I had the pleasure to interview the lovely Cory Gunn from Wilder Wombyn.
How did you begin your journey into Wicca?
It was sort of a gradual transition. I started exploring meditation and astrology as a kid and always had a collection of crystals. When I was about 10 years old was the first time I picked up “Earth, Air, Fire & Water” by Scott Cunningham and was incredibly fascinated at what I was reading on the covers. I then had a classmate in middle school who revealed that she was Wiccan and raised in a Wiccan household. I studied as much as I could for years before self-dedicating on Yule in 2000.
17 years of practicing Wicca, have you ever wanted to or have explored other pagan paths like Druidry, Shamanism, Voodoo, etc?
Yes, Druidry definitely! I started off working primarily with Celtic traditions, and Druidry is a close cousin, so I would love to look more into those practices. I also practice Celtic Shamanism, specifically. As for Voodoo or other indigenous/shamanic practices – I have a tremendous amount of respect for these practices, but I don’t actively pursue knowledge of them. At one point, I had started to look into a lot of indigenous & shamanic practices and rituals, but stopped. It felt like I was treading on ground where I wasn’t welcome, and I totally respect that. I have a natural connection to Celtic & Norse practices because of my heritage, but I don’t have a natural connection to any other traditions. That’s not to say that if you feel called to these practices but don’t have any ancestral connection, that you can’t explore why you feel called. For me personally, though, I have not been called by Spirit to work with those energies, so I let them be.
What are the top five books you recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about Wicca and why?
1). “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham – it has a lot of practical information for those that are seeking to start a solitary practice.
2). “Magical Power for Beginners” by Deborah Lipp – she is an amazing author and breaks down how magick works and techniques for casting effectively.
3). This one is actually two books – “The Witches’ God” & “The Witches’ Goddess” by Janet & Stewart Farrar – they complement each other well and have a wealth of information on myths and practices of several pantheons.
4). “Sabbats” by Edain McCoy – this one is a nice, large book with recipes, rituals, craft ideas & information on the Wheel of the Year.
What does Wicca mean to you?
Oh, this is a big one! To me, Wicca is about being in harmony with one’s environment, honing your Craft (walking your talk, so-to-speak) and honoring the Goddess. That last part is pretty important to me. I had a hard time finding my place in the religions of the world until I found Wicca. It’s a religion, yes, but it’s also a path that you choose to walk. I love the fact that you have to dedicate yourself to that path rather than be baptized/born into it. There’s a chose and a declaration that needs to be made. I had to stand up and say, THIS is my path and I chose to walk it daily. I chose to honor the God and Goddess. I chose to live my life in harmony with my environment (to the best of my abilities). I chose to view and treat all life as sacred. Wicca isn’t about some benevolent being, swooping in to save me. It’s about me learning to pull myself up by the bootstraps and save myself.
Wicca gets a bad rep in the Pagan community for being too “fluffy” What are your thoughts on this?
Yep – I hear this one a lot too. I think this has to do with the misconception that all Wiccan’s are just tree-hugging hippies, mostly stemming from the Wiccan Rede (which ends with: “An it harm none, do what thou will”). That might describe a small subset of Wiccans, but that certainly doesn’t describe all of us. What I love most about Wiccans, is that we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. There’s this idea that we’re just a bunch of pacifists, due to the Wiccan Rede, but that’s not really it. I view the Rede as a statement of self-discipline. It’s the Universe saying, “look, you can do what you want, but there will be consequences. The consequences will be in alignment with the action you’re taking, be it good or bad. And it’s your job to take the full weight of those consequences.” I love that. It makes us stronger. There’s no one really checking our actions, except us and our own compassion. There are no commandments or list of do’s and don’ts, there’s just the principle of the Universe in that, you get back what you give. That’s definitely not fluffy.
Are you raising your children Pagan or including them in any practices? If so how do you go about including them?
We’re an interfaith household – I’m Wiccan and my husband is a Christian. We’re raising the kids to know that mommy believes one thing and daddy believes another, but there is no pressure for them to follow either path. The kids are being exposed to both religions, but if they don’t want any part in our activities, we don’t pressure them. Sometimes the kids go to church with Grandma and sometimes they participate in ritual with me, but we always leave it up to them to decide when they want to be included.
How has practicing Wicca had a positive effect on your life?
It’s given me a lot more freedom than I had when I was a kid. Wicca can be difficult for a lot of folks because all the decisions are your own. You get to choose how you practice – it’s not dictated for you, unless you belong to a Coven or initiated into a specific Tradition. For most Solitaries, you’re your own Priestess and that can get overwhelming. I find it incredibly freeing. It’s allowed me to grow in self-confidence, which affects nearly every area of my life. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to face half of the obstacles I had if I wasn’t a Wiccan.
What tools do you enjoy using the most in your practice and what tools do you use the least?
This is another tough one. When I started my practice, I was very traditional and used nearly every tool that a Gardnerian Witch would use. Over time, though, my practice has gone from traditional to folksier. I use mostly what I have on hand – herbs, oils, candles and my hands! For instance, I just love wands so much, but it’s probably been 3 years since I last used one of my wands in a ritual. It’s been even longer since I’ve used an Athame. I’ve been primarily using pendulums or my finger to cast circle and will use whatever I have on hand for spell ingredients. I’ve definitely become more creative in my practice!
Lastly What advice would you give to someone who is maybe wanting to start practicing Wicca but is hesitant?
The best advice I can give anyone is to read everything! I know that sounds boring, but it’s so important. Read articles, read blogs, read books. There are a lot of free resources, so you don’t have to break the bank buying every book on Wicca out there. The second thing I would add is to use your best judgment. If something you read makes you uncomfortable or just doesn’t make sense for you and your practice, discard it. We don’t have a singular sacred text, so you get to decide what works for you! Always go with your gut, even if your source has been practicing Wicca for 30 years. This is your path, lovely, so forge it the way you want to.