I got this one from the delightful man over at Twisting Ways. It's a little similar to one I did a while back, but considerably more serious and deep. Hope you enjoy!
Please describe briefly your Path:
Oh, I don't know how to do so briefly. I've always knows I was a Witch, even as a small child (despite being told by my parents that there were no witches, and ESPECIALLY not any witches that were boys.) I started making up spells and rituals as soon as I could write, and I well remember running around with a broomstick and lighting candles in the secrecy of my playhouse. When I was around 10, though, I saw a newspaper article about Wicca and thought "Ah ha! I KNEW IT! There are witches, and they aren't evil or crazy!" A few years later, I bought my first book about Witchcraft from the book store and the rest was history.
I've gone from practicing a form of Wicca (which is how we all start out) to doing a rather Hoodoo flavoured system, to my current status of what I just call "Witch." I do believe in Gods, but I try to avoid an overly ritualistic style of practice. Magically, I do a lot of candle work and some herbal/crystal work as well. I guess if you had to put a name on what I do, it would be called Traditional Witchcraft.
Please describe briefly how you practice it:
Hmmm. At least once a day, I try to spend a few minutes in silence to focus on developing my abilities. I also burn candles on my altar daily, and try to spend a few minutes in petition to the Gods. Most of my time is probably spent reading and studying, which isn't always a good thing. I use an altar, and some pretty traditional tools, but I work alone and don't do big holiday celebrations.
When did you first commit to your Path?
About 15-16 years, though not all of them active.
How is your practice different now than it was then?
When I first started, I literally made everything up. Then I discovered the Wicca books that were really big, then, and started working with those. After that, I sort of did my own thing for years (being disillusioned with what I'd found in the Pagan world) until I discovered Traditional Witchcraft and became actively involved once more.
Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?
Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?
What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?
I have a Germanic background, which really doesn't play any part in my path. I don't know much about German Witchcraft, and what I've seen of modern German practices doesn't interest me much.
What are your main influences for your Path?
Probably, the person who influences me most would be Doreen Valiente. There are Witches who call themselves Gardnerians; I would say I'm almost a Valientean. I absolutely love her no-nonsense approach to Witchcraft, and her books are a breath of fresh air in a sometimes rather stuffy occult world. It's too bad she's no longer with us. I also quite like Scott Cunningham (who does NOT deserve the bad reputation he's gotten) Nigel Jackson, Nigel Pearson, and Laurie Cabot
Which do you do more: practice or research?
I would say it's about 50/50. I think I do too much reading and not enough actual work. I can tell you how to do lots and lots of things, but it doesn't mean I've done them.
Do you feel that one is more important than the other?
I'd say both are about equal. One doesn't want to rush in to something that they don't know how to control, but neither does it do to sit in a chair and do nothing but read.
What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?
I would say my own ethics are "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you....until they give you reason not to. Then, all bets are off." I think one of the worst bits of nonsense rampant in the Pagan world today is the "turn the other cheek" drivel people carry over from Christianity. Oh, they might call it something else ("karma" and "rule of three" sound familiar?) but it's the same thing. There is nothing good or holy about being injured or harmed by violent, evil people and there is nothing wrong in using magic to protect yourself from said people. I also think you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people.
What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?
Lots and lots of prep work, then some really heavy workings. Then back around.
What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to over come?
Overcoming fear, and dealing with difficult people
How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?
Hopefully, I’ll be settled into a standard practice, be working with other people, and do much more ritual and much less reading though of course education will always be important.
How do you incorporate your practice into your life?
I try to do it always. You know, I don’t put my Witch self on a shelf somewhere to be taken down for special occasions; it’s something I always am, and always have with me. I would say it colours almost all of my perceptions and realities.
Has walking your Path changed you as a person?
Yes, I am much more confident but also a lot more lonely, for some reason.
Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?
I don’t know. I think I could perform priestly functions, but not in the sense that I’m “Lord Pentacleshadowdragon” or any other such nonsense. I do consider my practice as both a religion AND a philosophy.
A witch? How so?
Yes, I do. I think I was born to be one. You know, before I ever knew that other witches actually existed, I was working spells and even saying prayers to the Moon, so I would say that it was my destiny. Not because I’m powerful or better than others (and Lord knows, I’m not) but just because I’m well suited to it.
A shaman? How so?
No, I wouldn’t use this term (it’s been dreadfully misused by a lot of “Plastic Shamans” and people who appropriate Native American culture) because I haven’t done a lot of spirit work.
Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?
