Thursday, July 16, 2020

Interview With a Pagan: The Same Interview Three Years Later

I was searching for something entirely different using my old name from social media, The Domestic Witch, and found an interview I had done from Through the Keyhole by Jennifer Hesse.

I thought it would be fun to answer the same questions from the 2017 interview to see how much has changed and how much surprisingly is still same.

Q. Jennifer wrote "I first learned about The Domestic Witch when I came across one of her Witchy Reading Challenges."

A. I still do those witchy reading challenges. There's on coming up in August called the WitchyReadathon.

Q. So, what is a Domestic Witch? Here's what it means for DW, as explained on her blog

Domestic means dealing with the matters of the home. This covers a wide variety of daily activities including but not limited to cooking, cleaning, running a household, being a homemaker, and raising children. It's pretty easy to explain. Just think of what Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray does.

Explaining the witch part is pretty easy too. A witch is someone who uses magick as a tool to improve his or her life and/or the lives of others. Specifically in domestic witchcraft, a witch uses magick to improve her home life and to help her family.

A. Oh to see me being called DW again. I was far more fond of that name than "The Domestic Witch." I left behind The Domestic Witch name for three reasons. First, I decided to start using my real name. It only took 10 years of being online to find the courage to do this. Second, I was embracing feminism more so writing about matters of the home felt very hypocritical to me. It was also quite boring after several years. Third, there was someone who spent those last few years accusing me of stealing the name "The Domestic Witch." She even named her blog The Original Domestic Witch or something like that. She used that name for some time even after I had dropped my online name and was using my legal name. I remember at one point she was even sending haters to my Twitter to harass me about it. A few even tried to get me "canceled." I finally got tired of it and was like,"Fine. You want to be the only Domestic Witch. You got it."

Q. Introducing DW from Indiana in her own words:

A. My name is Julie Cornewell. I'm an aspiring writer in Indiana, 44 years old, widowed, and the single mother of five kids ages 7, 16, 18, 24, and 27. I've been a solitary eclectic pagan for over 24 years, write the blog and am STILL working on my first novel.

Q. How do you describe the spiritual path you follow? Do you self-identify as a Witch, Wiccan, Pagan, or something else?

A. I'm an eclectic pagan. While I still practice witchcraft in 2020, for personal reasons I'd rather not get into here, I am currently choosing not to identify as a witch. My spiritual path is inspired by Wicca, witchcraft, high magick, New Age especially lightworking, Esoteric Christianity, Jungianism, Druidry, heathenism, and Jediism (yes as in Star Wars).

In the 2017 interview, I included Eastern philosophy but around 2018 I decided to focus solely on Western traditions because I did feel it was bordering on appropriation. I also have plenty to study within neopaganism. I just can't study all the things. I don't have enough time. I've often joked that I need 10 lifetimes to study all the religions and traditions that I would like to.

Q. How and when did you first come to follow this path? What about it did you like? 

A. My answer hasn't changed of course. However, I'm a little more embarrassed about being so inspired to research witchcraft by a movie of all things. Although I know it inspired many a witch to explore the path.

I was 20 years old and had a subscription to New Dawn magazine which had a few articles about witchcraft which first got me interested. Then I saw The Craft and became obsessed with finding out more. Our small town library only had one book on witchcraft and magick which was an encyclopedia. People kept stealing the witchcraft books, so I wasn't allowed to check it out. I made photocopies of almost every page and assembled my first Book of Shadows. Soon after, a bookstore opened up in my town. One day I felt a strong urge to go to the bookstore. There I found the only book on witchcraft which was The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. I know it's a cliche, but reading that book made me feel like I had come home.

Q. Are you public about your religion/craft, or is it a secret?

A. I am so proud to say I am 100% out of the broom closet. When I finally started to use my real name the sky didn't fall. In fact, nothing bad happened at all and I had prepared myself for the absolute worse. Although that could be because I waited an entire DECADE to do so. I waited until I felt safe but especially until it felt safe for my children. My primary concern was any ridicule or harassment my children might receive.

Q. How do people usually react when they find out you are Pagan? Have you had any memorable encounters?

A. My answer in 2017: I try not to spring it on a person. I test the waters out by asking them what they think about God as female or whether or not spells work. Depending on their reaction I decide whether or not to go farther. I never hide it from someone I'm dating though. I had a teaching moment with a guy I dated when I was young. We had a wonderful first date and he expressed interest in having a relationship with me throughout the evening. Finally towards the end of the night, I told him I was Wiccan. He politely kicked me out the door as quickly as possible and said he didn't want his future kids around that. This is when I learned to be upfront in romantic relationships as soon as possible or you end up wasting a lot of time.

In 2020, people usually react no longer with ridicule but with a 100 questions. I still get the occasional Christian that says I'm being tricked by Satan and am destined for hell but I confuse them immensely when I explain that I do honor Jesus as God. As a soft polytheist how could I not? (More on me being a "Jesus friendly pagan" comes later.)

Q. Do you celebrate the eight sabbats on the Wheel of the Year? Can you describe one or two of your favorite Pagan holiday traditions?

