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When Life Takes You Into Further Spiritual Transformation

Posted by sirensays on October 2, 2010


This interview is with a lovely woman I know, whose life has taken her in an interesting direction. It’s one thing when we make the big leap from the faith we grew up in to another one, perhaps nature-based, non-Christian or somewhat unconventional. That is often the norm for young people who are making their way in the word. But what happens when life takes you to a whole different place, when your spiritual practice no longer is right for you? When that happens, it doesn’t serve you, so how can you authentically keep your commitments or be in service? The answer: you can’t.

This is exactly what happened to the wonderful Lady-hearted Mojo, a smart, educated, thoughtful and insightful woman living in Texas. She left her Wiccan tradition behind recently, and not just due to theological reasons. After working very hard with a cohesive system, she has seen it implode, with chaotic, ridiculous results, such as a lack of accountability, make-it-up-as-you-go beliefs, constant cultural appropriation and teenagers who claim High Priest/ess status. Now studying Traditional English Witchcraft, she finds herself interested in Hoodoo as well. Please enjoy this interview where she shares her thoughtful, informed opinions based on experience and her strong desire to respectfully learn and grow.

1. Lady-hearted Mojo, what brings you joy in the world? What are your interests, what
feeds your soul & what do you value?

I value my relationships with others the most which brings me the greatest
amount of joy and sense of well-being. I’m a people-person so I feel
happiest when I’m interacting with others and helping them out even if it’s
just to lend them an ear. I think as we’ve progressed technologically we’ve
also become more isolated from each other on a scale that is, historically,
unprecedented so I make a point to physically spend time with family and
friends.

2. Can you please describe your spiritual practices as an adult and what led
you to them?

I was raised Lutheran, although, my father is Catholic so I have a
familiarity with that denomination as well. By the time I was out of high
school religion played almost no role in my life and this continued into my
late 20’s. At 32 I discovered Wicca and studied it on my own for several
years before finding the tradition I was initiated into; however, around
2008 I felt a growing dissatisfaction with it that I couldn’t reconcile and
in late 2009 I left the religion as well as my tradition.

I still maintain friendships with my former coveners, which is very nice. Since mid-2009 I’ve been studying Traditional English Witchcraft, which is not the same thing as Wicca, but I can’t say at this point that I am 100% a Traditional Crafter. I believe, wholeheartedly, in the Divine and often have “conversations” and seek guidance from above, but I can’t say that I have a specific religious path that I follow.

3. I was very intrigued when I learned from you that you had left
your Wiccan circle because Wicca no longer best reflected your beliefs and
perspective on life (let me know if I have this description wrong). Can you
talk about how this change in your developed and what your process was for
deciding to leave?

It’s hard to describe and my leaving wasn’t solely because my beliefs were
changing. When I first started to study Wicca back in 1996 the solitary “how
to” books were certainly out, but Wicca was still strongly coven-based in my
area so there was accountability and structured training and education,
which is so important even though the authors trying to sell these books
will tell the reader that covens aren’t necessary.

Since 1998, I’ve watched
Wicca go from a cohesive system with a core set of beliefs, theology, and
practices to a free-for-all, make-it-up-as-you-go-system with next-to-no
accountability that often doesn’t reflect Gardner’s original creation. When
something can become whatever a person wants it to be it ceases to be
anything at all as far as I’m concerned. I think this is why we see all
kinds of nonsense being described as Wicca, the mangling of concepts such as
the Wiccan Rede and the Three-fold Law beyond recognition, 15-yr-olds
calling themselves High Priestesses or High Priests, which is just
disturbing when you consider the responsibility a member of the clergy
carries, and depth of training that coven-trained clergy have to go through
to attain those titles. I left Wicca and my tradition as a High Priestess,
which took me nearly 8 years to attain and included training in lay
counseling, so I can speak from experience about the significance of this
role, and can tell you that no teenager or person trained only through
books is qualified to perform it.

Goya’s Caprichos #70 ” ‘Will you swear to obey and respect your masters and superiors, to   sweep the garrets, to spin tow, to ring bells, to howl, to yell, to fly, to cook, to grease, to suck, to bake, to fry, everything and whatever time you are ordered to?’ “I swear.’ ‘Well then, my girl, you are now a witch.’

I also grew tired of the anti-Christian rhetoric that still abounds amongst
Wiccans, the sloppily researched and written books, the pseudo-history that
still gets passed off as fact, the disrespectful and insensitive cultural
appropriation that is standard practice amongst many Wiccans, and the almost
constant whining about the impending return of the “Burning Times” or some
perceived persecution. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been a single Wiccan
who hasn’t experienced persecution based upon their religion, but when
you consider that the average Wiccan is a white, educated, middle-class
suburbanite, screaming persecution at every turn becomes laughable in more
cases than not.

Despite all of this, it was the fact that my spiritual beliefs were
changing. I’m simply no longer drawn to Goddess-worship and tend to view
deity as male. I also place more emphasis on having a strong relationship
with my ancestors, spirits of the land, and Otherworld spirits because they
are both figuratively, and literally, closer to me than Deity.

