It’s been a few weeks since my original post on Oct 26th addressing the issues of Witch Councils, specifically the mysterious goings on with the newly formed (though some would say reformed) US American Council of Witches. It’s been interesting to see how much more has happened, and how many more red flags have been raised, in the little time that’s passed since the last post. On this coming Tuesday, November 15th, we’re going to be spending the first hour of the show talking about what’s going on now. We’re also going to be joined by a now ex-council member who was apparently kicked out of the group for asking too many questions. Here are the new details that we have heard, gathered, and observed. When I posted my original post I did receive a response from someone named Sara Evens who was responding for the Council. I chose not to approve the comment for one simple reason; the comment was the same form cut and paste response that the Council has been posting to blogs and Facebook pages where questions have been raised. We realize there has been many questions about the Council and different names appearing. Please realize that we are in a stage of reformation, and are following an outline that every council member has agreed upon. We ask for your patience and understanding while we work to bring you a complete illustration of what is going on, and what will go on in the future. We are aware of your questions and concerns, and we will address these in due time. Thank you for your understanding and support. Please send all questions to: email@example.com I seriously think these people are missing the boat big time. There is a desperate need for answers and instead of giving any publicly they are just saying “send us an email”, and from our own experience with the show attempting to ask questions and get one-on-one contact, it’s pretty much a waste of time. While we understand that they are probably being inundated with questions and emails right now, they also claim to have a team of volunteers helping reply to messages. It took several weeks for us to get our email answered and it was answered in a very unprofessional manner (using the words “email addy” rather than “email address”, along with other “net lingo” just screams to a lack of professionalism). They claimed that Kaye Berry, who we were trying to reach, never got our email and that we can just email the Council directly with our questions. Well, how about you, the Council, who are responding to this email, answer our questions! No, instead we’re just asked to send another email. Runaround 101! So, I never let that blog comment go through because it wasn’t a response and it wasn’t adding to the conversation. It is a passive aggressive attempt to brush off the questions being posed. We get it, you’re really good at that. **FYI…all screen shots below can be clicked to view full size.** What’s going on now… Christopher Penczak came and went as a member. In the last few weeks we’ve had some other contacts and seen some other really interesting things transpire. The night that I posted my original blog I went back to their Facebook page only to find that Christopher Penczak had suddenly been named as a member of the Council. As a student of Christopher’s I was really surprised about that knowing how busy he is these days, especially since he had taken a lot of personal time during this year while dealing with the illness and death of his Mother. But within a week he had withdrawn from the Council. Devin was able to get in touch with Christopher prior to his stepping down to talk to him and it was clear that Christopher wasn’t prepared to deal with all that was going on and all that they were apparently expecting from him, and so he departed. The thing that I found interesting, and again extremely unprofessional, was that rather than create a short announcement about his decision to leave, they just cut and pasted his private email to their Facebook page to share with the world (which a few days later they removed). This was kind of a big deal. In the Pagan community we tend to look toward the associations that our teachers, leaders, and elders keep and we often feel that if they are supporting someone or something then it’s worth our support and attention as well. When Christopher was added to their Facebook page it gained some attention because he is considered a well respected leader within the community. So when he decided that this was something that was just more than he was comfortable taking on, it again left the group with a big hole since now they were down another well known person from the community. People are asking questions and getting censored. Especially if you asked about an article they shared from WitchVox about Witch Wars. This is probably one of the biggest concerns here. I had first noticed a few weeks ago that one of the other pages, on the American Council of Pagans page, that some comments were being deleted. Then it started to happen on the US Council page. Sometimes questions, sometimes comments that seemed to show a lack of certainty about what the group was doing. And then there would be what would seem like routine cleaning out of the page. Posts and whole conversations deleted. At the time I had commented on how that seemed really kind of…inappropriate (read “shady”). But, in response to the questions, they had said they were in need of a break and that they were asking people to email them and just be patient (and thus began the seemingly never-ending “email us your questions” response). Then just two days ago, on November 11th, someone from the Council posted a link to an article on WitchVox from 1998 about Witch Wars with the comment “nuff said” (see image below, click to see it full size). The comment that you see here seems to refers to the fact that there is a comment in the article with the words “nuff said” that refers to self appointed and community appointed leaders who use their self-appointed importance, ego, and power to control elements of the community. So it was sort of a weird thing to post on a page like that with no explanation. Devin saw it and commented asking why they posted this (click to see larger). Then shortly there after both the comments were removed and instead we’re again greeted with the “email your questions to us” comment. Within a few minutes we realized that Devin was banned from the page. He saw his comment was deleted and tried to comment again but he wasn’t able to post at all. I knew he was banned from the page at that point because I still had the ability to comment and I’m not even a “fan” of the page. Important to note too is that for a while now they have revoked the ability for anyone to post to the group’s wall with new content. A little while after that Chas Bogan came on and posted as