Religion and the Craft

I am a Mystic and Witch. The official terms have yet to be defined and explained, but for the sake of argument, let’s just understand that mystics and witches are born not made, coven degrees only reflect social designations not innate talent and not all those that initiate into covens are witches. Energy moves through a witch through their body, heart and mind in a specific way. Though there are solitary witches, probably the most successful workings incorporate elements, spirit (­­­­­better known as gods/entities) or daemon) and lastly through the roots of traditions mired in tribe and/or community (covens). Witches were outlawed for years, but covens popped up all over the western world since it was legalized in the 50s.

To better explain my entry as a sexual magician into Chicago’s witchy community, we’d need to see the context from amidst a plethora of covens emerging in Chicago throughout the 70s. 3 movements in particular survived within the already established magickal conventions of Shamanism, Freemasonry, Hermeneutics and the Golden Dawn and the OTO. Jack Armstrong and his coven Heartland, established retail magickal stores, (the most recent being Alchemy Arts); Donna Cole, fresh from her interaction with Gardner and Bones in England, started an unnamed coven; and Herman Enderle who felt magick and community needed expression in a wider pagan umbrella. In order to answer a louder call, Enderle and Cole combined Witchcraft and Paganism to establish Temple of the Pagan Way.

As Magick and Mysticism took root here in my home, the Powers that Be weren’t yet finished as my old diaries reveal David and I first channeled the Guardian on March 28, 1999 after first channeling a spirit through the OUIJA board on our anniversary in 1998. It took a couple of years for me to be convinced that David was not having psychotic episodes. We were middle class double income couple, raising a family...Our son was 8 years old, our daughters 15 and 13. David was a Walgreens Manager and I was a legal secretary working at a large law firm downtown. These channeling episodes led us into an amazing adventure that has continued to this day. The Guardian told us they were Sumerian and as I’d always loved ancient history I became intrigued with the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

Apparently part of our Mission was to re-establish the ancient rites, thus Terra Incognita, a modern temple of sexual magick was born. The Guardian taught us about collecting primal sexual energy as it manifests in nature through the Genesis of Creation. We got involved in Chicago's sex positive communities; built community around us and learned how to connect with these "gods" as a team to funnel karuna to them from willing partners. The rituals and mindset necessitated our being poly and interacted with other poly people. In 2002 we began to enter the Chicgao Pagan community where I'd hoped to exercise my mysticism. It didn't work out so well as what we were practicing was sex magick and for us the Great Rite was real.

In 2003, we met Lyris, a 3d degree Gardnerian witch getting her doctorate in Neuroscience. She worked with us on our paradigm and taught us the fundamentals of the neopagan witchcraft. We flirted with the idea of starting a coven with her, or joining her new coven when she found a Gardnerian priest in Andersonville. Through her attention to protocol, she showed us how to focus the energy we collected to get to where it was supposed to go (the gods) through ritual.

Lyris invited us to a city-wide ritual with Chicago witch HPS's for a healing ritual where I met Donna Cole Schultz. Donna's coven was the parent Gardnerian Coven in Chicago since it had several incarnations since its inception in the 70s. I was also a part of an eclectic group that met once a month at an old witches backyard on Jarvis called Light of the Moon. The Light of the Moon was named after a pagan bookstore on Howard that Janet Berris, a local tarot reader and astrologer, first started in Evanston and ultimately moved to my neighborhood on Chicago’s far north side. I first met Jack Armstrong when he came to one of our potlucks. He was absolutely fascinated with the thought that there was a sex magick temple in Chicago and became David and my friend. Our relationship deepened just before he contracted sclerosis of the liver.

Donna Cole Schultz died in March of 2004, Jack the following November, and I got to know Kenny better as we visited Jack when he was in hospice and finally on the last night of his life before he finally went into the hospital. I took Religious Studies at DePaul University in 2005 to assist the countering of marginalizing mysticism and graduating with honors in 2009 at the age of 53. This is why I feel so impelled to integrate Science with Mysticism which is another story altogether.

In November of 2013, I got my first message from Norman on a social network for kinksters called Fetlife. Norman was an old hippy gyspsy out of the 60s and 70s who claimed he had been initiated by Enderle in Pagan Way and Cole all the way to 3d degree. He said he’d been out of Chicago for decades but was now back and felt he needed to pass on his Gardnerian keys of Ascension. As his story seemed farfetched I told him I needed proof as his story. I thought he should reunited with Herman Enderle who was presently living in Edgewater, not too far from Norman’s apartment. I challenged him to reunite with Herman Enderle and indeed Herman Enderle was delighted to see Norman again as was I about establishing this amazing connection with Chicago’s witchy roots. I threw the opportunity out to the general Terra Incognita community. David and I were scaling back and disengaging ourselves from social engagements. We’re getting older and beginning the processes of divesting our lives and moving on. The people we’d done ritual with were still connected and still bonded with us, so a coven would allow us a home from which we could practice witch craft and magick.

