I don’t have any real content for you yet, dear readers. Work and life have me very busy. I’m hoping on writing something with substance for you tomorrow, so keep an eye out for the that. In the mean time, there’s a meme going around the pagan blogs that I figured I’d post, and then I read Juniper’s Better Meme and decided to do that one instead.
Please describe briefly your Path:
My path is that of a cottage witch. That’s the only title that I feel comfortable with right now, despite living right smack in the middle of the burbs. It’s something similar to hedge witchcraft and green witchcraft. I have multiple Gods/desses that I communicate with and believe in. I read tarot and runes. I have prophetic and symbolic dreams. I communicate with the dead. I believe in working with nature. I believe in the balance between light and dark. My path is one of constant learning and change. I believe strongly in learning from our elders. I believe that there are things that exist that are beyond the average person’s sight.
Please describe briefly how you practice it:
I try to celebrate the “big holidays”, though usually I only focus on Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain, and Yule. I do much reading and research, while also trying to be out and “experience” magic in the every day. I speak to my house and my surroundings. I interpret dreams, and infuse intent into my cooking and baking. I speak to my patron gods and goddesses. I recognize my emotions and allow myself to feel them. I try to work on respecting and developing my own skills and abilities.
When did you first commit to your Path?
My first glimpse into paganism started as long back as I can remember. I always saw auras, saw things that my parents told me weren’t there, had scary dreams that came true. I was 12 or 13 years old when I first saw The Craft and went “Yes. I’m not crazy, see? This stuff is real and it’s a religion!”. I was 14 when I formed my first circle with a bunch of my girlfriends and started studying and practicing magic within the confines of Starhawk’s Wicca. I was 16 when I realized that that Wicca wasn’t for me, and started practicing a more eclectic form of paganism, leaning towards the green and more celtic side of things (using Ann Moura’s Green Witchcraft book series as a guide). A close family member was also Pagan and together we did lots of researching and practicing. I was 22 when I turned towards Cottage Witchery and have found my home there.
How is your practice different now than it was then?
When I was 14, I was more concerned about finally taking Control of my life. Wicca gave me a faith that encouraged interaction and communication with the world. It filled in the part that was missing for me in Christianity – a female side to the divine. We were all about spells all the damn time, rather than real faith.
.Today, it’s about recognizing the divine around me, communicating and respecting the world on a daily basis. I don’t do much spellcraft at all, but rather I participate in a relationship that is my faith
Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?
I thought, back then, that I’d have everything in life figured out by the age of 24, so yeah. Things are different. I see now that I will forever be a student, which I think is so important. I have a much better relationship with my faith and I’m much more confident in it and in myself.
Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?
Absolutely. Back then I was your basic Fluffy Bunny. I thought it was all light, lollypops and double rainbows all the waaaaay. Today, I see the shades and colours in between. I see the importance of the dark, and how it is to be revered and celebrated, rather than shunned. My patron gods and goddesses are completely different, as is the way I practice.
What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?
On my father’s side, I am an anglosaxon mutt. My Paternal grandfather is Scottish and british. My paternal grandmother was irish, all the way back. On my mother’s side, we are very Slavic. We are 3rd generation Ukrainian, which means that there is some Polish, Russian and German thrown in. When I started out, I was very Scottish Centric. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens that I discovered more about my Irish side, and that completely changed the way I looked at my Dad’s family. I am still mostly involved in the Celtic panthenon of Gods and Goddesses, however my eyes have opened far beyond it. At around the same time, I started to think more about my Mother’s roots, and how far and wide that family has traveled. I was also told, in my early 20s, that I must be Native due to my physical features. Apparently my mother and her siblings were always told the same. We have no evidence of native heritage, but it definitely made me look a bit deeper into their beliefs, which led me to the Kumiks at INAC. This totally changed the way I practice my faith and how I incorporate it into my life.
What are your main influences for your Path?
Ellen Dugan has been a massive influence in my Path. Her Cottage, Garden and Green Witchery books are written as though they came from my own heart. They have completely changed the way I practice now. As I just mentioned, attending the Kumiks was an incredible honour and was definitely life changing for me. Prior to that, talking spirituality with my friend Katrina and her husband, Raph, had a great influence on my life and introduced much more energy work and shamanism into my path. Charles de Lint’s fiction has been really influential in my life, as well as my spirituality. It makes me feel like any path is sacred and beautiful. My husband has been a big part of my Path. He is my biggest support and is always willing to listen to me when I need to talk something out. Through him, I’ve learned that even if it is a solitary path for me, it doesn’t need to be lonely.
Which do you do more: practice or research?
Both, to be honest. I do a lot of research, but I feel that I practice, even if it’s just a small thing like writing down and interpreting my dreams, every single day.
Do you feel that one is more important than the other?
I think that they compliment each other. I love learning, and it’s a majorly important part of my life and my faith. My research shapes my practice, but without my practice, I would never have the interest to drive my research.
What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?
.This is a hard question for me, as this tends to be more of a gut feeling, than something I can put into words. I will try though
1. Respect the will of others. I do not practice magics that take away the will of someone, though I am not necessarily against spells of influence.
2. Respect the full spectrum. The good, the bad, the in between.
3. Follow your gut. I think we all know, deep down, whether or not something is right for us. Trust yourself.
4. Respect the powers that be and the traditions that surround you. Learn the rules, learn the customs and the culture.
What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?
I definitely feel the cycle of the moon and the seasons. As my faith is based on respecting and following the lessons of nature, my practice falls within it’s rhythms and cycles. Also, I go through phases of intense study/lots of practice/a lull in both/repeat
What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to over come?
There have been a few major struggles for me when it comes to my faith. When I first really got into paganism, a major influence and support in my life was a close family member. We practiced together, and through him, I met many people and had many incredible experiences. Several years later, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. My whole world was rocked, and I really had to think about my faith and how much of it was true experience and real faith, now that I knew that some of what we shared had been mental illness for him.
Around the same time, many people in my family fell ill. Over the span of a year or so, I lost my only grandparent, our family dog (who I had grown up with, really. We got her when I was 6. I was 22 or so when she died), my brother had surgery to remove the cancer in his colon, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, my mother’s breast cancer came back and Pat’s Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I couldn’t understand how so many awful things could happen to me. Was I being punished? What God(s) or Goddess(es) would let this happen to a good person? Was I a good person?
Then, several years later, both of my parents died within a year of each other. Again, why me? Am I cursed? Unlucky? Why do I suffer and have to fight through, when I see people with hardly any struggles at all? I also had a major falling out with my main support system. My best friend, as well as a close family member, both of whom were pagan and were basically my whole pagan world, were no longer a part of my life. For the first time ever, I had to stand on my own two feet. My faith truly became my own. It was suddenly a very individual path.
All of these moments required a lot of mediation, time to look at the situation from many perspectives. I had to be very self aware and really honest with myself. I’m still working through some of this, but I stand here today with my faith intact.
How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?
I hope I’m so comfortable with my path that I can practice without constantly having to reference books. I want to feel an ease with my surroundings, so that it is second nature. I hope that I will have a family that will practice together.
How do you incorporate your practice into your life?
I’ve gone over this already. The big thing is seeing the everyday as something sacred and beautiful. Practice can be incorporated in simple tasks such as cleaning, cooking, living with your family, interacting with anyone.
Has walking your Path changed you as a person?
Absolutely. I feel that there is so much more out there beyond myself, and that we are all connected somehow. That there is personal responsibility to be the best You that you can be, and that you can have support in that if you look for it and give your surroundings the respect they deserve.
Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?
No. I have no interest in a church or such. My faith has no priest, priestess or such. I believe that we all have wisdom and knowledge to share, and I would never give myself a title that might imply a superiority or power over anyone else.
A witch? How so?
Yes, I’d say so. I practice magic, and I identify with the word.
A shaman? How so?
I practice shamanism, but I don’t see myself as a shaman, per se. I don’t think I’m specialized enough or knowledgeable enough to use that term for myself yet.
Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?
I think using clear vocabulary is important in expressing our experiences and beliefs, however I find that in the Pagan community everyone has a different take on each term, so it’s almost a moot point. I think the practice is far more important than the name you put to it. The path is far too vast to be confined in our small words.
One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:
A doula who I absolutely adore and look up to told me that I acted as a Death Doula for my mother. This rocked me to my very core, as I felt her words resonate throughout my whole body. She was absolutely right and it completely changed the way I saw myself and my place in this world.
A defining moment on your Path was:
. There have been many, but one that sticks with me is standing in the Kumik while an local Native elder smudged me. I remember feeling like I belonged. That I had been so worried that they would be angry with me being there, that they would feel that I was appropriating their culture, but instead they asked me to join them. They invited me, and swore to me that they felt I was one of them. I felt like we were all connected, no matter our heritage, and that every path is all a part of the same land. My eyes opened, and I felt at home
Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?
My whole faith is a leap. I believe in things that I’ve been told are impossible. We may never know the truth, but I feel right in myself and in my faith. That is enough for me.
Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:
Hrm. How about a ritual in which I sent my inner child away in the care of Hecate and Freya as part of an elaborate protection ritual? That was pretty extreme and reckless.
What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?
The loneliness. Close friends and family thinking I’m cute, quaint and eccentric, rather than respecting that these are real beliefs and isn’t something that I’ll grow out of. The politics of the local community.
Have you ever been frightened?
Who hasn’t been? In my practice, absolutely. I’ve been attacked and chased by things that don’t make sense. The dead come to me in my sleep and I am entirely without guidance on how to deal with these things.
Can you perform ritual without a script?
Yep. I often like a script just to give me some direction, but I usually go from my gut. I do what feels right.
Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?
All the time. When I wake up at night feeling like something is off, I will cast a protection circle. If I feel that something should happen now, and my intuition guides me forward, I go with it.
What are you still exploring or experimenting with?
All of it, to be honest. I’m trying to embrace my natural skills, but it’s hard without help. In terms of actual bits of things that I’ve been looking into? Shamanism, Greywalker stuff, Voodoo, working with items around the house and garden.
What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?
Ritual tools are …
Books, tobacco, candles, incense, athame.
Magickal tools are …
The one thing you can’t do without is:
Nothing really, aside from my loved ones. I love my books, but I don’t *need* them. I love the tools that I do have, but I can work without them.
Seeking personal power is …
About self discovery and betterment while trying to participate in the energies around you
Politics and you Path are …
One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:
I very firmly believe in individual belief. I would never tell you how to practice or what to believe. I do think it’s important to learn from the experiences and wisdom of others, but I am not fond of preaching. All I want is balance and harmony. That is the basic breakdown of the what/why/how of my path.
Do you teach?
If asked, absolutely. I have had great conversations with people, and am always willing to answer questions and reach out to the community.
What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?
I’m not fond of the idea of clergy. To me it implies an elite group of people given power over others because they claim to have the answers to the great mysteries, and that’s not what it should be about. Instead I think it should be about elders and experienced members of the community sharing their knowledge and experience, and being treated with respect because they’ve earned it, rather than because they demand it.
When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?
I get very twitchy. I’m sensitive, so I start to feel like I’m going to crawl right out of my skin.
What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)
I try to be very respectful and a good neighbour to my Good Neighbours. I try to keep them in mind when I do practice, as well for the native spirits of the land. I am a firm believer in the personal relationship with my Gods and Goddesses. We have chats, they are part of my family, I work with them 90% of the time.
What is your relationship with the Land?
I respect it, love it and wish to find balance with it. It is a major pillar of my faith.
The most important aspect of ritual is:
The main purpose of ritual is:
Focus energies, will and intent towards a specific goal.
What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever for of augury you use)?
Insight and understanding
What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)
I hate the hardcore theory books that are out there. I’m not interested. Honestly, a book that recently shook me was a fantasy novel by Kat Richardson called “Greywalker”. Despite being fiction, the experiences the main character has with the dead is VERY similar to what I’ve experienced. It’s the first time that I’ve ever read anything that’s close to what I know.
What book do you recommend the most to others?
Absolutely, without a doubt, Natural Witchery and Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan.
What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?
I don’t really watch podcasts, but for blogs I’ve been especially fond of Dark Mother Goddess and Witch of the Forest Grove lately.
If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?
Take time to have a conversation with yourself. Get to know yourself and listen to the inner voice. It speaks to everyone differently, and once you figure out how to hear it, your life will change for the better.
Is there an additional question you would like to see here? What is it? (please also answer)
Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort: