Tempus Est Nunc
Thirty years ago, Paganism saved my soul.
More specifically, “A Book of Pagan Rituals,” written by Gardnerian initiate Ed Fitch, purchased from Steve Dey, at Las Vegas’ oldest occult shop, Bell Book and Candle, saved my soul.
I was newly stationed at Nellis AFB, and coming from sleepy, white bread Colonial Park, PA, was thoroughly enjoying the diversity of Las Vegas, and its more “live and let live” atmosphere.
The beautifully written (and beautifully produced) book showed me how to commune with the Goddesses and Gods I had always loved since reading about them as a child. However, I had been led to believe Their worship had ceased long ago, when another book of myths had taken over their sacred sites and Holy Days, and “converted” Their worshippers.
The night I read “The Book of Pagan Rituals,” it was as if a light bulb went on over my head (one of my High Priestess’ Lady Morgana’s favorite sights) and I knew I was Pagan. Steve Dey sold me many other books, and like so many people, my practice began with a lot of this and lot of that, Wicca and Ceremonial Magick, Thelema, and Paganism.
As a Nature lover, Paganism made perfect sense, and Wicca was a perfect way to practice a harmonious communion with the worlds around us. As an Agnostic, Anarchist skatepunk, the Law of Thelema (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law) was like, duh. How obvious. This was, of course, eighty-five years after Aleister Crowley had penned those words, and a lot had changed; changes foreseen in the Book of the Law, by the way.
In my dorm room, I practiced the LBRP, very stripped down Sabbat and Moon rituals, and created a talisman to protect my comrades who were shipped to Saudi Arabia for the first Iraq War. While stationed in Korea, tardiness to muster led me to create a similar talisman for my roommate and me. Both of these talismans worked. Several of my closest friends knew I was practicing Witchcraft and Magick, even earning me the nickname Wingnut in Korea.
A few years later, back in Vegas, after deciding it was time to find a coven, I was fortunate enough to find the Temple of the Inner Circle, and began classes with Lady Morgana and Lord Mordred. The Inner Circle system of Witchcraft has had the most impact on my life, instilling me with more discipline, knowledge, and relationships than I had previously thought possible.
In my 30 years as an active Pagan, I have gone from being a Solitary Practitioner, to a member of a Hardcore Wicca group, to the High Priest of that group, now a Coven called Inner Circle Sanctuary.
We have seen Paganism/Wicca/Magick become popular, and even more so with the widespread use of the Internet. The Internet has been both a blessing and a curse to Occult Shops and Covens, depending on how they used it, but none remained unchanged.
With each successive generation finding Paganism is a new challenge to communicate the core teachings and love in ways that are relatable and attractive to them. Lady Morgana used to say, “If you don’t evolve, you die.” And of course, Lord Mordred loved to quote the movie “Heartbreak Ridge” by saying, “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.”
In my three decades, I have checked into many different paths (as most people do) reading books, websites, talking to initiates, as my interests led me. I love the Runes, and still buy every book I see concerning them. Rune collecting is a passion as well, alongside Tarot collecting. I served Djehuti for five years, performing Offering Rituals for Him daily, at the crack of dawn. His statue traveled with me to PA, Texas, California, Arizona, and other places to receive offerings in hotel rooms, and homes of family. I felt very safe in the air when His statue was on board!
The beauty of being Pagan is all these varied Religio-Magical practices are all part of being a modern Pagan/Witch/Magician. Finding the paths and practices that you will actually do is an enjoyable part of the process. I have learned a lot from each of these Traditions (even the ones that didn’t stick with me), and you can too. It’s all Magick to me.
I have made friends, lost friends, and yes, pissed some people off. Chances are you will too.
The Inner Circle had its ups and downs; it grew, shrank, and almost died. It is, as my wife says, my life’s work. It is doing what it always did- teaching those who are tough and patient enough to stick with it, initiating them, and celebrating every Sabbat in as Rock ‘n Roll a way as possible. Had it not been for Lady Morgana and Lord Mordred being so tough on us, and demanding of us, the Inner Circle may have just faded away after they died.
The Inner Circle system of Wicca is workable by anyone or group of people willing to work it. It is not a Cult of Personality, and though Lady Morgana was often described as a vortex, she set it up so that it would outlive her. My dream is that it will outlive me.
For that to happen, Paganism (and ICS) while remaining true to its core beliefs and teachings, will have to adapt, using the technology and media available and popular at the time. It was books when I started. Now of course, it is websites, social media, online rituals, etc. It’s such an exciting time to be Pagan, a Wiccan, and practice Magick.
I have loved my thirty years in Wicca, and feel very fortunate to have had been taught by the best, and to this day work with the best.
May Paganism “save the souls” of those who find it in the future, and may we nurture this life-long love in the Pagans that come after us.
The time is now.
High Priest, Inner Circle Sanctuary
Inner Circle Sanctuary
Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.