well, asking what the purpose of this post was. And once again his post was deleted and he was also banned from the page and was no longer able to post. Then someone else came along and posted a very appropriate comment, again trying to understand why this link was posted. And not too long after this comment was also removed and at some point within the next handful of hours the whole article was deleted. As of Sunday evening at 8:11pm EST this was the latest post on the page. And if you look at the comments with this Phase I/Phase II stuff..again, no answering questions publicly, just send an email. But at least the comments are still there (for now). Again, why can’t we just all hear the answers to the questions? It would certainly help cut back on what seems to be a huge amount of email that they get if everyone that has the same question could just get their answers right there on the page. But honestly, this is a little more progress that we’ve seen so far! Now we know a little bit about what supposedly is going to be going on but why not answer that question? It’s perfectly legit, especially if people are going to email about getting involved. But oh, what do you know! A little under an hour later, that question is, as all question are, removed. So I guess we shouldn’t start singing “Kumbaya” just yet. So, what’s going on that I need to care about then? The issue of people asking questions and not getting answers and instead being censored is a big deal. The fact that questions can’t be asked with answers given, in public for all the see, is truly a problem for any community organization. When an organization decides to go public it needs to be ready to answer the questions of the public. And when you’re an organization that is trying to represent a segment of the public, you need to address that part of the public first and foremost! Especially when you have a public forum like Facebook as your only web presence! Just deleting people’s questions and saying “send us an email” doesn’t cut it. It makes it seem like you have something to hide! And just a note about donations… One of the things that has been a real sticking point in this whole thing has been the question of funds. Originally they said that the donation button had been removed until after their break and their “reforming” period. However there is still a donation button, alive and active, on Kaye Berry’s website (at least as of 1pm EST on November 14th). When you click on that link and go to the Paypal donation page you can see plain as day you will see that the donation is labeled as for the US American Council of Witches but the name at the top of the page which denotes who the money goes to is Mother Nature’s Emporium, one of Kaye Berry’s many businesses. Why is that a big deal? Because if you’re a 501(c)3 organization, or an organization trying to get 501(c)3 status, funds raised and donated to your group must be kept in separate accounts with their own tracking and records. To do anything else could constitute fraud. So it has to make you wonder why the organization doesn’t have its own PayPal account with the funds going to its own bank account (which is also must have as a 501(c)3). This is soooo super important to understand… Neither Devin nor I are trying to bully anyone. Someone on my Facebook page essentially equated our inquiries to bullying and and “lynch mob mentality”, basically saying we’re trying to force someone to answer questions before they were ready to. That is not at all what we are trying to do!! We are not trying to bully anyone, we are only trying to get some answers while helping to paint a full picture for the community. So far there are many things about the Council that should be leading folks to ask some questions before throwing full support behind them. But sometimes we Pagans can be a little too trusting of other Pagans. When we see an individual or a group working under the banner of Paganism, especially when they are talking about doing work for the betterment of the Pagan community, we often throw out support behind it blindly because naturally we all want to see our community grow and thrive! However, speaking from personal experience, I can say that sometimes there are things going on behind the scenes, ego’s being stroked and people being scammed, that you don’t see unless you look really closely. And it behooves us, especially as a minority spiritual community, to do our research before attaching ourselves to groups and causes. So again, please understand that we are in no way trying to bully anyone, we are in no way launching personal attacks against anyone involved in the Council, and we are in no way trying to prevent people from supporting them or becoming involved. We believe in the great potential of the things this group could do and the things that they say they would like to achieve. We would love nothing more to be proven wrong about the things that we have started to think about this group. Personally I would like to be proven wrong and instead be given solid, valid reasons to support the Council! We have now said all we’re going to say about this…for now. Last night Devin and I crafted together an email to Kaye Berry and the Council with a series of the important questions, about both the Council’s formation and it’s handling of funds and donations, as well as who exactly Ms. Berry is since she is relatively unknown to the greater Pagan community. You can find the email on The Modern Witch blog since we have shared it with the world in order to maintain our own integrity and transparency. The email went to Ms. Berry, the Council email address, and all exiting and known Council members. Ms. Berry replied in minutes with an unprofessional knee-jerk reaction and the followed that up with a reply saying that she would provide an official response once her lawyers took a look at it. We look forward to hearing from Ms. Berry, her attorneys, and the Council. Once we have her answers we will be sharing them, unedited, on The Modern Witch blog. Tomorrow night on The Modern Witch show we have a former state rep for the Council joining us to share her experience, and our regularly scheduled guest, Storm Faerywolf, will also be weighing in on the subject. After that we leave it in the hands for Kaye Berry and the Council to step up and address the questions and concerns of the Pagan community. If they don’t respond you really have to wonder why. We’ll also leave it up to all of you to do your own looking at that point unless something else really big happens or we’re contacted again by anyone with major information. Like I said we’re not trying to convince people not to get involved or not to support them but rather to be fully aware of what it is that you’re getting behind. It’s your choice to see or turn a blind eye.
