Monthly Columns,  Reviews & Interviews

Witch Hunt

 

There are witches all around us. You can find them anywhere…

The Witch on Wheels has been documenting her findings.

 

Meet Priscilla Anne Tennant Herrington

 

 

The first time I met Priscilla Anne Tennant Herrington was on a weekend Mabon retreat. I was stuck by the energy she held, the gentleness with which she offered wisdom, often in the form of a question that made me think. When she began a pagan discussion group for LGPTQ youth, I volunteered to assist. When I was preparing to crone, she was one of my mentors. She’s one of the witchiest witches I know. 

The best thing that ever happened to me was discovering the Craft as both religion and practice,” she said for this interview. “As a child I believed in magic and also had a strong interest in religion; for a long time I thought the two were incompatible. To complicate matters, I grew up to have a hefty dose of skepticism about almost everything. Eventually I would realize that Witchcraft was exactly what I had always practiced in one way or another, that it was both the most ancient and the very newest of religions – and, for me, the way a skeptic can experience intense spirituality. My core beliefs are always in flux and always conform to the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none, do as ye will.”

 

1. Do you have a magical name you’re willing to share?
Kerensa WordWeaver for magickal writing
Baba Yaga for ritual and workings

2. In what state do you reside?
Massachusetts

3. How do you make your living?
I am retired but I work part time in a community college computer lab.

4. Are you out of the closet? / Have you felt threatened?
I am, and I have not.

5. When did you first know you were a witch? How long have you been practicing?
I’m not sure when I first knew. I remember when I was about 8 and someone asked me, “Are you a witch?” (because I was born in Salem, MA) and I answered, “Yes!” because I knew it was true. Later I would read everything I could find about witchcraft (as well as everything about various religions); eventually I found a year-and-a-day training coven. I was formally initiated in 1998, and ordained in 2000.

6. How do you define your practice? Do you follow a specific tradition?
My practice is eclectic, influenced by Dianic and Reclaiming training and experience, and morphs constantly as I add and delete, based on my experience and studies. I try what seems useful and discard what no longer serves me.

7. What one object must be on your altar for it to be an altar?
I am not that rigid. I have a home altar with lots of my stuff on it; I change it occasionally by the season or just because it needs freshening. When I am doing something I may create an altar for the working – what’s on it depends on what I’m doing. I often work without an altar.

8. Do you have a daily practice?
More or less. I try to begin each day in a state of gratitude. I often (but not every day) pull tarot cards. I sometimes practice a kind of ritual practice, doing and/or saying something every day for a set time, usually with a specific intention. And I try to be mindful in all my actions.

9. How do you respond when someone asks, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
“Yes.” Actually I don’t understand the distinction. As Z Budapest has said, “A witch who cannot hex cannot heal.” “Good” and “bad” are concepts that can be applied to everything in life. Food, for instance – eating too much or too little has negative affects while finding balance is positive.

10. Do you have a familiar?
No.

11. What gifts, skills or powers do you share?
I read tarot cards. I also teach when asked. I frequently have an ability to know what someone needs and give it to them.

12. What was your most magical experience?
There have been a number that vie for the title! One of the earliest was when I was a young child. I was in church; it was a Holy Communion service and I had been taught to bow my head and close my eyes – never, ever look! – when the priest was consecrating the elements, but I was young and curious and watched as he lifted the Chalice and the Host. I saw a shaft of light and sparks going up and down to and from the Chalice, and I knew that God – or something – was actually there. I got goose bumps. Years later, in my first solitary ritual, I lifted my chalice and my blade and there was that shaft of sparkling light and I got the goose bumps and was filled with a sense of rightness. The goose bumps seem to be what informs me that an experience is truly magical.

13. What is your favorite:

•Sabbat: The one I’m celebrating at the moment! But I do have a special fondness for Imbolc, and also Samhain.

Element: I am a Capricorn and feel most comfortable in North with Earth; yet in Reclaiming Tradition, Center is a direction and Spirit or Magic is an element, and this truly resonates with me. In the Center all the elements come together and mix and swirl and make the magic. Perhaps my comfort with Earth is what makes me question, and the joy I find in the Center makes me believe!

God: I rarely work with the God, but I do like Pan and Dionysius. And I am very partial to Domovoy, the Slavic household God.

Goddess: The Crone Goddess Baba Yaga is primary. I also hold affinities for The Morrigan, Hecate, Baubo, Sarasvati, Artemis, and Lilith.

Animal or other totem: Crow, Raven, Owl, Red-tail Hawk, Hummingbird, Turtle, Otter, Red Fox, Wolf, Octopus

Tool: Athame, pen. Crystals. Drum and rattle.

Book: Too many to list, but Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” was critical when I began to study seriously, and Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance” is my go-to book.

Tarot deck: I learned with the Rider-Waite deck and used it as my primary deck for many years. Lately I’ve been using Ellen Dugan’s Witches Tarot and it has become my primary deck.

Gemstone: Garnet (my birthstone) and labradorite

Ritual garb: Whatever feels right at the time

Fictional witch: Professor McGonagall

Music / performer: Lady Enchantress. Flight of the Hawk. Also Reclaiming Chant CDs. And all sorts of chant music and ritual drumming and medieval ballads and – so much more!

Piece of wisdom: Listen to your elders for they know more than you do. And listen to your own deep self for you know more than you think you do.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike

thewitchonwheels.com

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.