David was a classic archetypal magician using Earth, Air, Fire and Water to manifest his will; but I was a spell casting witch who worked with a Spector and Pantheon to service our tribe. I brought my orientation to a place where others could join with my energy to build an Axis Mundi (cone of power). Aiden A. Kelly, PhD explains how the Craft developed in the United States, and more particularly here in Chicago:

“The Pagan Way movement received a strong boost from two of Fitch’s colleagues, Donna Cole and Herman Enderle, Gardnerian Witches in Chicago. Donna Cole had gotten Gardnerian initiation in England in 1969 from Madge Worthington and Arthur Edmonds, who derive from Gardner via Eleanor (Rae) Bones.

Donna then brought the Craft back to Chicago and began a nameless group with Herman Enderle. Ginny Brubaker joined the group while it was nameless. It was later renamed Temple of the Pagan Way as the first formal Pagan Way grove in Chicago, to serve as an Outer Court around the central Gardnerian coven. Donna left the group in 1972 to focus on her Gardnerian coven, The Coven/Temple of the Sacred Stones. Ginny Brubaker became the High Priestess at Yule 1972. The group changed it’s name to Temple of Uranus in 1972 and 1973 to reflect a greater emphasis on ceremonial magick of Herman’s Rosicrucian background. The group divided in 1974 with Herman and Ginny going separate ways. Herman’s new group was called Earthstar. The larger portion of the group which included Ginny kept the name Uranus briefly, and then changed it’s name back to The Temple of the Pagan Way. In 1988 the name was changed again to Covenant of Gaea.”

It was thrilling that someone who’d been a part of this movement contacted me and aggressively sought to continue the line so long after the original spark had died out. In Aiden’s article, she goes on to say that Donna later completed her 3d degree in New York through the Bucklands. Be that as it may, I met Herman Enderle and he personally told me that Norman had ascended to 3d degree through Donna. Unfortunately Donna wasn’t a teacher so she conferred her highest honors to Norman and his partner Toni without training or tradition because she and Herman were both very fond of them and knew Norman was leaving Chicago.

My challenge was that though the keys were not substantive, I had enough Chicago tradition and formal education to fill them. I gathered my beloved members of Terra Incognita who wanted to join me and created Coven Babylon. I’d been teaching magick (not specifically witchcraft) to Emi a Czechoslovakian wife and mother I’d met a year before. Millarca, an intersexed member of Terra Incognita, Emi and I initiated at the same time. Norman elevated me quickly to 3d within a few months since he was uncomfortable running community. Actually, truth be told, I’d been working with intense magick in a sex magick temple for over a decade and he’d been a magick groupie. What this meant was that though Norman had met and interacted briefly with some incredible people over the 30 years he’d been away from Chicago, he’d never settled into any serious practice. Norman could, however, write ritual and with that ritual we started Coven Babylon. Coincidentally (even if I don’t believe in coincidence) Jack Armstrong’s protégé, Kenny at Alchemy Arts, opened his store up for us to run these rituals and teach our classes.

Emi opened her home where 5 of us could meet once a week in order to develop our skills with oracles and deepen our relationship with the entities that had brought us together in the first place. I knew the coven was transitioning when there was growing dissention in our ranks and though I’d started Coven Babylon with Norman’s contribution, it was clear I was more enthusiastic about teaching magick than I was running a coven. Emi had been an excellent student for the 2 years I’d been working with her and we’d built an amazing bond. I’d already broached her taking over as “Queen” allowing me to step back and develop the spiritual aspects that could be incorporated into classes. Coven Babylon was transcending the usual Wiccan Coven standards as Millarca was breaking all notions of gender polarity. I found the ideals of 3d degree in Freemasonry’s building individual potentials as the 3d degree was used to consciously choose one’s magickal life’s focus.

As Emi elevated to 2d degree, because Millarca was Intersexed, she became a Magus with her 3d degree and the power to elevate anybody. Upon Emi’s ascension the whole coven transformed. Where I’d been primarily interested in filling empty keys with academic resources to acquire deeper mysticism, Emi was primarily concerned with developing harmony, but harmony is not a human condition. Part of this included light energy into the dark forces I used to develop polarity within the Creative Force. Millarca stepped back as she was not interested in angelic influences, and we lost Norman who left for personal reasons.

I had to think about these keys. I think they're real enough that the forces that be brought Norman clear out of nowhere and gave them to me...and to nobody else. I opened up a number of covens.. One was Coven Babylon. The Second was Coven of the Hag in France, elevating my Chevalier, Renard, giving him 3d degree as he'd already held the authority of Druid in Provence. The Third was Forestiere, another Chevalier here in Chicago who'd been a part of my world since the earlest Terra Incognita days. Forestiere and his wife divorced after 20 years, a sad but necessary process and he met and bonded with Balthaz who is a Catholic attempting to understand her beloved's spirituality. After I'd discovered the Druids in France, I brought it home and after reading Phillip Carr Gomm's DruidCraft, Forestiere has decided to become a full Druid and mix it with our Witchy elements. I'm supportive and thinking this to be a fascinating incarnation of our ever organic proces.. that we claim as our religion.. For we admit to being an ever organic force, reflecting Gaea’s changeable nature that is rooted into our planet’s cultural history. We hope to water and nourish our growth and plant seeds of curiosity, mysticism and an ever growing life force that will forever honor our ancestors and the gods.


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