1. Do you have a magickal name, and what is it’s meaning?
I do. It’s Mara. I came upon this name during meditation (when I was asking of my magickal name) and decided I’d Google the hell out of it. Mara is the name of Goddess in several cultures. She, much like Lilith, was often an important Goddess who was later demoted, through patriarchal beliefs, to lesser status and evil intent.
In Latvian Mythology she was originally the “Chief” Goddess, something of the Yin to Dievs’ (Chief God) Yang. In Germanic and Scandinavian folklore she was the spirit of confusion who caused nightmares. In Hindu Mythology she is opposite to Kama, whereby Kama brings love and intimacy and Mara brings death.
She is often seen as “Maya” which is the illusion that the physical world in which we live is all there is. Maya is the veil between. In Buddhist mythology, Mara is a demon who tried to tempt Buddha from his path with her beautiful daughters.
There is much lore relating to the name, but I tend to believe that denigrated Goddesses were once the powerful ones. I like to think that by seeing her as a positive entity and adopting her name I am (albeit very slightly) re-dressing the balance.
2. Describe your journey and your current spiritual path.
Before I began this journey I was a science undergrad and an atheist. The idea of “magic” being real was preposterous to me and I didn’t believe that God or Jesus had anything to do with our existence on this blue-green planet. I had, however, fostered a fascination with the “supernatural” my entire life.
As a child I’d read everything there was about ghosts, I used to see energies and auras around living things, I encountered fae in the park near my childhood home and in my mother’s garden, and I LOVED fairytales to the point of obsession. In my teenage and early adult years I trained myself to believe that these were flights of imagination, because everyone knows that if science can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist. Yep.
In my third year of uni I was studying a unit called Evolution and Conservation. It was during this time that I began to question the strength of current scientific premise. The manner in which species evolved and the fascinating means of evolution seemed too perfect for it to be always chance. It seemed to me as though there was some kind of connection between living things, some kind of universal knowledge.
I began to have dreams of the Goddess Gaia, from Captain Planet and the Planeteers (yep, I totally dreamt of cartoons), calling and beckoning to me. I kept hearing the word “witch” in my mind at random times. It began to get on my nerves so I decided to do some net research and discovered the Wiccan spirituality and all things occult. It was like finding home when you hadn’t realised you were looking for it.
I’ve been following my spiritual path for nearly 11 years (wow, I just realised that) and it has taken me along many different byways. From ceremonial magick to Eastern systems, teaching yoga to learning energetic healing – it’s been an interesting ride thus far. My current spiritual path is an eclectic one combining the elements of Yoga/Tantra with Witchcraft. I’ve recently started study into Shinto, which I began researching a number of years ago, and plan to incorporate it into my practices. I like to unite aspects of different mythologies and practices in order to create a path that suits my personal spirituality.
3. Are there particular Gods/Goddesses that you worship, or a particular tradition that you work with?
I don’t really like the word “worship”. I prefer to look at it as “working with”. I have two patron Goddesses, Gaia and Ishtar. My patron God is Cernunnos and Pan (when he feels like it). I don’t really follow a particular pantheon as I work with whomever I’m guided to. I also often work with (in no particular order) Kali, Hestia, Hygeia, Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha, Parvati, Hecate, Apollo, Eros, Arianrhod, Epona, Isis, Tara, Kwan Yin, Hathor, Amaterasu and others that I’m probably forgetting at the moment.
4. What is your relationship with nature, including animals and/or plant spirits?
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the natural world. I used to collect rocks as a child and I always had them clinking in my pockets. My favourite thing in the summer holidays was to lie under a tree and look up at the sky through the leaves. I would see golden lights moving between the green and often believed I could see shapes dancing.
I have seen earth and plant spirits over the years (and in some very unlikely places). I’ve seen them in buildings, where spiritual practices are held regularly, and in the bark of trees. I’ve felt the energies of and communicated with trees when I’ve meditated beside them and “heard” the words of a few animals in my head – one was a numbat, which was a very strange experience.
I’ve wanted to work with animals my entire life and intended to study veterinary science when I got to uni, but ended up in environmental science. Looking back, I’m glad that’s the path I was led down because it’s taught me so much about how we can interact with the world and the importance of healthy ecosystems. I see nature as an extension of ourselves. We’re all connected on this beautiful mother we live on; we are all parts of a whole.
5. What constitutes your regular practice? What divinatory tools do you use, and/or what sort of spellwork do you engage with (if applicable)?
My practice depends upon the amount of time I have available. When time is short I tend to have a mini-meditation, practice surya namaskara (sun salutations), or sit at my altar, pull up a circle and talk to the Gods. When time is greater I might cast circle and call in the quarters so that I can sit in sacred space and meditate or practice magick if I feel the need. I don’t maintain a rigid practice as I like things to be organic.
I use oracle and tarot cards, pendulum, and candles for divination. My favourite at the moment are my Faery Oracle Cards by Brian Froud, which I’ve had for years. I’m also rather fond of my Gaia Oracle Cards by Tony Carmine Salerno.
6. What are your experiences with the wheel of the year, and ritual? (Include favourite sabbats, favourite ritual memories, and least favourite memories).
The first sabbat I ever celebrated was Imbolc. It was such an amazing experience for me because I was able to see the world anew. Thus, for me, Imbolc remains one of my favourite sabbats. I also love Samhain and Mabon. All the sabbats have special meaning for me, some more than others.
It’s been amazing working with the sabbats as a coven. I often find the experience to be more powerful and I enjoy sharing the space and energies with people that I love. Oh, and we do have the most magnificent feasts!
There have been so many wonderful times but the one that sticks most in my mind is a Samhain held next to a wetland, in the dark and the cold of late autumn. We held ritual on a circular stone table and seats, with candles surrounding us, weeping Willows alongside us and the sound of wetland creatures in the night. The veil is thin at Samhain, but even more so next to wetlands – where the veil between worlds is always thin. Suffice to say, there was a number of spirits around and one that wanted some serious communication with us.
I honestly don’t have a least favourite memory of a sabbat. Every experience holds its negative aspects but, by and large, they’ve all been meaningful and lovely events. I think that if I didn’t have my sisters to share these times then they would hold less joie de vivre.
7. What are your experiences with ‘alternate’ realms, and the beings that reside in them?
I’ve had a lot of experiences with other beings over the years – some good, some less so. Some of the negative entities have made life difficult at times, but as corporeal beings we hold far more power than they do and can “deter” them when we need to. In general, most experiences have been lovely.
I’ve found that working with the Archangel energies to be rather interesting. They are available to us when we require, and ask for, their aid and require less “ritual communication” (as outlined in many different ceremonial texts) than I’d previously been led to believe. Their role is to help humanity, so it stands to reason that we would be able to communicate with them without too much effort.
My experiences with the fae have been fleeting thus far. They seem to show themselves to me and I hear their giggles but that’s pretty much it. I don’t really get many messages or communication from them as yet, but that might change in the future. I find them a source of great fascination.
I’ve worked with the elementals quite often and feel that I have a relatively good rapport with them. Dragons are rare to come across, for me, but the few that I’ve “communicated” with have blown my mind. I’m just starting to get a decent handle on my spirit guide. He seems to be reluctant to talk right now but quite happy to help in healing sessions.