Jo Harrington: A Crazy Diamond Trying to Shine

by JoHarrington

As one of Wizzley's authors, Jo Harrington has been on a steep learning curve. Online freelance writing is a complex game!

TL;DR Version:

I'm a Pagan; a gamer; and a geek. My hair has been dread-locked since the 1990s, and I think that Syd Barrett was God.

I'm so good at History that a University gave me letters to put after my name. But mostly I perfect my hiscores, while listening to Blue October and the Manic Street Preachers.

I'm an Urgent Cases Activist for Amnesty International. And I've been trying my hand at freelance writing since the middle of 2011. Turns out that I'm not bad at it.

Image: Jo Harrington at Home
Image: Jo Harrington at Home

People Actually Pay You For Writing?!

The delight in a dream that might just come true. Or how one British girl went for it.

A few years ago, before recession and bank crises decimated the job market, a friend of mine was approaching forty. With two years to go, he resigned from his well paid work and headed into a recording studio.

Many people thought he was mad, but they were the conservative 'save your money and fit into society's worn groove' type of individuals. They would never take any risks. He did. "I want to at least try to be a rockstar before I'm forty," Lxnen told us. I cheered him on all the way. He was following a childhood dream and I respected that. I wanted to be that brave when I was his age.

I'm forty next year. When I was a little girl, I used to write stories on pieces of paper, which I'd then stick together so they formed a 'book'. This would proudly be shown around my primary school playground. I was going to be a famous author one day. I was going to be CS Lewis, Enid Blyton and Giles Reed all rolled into one. It didn't quite work out like that, but the dream never went away.

I never did get the chance to find out if I'm as brave as Lxnen. I was made redundant when the recession hit in 2008. There was no opportunity there to resign anything. On the contrary, I spent the next eighteen months writing job applications and casting CVs after increasingly desperate sources of employment. I eventually secured a position in Mexico, though I remained based in my native Britain. That too disappeared, when the whole company crumbled under the troubles in that country.

But the Mexican job had been writing. I filled a massive website with English language content, as well as keeping a daily blog focusing on all things Mexican. It was my dream come true. Not fiction, not a book on a shelf with my name on the spine, but this was the 21st century now. I'm sure that my seven year self would have approved of the internet, if she could have conceived of it. I know that her geekish, cyber-savvy future self certainly does!

Online freelance writing is my dream. The fact that people would actually pay me for writing is a delight that's utterly delicious to contemplate. Lxnen jumped, I was pushed, but I like to think that we're both reaching for our dreams in an increasingly cynical world. That has to count for something, even if it's against the odds. He crafts his music and I write my words; and we both smile as we do it.

A Writer's Guide to Wizzley

Blue October: Inner Glow

One of my favourite bands with one of their more upbeat tunes.

Buy Blue October Albums

Argue With a Tree is my favorite album by Blue October. The rest aren't shabby either!

Academia and Me

I love learning in all its forms. It doesn't begin nor end with school and universities. Every day is an opportunity to discover more about the world and I don't expect that to stop until I'm in my grave. Then the education will really kick off!

But I've got pieces of paper too. The highlights are:

  • Master of Art in History
  • Bachelor of Art in History with Philosophy
  • School Prize in Sociology
  • A-Levels in English Literature, History and Sociology
  • PTLLs certificate (adult teaching)
  • British Sign Language (level 1)
  • Lots of GCSEs

The Graduate

There's only so much you can do with dreadlocks and a mortar board hat.
Jo Harrington MA BA(Hons)
Jo Harrington MA BA(Hons)
Jo Harrington

The Professional

Jo Harrington at the Aimhigher Roadshow
Jo Harrington at the Aimhigher Roadshow
Jo Harrington

Real Work and Me

Since I first took on a paper round as a child, I've been working hard all of my life. Here are the highlights from my career to date:

  • Freelance Writer.
  • English Language Web Content Writer and Blogger for Endless Tours, Mexico.
  • Regional Administrator for Aimhigher West Midlands.
  • Administrator for the Graduate School at the University of Wolverhampton.
  • Collections Manager for Bell Fruit Services.
  • CD and Multi-Media Librarian for Bell Fruit Services.
  • Secretary of the Psychic Research Foundation.
  • Avon Lady.

Editor's Choice Awards on Wizzley!

These articles each earned me the highest accolade available on Wizzley. I hope that you enjoy them.
Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam survived the Holocaust, because Dr Mengele needed them for medical experiments. Today she is speaking with Wizzley.
They are the wolves of the street! But they've been saddled with a reputation for being cute and fluffy. This toy breed dog was born to be wild and wants the jacket to prove it!
A medical emergency could happen at any moment. The question is whether you have the knowledge to save lives. We should all have that.
This year was my tenth Glastonbury Festival. I've picked up a thing or two about what you should pack. This is my top ten items to take to Glastonbury and other festivals.

That's only some of them.  See all of my Editor's Choice Awards on my Wizzley profile.

Manic Street Preachers: Faster

My favourite song by one of my favourite bands.

Buy Manic Street Preachers Albums

The Holy Bible is my favorite Manics CD. It's difficult to select just two more from their entire discography to show you!

A Gamer and a Geek - Aka Merch Gwyar

The whole world of pixels opened up for me as a way of stress release. Let's just say that I took to it very well...

The Steam Summer Sale has been my undoing.  When games are that cheap, you might as well just add another one to your cart. 

Cart contents kind of add up, don't they? 

But on the bright side, I'm now sitting here with many hours of fun in my immediate future. Time wasting?  No.  How can a life filled with fun be time-wasting?  To my mind, the pursuit of happiness is one of the reasons that we're here.

