This is the first in series spotlighting some of the signatories to A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. Today, we are sharing an interview with Enenna from Poland. Enenna also translated the Statement into Polish. If you would like to be interviewed for the Global Eco-Paganism Series, contact me at allergicpagan [at] gmail [dot] com. And don’t forget to sign “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” at ecopagan.com.
Meet Enenna from Poland!
What do you call the religion you practice?
I practice Alexandrian Wicca.
What is it like practicing your religion in your part of the world? Are there many others like you?
For the last few years the number of Wiccans in my country has been rapidly growing. I do not know all the Witches personally anymore, and Witches are just a small part of a large numbers of Pagans. I think that the Native Faith (Slavic Paganism) is most organized and most popular among Pagan paths practiced in Poland. I can’t quote a number, although I was very much interested in the results of the 2011 census. I was actively involved in a campaign to put your religion as “Pagan” in the census form. Unfortunately there was no such option, and I am left in the dark as to number of Pagans.
Paganism is decentralized by nature. There are various initiatives by various Pagan groups. Except for Native Faith both Asatru and Wicca seem to be active.
Do you interact with Pagans in religious community? What has been your experience in this regard?
Oh, there are stories to tell!
Since the day I learned that it is possible to be Pagan now I wanted a religious community. I felt that I can’t be a Pagan alone. But there were no other Polish Pagans I was aware of! In 1996, I joined the Pagan Federation as the first and only Pole. It didn’t make sense to me to be a long distance member, so I didn’t renew my membership after the first year. I was by then already aware of Polish Native Faith organizations, but that wasn’t my thing. I stopped looking for a couple of years, and I was happy to call myself an atheist. Finally in 2002, I started looking again, and found a vibrant online community of Eclectic Witches. I was desperate for company. I also hoped to work magically with others, since my solo practice was not satisfying. When I was invited to a social circle of young Eclectic Wiccan women who met in real life I was incredibly happy. However it proved not to be what I was looking for.
My search directed me towards traditional Wicca. I have found a coven in England (more on that later), and I have since been a member of a small closed group of Initiates, first in England, then my own coven in Poland. It is a beautiful experience. It is also an unbelievable journey from a Pagan desert to a thriving community, and I feel that I facilitated that change.
Before I met the English Witches I started running pub moots in Poland simply because I lacked community. I have met lots of people, and lots of colorful personalities. Some have become my friends for years. In 2007 I supported my then partner in forming a Polish branch of Pagan Federation, passing all my social capital to the organization. I attended and spoke at conferences which I helped organize. With time I experienced a burn out, and currently running pub moots is not my priority. I am blessed to have a coven, and a number of Wiccan friends in Poland in England. However, I think that open meetings are wonderful opportunity to meet other, of a similar mind. They certainly gave me a head start. The Pagan Federation has also become a model for other initiatives and has introduced a lot of Pagans to their future groups. International guests have played a large part.
Being a Witch means being a part of international community. After all, my lineage is English. I keep in touch with my upline. When I travel abroad, I try to contact local Wiccans, and so I made new friends. I was honoured to be invited to speak on Polish Paganism and on Wicca in Czech Republic and Russia respectively.
Do you interact with Pagans online? How?
I run a website on Wicca with a predictable URL of www.wicca.pl. I get email via website. I correspond with seekers of Wicca, and with people who have various problems of personal and occult nature. I see this as a continuation of tradition of a village Witch who offered advice to members of the community.
In the past I was much more active especially on email lists, and later on forums but these forms of communication went extinct, and maybe I grew tired of discussing things on the Internet.
What is your religion of origin? What religion were you raised with?
I was raised Catholic. It was a political statement at that time.
How did you transition to your current religion? Tell us a little about your faith journey.
As soon as communism fell and consumptionism started, I began contesting Catholicism. I was for premarital sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. The last straw was that the RE lessons were not obligatory, and I chose to walk back home with a boy I fancied rather than stay an extra hour at school. And so I dropped out of Catholic Church.
My interest in world cultures, folklore and the occult led me to find out about existence of Wicca. I described my Pagan adventures earlier. They were nice but I still felt that something was missing. The power. The mystery. I wanted to be blinded by light. I wanted to see darkness. A friend of mine referred me to amberandjet, an email discussion group on British Traditional Wicca. I was a sworn Eclectic at that time. And as I started reading what Traditionalists had to say, I discovered that it made sense, and that I want to be one of them. There were no Witches in Poland and no opportunities for training. Before I gave up on the idea of Initiation, Poland entered EU in 2004, and UK opened its market to Polish workforce. I got a job in England. Within three months I found a coven and was sent back to Poland to run a Polish branch of the company. I trained with my UK coven, traveling to the Sabbats and Full Moons with budget airlines. I feel very much at home at London Luton airport. Then I became a coven leader, and don’t got to Luton that often anymore, but the airport doesn’t change much, so I’m fine.
What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I like to see with my own eyes. I want to experience the feeling of divine presence which makes my hair raise. I want my Gods to speak to me, and I am not afraid of crossing the boundries between the world of men and the realm of other beings, of making magic, of facing the powers of the Universe.
How do you practice your religion?
I celebrate Sabbats and Esbats with my coven. I also train new members in Alexandrian witchcraft, and I see teaching as part of religious practice.
How does your religion affect your daily life or your state of mind?
I have fewer free weekends in a year. 🙂 I sacrificed one room in my flat for a temple when I could have had a gym there. Honestly, I don’t know what part of me is Pagan and what part of me is not. I have Pagan friends and I am publishing Pagan books. So there are social and business consequences. I am sure that if I had a hobby such as dog breeding I would meet other dog breeders and publish books on dog breeding. It’s natural.
Is your religious identity a secret? To what degree? Why?
To be honest I think that fellow Pagans could hurt me more than members of other religions. So I would rather protect my privacy from other Pagans than kept my religion secret from people who are genuinely seeking Wicca but not part of it yet.
I like helping people, so I talk to journalists, researchers and students. They often find me through my website that has good Google positioning. However I am not interested in becoming a TV Witch. I am a private person.
What is the thing you love the most about your religion?
Misterium tremendum et fascinosum.
What is one thing you would like to change about Paganism or the Pagan community?
Not so much about Paganism or Pagan community, but about humans in general. I wish they had better communication skills and more insight into their own motives. I hope they would hurt others less then.
How does earth, land, or place play a role in your religion?
Witchcraft teaches mysteries as revealed in the Wheel of the Year. Therefore the earth and its seasons play a great role. Also in Witchcraft you can use places of power to achieve interesting results in your rituals.
Does environmentalism or other activism play a part in your religion? How so?
Not in a religion as such. However it is in line with Wiccan spirituality. I happen to work for an environmental organization, and I think the Goddess got me a job there. So I do the job.
How did you find out about “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment”?
John [Halstead] asked me to translate it into Polish. Shame on me for not finding it earlier.
What part(s) did you find most compelling? What would you have changed? What other concerns did you have, if any?
I believe that everything is interconnected. The realization of this, and of the greatness of nature has been one of my first spiritual insights. I also believe that the constant growth and consumption are unsustainable. I don’t think this is a particularly Pagan statement. I think there is a recurring theme in this interview: I can’t tell what part of me is Pagan, and what part of me is simply me. And so I can’t tell what part of environmental thought is Pagan and what part is secular. Regardless of religion, we humans share the same love of Nature and the same fate.
If you would like to be interviewed for the Global Eco-Paganism Series, contact me at allergicpagan [at] gmail [dot] com. And don’t forget to sign “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” at ecopagan.com.