So last night on The Modern Witch, Devin and I decided to talk a bit about the whole controversy surrounding this reformation or re-imagining, if you will, of the 1974 Council of American Witches. This has become quite the crazy situation, going from a group that was supposedly being asked to form in order to update the US Army Chaplin Handbook to eventually just saying they were coming together in hopes of being able to help local and state governments work with and understand the Pagan community. There is a lot of stuff in between those two steps, and I’ll address some of my thoughts in a minutes, but the reason I wanted to write this post was because I had a couple people email me saying that they felt my thoughts and opinions surrounding the new Council were “too harsh” and “lacking the optimistic, positive energy that the Pagan community so desperately needs.” In part because I want to address those charges, but also because I just wanted to bring the topic to the table for discussion, I thought I’d write a bit about my thoughts and views here for those that didn’t catch the show (and even for those that have no clue what this is all about in the first place). First, a little history… If you’re unfamiliar with the American Council of Witches from the 1970′s, don’t beat yourself up about it. A lot of people have no clue who or what they were but many people are familiar with “The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief” that this group put together in 1974. It’s been published in various books over the years, spread around the internet, and even used as educational material both in and outside of the Pagan community. I first discovered it sometime in the mid-1990′s when I first read Silver Ravenwolf’s “To Ride A Silver Broomstick”. On page 5, in a section titled “What Witches Are Made Of” she presents the brief history of the group and then reprints the Principles stressing “Take time to read it, word for word. Don’t scan it. Each year you should reaffirm these beliefs in some way…” The Principles are helpful, and the original intentions behind their creation was to help educate and inform the public. Later on, because of the efforts of Council head Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, president of Llewellyn Publishing, the Principles were incorporated into the Army Chaplin Handbook. The group ultimately disbanded in the same year for many of the reasons that you would image a group of 73 Pagans might have trouble with in a group like this; it was hard to reconcile the ideas and beliefs of so many different traditions into a single, cohesive group. Enter the US American Council of Witches Then earlier this month the word started to spread around the internet that the group was reforming, so to speak. Jason Pitzl-Waters posted a brief interview on his blog, The Wild Hunt, on October 12th with Pagan author and musician Kenny Klein who was, according to the now changed Facebook page that the group has, was supposedly acting in the role of PR Rep. In the article Klein talks about how some of the goals of the group included revising the Army Chaplin’s Handbook and redrafting the original set of Principles. The big sticking point here was how and why the group was apparently coming back together. Klein, and the groups (again, now changed) Facebook page stated that the group was forming at the request of the US Army in order to do this re-write of the Pagan elements of the Chaplin’s Hanbook. Klein stated that the group was coming together at the Army’s request, possibly from a request made directly to Pagan elder Oberon Zell, who are part of the original Council. Somehow this then went to a woman by the name of Kaye Berry, a psychic from Illinois (who seems to like going by the name Mz. Kaye or Rev. Kaye, depending on the circumstances you’re talking to her in), who was acting as the spearhead of this new group which was going by the name of US American Council of Witches. Their Facebook page prominently featured a PayPal donation button, asking the community for financial help in order to get things off the ground, and sending out requests to various people in the Pagan community asking for people to become part of the Council. A list of names, bios, and faces began to accumulate on their page, featuring everyone from “Mz” Berry herself, Oberon Zell, and Kenny Klein to lesser known individuals who were joining up…to the Witch from “Wife Swap”. The Council was also starting to sound like a general interfaith council at one point from some of the descriptions. It would be open to Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, non-Witches, polytheists, and the like. The “more the merrier” mentality was starting to signal some possible concerns among some people in the community. Their Facebook page also featured laundry list of spiritual and religious traditions that it wanted to help represent. Thelemites, Cabot Witches, Nocturnal Witches, Eclectics, Druids, Neo-Pagans, Neo-Wiccans, and just about everything in between. This is then followed by a list of all US states with a set of two numbers next to them saying that they have “sent notices to these groups in these states.” But what is really going on? Everyone was so excited about the thought of a big, happy group of Pagans getting along that people began donating money and spreading their press release to promote the group, all the while not realizing that there were a lot of big questions that needed to be answered. Who is Kaye Berry and why is this woman the person who is heading this group and its efforts? How are the other “Council members” being chosen? Who’s picking them? Why is there a need for donations at the onset? What is the money needed for? If people are going to be giving donations, is this group a 501(c)3? Or is this “for profit”? What groups and individuals are being contacted in the different states and what is this that they are being contacted with? Exactly WHO is this group claiming to represent and in what capacity? Part of the mission statement for the groups states, on their Facebook page: “The goals set forth will include: a set of common Traditional Principles, a revision of the Army’s Manual, a document for law enforcement, the various Government Bodies and a possible revision of The Thirteen Principles of Belief.” But it was now coming out that the military never made a request for a revision (Berry would admit this herself after the other version