I thought that it might be helpful to share a little about myself and where I am on my Path. It’s easy for me to think about my history in the craft because I feel as if my entire life is a natural progression of what we as Pagans call ‘the Path’ or ‘My Path’. I think that where I stand on that path today reflects how my relationship with Deity has grown in my forty plus years.
I’ve always been a very spiritual person. My earliest memories are of being in ‘pageants’ as a child at the Methodist church that was owned and led by my godparents. My godfather was the minister of a small town congregation and he and his wife were good friends and neighbors of my mother’s parents. My godmother was always involved with the children of the congregation and every Easter and Christmas she put together programs where the kids would all receive a little poem or passage from the Bible that we would read in front of the entire congregation.
Years later my family was invited by a neighbor to attend an Episcopalian Church when we moved to a new town for a year. I was 10 at the time and I remember walking into that church for the first time and thinking how huge and beautiful it was. There was beautiful, light pine woodwork that was intricately carved and polished until it shone brightly. There was a special section near the altar for a choir and there were many members of the church. It was a completely different scene for someone who was used to a small church setting. The choir wore robes and there was an organ!
It was all very daunting at first, but my family was warmly welcomed and soon I found myself involved in the youth group there and singing in the choir. I was in my own version of heaven because I didn’t really like living in that town at first. I missed the familiarity of my old school and I missed my friends. I was very glad when my family returned to our hometown at the end of that year.
I was also very glad when my mother was approached by members of the local Episcopal congregation back home and asked to start attending there. I don’t remember how they knew that my family had attended the another Episcopal Church, but soon enough we were entrenched at St. John’s and it was there that I found my first extended religious family. I went to that church from the time I was in the sixth grade until my college years when I first really started to question where my faith was leading me. It was while at St. John’s that I became an acolyte (Episcopalian if very similar to the Catholic faith), taught Sunday school and read lessons from the Old Testament during services. I remember those days with great fondness because of the friends I made and the adults I came to know. I still come into contact with some of them and they continue to hold a loving place in my heart.
As I mentioned, it was during college that, like so many that age I think, I began to question the picture of what God was and how he had been presented to me as a child. I went to college in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In a city where there was a large Native American reservation nearby, complete with a casino that was very popular to not only the surrounding community, but to the rest of the state and neighboring Canada as well.
While there I found myself being exposed to the religion of the Anishnabe (Ojibwa) society and I realized that there was something there that spoke true in my heart. My mother had told me that there was Native American blood in our family, but she didn’t know what tribe or even how much and that always hung in the back of my mind as a deep curiosity that I couldn’t get away from. Then Dances With Wolves came out and when I saw the treatment of the Lakota people that the film depicted, that was all it took to fling me into wanting to learn more about the history of Native Americans in general and how they were continually treated in modern day.
I was determined to change how the ‘whites’ perceived Native Americans so when a new Native Studies minor was started at the university I quickly changed my major from Criminal Justice to History. I know I probably sound like an idealist and I probably was at the time, but you have to take a moment to understand the climate of society at the time. Desert Storm was underway and that made a great many people my age want to change the world while we watched for news of boyfriends or family members who were fighting in the Middle East. There was still a very real and sometimes violent attitude toward the North American Native population. I remember news reports my freshmen year that told of riots in Canada between Canadian law enforcement and members of the Mohawk tribe. I don’t remember the why’s and wherefore’s, but I do remember that it was a scary time for those communities that was full of violence and fear of backlash.
It was in my Native History class in college, however, that my Path took a new turn, for it was in that class that I met Lindell Clement. Lindell is older than I am. She must have been in her late 20’s at the time, while I was a sophomore, therefore about 20 years old. Lindell was a single mother and a member of the tribe in Sault Ste. Marie and she was going back to school in an attempt to help make her life better.
Lindell also had two cousins in the same four-hour history class and the three of them usually stepped outside the building for a smoke during the class break. I remember that I wanted to get to know them and for anyone who knows me, I can be pretty forward when I want. One day during the break I followed them outside and asked if I could bum a smoke from them. That question became a story of great hilarity later on in my friendship with Lindell because unbeknownst to me at the time by asking for a cigarette I was actually making a spiritual connection with them because tobacco is one of the four sacred herbs in Native culture.
