What have been the significant events of your path so far?
Cat: It’s hard to answer this without getting too deep! But if I had to pick the most significant events of my path, I can narrow it down to a handful:
- The arrival of Anubis in my life when I was 10
- Meeting Truly, my friend at university who pulled me into the Pagan Student Association (PSA) there. He scared the hell out of me by popping out of nowhere at a powwow at my school and demanding to know what my moon necklace meant. Meeting him got me to meeting some of my most important friends in the Pagan community through PSA, and that organization founded a great deal of what would go on to become the Fellowship’s practices
- My first Pagan festival, Pagan Spirit Gathering in 2011; spend a week immersed in Paganism with other Pagans and see how you come out on the other side
- The first ritual I partook in that actually felt powerful, a Heathen blot where I watched a man sacrifice several things to his god, Tyr, including burning a $100 bill! That ritual is still ingrained into my mind over six years later; I can remember pretty much everything
- Founding the Fellowship with Ange
- The decline of my mental health in 2012 through 2013, and the resulting oath I made to my gods to get me through that trying time
- Seeing the Oracle at the Morrigan’s Call Retreat in 2017, where I was told to take a break or I would burn out.
Kate: I feel like there have been three significant markers so far on my path.
The first is when I realized that I was a witch in my early 20s. It was such a revelation to have a term for what I felt. I had practiced folk magic for a long time but I felt like such an outsider amongst folks from Abrahamic faiths. Having a term and knowing that there was a community I could search for was freeing.
The second was the first time I heard the spirits of the land and animals. I always believed that everything had a spirit but hearing them speak and knowing that that we could communicate made me feel at home in my world.
The third was the first time I felt Hera reach out. I remember saying no. I am an animist, I know you are there but that path isn’t for me. She responded, I will wait. It took me over a decade to see that path open before me. I am still learning how to interact with my deities but I continue to learn.
Tal: The first significant event in my path was my conversion itself—I decided to pursue Celtic polytheism, and began research and practice in earnest. The focus of my practice was honoring certain deities which I had a deep connection to, as well as local spirits of lakes, trees, and stones. At this point in time my paganism did not intersect with any kind of witchcraft or magical work. It was purely a religious effort. The next significant event was the introduction of magic to my practice a year or two later. I quickly discovered which sorts of magic worked best for me and which backfired horribly, and stuck to what worked.
Around 2015, I experienced an extremely rough bout of personal and mental health issues, at which point I became acquainted with my patron deity, Loki. This changed my pagan path dramatically, leading me to focus my craft towards divination, shapeshifting, and channeling work rather than the more “practical magic” I had been doing. It also allowed me to open my practice up to eclecticism. After several years of solitary practice, the most significant thing for my faith was finding the Fellowship (by chance, through a mutual non-pagan friend who happened to know that I was pagan). I had never had a community before, and finally felt able to connect. Joining the Fellowship and meeting the members has led to lasting friendships, interactions with other deities, my deepest and most memorable magical experiences, and a greater understanding of how to walk my Path and improve myself and my community.
Aleja: I’ve touched on my beginnings previously, so after that my first significant event I suppose was leaving home and going to college in Switzerland, where I first started practicing openly. Or, mostly openly, because while I didn’t hide what I was doing from my roommates and friends, neither did I discuss it with them or invite them to take part. I got to know the land spirits and local fae there, and I marked the passing of the seasons, but I didn’t think much about gods.
The next significant event was really more about my partner’s path than mine, but in retrospect it was a definite turning point. After I graduated from college, one of my high school friends, who is also a pagan/polytheist, invited me to be in their wedding. I went, and my partner came with me, and for the first time, he realized that paganism incorporated magic and spirits in a real way, because he saw one. After that, he wanted to learn magic so I went on the internet to find a local organization, and we ended up at an ADF Druid Grove in Baltimore. He wanted to learn magic, but we both got way more than we bargained for. I’d only ever encountered pagan theology in a Wiccan context and that had never made sense to me so I’d ignored gods, but suddenly we were doing pathworkings to go meet them once a month and after years of speaking with spirits easily, I found gods even easier than that, now that I knew how to listen. They came into my life in a Big Way, and I began to construct my own little hearth cult, around two pantheons who claimed me as their own (the Irish and the Vanir), and two goddesses who offered “employment”, Bast and Sekhmet. After years of having no gods, suddenly I had relationships with about a dozen.