of the story was spreading around) and the idea of a “set of common Traditional Principles” was making people of various traditions express some concern and worry. Things that may be high on the list of “Traditional Principles” for a group of Santeria practitioners may not be the same as those of a group of Cabot Witches, or Eclectics, or Neo-Wiccans, etc. So how would this happen in a way that wouldn’t result in an epic collapse of the group? So we wanted to get some more info from the source… Devin and I were both finding out some really interesting things about what was happening behind the scenes and we wanted to try and get some answers. So Devin sent Kaye Berry and email asking her if she would come on to the show on Tuesday to just answer some of these basic questions. We never heard back from her. But in between sending that email and the show there were more interesting developments. Now the US American Council of Witches was dividing up into three separate groups, but all seemingly with the same mission statements and intentions of being resources for information and education to the communities, states, and government with regard to Paganism. Now there was the US American Council of Witches, the American Council of Pagans, and the American Council of Natural Earth Religions. Both the American Council of Pagans and American Council of Natural Earth Religions have the following as their (I’m guessing temporary) mission statement: “We shall gather together in interfaith dialog, to draft a set of Common Principles, Mission Statement, Purpose, Compiling an interfaith manual to be used by government officials, state officials, county officials, including the police and chaplain’s involved with prisons and jail systems.” The Wild Hunt would run a news brief follow up to the original interview with Kenny Klein that was simply a statement from the US American Council of Witches that read: “I wish to clarify one point. We were never notified by the US Army to revise their manual. We have been contacted from several Federal and State’s to create a manual/guide for them to utilize when dealing with a person who falls under the: Pagan/Wicca ~ Natural Earth Religions. We shall use the Army’s Manual as a guide only. A copy of which will be distributed to ALL Services(Navy, Marines etc…, ALL Federal Government offices, Every State Government office, ALL Federal prison’s, ALL State’s prisons, ALL County’s Jails(in each state), ALL Chaplains in ALL the Hospitals in all states…….. So we are looking at around probably 10,000 books/manuals/guides. We are probably underestimating ourselves. A complete listing will be on our web page when it is operational.” But again, exactly WHO is contacting WHO and asking for this information; and exactly WHAT information needs to be addressed? Shortly after this the Facebook page changed. All names and bios were removed, the three groups were now out there for people to check out, and the group was suddenly “taking a break” in order to answer all the emails it was apparently buried under. They even put out the request for volunteers to help answer their email (!!!) and, naturally, they got some help and as of October 25th they claim to be “all caught up”. And then, in what seemed like damage control, things changed… I did a little reading around the original group’s Facebook page (since this is all they have, there is no website as of yet), looking for some more info. The PayPal button doesn’t seem to be anywhere anymore, however on October 18th a comment to the status update stating there was a donation button said: “This money that you donate will be for expenses, web site, stamps, envelopes, printing material. You have the right to know where your money goes. Right now we have a sponsor that will match donations dollar for dollar. This offer will expire Nov 1st.” October 18 at 2:33pm All the bios and info about the members were removed from the main page but you can still find them in the Notes section for the group. The only person that seems to have been given an “official title” is Kenny Klein who is listed as Public Relations. Also on October 18th was a status update stating that a “new press release” was in the works. So what was, or more to the point, is, my beef… Again, it’s wanting more transparency, more answers, more clarity, especially from a group that from what seemed like inception was shamelessly asking the community for cash donations to help its cause. In a lot of ways this is already appearing to be a PR nightmare from the start. There was a rush to get support before having things organized, it’s barely even walking and it’s already divided into three different groups (with one person commenting on the American Council of Pagans page that being “more pagan than wiccan, I like this council” which, to me, only illustrates more of a point of how nuts this might get). I’m also wicked curious to know about their 501(c)3 status that they claim to have on their WitchVox listing. As someone who was involved with a Wiccan church that went through the process of getting that status, I can tell you it is NOT easy and takes MONTHS, at best, in order to satisfy the requirements and to get this status. So I find it hard to believe that this group formed and got their non-profit religious status in a matter of weeks. The splitting up of the group alone would be enough to put that status (legally) into question. Don’t wait for some big “Council of 13″, be an advocate yourself! Like I said last night, and I say it again here, I think that people coming together to create small, local groups in their own states that can help be contacts to local and state police and governments are FAR more necessary and needed than large posturing groups of people who have a very nameless, faceless appearance and who’s inability to get on the same page is just illustrating the point that getting a bunch of Pagans together really IS like herding cats. Many states already have advocacy organizations in place. Do a search online or on WitchVox, contact any groups in your local area, and see if there is something in place that you might not be aware of and see how you can help and get involved! I honestly believe that these kinds of organizations are going to be far more viable in the end. A small group of people trying to help out their local communities or states will stand much more of a fighting chance of making strides toward understanding.
