeated ego-spankings from those I loved the most, that it took to bring me to this re-balanced place.

Nope, I’m OK.

I am grateful, now, for this balance, though I’ve been the brat who wanted to break all the toys and storm home. I did learn from the losses, and am quite proud to report that I am NOT an alcoholic, NOT waned to nonexistence from grief, NOT bankrupt, and NOT in an abusive relationship, but it was a pretty slim victory over those forces of fear. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Here was the prayer I first uttered as my dedication back in 2005:

Spirit! Great Weaver of all things, I seek to know your nature. Ignite within me your fires; wash me clean of doubt; blow my mind. I dance to your rhythms with earthen shoes and the starry heavens tangled in my hair. Show me the way! As I will, it is so. Blessed be.

(1) Hindu scripture recognizes this emergence of a LGBT “third gender” as an evolutionary progression that is sacred. Native Americans revered homosexuals as shamans, calling them “Two-Spirit.”

(2) The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak

(3) Wicca: A Year and a Day in the Craft of the Wise by Timothy Roderick

(4) No doubt the subject of an upcoming blog

The Thorny Path of the Public Witch: Stopping to Smell the Roses

Roses bleed thorns by Angelicscreams

Back in April of 2014, I was honored to lecture at Pitt Community College within two World Religion classes on the subject of neo-paganism and Modern Witchcraft. I’ve done this once or twice a semester for several professors in recent years. I also was privileged to be part of a discussion panel on the intersection of LGBT issues, gender identity, and religion at East Carolina University, my alma mater.

I was invited to do these things because I own the local Metaphysical store* through which I privately teach a year-round training course I call, Modern Witchcraft 366: The Art, Science and Psychology of Nature-based Spirituality. I’m currently learning from the 5th year of students who are turning this wheel with me. I love them all. They’ve helped me find the roses along the thorny path when I’ve needed them most.

Not everyone can be a public witch; not everyone should be, as this really is a very private and subtle path not suited to many. They don’t call these “mystery teachings” for nothing!  However, the Gods demanded this of me and, I believe, have groomed me for it since I was a child. They first called me to action as a young teenager and I tried to ignore that call for 15 years. (For that story, check out this blog.) Eventually, they removed every barrier to my work , took away every excuse I could think of to keep me from coming out of my broom closet, and shoved me out into plain view.

In many ways, on many days, I wish I didn’t have this cross to bear. Like Jesus in Gethsemane**, I often ask that I not have to drink from this particular cup–that this work not fall to me.  Alas, once you know, you cannot un-know; ignorance is a bliss I am not afforded in this lifetime.

However, despite the thorny path I’ve chosen to tread, there are still roses aplenty, and today I need to take some time to stop and smell those roses. Here are 10 things I love about my sacred work, which I see as the sharing with others of this “good news” when they seek me out; the good news of the Modern Witchcraft paradigm as I understand it.

In no particular order:
1) I love giving sacred permission to question everything, engage their minds, decide what is correct for themselves, discard what does not serve their highest good, no matter how old, nor how revered it may have been to someone else, nor what their parents think. The only blasphemy to the Divine Mind would be to stop thinking with yours.

Go back far enough and I promise you have pagan ancestors. What did they think?  EVERYONE has pagan ancestors; even Jesus; even Muhammad; even Siddhartha Gautama, no exceptions. They would be proud of you for having the courage to dig up those bones and roots, discover what they found to be sacred. You do them honor when you cease to be a mindless sheep.

2) I love the release of joy when I affirm that that they are sovereign beings worthy of dignity and respect, and I honor them as incarnate God/desses, no matter what their outer self looks like, nor who their inner self wants to be. I especially enjoy giving my LGBT listeners sacred permission to be themselves and love as they love, without hindrance.

3) I love the giggles, when I equate the Big Bang creation with the first cosmic orgasm between god/dess, and then quote “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” from the Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente. Modern Witchcraft remains, at it’s heart, a fertility religion. Yes, we affirm the natural-ness, necessity, and sacredness of sex, and not just for procreation. Sensuality and union are a Divine expression of that ecstasy of Spirit within the flesh.  Please, go forth and get some, but for God/dess’ sake, be good at it (and responsible, harming none.)

4) I love watching their brains sorta melt, meld, and blow open wide, as I over-lay quantum mechanics and modern sciences, with ancient mystery school teachings. You can actually *hear* the pop, whirr and sigh as the connections sync up in their thinking. The collective WOAH creates cosmic eddies that tingle my spine. Yes, your thoughts create the world. Let’s think up a better one!

5) I especially love it when a college student who needs to attend a ceremony for their world religion class, and claims to be an atheist, attends one of my guided meditations just to get a grade. Yet, and it happens time and time again, these folks with the LEAST expectations are usually the ones who, no shit, travel to the heavens and meet GOD–like a specific god/dess, or an ARCHangel–and very definite, very profoundly REAL things happen that are in complete alignment with occult wisdom of which they knew nothing.  Lives have been changed. I love it when the lid of black/white thinking is blown off.

6) I love when they *feel* their own power for the first time. When they connect to the flow of the Universe, and the unseen becomes tangible. The need for “belief” or “faith” evaporates because the toe-curling wonder is right before them to see, touch, feel, smell, and KNOW. I love when this ceases to be a question of religion and becomes the IS-ness. It just IS. It becomes the thing that cannot be denied or ignored.

7) I love introducing my first two rules of Witchcraft:

1:  Don’t burn the Witch. You know, basic fire safety!  Then, be careful not to conjure up what you can’t handle. Followed more importantly by NOT attacking and denigrating yourself; stop burning yourself at the stake! Love yourself first.  Most importantly, in the name of all things holy, PLEASE, stop attacking your fellows within the pagan community.  I am appalled that the term “Witch War” was ever coined.  Good grief, we have a hard enough time not being “burned” by the rest of society, if we can’t treat each other with respect, what are we playing at?

2: Don’t be the asshole. First I enjoy it for the laughs, then I love it when the deep responsibility of Divine Being blooms within them; knowing what it means to live life as a benefit, and not a detriment..  I love seeing them become the warrior, stand in their truth, living authentically, out loud, and yet doing so with their ego properly aligned with Divine Will;  being gracious and beautiful even when they need to crack a few heads and defend the boundaries–because today I am loving you by saying NO, and YOU SHALL NOT PASS whatever boundary is being trespassed. (I call this going Gandalf on someone.)

Even better, I love seeing them step back in peace and “hold the space,” centered in compassion and love, honoring that wounds drive the harmful behavior of others.  This way we can dismiss the drama and not engage in histrionics that cannot serve any good. That sort of discernment takes heart and courage and is all too rare in the world.

8) I love expanding the idea of love, and exploring the difference between the battleground paradigm of Abrahamic religions (Good vs. Evil) and the honeymoon paradigm based on the polarity of Goddess loving God.  We explore how the polar opposite of love grows from the root of fearing a lack of love. When I ask, “What are you afraid of?” and there is that deep, mournful, resonant A-HA it spreads across the face in the most painful of ways, but the tension releases. I see the wounds; I feel them, then into those tender places I whisper of interconnection, of acceptance, of unconditional Divine love from which we can never be separated. We ARE love. We have everything we need at our fingertips. We are blessed in our nature.

9) I love standing up in a crowded lecture hall, or church sanctuary, and saying out loud, “I am a witch and a priestess” and the fact that those words no longer catch in my throat, nor cause tears to flow, because I’ve now been able to say them so many times that I can have that courage where others might not…yet.  Perhaps they can someday find their own courage because I opened the way.  I love it that no stones are thrown, no pitchforks raised, no blazing inferno ensues. I love it that room upon room of eastern North Carolina people now have had a moment when a reasonable person who defies the stereotypes***, claiming to be something they previously thought was malignant and terrifying, was actually just a decent neighbor of theirs, who made them feel good about themselves. I hope they all went out and told a few friends what they heard me say and that changed the world just a little bit for the better.

10) I love it when my customers preface a question with “This might sound crazy….” and I can honestly say that no questions are crazy, nor stupid or weird to me anymore. Chances are, they are probably just singing the song of our people. Its nice to find out you have “people.” I do enjoy making those introductions.

They ask me, “Is this all in my head?” I answer,  “Yes, but you have no idea how big your head is.”

* The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions, 414 S. Evans Street, Greenville, NC 27858 www.thesojo.com

**Yes, I referenced Jesus the Nazarene. The shock that I cause by being well educated about the life of Jesus is my 11th favorite thing to do as a witch.

***Ok, I am owned by 2 black cats, named Mad Madam Mim and Nagira, and a grey, fluffy girl named Bellaluna (the witchiest three cats you’ve ever met) but other than that… IMG_7473