An update on Saturday Night Witchcraft

I had little nibbles of interest but none rose to the level of “Let’s meet up, I’d like to attend,” so I’m suspending Saturday Night Witchcraft for now. I’ll still meet with anyone who’s interested, but I won’t plan to open my home on Saturdays, as I was doing.

Perhaps it’s not the right time. It could be that folks nearby aren’t ready to take the step of attending classes (or interested), or that people don’t trust the classes because I’m not an initiate yet (I am super self-conscious about teaching without being an actual initiate), or maybe it’s just the time of year (Saturdays in November and December tend to fill up quickly).

Or perhaps it’s the coffee-shop meetup requirement that’s putting people off. People might prefer to wander into a public class held at a store rather than commit to attending something held in the priestess’s home. (The counterpart Wicca 101 class at Artes & Craft has gone on as scheduled with several attendees.) However, I’m not going to budge on this, and my HPS and one of our coven’s Thirds have also advised me not to budge. It’s a safety thing, and for seekers, it’s also a very small test of commitment and follow-through.

Perhaps I didn’t advertise well enough. I did put up flyers (or ask to put them up) in what I thought were key locations, but I don’t know how many people saw them, or whether the shop customers or library patrons who saw them were interested in Wicca 101 classes. For me, this butts up against the whole “we don’t proselytize” thing, though. The flyers only say “hey, classes exist, here is info,” and while that’s not the same as proselytizing, it still makes me feel like I’m crossing a line by asking to post the flyers in public places.

So, I’ll leave the Witchvox listing up — as a seeker, Witchvox would have been one of my first stops, and the listing is getting views — and beyond that, we’ll see, I guess. To be continued.

Wicca does not cost money: A position statement

First of all, I don’t think this is a controversial opinion. There used to be banner graphics posted on, like, coven Geocities pages that said “Trad Wicca does not cost money,” or some such. (I went to find one today but had no luck.) This debate appears to have been settled, and it might now be common knowledge that teachers of Wicca don’t charge their students beyond small fees to cover handouts, candles, or other consumable items used in the course of classes or rituals. That said, consider the following a position statement.

Traditional Wicca does not cost money. 

I’m making flyers for Saturday Night Witchcraft, and on them I was thinking about noting that it’s free to attend. However, I struggle with how much to emphasize that “free” here actually means that money will not be required of you at any step in order to learn Wicca. It’s not “free” as in multilevel-marketing “girl time party,” in which you don’t have to pay anything to get in the door but the entire purpose of the party is to sell you stuff. Neither is it “free” as in “here’s a taste, but I’m holding the good stuff back and you’ll have to pay to get it” — for example, I get mailings from a popular Tarot site that has just rolled out an expensive certification program, and while the free booklet I got for signing up for the mailing list was useful in my study of Tarot, the mailings since then have been nonstop advertisements for this certification program.

This is not what Saturday Night Witchcraft is about. When I say it’s free, I mean I don’t have anything to sell you.

You will not finish my free classes only to find out that the next level has a price. I didn’t pay to learn at any stage; my teachers freely gave me counsel, instruction, coaching, and friendship, as their teachers gave them, and this is what I will pass on. You will never have to pay me or anyone else in order to keep studying Wicca or to be initiated. If you’re considering studying with someone who does charge, think twice and do some research before paying, because this is not common or expected.

Granted, a certain amount of money will be involved as you study. You’ll have to pay for gas to get here, you’ll be expected to have your own set of tools someday, and you’ll probably want to buy books or jewelry or witchy clothes, too. But the key point here is anti-guru. You can buy (or make!) whatever tools you like from whatever source you prefer, not from a charismatic person with a catalog. You can borrow books from the library or from friends, or you can buy them from a local bookstore or from Amazon — your money goes wherever you direct it. Also, you should not have to choose between paying your electric bill and buying some shiny witchy thing. Keep the lights on; the witchy stuff is all optional.

As a side note: If you have plenty of money, buy whatever you want! Have custom tools and ritual robes made by the best artisans you can find. Drape yourself in jewelry and rare stones. Amass a staggering library. Fly to every festival and convention. But the fact of the matter is that you will still not be spending money in order to learn Wicca.

Instagram aside, we don’t judge who’s wisest or witchiest by their clothing, by how many crystals or Tarot decks or altar tools they own, by how big their library is, or by the number of events they can afford to attend. (Have you seen some of the items left behind by Gardner and other elders of Wicca? They’re simple, not flashy.) What matters is the power you can raise and wield skillfully in ritual — and that can be done with dollar-store tealights and a stick from your backyard. Spiral notebooks and a pen to write notes with. The rest is theater.

And you won’t have to pay your Wiccan teacher in order to learn it.

Saturday Night Witchcraft: What to know

It’s common to have concerns about attending an event for the first time when it’s held at someone else’s home, especially if you have health concerns: Can you eat the food that’s put out? What should you wear? Should you bring meds? Can you even get in the door?

Here are a few details that might help ease your mind (or just sate your curiosity), besides the what and when posted earlier and at Witchvox.

Directions: The house is not difficult to find! It’s one turn off a main road, not down winding back roads or anything. Once you’ve contacted me and shown interest in coming, I’ll tell you at that coffee shop meeting how to get here and/or provide my address (Google Maps is your friend and mine). We have a wide driveway to provide plenty of parking, and the roads are usually well plowed in the winter.

Food and allergies: Feel free to bring something to drink and a dish to share, if you’d like. We will provide some drinks (water, tea, etc.) and appetizer-type food (which may expand to a full potluck meal, depending on how many people attend, but right now the plan is light snacky stuff). If you are veg*n and/or have food allergies, let me know ahead of time and I will make sure that ingredients or potential allergens are labeled and that there will be something there you can eat; you’re also welcome to bring food, either just for yourself or to share. (On her Seekers site, Jenett talks in more detail about how to decide what to bring.)

Clothing: Street wear is fine. Again, Jenett has excellent guidance on choosing what to wear to a Pagan event.

Kids: We have two children, ages 6 and 4, who live here full-time and will probably be very interested in participating in Saturday Night Witchcraft (or who will be encouraged to play quietly in another room). If you have kids about the same age, you are welcome to bring them along.

Pet allergies: We do have cats, including one long-haired cat (who is shy and will hide in the basement while people are here, but her dander may still be an issue if you have cat allergies).

Access: The main entrance has four stairs; there is also a ramp installed in the garage, but the entrance to the garage itself has a steep incline that may be difficult to navigate for wheelchair users. (Hlevang, my husband, uses a cane, so accessibility modifications were made with his ability level in mind.) There are also some lips at doorways. The bathroom is on the main level of the house. Classes are seated; rituals involve standing, but chairs are available for those who need them. Both are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

If I have left out anything that’s a concern for you, send me an email, or ask when we meet prior to class!

(Further reading for seekers: Check out Jenett’s tips for learning about a new group and the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame.)

Wicca 101 classes beginning!

The next step on this not-coven adventure is that I will be holding weekly Wicca 101 classes at my home! They will begin in conjunction with Wicca 101 classes taught by my coven sisters at Artes & Craft in Hartford.

Saturday Night Witchcraft begins on November 11 at 6:00 p.m., either meeting at my home or traveling to Artes & Craft for Sabbat rituals (and to hang out with the larger coven). We’ll start with the basics of what Wicca is and what witches do, likely with many digressions full of nerdery and comparison, because I am a huge fan of context and background. On New and Full Moons, we’ll have esbat rituals based on an Alexandrian structure with additions from published sources. Beyond that, topics will depend on the needs of the class or my current magickal interests. We’ll talk theory, we’ll make stuff, and we’ll do magick.

If you’re local, contact me to set up a coffee-shop meeting prior to attending class.

(Why a first meeting in a public place? Showing up at a stranger’s house for the promise of Wicca is a risky thing, and it’s wise to take precautions for your own safety. That said, Saturday Night Witchcraft is an affirming, inclusive space where all are welcome — except Nazis and their ilk, who are very specifically unwelcome — and I invite you to verify that in a way that’s safe and comfortable for you.)

Need more detail? Read Saturday Night Witchcraft: What to know.