Herne and Nemetona spoke with Lunadea; a high priestess based in the Netherlands. She is involved in the local community of witches, as well as helping otherwise solitary witches come together for festivals and events within the modern Pagan calendar. This interview was first published in Wyldspirit Issue 3 (The Wyldwood Radio Newsletter in September 2014)
Read on to find out more about the lovely lady that is Lunadea!
Nemetona: What or who drew you to Paganism/Witchcraft in the first place?
Lunadea: Recognition of who I am. As a child my parents taught me to love and respect nature and to accept spiritualism as natural. They took my sister and me on trips to the woods, to spiritual shops and bookstores and explained our dreams in the morning when we talked about our dreams during breakfast. We always wore gems on a necklace (to protect us or to give us the strength to overcome anxiety during tests at school). As children, we played in a hut in the thickets and we saw nature spirits. For us, that way of life was normal. You can say I was raised a pagan/witch without having the name for it. At age eleven my aunt took us to a pre-handfasting meeting at a befriended witch’s home, a true magical place with stone circles and fae portals.
When my sister and I were playing and walking in the yard, all the energies and beings were tangible, even visible for us. Later at the hand fasting ritual she told me that I would be where she was in thirteen years or so. Without knowing what she meant at the time, I have come to realise she was right.
When I was 18, a friend of mine told me he was a witch and he lent me some books. Reading those books was like I was reading about myself! I instantly knew that I was a witch too, that I wasn’t weird at all, that there were more people out there like me and witchcraft was real. For me, witchcraft is all about feeling the power of nature, the force around us that many call God or Goddess, and to honour all those forces as part of the wheel of life. That is how I was raised and what I recognised in witchcraft as part of who I am.
Nemetona: You run many courses and workshops related to Witchcraft. What inspired you to begin running these?
Lunadea: Like I said, witchcraft is part of who I am. It is how I live my life and what I love doing. When I began learning about witchcraft, I was adopted into a coven.
That was where my training as a witch began. But quickly I discovered that what I felt I had to learn wasn’t taught in the coven but within myself. And what I wanted to learn wasn’t taught anywhere I had come across. So I learned a lot in the coven, and more on my own in a time where there was not much access to information about Paganism and witchcraft. I first learned from others and from books, I learned from meditating and dreams. Witchcraft is a path of learning every day. It never stops and I still love to expand my knowledge.
Over time, my interest in witchcraft shifted from being just an interest to being a part of who I am, it is who I am. I can’t pretend to be someone else anymore, but a witch and priestess. My whole life is based around witchcraft.
I was (and still am) very active on the internet, in forums, Facebook and on my own website. More and more people began asking me questions about how I learned witchcraft and what witchcraft is all about. That is why I started my first coven in 2011, and later on 2 more covens. And the requests to join one of my covens kept pouring in, lots of people wanted good information about being a witch and about witchcraft itself. When my day job ended, and with the need for information being so strong, I asked myself: what is it I want to do in life?
What is my biggest dream? And that is to do what I love to do, to be who I am, and not to pretend to be someone else anymore, or to do things I didn’t want to do anymore. So I started to write articles about witchcraft and paganism, I started to organise and run the workshops and courses about witchcraft and I love how it turned my life into a life full of possibilities, joy and love. Because I now only do what I love to do: being myself and teach others to do the same.
Herne: What do you hope people learn from your workshops and courses?
Lunadea: To open up and learn who they truly are. Witchcraft is accepting and feeling your own strength, feeling that you are a part of everything in life. It is a way of living, and being part of life. Feeling that you, as a small part of that big, big force, are important enough to make a change when you want it to. Dealing with witchcraft is knowing who you are and knowing the strength of the powers you deal with. It isn’t hocus pocus and Walt Disney-magic, it is much more than most people think of when first learning about witchcraft. I hope to teach people about that part of witchcraft. My workshops are based on how to start with witchcraft, because that is where the majority of the questions people ask me come from. Reading books is by itself not enough to make witchcraft a part of who you are. And it seems that most people who first discover witchcraft do need help with that first few steps and how to make it a part of daily life.
Nemetona: What advice would you give to someone who is new to a witchcraft-based path and may be confused about where to go for help?
