Pride: An Interview with Jonathan Mote, Traditional Southern Rootworker

Pride: An Interview with Jonathan Mote, Traditional Southern Rootworker June 24, 2018

Celebrating Pride has been part of my life from childhood, since I was fortunate enough to grow up in an inclusive family, in Greenwich Village, during the 1970s.  It was an accepted part of my life, with a person’s sexuality being an interesting facet of a person, no more or less than their nationality, hair color, or hobbies. Moving back and forth between New York and North Carolina, I realized quickly the rest of the world did not live this way. I’d like to think the world has evolved, slowly, but surely, and celebrating Pride more openly is a joy to witness and participate with, in solidarity with my LGBTQ friends and family.

One of the perks of working in a metaphysical old age shop is meeting wonderful people, such as Jonathan Mote. Jonathan is a traditional Southern Rootworker from North Carolina.  He reads tarot at the shop, and has a line of products that we offer, including Van Van oil, powders, Chinese floor washes and more.  I am also honored to call him friend. I asked him recently about growing up gay in the South, the pagan community, witchcraft, rootwork, and more:

“The only people who ever welcomed me as an openly gay man other than the gay community were witches.  When you are an oppressed people, you know what it’s like not to have a seat at the table.  Hell, most of us can’t get through the front door. I also think since witchcraft is pro feminine, a feminine man isn’t seen as ‘lesser”. The pagan community was one of the first places I saw a trans person welcomed with open arms, other than a gay bar after 11 pm.”

“I’m very proud to be gay and very proud to be a worker of roots, but I have had to hide both at times in my life. I’ve lived in the conservative south most of my life, and trust me when I say a lot of people don’t like gay people, especially gay people with power.  I’m lucky enough to live in Asheville (NC) now, which is a lovely little liberal bubble in the south.  It was so shocking to me when I first moved here and saw same sex couples walking down the street holding hands, or trans people being treated with respect and love. Did I mention I love my city? (I share this feeling with Jonathan ~lw) Pride for me means not having a to hide my religion or who I love, and that’s some powerful stuff. I still live in the south, and we get the occasional teenagers in lifted trucks in downtown Asheville at night, and I’ve been called the f word by these boys a couple of times when they drive by, and my response is either ‘No shit!” or ‘Yup!’…like I didn’t already know.”

“Have I ever run into homophobia in the pagan community? In short, the pagan community is not perfect, but I can say that any glimpse of homophobia or discrimination has been shut down with a quickness. I had a high priestess once ask a very large man leave a Beltane gathering when he said something homophobic. I’ll never forget her words: Witches and gay people were burned at the same stake, in the same flames.”

Currently, I am working on Calamus and Honey ( It’s a blog/Instagram with information about classes I’m teaching, how to get in touch with me for a reading or spellwork, and a place to network. I love my community I am currently building, and I through lots of ‘gentle pressure’ from friends, I have started putting myself out there online, hoping to share what I’ve learned, and provide services. I’m excited to see where Calamus and Honey takes me.”

Jonathan can be found every Wednesday at Asheville’s Raven & Crone, dispensing efficient and insightful tarot readings from 12-6 pm. As well, he offers monthly workshops and classes at the store, in addition to his Calamus and Honey work.

Knowing Jonathan has enriched my life, and those who work with and know him feel the same. I am enhanced by his friendship, and am so delighted he was willing to share his insights. Despite growing up in different environments, we have much in common, and learning about his experiences gave me a perspective much needed in today’s world. Celebrate Pride in all ways, and recognize how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

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  • kyuss

    …reads tarot at the shop, and has a line of products that we offer,
    including Van Van oil, powders, Chinese floor washes and more.

    Translation, he’s a fraud that you credulously and fraudulently promote.

  • kenofken

    What do you care? Don’t spend your money there if you think it’s bogus.

  • H. Karena

    I don’t see most of that anywhere in the article, other than that the young man reads tarot at the shop…why so tetchy?

  • Cyn McCollum


    Shhhhh. Dont feed the trolls. Patheos has them. Comments are better addressed to the author or subject matter. That said, l have also found the pagan community more loving and accepting than the abrahamics, and the keeping of old ways such as root work is vital, even though America is very young on a world standard. That Jonathan Mote keeps the tradition alive reveres his Appalachian history, and l will certainly be following his instagram feed.

  • bonmots

    If you know Jonathan personally, take that up with him. Please do not question my integrity as a writer. This was not a promotion, it was a discussion of his life experiences. Frustration can take many forms, and is best dealt with offline.

  • kyuss

    what “tradition”? Do you seriously think that the religion you follow has a tradition that stretches back centuries to the “ancient druids”? Your religion was made up wholesale in the 1950’s.

  • Cyn McCollum

    No, you are thinking of Wicca, and that was the 1920s. You really can check these things about different traditions quite easily these days.

  • bonmots

    Thank you, Cyn.