A Somewhat Informal Introduction

Welcome to my website and blog! I’m not sure how you found my little corner of the internet, but I’m glad you’re here. I suppose the best way to start off a blog is an introduction of the author, so here goes:

I am a pagan. I am a witch. I am a priestess of Aphrodite.

My journey to paganism was inevitable. I’ve always felt most at home in nature. As a child, I could be found brewing “potions” in the backyard by picking various plants and crushing dogwood berries with a pair of old pliers, adding them to my concoction with some water and giving it a good stir with a stick. My dad taught me how to identify the trees in our backyard at age five, and I was a quick learner. I loved exploring the frozen wonderland of the forest when it snowed. I’d walk around the pond in the front yard, delighting in the noises the frogs would make as they jumped into the water. I spent almost every day out until sunset in the beauty of nature.

That childhood passion has not waned. In fact, I spent most of my time in college and graduate school learning about nature and how to share nature with others. I have at least 20 favorite trees, if not more. I can tell you all about my local ecology and the various ecosystems across the whole state of North Carolina. I’ve done fieldwork across the United States, as well as in South America and Europe.

As long as I can identify one tree (or cactus, or animal, or rock), I’m at home wherever I am.

I loved fantasy from an early age. I devoured the Harry Potter series, as well as many amazing novels by Tamora Pierce. One day, when I was 11 years old, I checked out a book from the library about spells. Unbeknownst to me, it was non-fiction. I got home, expecting to be swept up into another world full of castles and mages and lady knights, but was instead whisked away to my backyard – to a place that was familiar and comforting, like the forests I had grown up in. I was lucky in that this book was not just a recipe spell book (though that did comprise a fair amount of the text), but it gave an introduction to nature-based religion. To the idea that nature is sacred. To the idea that the divine could be female. To the idea that magick and power were all around us, if we only chose to look for it. I was mesmerized. Every cell in my body kept screaming “yes!” as I read.

I got another book on witchcraft/Wicca dedicated to a teen audience from Barnes and Noble. I started praying to the Goddess. In true dubious preteen fashion, I asked for proof. “If you’re real, show me,” I asked the Goddess. And She did. Over and over.

I started celebrating the Wheel of the Year. It felt right at home to all of the things I was already doing out in nature. Now, I did those things with a mindful reverence. I started learning about magick – about casting circles, invoking the elements, and raising power. I started holding circles on my parents’ front porch. This went on for a couple of months, until one night after holding circle, my mom called me into the living room and demanded that I stop this “devil worship.” I started to cry and tried to explain that isn’t what I was doing at all, but she would hear none of it. Since I was twelve years old, I couldn’t wage a war with my mom, so I “gave it up,” which just meant I did everything in secret in the confines of my room or when my parents weren’t home. I celebrated the Sabbats and Esbats privately, sometimes with just a special prayer instead of a ritual. As time went on and I still could not be open about my faith, my active rituals became fewer and further between.

I still called myself a witch, and at that time, I would have identified as Wiccan. The only people who knew anything about this during my preteen and teen years were my middle school best friend (who was concurrently exploring Buddhism while I was exploring witchcraft), and later, my high school sweetheart. My high school sweetheart bought me my very first piece of pagan jewelry – a beautiful triple moon necklace with moonstone in the center. I could wear it safely to school and around my hometown without fear of someone recognizing it, and it became a treasured adornment.

I became very comfortable in my spirituality, even if I wasn’t very active about it. I went off to college, where I could be more open, and by the time senior year came around, all of my close friends knew I was pagan. I still didn’t openly practice, and I was selective about whom I told, but I wasn’t afraid. It was a part of my identity, even if I wasn’t actively exploring it at the time. I double majored, studied abroad four times, and wrote an honors thesis, so I had plenty to keep me busy in college. I knew nature was there, and would always be there. I still had small daily devotional practices that kept me in touch with Spirit, the Goddess, and the God.

Then grad school happened. I finally moved into my own apartment (not in campus housing) with my boyfriend. I had my first panic attack that summer, and what I now know was my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder began to spiral downward (but that’s a post for another time). Within my first week of my PhD program, something happened at the university that completely derailed my plan for graduate studies. At the prodding of my boyfriend (who, despite being an agnostic/atheist, was a double major in religious studies and philosophy in undergrad), I began to look for a local pagan group. I had been solitary for so long – the idea of practicing with other people made me giddy, as well as nervous.

I started looking for a group in October, and I found a group that met in the next city over. I knew I wasn’t ready for coven work, and that I hadn’t fully explored what I wanted from my spiritual path. I had been contentedly on hold since about age twelve. Now I wanted more. The organization I found was a non-denominational pagan group that accepted seekers of all paths. Circles seemed to be pretty casual, and I finally got up the courage to attend one Sunday after Samhain that year.

I was immediately welcomed the moment I arrived at the small plot of land downtown that had been transformed into a garden. The topic for that Sunday’s circle was Gratitude, and we had a comfortable circle making gratitude journals. I followed everyone else’s lead during the call and response sections of the ritual, from invoking the elements to blessing cakes and ale. I felt right at home. I stayed after the ritual concluded and talked with some of the members, learning more about the organization. Some of us went out to lunch, and I knew I wanted to come back.

Over the next few months, I became a regular. I celebrated Sabbats, Full Moons, and Sunday Circles of varying topics with this lovely group. By that summer, I became a Trustee (apparently that happens when you tag along to council meetings “for fun”), and within the next year, I was a full member of the Council. I helped out with administrative tasks and voted on things to help shape the future of our group.

I was in a coven for a short period of time. It didn’t follow a particular tradition, though our rituals and practices were principally informed by shamanism and yoga. It was a training coven, and my interest in joining was inspired by wanting to go more in-depth than our non-denominational circles at my larger pagan group. I completed a year-and-a-day training with this coven, and was initiated into the group. We went over some good material – basic training in energy work and magick – but I never really “clicked” with the group. We were small (three of us including the instructor, with a fourth person later on), and we were all in very different life places. The group dissolved when our instructor/leader went to work out West a few years ago. It was all for the best. They were nice people, but I didn’t feel a deep spiritual connection to them. Not in the way I truly wanted.

All the while, I continued attending my larger pagan group, and I made some very close friends there. My friends span all ages, and I am a member of several smaller, sometimes overlapping friend groups that I met through my pagan community. I’m also a part of larger working group that gathers intermittently to share our spiritual experiences and perform ritual work. I have close friends from this group that I trust with my life. We’ve laughed together, cried together, and worked magick together. We’ve shared our unbelievable stories of the Divine, and I am so fortunate to call these people my friends.

This January, I was formally initiated as a priestess of Aphrodite. It was a beautiful ceremony, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I laughed. I wept. I jumped in the ocean wearing only a nightgown. It was transformative. It was terrifying. But mostly, it was wonderful. It’s been several weeks since that adjective-defying experience, and I am still adjusting to find my new “normal,” whatever that may be.

I’ll share specifically how I came to Aphrodite in another post, but this is my general path in Paganism thus far. I’ve been on this path officially for over 15 years, unofficially for my whole life. I’ve grown as a person and a witch immensely over those years, particularly within the past two years. I’ve encountered things I can’t explain, and I’ve gotten to the point where books no longer help (though I still read constantly). I needed guidance beyond the basics, and modern resources about working with Aphrodite. I found very little, and what I did find wasn’t very good. That’s what led me here – to create this blog. I am writing about what I wish I had access to when I began to journey deeper into my relationship with the Divine. I’m compiling the helpful resources that I have found so you don’t have to scour the internet and bookshops like I did. I hope that what I share here is helpful, or at the very least entertaining. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.