Monday, October 29, 2012

Pagan beliefs live on locally

By Chris Bergeron/Daily News staff
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Oct 29, 2012 @ 12:01 AM
Trick-or-treaters who knock on Heather Jacob’s door this Halloween might be surprised to learn they are
getting candy from a pagan who pray s to ancient deities like Isis and worships the cycles of nature.
A self-described “eclectic pagan’’ who teaches at two area colleges, the Ashland resident believes in “reverence toward
nature and being in touch with its rhythms as a real force.’’
Raised as an Episcopalian, Jacob began studying pre-Christian religions in her late teens and became a practicing pagan in
“That story wasn’t doing it for me. It didn’t fit what my life was coming to,’’ said Jacob. “I’ve always liked studying other
cultures and what truths they held. I want to know what wisdom the ancients had and how to apply that knowledge.’’
Across the region, pagans and Wiccans, a 20th century popularization of pagan beliefs that often includes witchcraft, will
gather this week in homes, bookstores and covens to celebrate the full moon and Samhain, a Gaelic festival usually held on
Oct. 31 , to mark the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter.
Though difficult to confirm, they say their numbers are growing as more young people seek religions that honor nature and
practice tolerance toward those with different orientations.
Baptized a Catholic, Amy Supernor began embracing Wicca at 14 as a way to connect with her Nipmuck heritage.
She took a course in “Wicca 101 ’’ at The Robin’s Nest, a Bellingham store that sells “supplies for all your spiritual and
magickal needs’’ including Tarot cards, incense, herbs and crystals.
A 24-y ear-old massage therapist who works in Hopkinton, Supernor described Wicca as a “nature-based religion similar to
Native American beliefs’’ that celebrates the rhythms of nature and practices “spell work to improve yourself and remove
“We’re all on the same path to the same destination, to find our connection with the divine, the divine within us or some
higher power,’’ she said.
Supernor said people sometimes misunderstand the five-starred pentacle bracelet she wears and have asked if she
“worships the devil or casts evil spells.’’
“Particularly around Halloween, I don’t go out of my way to say I’m Wiccan. But I don’t say I’m not,’’ she said.
But Ariana, who asked to only be identified by her Wiccan name, worried her employer and others might misunderstand
why she left the Catholic Church to pursue her interest in “supernatural things.’’
“I’ve always been drawn to nature and found more solace in the ocean or a beautiful sunset than the Bible. I enjoy magic.
Everyone has magical energy that provides an enhanced knowledge of things even if they don’t know it,’’ she said.
But two older men who formerly owned The New Moon occult bookstore said they ’re now pursuing spiritual goals in private
way s away from the public eye.
Bob MacDonald, who first owned the bookstore in Marlborough, said he’d “retreated into private practice’’ in Northborough
where he runs a boarding kennel.
MacDonald, 59, now attends a Unitarian Universalist church but still believes, like Wiccans, he can touch the divine through
“When I worship I go in the backyard and look around. I don’t feel I need a medium or a preacher to interpret God’s words,’’
he said.
Looking back on his years organizing Wiccan activities from his bookstore, MacDonald said wistfully , “A lot of times it just
got silly .’’
“We attracted a lot of kids. Sometimes it seemed like they just wanted a Goth costume party ,’’ he said. “Now I like to get
together with close friends. Speaking just for my self, by recognizing a divinity in nature, you can be fed by it, nurtured by
Once one of the most visible practitioners of Wicca in the region, Sabazius Athame, who later bought the New Moon, said,
“I’ve walked away and fallen in love with God.’’
Born Charles Urban and raised in Framingham, Athame became a Christian minister in Missouri after serving in the U.S. Air
Force. Feeling he “wasn’t connecting with the deepest sources,’’ he studied Asian philosophy , and eventually embraced
Wicca. He took his Wiccan name in 1999 as “part of my passage to the occult.’’
Athame moved the New Moon to Princeton and sold it before moving to Worcester. Now 62, he said he’d felt “some
disenchantment’’ because some Wiccans were becoming so “organized’’ they were cutting themselves off from their pagan
After battling heart disease and cancer, he said he was sustained through his medical problems “by the one-to-one
relationship with God.’’
“I left the organization but my walk continues,’’ he said.
A witch, pagan and business owner, Tara “Lady T’’ Projin hopes her new store, Charmed, which she describes as a
“metaphysical and occult boutique’’ in downtown Marlborough, provides a welcoming home for “those searching for their
own Magickal path.’’
Located at 163 Main St. in sight of city hall, it sells books, candles, magical supplies and works by local artists.
Jason Matthews, a self-described “psychic empath’’ who can “pick up on the emotional climate of a room or person,’’ gives
astrological readings.
Wayne Needler gives seminars in Wicca and holds a monthly workshop “to make your own wand’’ to use in rituals and
casting spells.
Lady T said Charmed will hold monthly full moon ceremonies and will host a traditional Samhain “dumb supper’’ on Oct. 31
when “the veil between the living and the dead opens at its widest.’’
The meal will feature five courses served in reverse, with desert first, and be eaten in silence so ancestral voices can be
heard from the beyond.
Lady T said she became interested in paganism as a child from her late father’s interest in Gaelic culture and Tarot readings.
She said Charmed staff won’t do readings or sell religious items to customers under 18 without their parents’ permission. She
added that women between 13- and 34-y ears-old are “Wicca’s “fastest growing group.’’
“People are always searching for something more,’’ said Lady T. “People fear what they don’t understand. We’re about
ancient wisdom and respecting people. There’s nothing to fear from us.’’
Copyright 2012 The MetroWest Daily News. Some right s reserved

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