For about the last week now I’ve been saying that I have some awesome news to share and I’ve been holding tight to that news until today. But here we are, just after Lughnasadh (a great time to make this announcement). Time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag! As many of you know I started my own podcast at the beginning of June after leaving After Hours Radio. Because I’m just so busy with so many things, including having to find ways to get around the sound of airplanes flying overhead when I record, I haven’t finished the second episode of that yet (but I will, I promise). But with one book coming out soon, and a few e-book projects in the work to be done before the end of the year, along with preparing to move back to the east coast at the end of September and helping clients and my wonderful friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook, my time is slowly slipping away from me. I actually had to sit down and plan a vacation for myself let night when I realized that I haven’t had much more than a few quality hours to myself in the last handful of months. Remember the interview I shared with Devin Hunter? Yes, there was a reason behind that beyond shamelessly plugging one of my best friends…and that’s where the big news comes in. As of October 18th I’ll be joining Devin as co-host on his very popular and very cool podcast, The Modern Witch Podcast. Devin has worked so hard to create an amazing show with wonderful guests and regular contributors and it’s paid off because the show has literally tens of thousands of regular listeners! I was extremely honored that Devin asked me to be a regular part of the show and I can’t wait to get started with it. But wait! Like in those cheesy salad spinner commercials, there’s more! The show isn’t going to be a podcast anymore! And it’s not just going to be once a month like it is now, or as in the cast of my show, when it manages to get finished. We’ll be doing the show weekly and LIVE on BlogTalkRadio!! Every Tuesday night from 6pm PST/9pm EST for two hours you’ll be able to call in or chat with us in the chatroom. Because of this change the show will now just be called The Modern Witch, you know, being it’s not technically a podcast anymore. The show is going to have different guests, sometimes for interviews, sometimes to just join us in discussion, and we’ll be taking about everything from music to politics to spirituality to magick. It’s going to truly be a show that focuses on the next generation of Witchcraft and those who are weaving magick into every part of their lives, not just on the Sabbats an Esbats. If you find magick on a dance floor or in moonlit grove, in a deep forest of the middle of a crowded mall, it doesn’t matter. Magick is with us everywhere, all the time, no matter where we go and what we do and as Pagans and Witches we need to live it 24/7 and find it all around us. And that’s what we’ll be looking toward. Topics, discussions, and guests who help us to embody and live the true modern witch lifestyle! Another thing that we’ll be doing is actually adding the Ask A Witch feature from the blog to the show! You’ll be able to submit questions in advance and we’ll pick questions for special shows a few time a month where we devote time just to your Ask A Witch questions. When we pick the ones we’re going to talk about we’ll let you know ahead of time so if you want to call in and talk with us on the air you can! That should be wicked fun! And, for those who might ask, I don’t know what will happen with Shadow Walking. Likely it’s going to be something that I’ll do some special things with here and there but it obviously wont be a regular thing because what Devin and I will be doing with The Modern Witch will be 100 times better anyway. But I’m sure I’ll do little things with it here and there in the future. So what should you do to prepare for this amazing new show? Continue to support the existing shows, both The Modern Witch Podcast and Shadow Walking. Listen to previous episodes of MWP and be on the look out for episode two of Shadow Walking (because, really, it’s coming). “Like” us on Facebook and then share us with your friends! Visit and bookmark the website for the show, www.themodernwitchpodcast.com. Sign up for our newsletter! Over the next couple of months as we start working on getting this set up for the new show we’ll be making announcements through a newsletter so you’ll also be up on the latest things we’re getting together. Starting in October Tuesday nights are going to be a lot more interesting!
I wanted to take some time today to introduce you all to one of my favorite people who is also about to be my partner in crime with some future projects. He’s a dear friend and a kick ass Witch; his name is Devin Hunter! If you haven’t heard of Devin before or been introduced to him through his great show The Modern Witch Podcast, let me introduce you to him. Soon you’re going to see Devin and I doing a lot of things together and I wanted to make sure you two were well acquainted. I got the chance to rope Devin into answering some questions to share with you all to give you an idea of who he is and to help you get familiar with him. So read on for my interview with the awesome Devin Hunter! Tell everyone a little bit about yourself and what led you to first getting involved in Paganism. I was actually raised pagan, well partially pagan. My father is pagan and my mother an x-pagan/born again Christian. Paganism has pretty much been with me my whole life, excluding a few awkward teen years when I was in an experimental phase. I think I accepted it as my path when I was 13, went through an identity crisis, and then promptly found myself back there. I have been a pagan writer for a few years now, mostly in the occasional magazine like ‘Moon Shadows’. I have also been teaching the craft for nine years now on a continual basis, and I have just recently formalized the core practices in my own line within the Dianic tradition of witchcraft and am teaching both in-person classes here in CA, but internationally as well through a long-distance training program. I am a full-time psychic/medium and I manage The Mystic Dream in Walnutcreek, CA. I also teach psychic development, Crystal Healing/Therapy, and a popular Tarot intensive designed for those who want to boost their practices to a professional level. My big project right now however is teaching a new year-and-a-day course called The People’s Witchcraft. This is the largest continual teaching operation I have personally been a part of as I am teaching long-distance as well as in-person, both nationally and internationally. How did you come to discover your psychic and mediumship abilities? Ah, now this is a great story. I have never actually had a moment when I discovered them so much as having moments when I realized others did not. I have a great and supportive family so my ability to see and talk with spirits and my clairesentience was noticed and accepted very early on. I grew up listening to stories of how I would talk with spirits and angels and freak out all my mother’s friends. However when I knew that I was different happened when I was five and I woke up early one morning after it had snowed and heard a voice whispering to me. I remember becoming suddenly aware that my mother was going to be in a car accident. I ran out into the living room to find my mother getting ready to leave for work. I threw a tantrum but eventually mom still had to go to work. Back in those days it was not against the law to not wear your seat-belt, so my mother never did. I marched her out to the car, made her put her seat-belt on, and told her to be careful. A few hours later my mother calls the house from the hospital. There was a lengthy patch of ice and her car slid into another accident. Without the seat-belt it would have been fatal. What traditions have you had the opportunity to study and explore? I have my third degree in the Northern Star line of British Traditional Wicca, and I am a third degree initiate of the Dianic Tradition of Witchcraft, which is not to be confused with the feminist Dianic line of Dianic Wicca. I am decently versed within the magick of the Hungarian gypsy people, to which I am half. I have also studied Huna, Voodou, Hoodoo, and Appalachian folk magick. I have a level two in both the Usui reiki method and Blue Fire reiki as well. Currently I am studying with multiple teachers in the Feri Tradition of American Witchcraft, or what some might call Anderson Feri. You now have your tradition, The Living Temple of Diana, which is a cult of Diana tradition and not a Dianic Wiccan tradition, which has caused some controversy and confusion. Tell us a little bit about the tradition and how it came to be that you started the Temple. I was initiated into the Cult of Diana, also known as The Dianic Witchcraft tradition, in the winter of 2004. I later became initiated into Northern Star which was very Aradian in nature. After several years of establishing my own practice and gnosis within the two traditions I made the decision to formalize the work and create my own line within the Dianic tradition of witchcraft, which we call The Living Temple of Diana. The Living Temple of Diana actually solidified earlier this year after I was asked to make a statement as a male Dianic about a controversial speech from a Dianic elder. The truth of the matter is that the tradition that I was initiated into and the tradition that Z.Budapest teaches are incredibly different. In fact it was not until the big explosion after this year’s Pantheacon that I became aware of just how different the two lines really are. Most of the Dianics I talk to recognize that the feminist line is a part of the over-all tradition, however they are viewed as separatists. The original teachings of the tradition are incredibly accepting of all genders and gender variations. To me the difference aside from feminism between our two takes on the tradition really breaks down to the Wiccan principles. The Dianic witchcraft tradition often does not adhere to the three-fold law, nor do we work with the Wiccan rede or the neo-pagan sabbat cycle. The tradition focuses on the concepts of witchcraft, most often with practices related to Stregha. Within the separatists line we see more variations of core material, Wiccan themes, and more attention to neo-pagan holidays. However, what unites us is the belief that Diana is a singular creative force within the universe, which is to say she needed no consort. Within the Living Temple of Diana we focus not on gender but on soul. We do not believe the Goddess gives one hoot about what is between your legs, but more about your ability to be a strong, self possessed, self empowered, and self aware human living up to their potential. The concepts of fertility based worship that are common within the neo-pagan movement are replaced with an ecstatic worship focus. We tend to work with a model based on resonance rather than polarity, and through our practices seek to become empowered within our everyday. You have a really great podcast, The Modern Witch Podcast, where you get a lot of interesting guests from the Pagan community. How did the show get started? Who have been some of your favorite guests? The show actually started because at the time it came out there were few shows out there that I felt were addressing new topics to a modern audience. If they were entertaining they were not exactly something you could listen to in the car on the way home from picking the kids up due to endless streams of cussing and inappropriate language. I had thought about it for a few days and then woke up one morning and hadn’t made any plans at the time, so I recorded the first episode in my up-stairs bathroom, then released it that afternoon. I think I was lucky because due to my professional career I would spend several months out of the year touring the country going from one pagan festival to the next, and one new-age festival to the next. While on the road I got the chance to actually sit down, hang-out, and develop friendships with pagan leaders, authors, and other voices within the modern movement. After the first episode I contacted a dear friend of mine, Christopher Penczak, who had been a major supporter in my career and invited him to come on the show as a guest. After the episode he was on aired, I called the rest of the people I knew and was able to book some amazing folks for the show. About six months ago we hit the 25,000 subscriber mark, and will soon be reaching 30,000. I have to say, I do not have any favorites; these people truly are my friends. I can say however that the interviews I have done with people I had placed a judgment on like Raven Digitalis and Christian Day have been some of the most surprising interviews for me. Once I actually talked with them I was baffled at my own ignorance for conceptualizing personifications of people I had never met all because of their reputation and rumors I had heard. Truth be told, both of them are pretty amazing people. Christian and I have become good friends as well and I would count him as someone I could trust. It all goes to show you cannot listen to the gossip and really know what is going on. When it comes to helping out those really new to the Craft, what books do you recommend that they read to get started in learning about Paganism or developing their magickal and psychic abilities? This may surprise everyone, but for the new witch I always recommend Solitary Witch by Silver Ravenwolf. It is a big book with all the tables and charts you will ever need, detailed explanations for how to do the work, but most importantly it focuses a lot on individualism in the craft. If you are new to the party, this book could easily replace all the other 101 books. When it comes to psychic development I am a major fan of Christopher Penczak’s Spirit Allies. It is actually a book geared towards helping the reader develop a relationship with their spirit guides, however the exercises within the book were a refreshing brand on psychic development. Spirit Allies has to be my number one recommended book to clients. A few other suggestions on good reading would be The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, for those who want a more spiritual approach to the craft. Enchanted by Titania which is a very nifty book with fabulous art work and traditional folk magick that has been modernized. And last but not least I am a huge fan of the works of Dorothy Morrison, specifically her book entitled The Craft, which is another great 101 book. Thanks Devin! Be sure to check out these links to find Devin around the web! DevinHunter.net The Modern Witch Podcast The Modern Witch Podcast on YouTube The Modern Witch Facebook Page Devin’s Blog Devin on Twitter
Yesterday at the Gulu Gulu Cafe in Salem, MA a press conference was held by Ed Hubbard, founder and CEO of Witch School International, to discuss the upcoming online reality series to be filmed in Salem called “The Young Witches of Salem“. The show will feature five “young Witches” who will be living and working in the Witch City while taking time to learn from Elders all the skills they will need to become successful “professional” Witches in Salem, MA. They will take lessons in mediumship and psychic development, public speaking, general business skills, stone reading, and, of course, Witchcraft. The show will be filming in Salem from August through October, ending around Halloween. A total of 14 episodes, each approximately 22 minutes in length, will be aired beginning on October 1st. But this isn’t going to be your average reality series. It wont be on your television but on your computer. Hubbard says the show will feature “cutting edge” technology including the ability for audiences to communicate directly with the cast and the use of something called “actionable video”. This will allow viewers to click on things in the video itself as they watch in order to find out more information about objects, people, and businesses they are seeing. Hubbard gave an example of seeing a necklace in an episode and how the viewer could click on it, find out who makes it, and then purchase one. Somehow this didn’t surprise me, personally. He also said that you could learn more about local Salem businesses by clicking on them when they are visible in the videos. The show is being presented through ClickVision.tv, an online social video website that features a variety of online shows ranging in topics from news and talk to science fiction (and it’s clearly hosted through Ning from the looks of the site layout and features, not to mention the IP address goes back to Ning). Including the upcoming “Young Witches of Salem” there are 22 shows hosted through the ClickVision.tv site. They have shows like “Squatters”, a show about two friends who make a bet to see who can go to longest without paying their rent. “The Dirty Bomb Diaries”, a show about a woman trying to survive in a city after a dirty bomb has been detonated. And “Two Jews on Film”, a show hosted by a married couple with ties to the film industry. She is an actress and screenwriter and he is a writer most known for creating the Faces of Death film series. On their show they review films together, often with hilarious comments (their review of “Eat, Pray, Love” was funny). Frankly, I really like their show. If you like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” you’ll like “Two Jews on Film”. But back to the Young Witches thing. So the show is going to be aired online through this website and it’s already boasting features where you can buy the things you see in the show, talk to the “stars” and learn more about their experience while you watch them live and work as professional Salem Witches. I don’t know. This is leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and it hasn’t even started yet. At the press conference two of the five “stars” of the show (as Hubbard calls them), were there to introduce themselves and talk about their involvement in the show. If you watch any of the other online “reality shows” that Witch School has attempted in the past, or if you watch the different vlogs and other videos on their MagickTV channel on YouTube, you’ll be familiar with these two faces; Danielle Young and Ryan “Coyotie” Mello. Both were born and raised in Salem. Young says she has been a practicing Witch for the last 10 years and that she works as a tarot reader at the World of Witches Museum, a museum in Salem operated by Witch School that opened in July of 2010, not long after the school relocated to Salem from the midwest. She also mentions that she is a priestess of “the most public Wiccan temple in American, the Temple of Tituba”. That I had to stop and scratch my head about. The “most public Wiccan temple” in the entire country is a temple I’ve never heard of…and it’s named after Tituba. Hmm. Looking into that I wasn’t surprised to discover this is a Correllian Temple (the tradition of Witch School) headed by Hubbard and founded less than a year ago in Salem. I’ll assume this is the place where they hold their Saturday weekly rituals and where the ritual videos on their YouTube page are filmed. Mello spent 6 years in the Army and says he calls himself a “rasta Witch” because of his love of reggae. Frankly I think it might be better to focus on being a military Pagan, something many people could use a dose of education about. I don’t know what to think just yet about the whole thing but I am skeptical. The folks at Witch School have had their online reality shows in the past (their own shopping show called The Home Shopping Cauldron, an interview series called Living the Wiccan Life, and one called “Witch City Soap” which Danielle mentions in the press conference saying it “didn’t go anywhere”). I’m being cautiously (read: skeptically) open minded about “The Young Witches of Salem”. Frankly I’ve had a big issue personally with how the Witch School folks swooped into town and seemed to start almost instantly trying to be the face of Salem in way. I also just find it a little off-putting that there is this emphasis on teaching these “young witches” (who haven’t seemed to reveal their actual ages yet) to be “professional practitioners in Salem” rather than focusing on teaching them quality personal and spiritual practice. It just seems where Witch School goes dollar signs inevitably follow. I’ll be especially curious to see what happens with this and the filming during Haunted Happenings. I’ll be moved back to the area and living in town by then and I’ll be looking out for this on the home front. You can be sure that, regardless of what opinion I form of the project as it unfolds, I’ll be keeping up with it here on the site.
If you didn’t know who Lori Bruno was already you probably have at least heard her name over the last couple of months. Lori is an interesting and colorful woman. She is a High Priestess and Elder in a Sicilian Strega line of the Craft and a hereditary Witch. In 1992 she founded the Our Lord and Lady of the Trinacrian Rose Church which is based in Salem, MA. The story of Lori’s history and her connections within the Craft is fascinating. She went from once working for NASA to now being one of the most sought after psychics and magickal helpers in Salem. In the 1990s, in New Haven, CT there was a public access television show that aired called Sacred Circle TV. Lori was a guest on the show, doing both a ritual and leading a discussion on Strega. Recently YouTube videos have been made available of some of the shows and more seem to be added as time goes on. I’m not sure how many times Lori may have been on the show, but the follow two videos are part a round table discussion on Strega. You can also see this video below from earlier this year which shows Lori working in Salem to cleans homes that had been foreclosed on which had new buyers lined up to move in but who wanted to be sure the home was free of any lingering negativity. Lori does so much work like this to just help the community; these are the ways that we need to see Witches in the media, doing good things for everyday people.
I realized a few days ago that I hadn’t really written any blog posts or anything of any length about this new project that I have been working on and since it looks like it’s really taking off it seems like now is as good a time as any to bring it to everyone’s attention! It was interesting how it came about and the timing was pretty good considering everything else I’ve been working on. I’ve had a number of people tell me I needed to start doing a podcast or get a regular BlogTalkRadio show going but I just never got to the point of taking the plunge and doing it. I have recently started doing some pre-recorded segments for an online evening radio show called After Hours Radio hosted by a very cool and interesting guy who goes by the name Mr. Roger on his show. A number of months ago I had been contacted by someone else that works with Roger on the program, a woman by the name of Sam. She had seen my stuff on Twitter and checked out my sites and was interested in chatting and getting the three of us together to see if there might be a place for me to do a few interviews or something with them. We tried to get connected a few times but between the issues that ha been going on at the time with my health at the time and then the lovely drama of my office, it just never worked out. At one point we made an appointment to get together and it actually looked like we’d all finally get to talk and then at the very last minute they had to cancel. So I decided there was a reason for all the delays and I decided it was time to just let this go for a bit and take the “wait and see” approach. Then a few weeks ago out of the blue I got a message from Roger on Skype asking if we could get together and chat. We did and slowly we started to come up with plans and ideas of how we could possible try doing a few shows together. We recorded our first segment and it aired and, much to my surprised, lots of people tuned it! So we did another and apparently even more people tuned in! So now the plan is to try to have me on as much as possible. I’ll be doing another pre-recorded segment on Monday with Roger and then we may try and do a second one next week. But the big fun is going to come when the show starts to air LIVE, something that will start in a few weeks, hopefully. So if you haven’t listened and don’t know anything about After Hours Radio, here’s a little bit about it. If you’ve ever listened to George Noory and his show Coast to Coast you will have a little bit of an idea of the approach that Mr. Roger has with After Hours Radio. On After Hours you’ll hear music but you’ll also get interviews and discussions between Roger and his guests on a variety of different topics but all focused on enlightening viewers on subjects that might be largely misunderstood or even taboo. Some of the things that you’ll find on After Hours are discussions about things what’s going on in the world today from an “outside of the box” perspective, looking beyond the things the government and the media might be telling us. Yes, some would call this conspiracy theory talk, but you have to admit it’s interesting! So you’ll find topics like religion, 2012, politics, UFOs, and now the various magickal and occult topics that I’m talking about on there such as Pagan spirituality, tarot, divination, magick and spell work, Hoodoo, and so on. Right now I can’t give much of a schedule as to when you can hear me because we’re just getting into the swing of things and Rodge is going to be moving things into a new studio soon and he’s building up the station with new gear. All very exciting! But this also means being a little bit in limbo about when things are happening. So right now I can tell you that I’ll be on again this Monday, April 11th, at 6pm PST/9pm EST and (assuming Roger is keeping the same schedule) again at 8pm PST/11pm EST. These right now are pre-recorded shows but we’ll be doing live shows where you can call in with your questions and comments as soon as the new studio and its equipment are set up. And how fun will that be!?! If you’ve missed the shows I’ve done so far, check out this one below. This is the show from this past Monday. Right now we approach the shows with a very loose plan so you’ll notice that things go in a number of directions. I’m sure that will still be the case when we start taking callers live since who knows what topics people will want to talk about. Please be sure to visit After Hours Radio and sign up for a free member account so you can post comments and ask questions on my guest page. I’m going to be writing articles there as well and I’d live to be able to hear your thoughts. And, since we have some time before we’ll be going live with the shows, if you have a specific topic of discussion that you’d like us to talk about, please email me and let me know and we’ll try to cover it! I’m going to be taking some of the backlogged Ask A Witch questions to the show next week I think so you may want to listen for that! You’re support with this new endeavor will be so greatly appreciated! Today’s Mood: Grateful
I found something pretty cool that I am excited to share. I love, love, love Orion Foxwood. He works within the realms of things that are near and dear to my heart, mainly traditional Witchcraft and faery magick. The Faery Seership stuff that he teaches is just fantastic. I knew when I saw Orion Foxwood call faery magick a form of necromancy that I was on the right track with him work. I’ve been a big fan of his work for a while and one of my teachers, Christopher Penczak, works with his material as well and always recommends it or faery related information. I’m currently re-reading his book “The Faery Teachings” as I prepare to teach a class on faery magick in May. If you want to learn about the Fay in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s dripping in glitter and dewdrops, Orion Foxwood is your guy! This interview is a fantastic four part piece that’s well worth taking the time to watch, whether you’re very familiar with him and his work or if you’ve never heard of him before. He’s an interesting guy, that’s for sure! And you gotta love his accent. Be sure to check out his website at www.orionfoxwood.com. Enjoy!