... let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
I first discovered Wicca when I was fifteen, but didn't do much about it until I was at university. I read a lot of books and tried to work out what it was all about. There's only so far that you can go with literature though, especially when it relates to a spirituality which resounds with the world around you.
I entered at the end of the 'Witch Wars', when the celebrated Doreen Valiente was verbally bashing heads together at the Pagan Federation Conference. Peace had just broken out and I was looking for someone (or some coven) to initiate me into the craft of the wise. Fortunately, given some of the idiots who could have pounced upon me, I met Huw.
In his beautiful Welsh accent, he answered every question burning in my brain. The first amongst them was, "How do I become a witch?"
Huw replied, "Do you feel like a witch?" Of course I did. "Then you are one."
It's taken me nearly twenty years to realize the wisdom of that answer. At the time, I wanted ceremony and fireworks, the Goddess Herself appearing in the Heavens to personally welcome me into the Craft. I was very young.
Eventually, it was Huw who initiated me, in front of the Lady Wulfruna statue, on a moonlit night in Wolverhampton. That felt both ordinary and electrifyingly wonderful, all at the same time. I'd have preferred a stone circle or a hidden cavern, but the city center was there. Moreover, it was absolutely and brilliantly right.
In the years that passed, I met other people, joined different covens, worked alone and I made it through the ranks. I'm an Alexandrian High Priestess now.
Of course, I also encountered the politics and ego jostling that comes with a relatively new (or revived) religion that's growing so fast. I had people accusing me of not having the right credentials nor a decent Wiccan lineage.
It didn't bother me. My witchcraft comes from the Earth beneath my feet, the stars in the sky, the air in my lungs and all around me, and the fire of my passion (and cigarettes). Why try to attach a social ranking onto all of that? History has tried that in other religions and other hierarchies. It always ends in tears.
This attitude earned me the respect of Janet Farrar, who turned to me halfway down a road in Glastonbury and took my hand. Witnessed by Gavin Bone and Liz Williams, Janet initiated me there and then to the Third Degree of Alexandrian Wicca. My lineage therefore is: Alex Sanders, through Janet Farrar.
"And if anyone ever has a problem with your lineage again," Janet told me fiercely, "you just send them to me!"
I wouldn't mess with that. I don't know about you!