As I mentioned above, since mid-2009 I’ve been studying Traditional English
Witchcraft. When talking about English Withcraft as that term is understood
today, we are talking about the practices that existed originally amongst
the Anglo-Saxons. For these people Witchcraft was not a religion; it was a
set of practices, some of which could be described as spiritual in nature,
and most often consisted of “crossing the hedge” into the Otherworld and
interacting and learning from the spirits found there. The old Witchcraft
folklore of traveling astrally to the Venusburg or the Brocken and
interacting/learning from the Divine are reflected in these very old tales as
is the concept of the Wild Hunt. Crossing the hedge is an ecstatic practice
much like the techniques used by the indigeous shaman and medicine men to go
into the Spirit World to receive guidance or a cure for an illness. It is
not meditation or pathworking, and can be dangerous as not everything that
dwells in the Otherworld has our best interests at heart and will actively
seek to harm us so it’s not a practice to enter into lightly. It’s best if the
student has a teacher to learn it from so the hazards and pitfalls can be
avoided.

Goya’s Caprichos #68, “The broom is one of the most necessary implements for witches; for besides being great sweepers, as the stories tell, they may be able to change the broom into a fast mule and go with it where the Devil cannot reach them.”

After the Anglo-Saxon period ended with the Norman Invasion in 1066, both the magical practices as well as the healing practices seemed to have been picked up by the Cunningfolk and became part of the old Cunningcraft.
Originally, the Cunningfolk were Christians, although outsiders would refer
to them as “white witches” to distinguish them from the witches that were
thought to harm people. The Cunningcraft thrived from about the 12th century
to the early 20th century and died out because the services provided by the
Cunningmen were less-and-less required. There seems to be a resurgence in
Cunningcraft practice, but more often the practitioners are now Neo-Pagan.
At some point between the 17th century and the mid-18th century, religion
seems to have become attached to some forms of English Traditional
Witchcraft, although, for many it is still only a practice. However, unlike
Wicca, Traditional English Witchcraft doesn’t have the hang up with
Christianity and there are several traditions today that embrace elements
found in Gnostic Christianity, including the presence of the Gnostic Lucifer
as a form of the God as the Divine Light-bearer. These traditions are
generally described as Sabbatic Craft Traditions, the most famous being the
Cultus Sabbati. This is the form of ETW that I’m most interested in, but
it’s hard to find anything written about them.

4. How long has it now been since you left Wicca? How do you feel about your decision?

I formally resigned from my coven/tradition in January 2010 and I haven’t
regretted it; it was the right thing to do.

5. What practices, research, or organization are you currently engaged in that are a better representation of your beliefs?

Aside from being in the early stages of the practice of English Traditional
Witchcraft; I’m also a Hedge-rider having been trained by a fellow
hedge-rider, and I’m also practitioner of Hoodoo. I’ve been practicing
Hoodoo since 2006 and find it to be a very rewarding practice. There really
is no comparison between practicing an old tradition of American folk magic
and practicing the generic magic that can be found in so many books these days.

6. Do you have spiritual role models – authors, magical workers, friends or
family?

Yes, my spiritual role models have been His Holiness the Dalai Lama because
the wisdom he speaks transcends religion. I also admire English Traditional
authors such as Michael Howard, Nigel Pennick, Nigel Ashcroft-Jackson, RJ
Stewart, and Peter Paddon. Comparatively speaking, there are far fewer books
on TEW than there are Wiccan books, but they are much better researched and
written. My very first Hoodoo teacher was Catherine Yronwode, although, I’ve
have been blessed to have learn things from other teachers, some of whom
have come from families that have practiced Hoodoo for generations. I don’t
really learn Hoodoo from books, but some of my favorite authors are Cat.
Yronwode (her Hoodoo reference text is an outstanding one of a kind book),
Draja Mickaharic, Henri Gamache, Jim Haskins, Carolyn Morrow Long, Dr.
Jeffery Anderson, and Yvonne Chireau.

7. What do you see in the manifested realm of magic (such as books,
supplies, stores, groups) that bothers you?

Oh, that’s an easy one. The crap that is being published by so-called
Rootworkers who have watered down Rootwork so much that is barely resembles
the traditional Hoodoo I was trained in. My only guess is that since many of
these authors have already established a Pagan readership they want to
change things so that Rootwork feels more like Witchcraft and, therefore,
more comfy for these types of people and they sell more books, but they are
doing the tradition a huge disservice. In the end, despite the nonsense they
publish or how vehemently they may defend it, real Rootworkers are never
going to be fooled. We know what Hoodoo is and what it isn’t; what is used
and what isn’t, and how it can be used and how it can’t.
In some of these books I’ve seen some really bizarre things getting called
Rootworker/Hoodoo ie: godess symbols, Runes, circle-casting, calling in
elements/elementals, enough Blessed Be’s to choke a horse, dire-warnings of
karma, and hard-line ethics that are not a part of Hoodoo or have ever been.
These authors are trying to do to Hoodoo what has already been done to
Wicca. They want to remove the very things that give Hoodoo its identity and
turn it into a free-for-all in which anything goes, which is what Hoodoo is
definitely not.

