Please describe briefly your path:
I am a witch, a musician who uses magic, and an energy worker. I am a member of a coven of five women in Southern Indiana. The tradition is influenced by the writings of Robert Cochrane as well as British traditional witchcraft, shamanism, and American rootwork. You can read about the tradition here.
Please describe briefly how you practice it:
I practice witchcraft as a group with my coven through ritual and group energy work. On a personal level I practice magic through Hatha yoga, personal spellwork, and using my voice as a magical tool through music.
When did you first commit to your current Path?
I committed to a structured study with a coven in the Winter of 2011. It was around 2009 that I got serious about forging a spiritual path for myself. Then I met some Discordians and got a little less serious, which was a very good thing.
How is your practice different now than it was then?
Back then it was more theory, reading, lighting candles, and imagining what my life would be like if I was a witch. Now it is an actual practice. I do a lot more. Magic, energy moving, and divination is integrated in my everyday life now.
Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?
It’s a lot like I thought it would be, which is the beauty of charging an idea with intention and working with manifestation magic. I wanted to be part of a coven of very witchy women yet at the same time be allowed to walk my own path. All my wishes came true, and more.
Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started?
It does as far as the Wiccan rede is concerned. I may continue to evolve in my tiny understanding of how the universe works but as of now I don’t believe in karma and/or the threefold law. I believe chaos has more of a say in the way things operate (or don’t operate) than I used to; which has become somewhat freeing for me and my occasional control-freak tendencies.
What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path?
My paternal lineage comes from Yorkshire, England where I believe they had been for a gazillion years before crossing the pond in 1623. My mom’s side is English and Swiss-German. Since immigrating, both sides of my family have resided in Southern Indiana and Kentucky. My ancestry has inspired a deep love and respect for the British/Celtic idea of faerie realm, or the idea that there are nature spirits that are unseen but present. Being someone whose ancestors have spent most of their lives farming and working with nature in some way has given me strong roots in the land and deep connections with animals. My surname is Fields, so go figure.
What are your main influences for your Path?
Right now the main influences for my path are Hatha yoga, my coven, my teacher/friend Natalie Black, singing and writing chants, science, and walking in the woods.
Which do you do more: practice or research?
During this time of the year I practice more than I research although I have stacks of books I would love to get into and take notes on…and anything by Lon Milo Duquette, Doreen Valiente, and Carl Sagan.
Do you feel that one is more important than the other?
I don’t. If you only practice what you’ve previously learned, you only have your own beliefs and personal gnosis. Updating yourself with research on other people’s beliefs and personal gnosis are important too. No woman is an island.
What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?
As part of my beginning coven work I was asked to put together my personal ethics as someone who works energy and is a witch. What I came up with stemmed from what I learned in discussions with my coven, a very good piece of writing on ethics by my coven sister Laurelei and reading, understanding, and experiencing Crowley’s Thelema movement. I know, learning ethics from Aleister Crowley?
Basically, my personal ethics can be summed up in four ideas:
1) I strive to find, follow, and carry out my true will in everything.
2) What I have, I hold.
3) All is permitted.
4) Love is the law, Love through Will.
If you are interested in further explanations of these ideas, contact me at veramaleta@hotmail.
What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?
I go through periods when the only thing that helps me make sense of the universe is the Kaballah, then the only thing is being alone in the woods, then the only thing is re-reading Alan Moore’s Promethea, and so on. I can go through cycles of immersion in one subject.
What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to overcome?
Lack of real self-confidence. I didn’t even know I didn’t have it.
How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?
Wow, manifestation time! Let’s see, on a beach doing yoga, wearing loads of laboradorite, moldavite, and abalone, chanting witchy sea goddess tunes, and eating croissant.
How do you incorporate your practice into your life?
I do energy work and spells for myself and the people I love. I do daily divination. I tap into the earth for grounding and motivation almost every day. I set altars at home to help me remember the forces and people that are at work in my life so as not to forget or take them for granted.
Has walking your Path changed you as a person?
I’d say it has transformed me. I respect and love myself a lot more which helps me to respect and love others more. I am physically healthier. I quit smoking and getting super wasted. For me magic and science go hand in hand, and when you learn how things work and how fragile they can be, you are more motivated to take care of them. I can enjoy the world more deeply.
Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?
My friend Molly who is a witch recently shared with me that she intentionally chose a life path as a “Priestess of Beauty” which I thought was so wonderful. She is a hair stylist and make-up artist. I like the idea of being a priestess of something that is personalized for you. I also like that she has chosen to serve others in her priestesshood as opposed to presiding over them. It’s something I would like to explore in the future.
A witch? How so?
I have always been moved by the word witch and have identified with it for quite a few years now. I really connect with the traditional flying witch on a broomstick imagery. I also connect with Starhawk and the Reclaiming tradition’s idea of taking back the word “witch” which has so many negative connotations and twisted ideas stuck to it.
A shaman? How so?
I feel like a shaman when I am performing music. That is my American Folkloric shaman’s ritual.
Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?
Vocabulary generally gets in the way of the unexplainable. Unless you are talking about molecular science and electricity as a basis to explain energy movement, I think it’s great to just get down to the practice and discuss the experience afterward.
One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:
Everyone else is not just a flawed version of you. (Okay luckily it wasn’t said to me, but I think it pertains to everyone at some point in their lives.)
A defining moment on your Path was:
A giant black snake blocking my path to the Women’s Circle at Our Haven Nature Sanctuary in French Lick, Indiana.
Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?
I think I’m about to.
Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:
I set up a ritual for a friend to help her let go of a relationship in her life she didn’t want. I set up an altar to Aphrodite in the room for peace and light for the ritual, and she ended up falling in love with the person. They are happy and in a good relationship now but I learned a BIG lesson.
What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?
It’s frustrating that I am a slow reader and there are so many books I want to devour.
Have you ever been frightened?
Of course! You don’t learn much from only studying and experiencing happy fluffiness. I continue to learn from my fears every day. Sometimes I even let them go out on their own. Darkness is inherent in light, as light is in darkness.
Have you ever performed spontaneous magic/spellcraft?
All the time! Magic can’t always revolve around plans and order because it’s against it’s nature.
What are you still exploring or experimenting with?
I hope to always be still exploring. I’m experimenting with both primal and intentional vocal sounds in ritual and that has been interesting.
What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?
Ritual tools are …fun to shop for at the local flea markets but not always necessary!
The only things you can’t do without are: Love and a lighter.
Seeking personal power is …healthy in moderation.
Your politics and your Path are …one.
One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is: It’s not for everyone.
Do you teach?
I have good teachers when it comes to practicing the craft of witches. But I don’t think you can teach someone to find their spiritual life path. I learn so much just by observing other people’s actions and the choices they make and by quiet meditation alone.
What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?
I’ve had very little personal experience with religious hierarchy on my path. If it has occured either I haven’t noticed or I’ve chosen not to. Our coven strives to operate on an egalitarian system while acknowledging that we have different strengths and challenges.
When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?
What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)
I tend home altars set for Aphrodite, Baron Samedi, the Black/White Goddess, and Tubal Qayin. I would say I mostly work with Artemis/Wild Animal/Nature Spirit in my everyday life. For me, all of these are just different faces of what a lot of people call God.
What is your relationship with the Land?
The land-woods, fields, waters, every bit of it-is pure inspiration and therapy.
The most important aspect of ritual is: relaxed focus
The main purpose of ritual is: to dance with divinity
Can you perform ritual without a script?
I have a kind of loose interpretation of the word ritual. For me it can mean an elaborately planned and scripted ritual with seven Goddess Babalons stationed around a Kaballistic tree of life painted on the ground, or it can be standing alone in the ocean humming a made up song.
What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever form of augury you use)?
Divination helps me with decisions that I may be stuck on. I use it for daily guidance and meditation.
What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)
The White Goddess by Robert Graves. Fascinating but difficult.
What book do you recommend the most to others?
For people starting out: Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curott
For those wanting to dive deeper: Promethea by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray.
What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?
I enjoy the podcst Voices of the Sacred Feminine with Karen Tate for her smart interviews. I like Sarah Lawless’ blog Witch of Forest Grove for her amazing artwork.
If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?
Pay attention to the synchronicities in your life!Listen to your body and strive to love yourself.