A. My answer in 2017: I do but sometimes what I do is a small ritual. There's times where I will have an elaborate ritual planned out but then my toddler decides she doesn't want to go to bed. Being a single mom, I don't always have someone else that can watch her so I can do my thing. I've learned to incorporate family activities as a way of celebrating such as a backyard fire in the fire pit at Beltane or a day at the pool on Summer Solstice. I don't teach them paganism because they have little interest in any kind of religion. That's been very disappointing for me, especially since I'm "The Domestic Witch." When I was a young mother I had idealistic visions of being a pagan parent, but forcing it on uninterested kids doesn't work. There's still hope for my 4 year old though.

My answer in 2020: Same answer until you get to the part about my kids. My kids have since shown varying interest in paganism and witchcraft. The oldest is fairly active about pursuing the study of paganism and witchcraft. The others while they don't study or practice it have had me explain much of it but decided it's not something they want to pursue. These are my older children. My youngest who is now 7, has some developmental delays and has a harder time understanding certain concepts and doesn't always understand fantasy from reality.

Q. In your practice, do you honor a specific deity or invoke both the God and Goddess, or neither?

A, My answer in 2017: All of the above. I tend to use specific deities as archetypes for self improvement. I favor Greek goddesses and am currently working with both Artemis and Athena. I've been working with Jesus as well approaching Christianity as a Mystery Religion. Jesus has been the only male deity I work with. I believe All Goddesses are the Goddess and all Gods are the Gods but am a soft polytheist. I see the different deities as archetypes not actual entities. In ritual I tend to invoke a nonspecific Goddess and God but sometimes I just honor nature.

My answer in 2020: Everything is still the same but favoring the Greek pantheon. I had a 23andme ancestry test done and learned my background is mostly British/Irish (the Irish was rather surprising) and Germanic. So after working with the Greek pantheon for over a decade I am learning about the Norse and Celtic pantheons. The Gods all say to me, what in the world took you so long? While I have no issue with people working with pantheons different from their own heritage, to find out my own and begin working with those pantheons is very meaningful to me. I've also been learning about working with my ancestors.

If you're reading this you're probably you still work with Jesus or what? Honestly, yes. I think there's much to learn from studying Jesus and Esoteric Christianity. Back in 2017, I hadn't even heard the phrase "Esoteric Christianity." I am still absolutely fascinated by the myth of Jesus Christ, the god who became a human and savior of the world. However, in the end I believe the story of Jesus is a myth just like the stories of all the other gods. I've also begun studying the concept that the great masters like Jesus and Buddha are the Mighty Dead.

I've also been studying the tradition of Feri/Faery Witchcraft. While I love the concept of aligning the three souls, (to say it has completely changed my life is no exaggeration) I just can't seem to connect to the pantheon that they use.

Q. Can you share one or two specific ways in which you practice your religion/craft? For example, do you cast a circle, work spells, or use divination tools? Do you practice alone or in a group, or both?

A. My answer in 2017: I cast circles and adore the ritual Drawing Down the Moon. I've gotten away from doing spells and magick for things and now only do them for psychological change. I work with astrology and tarot cards. Divination provides a road map for life. I practice as a solitary, but I'd like to change that. There aren't any groups in my area.

My answer in 2020: I still occasionally cast a circle in a formal ritual but I rarely have the time to do so anymore. I've learned to cast circles much quicker and efficiently. I still rarely do magick for physical things. Astrology and tarot are still staples in my practice. I still haven't found any local groups but I also haven't looked for one in a long time either. I haven't done the Drawing Down the Moon ritual in a long time. This is because I learned I have more success evoking than invoking. Learning how to do the LBRP changed my life. I adore the witchy alternative LBRP Christopher Penzack gives in his book The Temple of High Witchcraft.

Q.  Do you have a home altar? If so, what's on it right now? 

A. My answer in 2017: I have a long dresser that I use as an altar. I used to be very particular about the placement of everything but my 4 year old fell in love with some of the things on my altar (particularly the stones) and likes to play with them and rearrange them. It's all still there just not as neat. I have several candles, a goddess figurine, a pentacle, a Buddha statue, a small photo of Jesus, a wooden platter with a monkey statue on it, a porcelain turtle, dragon incense holder, candle snuffer, and lots of stones.

My answer in 2020: The altar had to be moved to a tall dresser because once my daughter turned 5 she started to get a bit careless with the stones and other things on my altar. She broke the head off a dragon incense holder I had purchased only a week prior. My altar now includes some framed inspirational phrases like "Good vibes only" and such. My favorite altar item is a framed picture of a crystal ball with the astrological signs all around it that says "You are magical" that I found at...wait for it...KROGER!

Q. What's your favorite Pagan resource you'd like to recommend? Are there any books, websites, or other resources you've found helpful? 

A. My answer today is the same as it was in 2017: Even though I write a blog myself, I think websites are some of the least useful resources. This is because it's so hard to go into depth on a subject. As for books, my top ten favorites can be found here, in one of my recent blog posts, but I encourage people to read as much as they can. Even read about things you don't believe. Nothing has solidified what I do believe more than reading about what I don't. This includes the Bible. The best way to defend yourself when your spirituality is being attacked is to know their arguments yourself. 

Q. Is there anything else you would like people to know? 

A. My response in 2017: A question I get often is whether or not a relationship to a person of a different religion can work. My marriage is proof of that. I was with my Baptist Christian husband for over a decade before he died. Debating religion and spirituality was a passion of ours. What made it work was compromise. Even if we didn't believe what the other did we made an effort to educate ourselves about it. This includes Paganism as well. Nothing breaks my heart more than fundamentalism in Paganism. The whole point of paganism is that there's no right or wrong way to practice it.


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