I am Lady Hjordis, High Priestess of Awen Forge Coven.
I have come fully to the God and Goddess and to my Coven through various paths both secular and spiritual; but I have felt intuitively since I was a child that I was a witch. Career-wise, I have been a theatre manager, a private investigator, and currently I am a lawyer working with abused women and children.
As a child, I was raised in the Presbyterian Church. As an adult, I was drawn to the more liberal spiritual path encouraged by the Unitarian Universalist Church. However, in the fall of 1998, I found myself spiritually bereft. I was familiar with the “women’s spirituality movement” through feminist studies in college and law school. About this time, I read a book called The Feminine Face of God by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. This book was a revelation to me, and I began reading extensively about Women’s Spirituality.
I grew up on the Main Line, and remembered several years earlier reading an article in the Main Line Times on a shop in Berwyn called The Heart of the Goddess. It had a picture of two women dressed in togas and surrounded by statuary and crystals. At the time, I thought they were flakes. (Hmmm, what does that make me now?) But given my studies, and a burning need for more answers, I looked up the store and visited one Saturday.
Being a witch, I no longer believe in coincidence; I believe in recognizing the opportunities and connections the universe presents to you. I now know this was a major crossroad in my personal path. The date was Samhain — October 31, 1998.
On my first visit, Sian, the cashier, gave me a copy of The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. I finished the book by Monday. I re-read the book again many times in the next few months. I began practicing Wicca as a solitary practitioner, using the rites and techniques described in various books I found, but again felt the need for more. I returned to the store in February of 1999. This time I purchased Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. While I was there, I also picked up a flyer advertising a Wicca 101 class in April of 1999.
This class was taught by the woman who eventually became my High Priestess. It was an eight-week course attended regularly by five women. And those “opportunities and connections” made themselves apparent as soon as the class began. About half an hour into the first class, two of the women realized that they attended high school together. Another woman spoke about an NPR radio interview she had heard of a woman named Cynthia Lamb, the author of a book called Brigid’s Charge as one of the reasons for signing up for the class (great novel – hereditary female healer in colonial Philadelphia & NJ – the legend of the Jersey Devil). I had heard the same NPR interview shortly before I signed up for the class. It was wonderful to actually discuss everything I had read, discovered, and felt with others. It was even more wonderful to find out that there was so much more to learn.
In the 101 class, we studied general pagan concepts, and learned about several different traditions of Wiccan practice. After the class ended, four of us met regularly to celebrate moon rituals and sabbat celebrations. We wrote our own rituals, and designed our own spells. We met in each others’ back yards, and danced around fires in hibachis and baby-Weber grills. If we didn’t have our own drums, we’d play P-Funk. Our rituals were powerful and joyous. However, we practiced eclectically and followed no specific tradition. These rituals were also very goddess-centered. We were reveling in the newness of our connection to the Goddess. But after a few months, I began to realize that we were not including any god-energy in our rituals.
When I was about eight years old, my father had come home from a meeting of the Philadelphia Presbytery. He was lamenting to my mother that there was a group of women who wanted to change the language in the Book of Common Prayer so that instead of “Son of God,” it would say “Child of God.” My father didn’t see the difference in the words. Even at eight, I did. But just as I found the religion of my childhood neglected the Divine Feminine, I now realized I was neglecting the Divine Masculine.
I again found myself at a crossroad. And, again, the universe provided me an opportunity. My Wicca 101 instructor, Lady Kaleah, had completed her training in a British Traditional Coven in Boston, and had hived to form her own coven here. I and two of my classmates petitioned to join as soon as we heard. In traditional British practice, we honored both the God & Goddess. And I now studied the works of Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Alex Sanders and Vivianne Crowely.
My mother coven, Sacred Crossroads, was formed in 2000. I was elevated to the third-degree in February 2005. I served as coven maiden and taught several Wicca 101 classes over the years. When asked, I have given presentations to church groups on what Wicca is and what modern practice entails. I provided a workshop on scrying for the Delaware Valley Pagan Network Summer Social. Sacred Crossroads provided an Outer Court Group called the Inner Path, which holds public sabbat rituals and workshops for the local pagan community. I ran several individual sabbat rituals and workshops, eventually running the Inner Path for two years.
It is the nature of covens to grow and change. New members join and old members leave. In October of 2006, I began working with a study group of individuals from the Inner Path who were ready to make the commitment to joining a coven. I hived from my mother coven in January of 2007. In July, Awen Forge Coven was born.
As you can see by all the study I have mentioned, I try to take an intellectual and balanced approach to my endeavors. For this reason, practicing in a traditional Gardnerian coven appeals to me. The balanced worship of the God & Goddess honors all who practice. The history of the traditional Craft has much to offer, and I feel the progress of working through the three-degree system provides a structure by which coveners can measure their growth. We are fortunate to have close connections to our Gardnerian upline who provide us with support and guidance.
And in concert with our traditional studies, I encourage my coveners to explore and learn from their own experience and interests, and to incorporate the two paths to gain a full experience of magic and their abilities. And I am still very fortunate that I am able to learn from my coveners. There is still so much more to learn.
May the Lord and Lady Bless You.