The year was 2000, and I was 20 years old. I was living with my boyfriend’s two best friends, and one of their girlfriends. Springtime in Las Vegas was very quickly melting into summer. Hot, sweaty and gross was the order of the day. So, instead of being normal 20 somethings and spending our time out running around being stupid, my roommates and I invested in a WebTV.
Anyone remember those? The keyboard you hooked up to your TV that allowed you to access the internet? I kind of miss them, but I digress.
While wandering the interwebs one night I stumbled onto a page about Wicca. Within moments I was enraptured. I mean here was everything I had ever believed, all compiled into one religion. A religion that up until that point I knew next to nothing about. I devoured that page, learning everything I could. Everything I had ever taken from any religion, every belief I had ever fostered in my secret heart, was there.
I suppose that needs a little background. My parents were not religious. They were both raised in very strict religious homes, and had refused to indoctrinate their children into any one faith, knowing that no matter what you’re told as a child, you will believe what feels right to you as an adult. They told me, “You’re a smart girl. Research all of the faiths, take what you like, leave what you don’t.” And I did. I had friends who thought me very odd indeed when I told them that I believed in a heaven like place, but no hell. “How is that possible” they wondered to me often. I told them it was a place that people wait between lifetimes. Because since I was very small I’ve believed in reincarnation. I believed that there was a God and a Goddess, and maybe more than one of each. But I always knew that nature demands both parents in any creation. If the world was created by the Gods, then surely we have two parents, right?
All of those things, and many more, drew me in. I immediately started looking for a place to learn more, get training, practice with a group. I found a place called Bell Book and Candle, in Las Vegas. My mom took me there, and when I entered the small shop I was transported to an altogether different place in my life. It was a place that would consume the next several years of my life. But I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew was that the bell jingled on the door, and my senses were carried away on the sweet incense smell that permeated the store, whether there was any burning or not. The woman behind the desk, Pandora, was gracious and kind. She showed me a few books to read, sold me a basic spell in what they called a “grab bag” which contained all of the ingredients needed for the most basic candle magic, as well as a small stone and charm. As we were preparing to leave the store she asked, “Do you want to sign up for our classes? We offer weekly Wicca Classes. They last for a year and a day, and at the end you are initiated. if you make it that is.” She smiled and passed me the clipboard. I signed my name, and my world was never the same again.
I went home and read the books. And then I read them again. And again. I was comforted by faith in a way that I had never experienced before. I did the spell in the bag, a success spell. Perfect, since I had been in the process of looking for a new job. Within days I had a job, and while the situation with the roommates at home was getting progressively more stressful, I was able to focus on what was really important. Me. 🙂
I received a call from the store one day. The classes were run by a group that called themselves The Temple of the Inner Circle, run by the owners of the store. It was the first week of May, and that Wednesday night they would be having their first introductory class for the newest batch of members. All I had to do was show up, Wednesday night at 7pm, with a notebook and an open mind.
I entered the store in the cool evening air. It was full of people, cigarette and incense smoke, coffee smells, and sheer joy. There were at least two dozen people walking around wearing long white or black robes. Tied around their waists were long ropes in either white or black to match their robes, and knotted in what appeared to be a very specific way. Stuck into each rope belt, was a black handled knife. A tall man was wearing a crown on his head, with an inverted (upside-down) pentagram on it. Everything I had read until that point said that the inverted pentagram was a sign of evil, and that I should beware of any group which used this symbol. But surely I could give them a few hours of my life, right?
I mingled through the crowd, and was ushered into the back room. The Temple Room.
Gods above me it was beautiful. A large room with an altar that covered one entire wall. Dozens of candles of every color imaginable were burning merrily on the tile covered table. Sitting atop and center of the altar was a large statue of a winged Egyptian Goddess. She watched us from that perch on the altar as all of us who were unrobed, found spaces and cushions. We were offered beverages from what seemed to be the friendliest group of crazy people I’d ever met. A young man in a black robe with green peeking out from under the sleeves and hood stood in the doorway and rang a bell twice.
Silence fell. All of the members of the Temple stood quietly, watching the rest of us who were looking around the room nervously. From the doorway a man and a woman entered. He was, simply stated, stunning. To me anyway. Long curly black hair that cascaded over his shoulders. A cocky smile and bright intelligent eyes. She was like everyone’s favorite aunt. The person that you knew you could always go to if you needed anything from advice to a hug. They sat in their chairs, and the same young man rang the bell again, three times this time.
If I thought it had grown silent before, it was nothing compared to the stillness after three bells. It was like the world was holding it’s breath. And then she entered. A raven haired woman, with a true air of power and authority. There was no mistaking it, she was in charge, and there was nobody in the universe who could ever tell her differently. She strode to the front of the room, wearing a purple robe, silver crown, and a small knowing smile. And then she spoke.
“So, you want to be witches.”