The next significant change came when the Grove we’d been going to started to dissolve, and we decided that the 90 minute drive really wasn’t worth it anymore. So we started building a home-centered practice, and then started preparing to be parents, and deciding how to teach our beliefs to our child. To that end, after he was born, we joined a local UU church, so that he’ll have community and space to explore different belief systems as he grows. And in the meantime, I’m involved in a new pagan group at the church, and I’m involved in the Fellowship, and starting to network more out into the community. So I’m pretty much as openly pagan as I can be, at this point, though some of my Christian family members are probably in denial.
What is your practice like today?
Cat: My practice today is still being built, which I think is pretty common to a lot of Pagans. It is influenced a lot by the cultures of the gods that I work with, but my religious practice is pretty stark. I offer mostly of my own body to my gods, since the physical self is very important to me in my practice. Breath is very sacred to me in a religious context, so when I make offerings to my gods, I make sure to offer the breath of my body as well.
Magically, my practice is mostly inspired by British folk magic, intuition, and hedgewitchery practices that I’ve learned over the years. I have been slowly getting back into my regular practice now that I have the space—I just need to make the time.
Kate: My practice remains rooted in folk magic. I practice a type of intuitive and energy based spell craft. Divination plays a large role in my life. I have altars in my home to my elementals, my ancestors, my house spirits, my garden spirits, my animal guide, and my three goddesses that I work with. I spend time in meditation with these altars and I work to use my craft to help those in need.
Tal: My practice today focuses heavily on the idea of change, transformation, and the shifting of shape—whether that be through guising, channeling different archetypes or animals, wearing makeup or switching up clothing, or setting goals and making personal improvements. I believe that pushing the boundaries of what we define as the “self” can lead us to a greater understanding of our true selves and our place in the world, and I make empowering the exploration of others a big part of my practice as well by providing support and validation for anyone going through their own transformative process. I still honor a wide variety of deities from the Celtic pantheon, but primarily worship Loki as the deity of transformation (and, when necessary, criticism). His children and family also have their own places of honor in my practice.
My practice has always included work with local nature spirits, and that continues to this day. Divination through nature and through the Tarot are staples of my work as well. I still practice some practical magic, but it is less common these days—I have more time for prayer and meditation than I have for complicated spell work!
Aleja: I’m sure from the outside my practice looks very busy, from the Fellowship events, to UU church services and pagan rituals, to blots with a local heathen group, a variety of pagan retreats in the summer and fall, my witchy business, and time in there for family celebrations of the holidays and my own deeply personal work. It’s kind of A Lot, but I’m not working outside the home at the moment, and my toddler is probably the best behaved almost-2yo I’ve ever met, so I get a lot done while he naps or I’ll write and he’ll do some coloring.
In an average month I probably make it to 2-3 pagan events, including Fellowship meetings, and I do one Bright Moon oracular session for Bast and Sekhmet, at least one deep tranceworking and probably 3-5 shorter ones, at least one personal divination on top of my cards of the month for either myself or a family member, and I celebrate one holiday with a special family meal. I have a number of long-term spells on my altar that get charged weekly-ish, and our household spirits get offerings weekly. I do basic energy healing/clearing on myself and my house probably weeklyish as need arises, though my personal shields and the house wards are both self-regenerating, and our household spirits do most of the house maintenance, so for the most part I’m just touching base with them. I interact with local spirits or one of my deities every couple of days as things crop up. Sometimes I do more intense spellwork for a specific aim, but that’s probably less than monthly, as I do most of my work in trance these days. If I am creating a spell, I favor bindrunes, candles, spell jars, and crochet squares.