I was then known as the ‘white girl who asked for tobacco’ and our friendship blossomed. It was with Lindell that I experienced my first powwow. She was patient as she described all of the different dancers outfits that came to the circle and what they were used for. She also taught me about drumming and what I could touch and what I shouldn’t and when. She taught me about the ‘rules’ of dancing and how to properly enter a circle to dance. I was completely enthralled and soaked the knowledge up like a dry sponge.
Through her and through my college classes I came to know The Creator and begun an understanding of how the Native American religion worked and how it differed from region to region and from tribe to tribe. I also came into contact with other Natives who had integrated a spiritual path where The Creator and the Christian God were one. Some might think that there is no way that something like that could or should happen, but I saw how the connection could be made for them. Seeing those kinds of relationships laid a foundation for me understanding of Wicca later.
After moving back to mid-Michigan in the fall of 1994 I found myself unsure of where my life was going. I had just spent the summer as the head cook at a Presbyterian youth camp that had been pretty emotionally draining for me. The summer had been a long one, full of hard work and a lot of drama between myself a close friend who’d helped me to get the job. It was so bad that I ended up breaking all ties with him.
Once I was back at my mom’s house I tried to figure out where my life was going to go and I found myself considering entering a seminary. The camp experience had been a really tough one for me. I’d just spent four years broadening my mind and getting to know Creator, but because of my tenuous relationship with my friend over the summer, I had spent a great deal of time on my own while at camp. I hadn’t felt right participating in all kum-by-yaa sing alongs around the campfire because I was disconnected with the Christian God. My struggle continued because I felt this pull toward servicing the community and at the time the only way I knew to do that was to become a priest.
Luckily that idea was short lived for me. Even though I had no idea how to accomplish the pull toward service I felt, I quickly realized that Christianity wasn’t the avenue I wanted to take to accomplish it. On top of that I was still young and experiencing a ton of new things and meeting so many new people that meant being exposed to so many more possibilities.
Over the next few years I rode the edge of not making a real religious decision in the path I was taking. I still felt a connection to the Native American Creator, but there was also a time when I went back to an Episcopal church, still feeling that teeter-totter-ness of not knowing what I was looking for. It was almost as if I was begging the church to validate itself to me somehow. Like I was looking for a way to merge The Creator with God like so many had that I had come into contact with while in Sault Ste. Marie, but that never really happened for me.
It was during that time when I realized that my experiences had ultimately led me to believe that there was in fact one Universal Deity out there that presented itself to everyone in such a way that they could interact with it and understand. The idea just made sense to me on the most basic level and later, when I started my study with the Correllians, I knew that I had been right in this realization. That was why I couldn’t put the Creator and God into one being… it simply didn’t work for me. It worked for others and that was terrific, but it wasn’t for me. So I continued to bide my time until the right situation came along.
Then I met my best friend Cathy. We met when we were both members of a club that unfortunately didn’t survive, but thankfully our friendship did. Looking back now, I’m not sure exactly how we came to practice Wicca together, but I do remember that she’d had some Silver Ravenwolf books for some time so she knew about Wicca longer than I had. My first exposure was in buying the book, Celtic Magic, by D.J. Conway at a second hand bookstore. I think Cathy and I must have talked about the book and the rest, as they say, is history. Cathy is a subscriber to this blog so maybe she remembers more details than I do. Together we’ve started a coven, revamped it and learned from a variety of teachers.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve studied with the Correllians through www.witchschool.com and they have some really great information there. I have a First Degree through Witch School and took many other classes through the site as well. They are well established and have an international organization worth getting involved in.
Another pivotal person/organization in my Path is my friend Crystal and the group she started with her sister, Keepers of the Hearth. Crystal has been a practicing Witch for longer than I’ve known her and she is my go-to lady with any herb questions. She’s an author of a book about Pagan pregnancy (I’ll post a link below) that details her experiences. I’ve completed my First and Second Degrees with KOTH and am working on my Third.
Christopher Penczak has been the most influential person in my life as a Witch. His body of work is so vast and comprehensive of his Path that it’s an inspiration. Every word speaks to me and I’m proud to call him friend, teacher and mentor. I have studied through Christopher’s Temple of Witchcraft, which I’m sure I’ll talk about more in the future. I was a member of his first online class and loved it! I’m set to start year three in April.
I think that’s it. I hope this post didn’t completely loose you because of its length, but I thought it was important to have an idea of where I come from and where I’m heading. I do consider myself Eclectic and pull information from other sources than the ones I’ve listed above. If you have any questions please ask away. I’m pretty much an open book and welcome discussion.