the interviews below are from witches, pagans, and metaphysical practitioners from the south. I am incredibly excited to start releasing these interviews and to have them available for you to listen! if you feel like you fall into any of these groups and would like your story preserved, fill out this form to request to be interviewed and I will be in touch shortly.
the purpose of these interviews is to allow interviewees the chance to tell their stories the way they would like, to provide information about these topics from a personal, first-person perspective, and to provide information for current and future generations of witches, pagans, and metaphysical practitioners. if you are interested in using these interviews for a research project or any other use, you are more than welcome to. I can provide further materials that i’ve collected with each interview, simply email me and I can pass them along to you!
about transcripts… eventually I would also like to provide transcripts with each interview, but they are expensive and time-consuming to produce and will only be available for select interviews or as funding becomes available. if you’d like to offer your services as a transcriptionist (whether amateur or professional) you are more than welcome to and I thank you greatly, simply contact me and we can discuss how you’re interested in helping!
otherwise, thank you for listening and let me know what having these interviews available means to you!
disclaimer: these interviews are not an endorsement nor a reflection of my own personal opinions or ideas, only that of the interviewee.
GINA WISOTZKY . October 14, 2018 . TAROT READER, WITCH . DURHAM, NC
topics: witchcraft, tarot, reading tarot professionally, witch, pagan, herbalism, Massachusetts, North Carolina, split consciousness, isolation, reiki, repression, suppression, internet
Gina Wisotzky was born and raised in Northampton, Massachusetts and discusses her experience growing up with a family that did not practice any religion in a place that was divided between secular ideology and the rise of New Age practices. She discusses how she was exposed to Reiki and herbalism at a young age, but that her family discouraged those practices because they were "unverifiable."
In her interview, she discusses her continued interest in these topics and how her close childhood friend joined her in activities such as playing the woods, writing magical books, and more. She recounts how because she and her friend's behavior was too outside of the norm, that she and her friend were separated and put into different classes intentionally. After this traumatic event, she discusses how she closeted her magical interests and describes the feelings that accompanied having this hidden identity and sense of split-consciousness. She also recalls how she came into possession of her first tarot deck, how her parents would allow her to practice reading tarot in a very quiet, closeted way, and the reasons she kept this practice secret up into her adult life.
Wisotzky also elaborates on her journey in co-founding a body care product business and later becoming a professional tarot reader and establishing her tarot reading business, Incandescent Tarot. Wisotzky talks about her journey to coming out of the closet in regards to her tarot practice, her reconnection to magic as an adult, her decision to become a professional tarot reader, and her magic practice as it is today. Wisotzky also discusses her broader opinions on topics pertinent to the Craft, such as how witches today can feel legitimacy in calling themselves witches, and her view of being witch as being a lifestyle versus strictly as a religion, she discusses her own ways of engaging in witchcraft in more everyday ways such as cleaning her home, cooking, and working with plants.
ANONYMOUS . October 14, 2018 . GROWING UP PAGAN . DURHAM, NC
topics: witchcraft, tarot, witch, pagan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, judaism, haunting, paranormal experience, metaphysical, isolation, Unitarian Universalism, jewish, queer, internet
Anonymous was born in Niskayuna, New York on July 7, 1979 and moved to Agawam, Massachusetts, where he spent the subsequent years of his childhood, when he was 5-6 years of age. In his interview, he describes his experience growing up in a self-described "bedroom community," how he felt like he didn't fit in from a young age, and how his exposure to the abundance of nature that surrounded the town remains a positive, formative memory.
Anonymous discusses how despite his parents being incredibly conservative Republicans, he was introduced to magic and spirituality at a young age through being raised in the Unitarian Universalist church with an openly gay minister. Furthermore, he fondly remembers the bookstore dates he and his father would have where anonymous could select whatever books he wanted--which ended up being foundational Wiccan and Pagan texts--and his father would buy them without question. The supportive environment and his curiosity of the craft culminated in attending a workshop led by Laurie Cabot as a preteen!
Aside from exploring his beliefs of spirituality through church or books, anonymous also recalls the emotionally intense, and often frightening, experience of growing up in both a town and house where the land was haunted. He recalls the experience of his house being haunted and how creating a barrier between himself and the energies that occupied his house was a formative experience of utilizing magic.
As an adult, anonymous now identifies as Jewish and comments on his process of finding magic in his current religious practice. Furthermore, he comments on contemporary topics including the commodification of witchcraft, his experience of being non-Christian in the South, and the continued need for queer, POC representation in the tarot and other spiritual spaces.