As far as supplies, there have always been poorly made curios or curios sold
as something they aren’t so when it comes to this aspect of the tradition
one really has to practice the old “buyer beware”.  I always recommend that
people ask around about the reputation of a supplier or a given line of
products and/or only buy supplies that are made by other Rootworkers who are
known for their quality and authenticity. This doesn’t guarantee that a
person won’t get a badly made product, but it does reduce the chances. For
the record, stay away from Anna Riva, Indio/Wisdom, Dr. Pryor, and The Seven
Sisters of New Orleans. Anna Riva and Indio/Wisdom used to be very well
made, but the original owners sold off their business and the new owners
became more interested in profit than making an authentic product.

8. What have been the most successful workings you have done?

I do well with money drawing when it involves earned wages. I once did a
spell that resulted in an $8,000 project for my husband, who was
self-employed at the time. I call that spell my “$8,000 Money Spell”.
I’m also good at sweetening spells and protection.

I’ve done a successful mirror box spell when a young lady was severely harassing  my daughter to the extent that she was damaging her new car. It was harsh work, but it was necessary and justified and I don’t regret it. I didn’t hurt the young lady, but I did make her stop what she was doing.

9. Do you practice any forms of divination?

I practice some Geomancy and Numerology, but overall, I’m not good at
divination. I’ve tried learning Tarot and Runes, but I just don’t see
anything. I will usually have a friend, who is a fantastic Rune-reader, read
for me when I needed divination done.

10. What are you best at magically? What are you worst at?

I have absolutely no success with gambling work. As mentioned above, I do well with
money-drawing from earned wages as well as sweetening spells. Although, I’m
not proud of the fact I also do well when it comes to control, domination,
and revenge work. I think I have success in all these areas because I have
both my sun and moon in Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn and Saturn rules
many of the areas I have the most success with, but who knows.

11. Given that you left your spiritual practice after many years and also
lost your job, do you think that there is deep work going on internally with
you, aside from the realities of the economy? In other words, is this an
opportunity to become more fully who you really are?

(I know that in  the U.S. we are big on reinvention, but I am not using that word on purpose,
choosing instead to call it “becoming more fully who we really are.” This is
because to me the word reinvention conjures up images of a quick change
life, something simplistic and not reflective of most of us.)

I’ve done some deep meditation on this and have also talked with spirits on
the Otherside about it as well. I think I’m coming to the end of a cycle. I
lost my spiritual path, last December we lost our beloved 12-yr-old German
Shepherd to cancer, I lost a relationship with a member of my family, I lost
my job, and my daughter will be moving out of state to attend nursing school
and live with her fiance, so my husband and I are going to be empty-nesters
soon…that’s a lot of loss in a little over a year and a half. I don’t think
this cycle has anything to do with those we find in New Age belief, ie
Saturn returns and what not, but it’s been indicated to me that this is
what’s happening. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and
as hard as all these losses have been I know in my heart they are happening
for a reason.

12. Do you have an idea of how you want your life to be that’s in your grasp
& that you are working towards? If so, who are you partnered with to make
this happen – family and/or friends?

Right now my focus is on finding new employment. I’ve been earning my own
money since I was 13 so I’m used to working. Staying at home, waiting for
the phone to ring is not my idea of a good time, but I’m trying to make the
most of the free time I have. I’m reading a book called “Walking the
Twilight Path” by Michelle Belanger. Belanger is most closely associated
with the vampire-subculture and for writing The Vampire Codex, but this book
discusses death in both the literal form and in the form of the changes we
experience in life. She had two near-death experiences in childhood due to a
birth defect that was finally repaired with surgery, but she says that the
experiences have helped her understand death as a literal event and as a
series of deep changes we undergo in our lives. So far I like her
writing-style; she’s well-grounded, balanced and no fluffy bs, but I’m only
a chapter or two into it so I’m going to withhold judgment for the
time-being.

Throughout all these changes and losses my husband has been a rock, and I
don’t know what I would do without him. When I’m feeling depressed, anxious
or I’m “in my head” and dwelling on the negative too much he reminds me that
all of this is temporary and will pass. He is really a god-send.

13. Lady-hearted Mojo, do you have any wise words for other spiritual practitioners?

If you are learning primarily though books, question everything you read,
don’t accept it as factual or truthful just because it appears in a book.

I did this with Wicca and then had to relearn almost everything I thought I knew. If you are a member of a spiritual tradition group in Yahoogroups or the like, ask   those people who seem to know what they are talking about who the best authors are to read and whom should be avoided.

When it comes to Hoodoo, if anything you are reading feels like Paganism or
New Age, it’s not Hoodoo; simple as that. The only books published recently
in this genre that are worth anything have been studies by people like Dr.
Jeffrey Anderson. For the most part, there are only a few decent “how to”
books that have been published lately, but authors like Stephanie Rose Bird,
Denise Alvarado, and Dorothy Morrison’s Utterly Wicked should be avoided
like the plague.

Goya's Carprichos 73 "It is Better to be Lazy"

Siren’s note: Leady-hearted Mojo has found a new job and is busy working!


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