However, Steam isn't my main digital drug of choice. That would undoubtedly be Runescape, where I'm known by my avatar name of Merch Gwyar.

I came to Runescape in 2006, after meeting with friends at the pub.  Everyone around that table was over thirty and they were chatting about their adventures in Gielinor. 

It all sounded much more exciting than my own life.  I was floating somewhere at ceiling level with the stress of work.  My heart was playing up. I was shaking with nervous exhaustion. My doctor was making strong speeches about workaholicism The hospital consultant was recommending me for further tests on my heart.

My Runescape playing friends told me to make a character there. An hour a day running around Lumbridge would soon sort me out.

They were right.

Half a decade later, my heart is just fine and the stress levels aren't worrying my doctor anymore. I have at least level 90 in every skill; and my blog, written as Merch Gwyar, has over 300k hits. It details my daily adventures in Gielinor.

I also discovered SuperMario and Tetris, but then, who hasn't?

That Was the River, This is the Sea

One thing that I've learned about business, whether on-line or off-line, is that it's good to diversify.  If one venture sinks, another flies.  Your income streams go on.

Writing will always be my first love, but I can take photographs too.  I love traveling, particularly in my native Britain.  As I wander around, there will be the occasional article describing the things that I've seen.  More likely, there will be pictures.

They go into my Zazzle store: Beautiful Britain.  Call it another tributary to the great river of my on-line businesses.  One day we'll make it to the sea, and we'll be so rich.  Rich beyond my wildest dreams.  Rich to the point of actual making a livelihood in a recession.

You know, we can't go too wild now.

Popular Items from my Zazzle Store Beautiful Britain

These are things which people have actually bought. I was so proud, because I made the products!
Edinburgh's The World's End Tavern Postcard $1.40 by Beaut...
The Cavern Club in Liverpool's Mathew Street T-Shirt $21.45 ...
The Cavern Club in Liverpool's Mathew Street Ceramic Ornament ...
Welcome to Scotland - Anglo-Scottish Border Sign Postcard $1....

Jo Harrington: Wiccan High Priestess

Just your average child of the universe answering the charge of the Goddess.

... 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!

Janet and I having a laugh in Glastonbury

Two priestesses model the latest in pub table decoration headwear.
Jo Harrington and Janet Farrar
Jo Harrington and Janet Farrar

Recommended Books Written by Janet Farrar

Buy works penned by the High Priestess who initiated me. They will all give you a deeper insight into my own religion.

Jo Harrington on Paganism

Some of the articles and blogs that I've written about Paganism or Wicca.

The Day of the Dead: Ancestor Worship at Samhain
October 31st means Samhain, Hallowe'en (Halloween), Día de los Muertos or whatever other name to denote the thinning of the veil and the return of our dead.

Witches and Stone Circles: Caring for the Past
Pagans of all denominations are drawn to stone circles and other prehistoric sites; and tourism booms at the Sabbats. But are we caring for our heritage?

Is the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance a Folk Ritual Based in Paganism?
Each year the Horn Dance takes place in Abbots Bromley, in Staffordshire, England. Many assume that it represents the survival of an ancient Pagan rite.

Handfasting Tips: How to Include Muggles in a Witches' Wedding
Every bride and groom wants the perfect wedding day. In Wicca or Witchcraft, non-Pagan guests may be bewildered by a handfasting. How can they be included?

Protecting Wolverhampton: A Religious Response
So what then of my own lot - the Pagans? Unless we're in full regalia, floating down the high street with our cloaks billowing behind us, it might not be obvious that we are there.

Winding Down With the Witches' Mabon
September 23rd 2011 is a date which even the scientists are able to mark, though perhaps not with the same interpretation as the witches.

Madron: Madron

One of my favourite songs by a Pagan band.

Buy Madron Albums

The eponymous track from 'The Beginning' is my favorite of all of Madron's songs.

Carpe Diem

A final word after collating bits of my life.

There is so much more that I could have said in my Wizzography. You could have heard about me playing drums, being an Amnesty International Urgent Cases activist, traveling where I can, organizing Holocaust memorial events, publishing a book, getting muddy each year at the Glastonbury Festival and a whole lot more.

But they are stories for another day.

Updated: 07/18/2014, JoHarrington
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frankbeswick on 06/26/2016

Jo does not seem to be active on wizzley, sadly, as I miss her, so I will give you some information. Alexandrian Wicca originates from Alex Sanders, king of the witches,self styled, in the twentieth century. He had begin in Gardnerian wicca, but branched out on his own path.

JoHarrington on 04/05/2015

When did you get sane? ;) As for me, I like to keep an open mind. I'll neither believe nor disbelieve anything for certain, unless I have the evidence proving stuff beyond a doubt.

alan on 03/23/2015

hi jo ive enjoyed reading your articles but what are your thoughts on ufos you now ime sane but i cannot explane what ive seen logically are thay secret planes or visitors ??

JoHarrington on 10/15/2014

Thank you very much. :)

AngelaJohnson on 10/10/2014

You certainly have an interesting life and I'm glad you write about it.

JoHarrington on 09/15/2014

:D It is.

RuthCox on 09/15/2014

Yes! I looked it up and discovered its sweetness!

JoHarrington on 09/15/2014

It's a Welsh term of endearment. I tend to call it people a lot, so you'll no doubt hear it again. :)

RuthCox on 09/15/2014

I learned a new word from your comment, thank you... 'cariad' sweet!

JoHarrington on 09/15/2014

Still smiling here, cariad. :) The dream is beginning to pay off.

I was telling some of the Youth of Today that the only things I regret are the things I didn't do. I'm glad that I followed this dream.

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