The actual practice
One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:
I am not going to share that here
A defining moment on your Path was:
The first time I ever did a spell, and got what I call the “magical shivers” which felt like a surge of power going “through” me. It was scary but amazing.
Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?
Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:
Lots of things. I’ve accidentally attracted a rather unpleasant….something once that was hard to get rid of. I’ve cursed myself through negative thinking, and had to have somebody else take it off. I’ve tried to help people using magic, only to have them laugh at me….it goes on and on
What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?
Like everybody, I always have the thought in the back of my head, “Why am I dancing around in a circle waving a knife? Why can’t I be at the bar like normal people?” These thoughts tend to be fleeting, though. Also, I move in a decidedly non-magic circle, and while my friends haven’t abandoned me because of my practice, they definitely think I’m a little crazy.
Have you ever been frightened?
Yes, of course
Can you perform ritual without a script?
Yes but I prefer to have it written down, to prevent any mistakes
Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?
Yes, and sometimes they’ve been the most effective
What are you still exploring or experimenting with?
Right now, I’m trying to explore divination in more depth, and have felt a great call from the Horned God to explore more deeply the male mysteries. My permanent interests are in the areas of the magic of woods and plants, and crystals.
What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?
Right now, I’m really exploring the Horned God and the various gay and transgendered manifestations of Divinity.
Ritual tools are …
Helpful, but not always necessary. I’ve gotten by with an old garden broom, a cauldron from a yard sale, and a branch I cut from a Myrtle bush for a wand, and I could do so again. I’m kind of a tool junkie, to be honest, and have more wands than I have room for. I do use them ALL, though, so they’re not wasted.
Magickal tools are …
What’s the difference between Ritual and Magical?
The one thing you can’t do without is:
My imagination. With it, I can fly wherever I want and escape even the worst situation
Seeking personal power is …
Just fine. Can you believe, somebody the other day (two people, in fact, on different sites) actually said you “shouldn’t do love magic” because it was for “PERSONAL GAIN!!?” YACK! I had to explain to them, that “personal gain” BS was from that campy TV show, Charmed, and not part of real life. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, prosperous, and with a good romantic partner or partners. All that “Go without/suffering is good/don’t seek for yourself” is yet more Christian nonsense; see my ethics section
Politics and you Path are …
Well, I’m relatively liberal in some areas, and conservative in others, so I don’t follow the usual straight Democrat Pagan thing.
One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:
It’s the real deal; Witchcraft isn’t really something for dorky Goth teenagers, or man-hating women, no matter what the media says. It’s not a passing fad, and it’s done wonders for my self esteem and overall health. I’m also known as somebody who’s really into science and humanism, and I don’t understand why my friends think, if I’m usually so down to Earth, that I must be off track here.
Do you teach?
No, though I would if I could. I’ve got a fair amount of experience, and of course the teacher can always learn from the student as well.
What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?
It varies. I think we’ll always have “elders” or people who devote their lives to the leading of rituals and life’s passages. I suppose they’re our clergy, and our teachers. I don’t like the idea of Pagan “churches” though, because it sounds too much like we’re trying to be “Christianity II.” I saw some woman on TV, running around in a priest’s collar and claiming to be “Wiccan.” I thought it was foolish and degrading to Paganism.
When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?
As though I were looking at the world through a shimmering curtain, or as though the air were super-charged with electricity
What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)
I’ve done some spirit work, and have felt, at times, various Land deities and powers
What is your relationship with the Land?
Sadly, strained. I live in a big city, and while I do garden, it’s a container garden on my porch. Not many parks here, at least ones without loads of screaming people in them. I really need to get out into Nature more
The most important aspect of ritual is:
Focus and concentration. And intent
The main purpose of ritual is:
To celebrate and commune with the Other World, and one’s inner planes
What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever for of augury you use)?
To see the most likely outcome of a given path, and to explore what might the wisest of several choices
What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)
Oh, what can say? I tried to read one Pagan book (which shall remain nameless) which was really bad, that I never finished (which is extremely rare.)
What book do you recommend the most to others?
“The Rebirth of Witchcraft” by Doreen Valiente. Well, anything by her
What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?
I love “The Unnamed Path”podcast, which explores Paganism in the context of a “men who love men” (gay) format. For blogs, I love “http://witchofforestgrove.com/">The Witch of Forest Grove” and http://octoberfarm.blogspot.com/">October Farm“.”
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?
LIVE! Not tomorrow, not later, today. Don’t worry about what other people think. Be happy!
Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort: