Pagan Paths

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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The Mighty Dead in Conversation with DeAnna...

The Mighty Dead - It's a pretty epic sounding title. It sounds like a summer blockbuster movie to me, but really, who are the Mighty Dead? Well, it depends a little on who you ask but the most common answer to that question goes something like "those in the Craft that have gone before us, whose shoulders we stand on, those nameless persecuted witches, the founders of traditions, Pagan Activists..." etc, etc.

I like that as a definition. It serves well. I also like the slightly less grand version of the Mighty Dead - Those that I've known personally that have deeply affected my view of the Craft. And with that, here's my tribute to the person that always comes to mind when I hear the phrase "The Mighty Dead"

I first met DeAnna Alba when I was very much a baby witch. She had been Deanna Alba for a long time, probably three decades at that point. She'd written books, been part of the Circle Sanctuary for many years, been writing columns in various Pagan magazines. However, to me, she was Wendy White. I didn't know Deanna Alba for a few years to come. I knew Wendy White. Wendy was a Personal Assistant to my boss at a financial services company. 

I'd recently returned from a trip to England and was telling anyone in the office that would listen about my time in Bath and Glastonbury. Somewhere in the conversation I mentioned Paganism. Other people bristled at the mention of it. She did not. I went prattling on about Ceridwen and Ravens and Tors and growing up dancing the maypole. She listened and didn't say much. I asked if she knew who Ceridwen was. She smiled, oh that wry smile of hers, and mentioned that she'd learned a thing or two about that particular Welsh Goddess. I asked her if she knew about druidry or witchcraft and such as I was just learning about it. She nodded politely and said that she'd heard a little about such things.

Over the next couple of years, Wendy helped me learn a great deal. She rarely initiated the conversation and our chats were nothing like a teacher talking to a student. I was like that insatiable five year old that would just keep asking "why?" I found myself saying things like "tell me more". I'd come up with some fabulous discovery and she'd sort of laugh, she had a particular cackle I can still hear. She'd pose a question to me and then get right back to arranging our boss's travel schedule or sending an email. I'd be standing there floored with my mouth open because the simple little question she'd asked me had just blown my head right off of my shoulders.

Wendy also helped me through my decision to get divorced. This was ground she'd trodden before. I remember saying to her that I no longer wanted to be a husband. She said "yes you do, but just not to this woman. So what are you waiting for? Change yourself or be changed!". I told her that she sounded like Ceridwen. It was only later that I found out that she and Ceridwen had been in talks for many years!

Two weeks before Wendy died of complications from breast cancer, we bumped into each other at a market. She was with her beloved partner and I was with the lovely Phoenix. We chatted about magic and about life and about death. Wendy had one last piece of wisdom for me about grace and surrender.

At her memorial service I was asked to read a favourite poem. She liked my speaking voice and thought that I could get through it without tearing up. There was a huge picture of her just behind me, over my left shoulder. It was as if she was watching me speak and making sure I didn't screw it up.

When I think of her, which is often, she is always there just over my left shoulder. She still answers my questions...She and Ceridwen cackling together at little Gwion.

I miss you very much DeAnna. It is your shoulders I stand upon. Hail the Mighty Dead. May she return in love.




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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


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