*Diuvei . November 4, 2018 . High Priest, Witch, Astrologer . Asheville, NC
topics: witchcraft, witch, north carolina, Asheville, institutional resistance, christian fundamentalism, anti-divination law, medical marijuana, environmentalism, activism, Wiccan activism, male witch, coven, gardernerian witchcraft, tradition
*diuvei (Steve Rasmussen) was born in San Luis Ospiso, California and is a Third-degree Gardnerian Elder in the California Line. He is the High Priest of Coven Oldenwilde, a Gardnerian coven in Asheville established in 1995. In his interview, he discusses the topics of handfasting, his introduction to the Craft, Wiccan activism in Asheville, NC, and the experience of being a male Witch.
a main and reoccurring theme within *diuvei’s interview is the tense relationship between christian fundamentalists and their coven as they openly practice witchcraft in the Bible belt. another dynamic that is discussed throughout this interview is the often fraught relationship between their coven and Asheville city government and Buncombe County government. A majority of this interview is dedicated to discussing different activist causes that Coven Oldenwilde engaged with including protesting the anti-divination law enforced in the late 1990s in Asheville, protesting the iraq war, protesting the removal of magnolia trees in downtown Asheville, and campaigning for medical marijuana and the deprioritization of marijuana charges. With each cause, he shares the institutional forces that presented challenges to their cause and the persecution that came from the Asheville Police Department.
note: after this interview, *diuvei asked me to include an addendum to this interview that includes further details and information about some of the topics discussed in his interview. this includes other activists that were arrested for protesting the iraq war, citizen-filmed footage of protest arrests that they presented to the public, subsequent persecution of a council member for providing some level of support for this video activism, how public-input came to be included in the process of hiring asheville city officials, and the asheville police department’s use-of-force policy—all of which can be found in the field notes.
QUEEN LADY PASSION . December 15, 2018 . High PriestESS, Witch, Tarot Reader, PSYCHIC . Asheville, NC
topics: witchcraft, witch, north carolina, Asheville, childhood, institutional resistance, christian fundamentalism, anti-divination law, medical marijuana, environmentalism, activism, Wiccan activism, activism, coven, gardernerian witchcraft, tradition, psychic, divination, ritual, public ritual, Samhain, inmate activism, pagan inmates
CONTENT WARNING: ABUSE
queen lady passion (dixie deerman) was born in Austin, Texas, and is now the high priestess of coven oldenwilde, a gardnerian coven located in asheville, which she established in 1995. in her interview, queen lady passion discusses her childhood which was defined by being adopted into an abusive, fundamentalist christian family, along with her younger sister, at the age of three. she shares her experience of physical and psychological abuse that stemmed from her physical disabilities, her psychic abilities, and, later, being a witch. she also reflects on how, after being shunned by her town for a year due to being a witch, how people started seeking her out for her psychic abilities at age 14.
as an adult, queen lady passion was a registered nurse for many years and found that her psychic abilities allowed her to provide better care, especially to patient requires psychological care. in her interview, she shares her motivation for going through the process of becoming a third-degree gardnerian elder, moving to asheville, and founding her own coven, coven oldenwilde, in 1995. as a high priestess, queen lady passion was and is a Wiccan activist leader in the asheville area through offering public Samhain rituals, providing education about religious freedom, protesting anti-divination laws and other unjust laws that are discriminatory towards witchcraft, protesting the iraq war, acts of ecoactivism, advocating for the deprioritization of marijuana-related charges by the police, and more. resistance from fundamentalist christians as well as institutional resistance from local government leaders remains a reoccurring theme throughout her interview. this is especially the case for her relationship with law enforcement agencies such as the Asheville police department where the chief of police, will annarino, threatened her life as well as the fbi and cia—both of whom sent undercover informants to rituals held at the coven.
aside from the extensive history of activism, queen lady passion reflects on what stereotypes continue to hinder the acceptance of witches, why more witches need to come out publicly, what witches need to know today, and shares her decades-long work advocating for pagan prisoners.
note: while queen lady passion’s interview, as well as *diuvei’s interview, recounts the eco activism that she lead around the protection of magnolia trees in downtown asheville, more about this can be found on their website in the “magnolia chronicles.”
AUBREY ZINAICH . December 16, 2018 . kundalini yoga teacher . durham, NC
Aubrey Zinaich is a Kundalini yoga teacher based in Durham, NC. In our interview, we discuss her childhood including being raised Calvinist and its influence on her idea of herself and spirituality. She reflects on the formative experience of her father being a philosopher and how the texts she read by Hume and others influenced her outlook of life. We further discuss her experience of growing up, spending time in nature, and moving multiple times. She reflects on her formative experience traveling abroad, going to school, and later working in the food industry and how she was looking to food to provide her an embodied experience in her life. She then discusses her journey finding her sense of spirituality, how journey to studying and following Buddhism and Sikhism, and her experiences with different forms of yoga and why she pursued becoming a Kundalini yoga teacher and how it's shifted her perspective of life and its meaning.
Image by Hillary Honeck.