An Interview with Lisa Stewart, author of ‘Simply Wicca: A Beginner’s Guide to the Craft of the Wise’
As young as four, Lisa Stewart began having paranormal experiences.
“I set them aside while going through school because I didn’t want to be so different,” she said in a phone interview.
In 1989 she came to The Craft of the Wise and began identifying as a witch. Nine years later, she met her husband online. He was living in England.
“The first thing I asked him for was his birth information so I could run a natal chart. We had sixty-four compatibilities, so I thought, ‘I think I like this guy.’ … He was a recovering Christian … looking for spirituality. He was reading ‘Conversations with God.’ We wrote back and forth for two months and the first time we spoke on the phone it was an eight-hour conversation. The next month he came to visit me and we’ve been together ever since. That was 1998.
“He’s a custom software developer … working for an offshore bank and he also trained geeks for Apple, but he gave up all that to become a hippie and wear tie dye and grow a beard and work at the Awareness Shop with me. We’re together 24/7.”
In October they will celebrate their twentieth anniversary.
As high priestess and high priest, Lisa and Anton Stewart founded The Church of the Eternal Circle, New York’s first federally recognized Celtic Wiccan Fellowship. It’s steeped in the Welsh Mysteries, and honors the Celtic Lunar Zodiac.
The couple also teaches “Coming Home to the Craft of the Wise,” a twelve-month class for those who seek to follow the Stewart Tradition.
“The Craft of the Wise is the title we use for Wicca,” Lisa said. “We follow a Welsh-Celtic pantheon and we teach using only those deities. You don’t have to be of that blood, but if you’re going to be part of our tradition, you would only follow a Welsh-Celtic pantheon.”
Twenty-seven years ago, Lisa opened the Awareness Shop on the ground floor of an old Victorian house on Main Street in New Paltz, New York. The 1,500-square-foot store is filled with about $300,000 in merchandise, including more than a thousand tarot decks and goods to meet a large variety of needs.
“We have one hundred and twenty different votive candles,” Lisa said. “My husband hand-pours them in batches of twenty. The color and the formulary are chosen by us to match the correspondences of that candle’s intention.
Then we charge them. For instance, if we were going to make a Jupiter candle, we would use the colors and scents and energies that correspond to Jupiter. … We have all the sabbats, then we have new moon, full moon, altar, spirit, the elements, the elementals, the planets, the zodiac signs, the chakras. We also have intentions like love, money, protection, healing – the whole gambit. And then there’s ones like power and positive energy and problem solving you could put along with another one. If you wanted to fix communication in a relationship, you might take ‘Love’ or ‘One Love,’ ‘Mercury,’ and ‘Problem Solving’ and burn those together in a spell.”
Circles are held outdoors on the property on which an old barn was converted to house their Church of the Eternal Circle. Every Friday night there is a ritual or a rite. Tree lunations and Western astrology are both celebrated. About forty people generally attend.
As self-confessed Preservers of the Path, the couple is devoting their lives to preserving The Craft of the Wise and the planet.
Both being witches and accomplished musicians, Lisa and Anton wrote, arranged, performed, and recorded “Circle in a Box” to serve as the soundtrack for a complete Wiccan ritual. Songs run from “Consecration: As Above, So Below” to “Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again.”
As more individuals have entered the tradition, more space became needed.
“We’re working on a project called Celtica where our church is trying to buy the last remaining farm in the village of New Paltz, [New York]. It is located on Huguenot Street,” which The New York Times declared ‘the oldest street in the nation’ in 1970. The village was settled in 1678 by the French Huguenots – direct descendants of the Gauls, one of the Celtic Tribes of Iron Age Europe.
“We’re trying to preserve a one-hundred-acre farm, grow organic food, grow all the sacred trees, and raise bees,” Lisa said. “There’ll be a museum for the Craft. They’ll be an actual craft center where you can come and make your own athame and make your own chalice. There’ll be a great hall where we can have celebrations and chairing of the bard and all of the things that go along with our tradition.
“The church is trying to buy this property because once we leave the planet, we want our tradition to have a sacred place to live. There’s also a burial ground there where we are going to try to establish green burials. We need to raise a ton of money. We’re looking for donations.”
In addition to working to preserve property, the couple wrote a book to preserve an introduction to their tradition.
“Even though its name is ‘Simply Wicca,’ it’s written very clearly and concisely. It is really is not a beginner’s book. There are layers and layers of things in there. One of the things we always say is, ‘You see from where you’re standing.’
“We are Wiccan. We are witches. But our Craft is The Craft of the Wise. When you say witchcraft, people get very confused because you can have Christian witches, you can have Strega, you can have all kinds of witches, all kinds of people doing witchcraft. The Craft of the Wise is a title that belongs to Wicca.”
The book guides readers through the basic practices and principles go this tradition including the elements, the sabbats, and how astrology can add power to magickal workings. Readers can strengthen their connection to deities and spirits, learn to construct at altar, and use magickal tools. Examples, exercises, and clear step-by-step instructions make it a useful resource.
About the Author:
All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice. When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at thewitchonwheels.com, Facebook and Instagram.