Lunadea: Read books about paganism and witchcraft, join forums and discussion groups because you can learn a lot from them, and when you want to join a coven or find a teacher, ask other students about the teacher of the group. Arrange a meeting and feel for yourself if the people in the group and you match, and find out if what they can teach you is the same as what you want to learn. Don’t jump into the first possibility that crosses your path and be careful. There are plenty of groups and teachers out there, but not every group and not every teacher is pure of heart or right for you. That is why gathering information beforehand is important, before you commit yourself to someone or to a group.
Herne: There is so much diversity in Paganism, from Witchcraft and Wicca, to Druidry, Asatru and Hellenism; how do you create your workshops to allow for that diversity?
Lunadea: I don’t. I teach people what I have learned myself, and that is a mix of traditional witchcraft, Wicca, nature, Paganism, Shamanism and more. I think every Pagan-based religion or path is connected in one way or another. None is right or wrong because they are in many parts similar. That is what I teach people who participate in the workshops and courses I give: don’t judge other paths and religions, they are all the same for a big part and have only small differences. I think those differences are not worth all the fuss and negativity. Focus on the similarities and learn from each other, be positive, bond with each other. That Is what I want to see in paganism and what I think life is about.
Nemetona: Do you have any plans to run any kind of correspondence or distance-based course? Or do you feel your workshops and courses are better received in person?
Lunadea: I already have a correspondence course; it is a correspondence course about the basics of witchcraft in thirteen moons. The students receive a new chapter by mail every full moon. I teach them what the basic principles are in witchcraft, the history of witchcraft, about feeling the forces in nature, gods and goddesses, about magic and how to use magic, about rituals and how to create a ritual, etc. It Is a step by step course on how to make witchcraft a part of daily life.
The course is currently written in Dutch only, but requests from abroad to write one in English have been received. Besides that, I have plans on writing information guides about different subjects in witchcraft, writing a book about my life as a witch, and to make a v-log on YouTube; but this year my focus is on the workshops, writing the syllabi for the workshops and writing the lessons for the correspondence course. I hope to have time to pick up some new projects in the next year.
Herne: People outside of Witchcraft often have negative associations with it, what might you say to someone who held these associations but was also interested in learning the truth?
Lunadea: I celebrate all the sabbats as an open wheel of the year celebration in a public park in the Netherlands, it is open for people to join us. People from the neighbourhood and passers-by will sometimes stop to see what we are doing. After every celebration one or two of them come over and ask me questions about what we are doing and who we are. They are always surprised to learn that we are witches, celebrating the changing of the seasons in nature. Every time their reaction is: “But, witches are evil creatures who do black magic! What I just saw you doing was beautiful and full of love and respect.”
Many people have negative associations with witchcraft. It is what we learn from childhood fairy tales: witches are evil women who do black magic. But the truth is that we are women and men, people who feel that there is more than what we can see with the eye. We feel that we are part of nature and part of life itself. We celebrate the changings of the seasons and moon with rituals that honour nature. That isn’t black magic because magic isn’t meant to harm. Magic as it is depicted in stories, movies and fairy tales is nothing like the real magic, but is only meant to scare off people.
Nemetona: Paganism is becoming more accepted in many areas of the Western world, do you feel this is true in the Netherlands?
Lunadea: Yes I do. Dutch people are very pragmatic. Earthly. Nonetheless, I see more and more change in how people live their life; more people who do yoga, practise mindfulness, eat organic food and are interested in spirituality. Media helps in that by posting articles about that sort of topics and encouraging people to deepen their life by questioning the superficiality of a hectic lifestyle.
And there are a few witches in the Netherlands who have been some sort of spokeswomen for media and who revised the image of witches being ugly and evil women.
Herne: Our obligatory silly, off-topic question: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
Lunadea: There are a lot of countries I like to go someday, like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland, but visiting those countries during a vacation and living there are two different things.
I like Italy a lot because I was born there, and I like Great Britain a lot because it has a stunning countryside, for its history, nature and the pagan spirit that is tangible but I think I can’t live anywhere else but here in the Netherlands because this is my home. This is where my friends and family are.
Nemetona: How can people find out more about your workshops and courses?
Lunadea: By visiting my website on: www.lunadea.nl and checking the events at www.lunadea.nl/agenda. By subscribing to the newsletter http://www.lunadea.nl/overig/aanmelden.php and on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Lunadea.nl where I regularly post events.