Rita Morgan of Crone's Hollow (2470 S. Main, Salt Lake City), sees her life as a witch in practical terms. While she employs spells and potions in her practice, the most important thing to her witching and to her life is one thing, personal accountability.
Crone's Hollow is a retail store and community center serving Salt Lake's pagan community through products such as statuary, herbs, oils and spices. It also has large meeting areas for rituals and spiritual ceremonies. As the store prepares for its grand opening tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., I spoke with some of the owners and patrons to find out more about paganism.
The overarching theme was one of sensibility.
First, Morgan and Bret Gold, the president of Crone's Hollow, both pointed out that pagan is an umbrella word for many belief systems that don't follow widely accepted faiths. They said that pagans aren't just one thing. A pagan could be a witch following a more European tradition, or they could be a priestess of ancient Egyptian influence.
In fact, Melissa Dionne follows this very path. As a priestess in The Temple of Isis, she is ordained to minister over a variety of ceremonies and rituals. She showed me a bulletin from a recent ceremony. It was not unlike a program that you'd receive at any Christian church. One could strongly argue that Melissa's faith is more deeply rooted in the origins of human spirituality than any widespread organized religion today. The texts, rituals and ceremonies she studies date back thousands of years before the time of Christ.
She made an interesting point to me. In ancient civilizations, people worshiped the sun. Over time, the sun became the Son.
Next, I asked Gold about spells. Does he use them?
"When we do a spell it's not that much different than praying," Gold said. "We call it maybe a working or maybe a spell, but it's not something to be afraid of. It's something that most people do on a day to day basis anyway not realizing that they're practicing a natural energy flow."
To Gold, if you appeal to a another power to have a good day or ask for your favorite basketball team to win, you're performing a spell.
Lastly, I questioned Morgan about potions and why they might be necessary.
She said that by studying the effects of different herbs and oils you can craft a potion for a desired result. For example, combining certain roots and leaves can create a soothing or healing tea.
"Do women gather around cauldrons and make potions? Of course they do. They do it in their kitchens every night," she said.
So if witches and wiccans are so similar to anyone else, what makes them different? After spending an afternoon with some, it seemed that the clearest distinction is the choice to pursue spirituality through alternative means.
It's not the absence of a religious nature. It's more that they aren't signing on to do something with 1 billion other people.