Saturday, October 29, 2011

Elinor Predota

Hello and Happy Saturday!

First up I wish to thank Christina for her wonderful interview last week. Thanks for sharing with us Christina!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Elinor Predota. Elinor is a Pagan and I know you'll enjoy her interview as well!

Here Is Elinor Predota's Introduction:

Elinor is a Pagan, a Witch, an Interfaith Minister and a firm proponent of pluralism. She blogs regularly, in many venues and on many topics. Her spiritual blog can be found at - her other public web presences are at and . She lives in rural southern Scotland with her partner and their dogs.

1) What religion do you practice?
I am a Pagan, and a Witch. I am part of the Reclaiming Tradition community, locally, nationally and internationally, and am a student of the Anderson Faery tradition.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
The word 'convert' doesn't really apply - I've always been Pagan, although I was a very enthusiastic (Methodist and ecumenical) Christian during my adolescence. Throughout my childhood, my parents took me to stone circles, prehistoric sites and ancient woodlands across the British Isles, and I loved every minute of it. During my early childhood, they were committed Greens, liberals and peace activists. Combined with my own early feminism, these influences gave me very Pagan roots, although I didn't realise that until later. A close friend introduced me to both Tarot and feminist spirituality in my late teens, but it wasn't until a few years of seeking, involving Buddhist meditation, Sufi philosophy, A Course In Miracles, followed by my training as an Interfaith Minister that pushed me to the self-realisation that I'm a Pagan and a Witch as well as a Mystic - down to my mitochondrial DNA!

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Not really. Paganism is such a diverse faith and spirituality, but its diversity doesn't fall into those categories. I strive to be extremely observant - in both meanings of the word. Paganism also tends to be very flexible and diverse in terms of both personal observance, and public ritual, so I wouldn't even know how to begin to define those categories! There are no dogmas as such, or if there are, they are held by such a small group of people that they don't really affect anyone else.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
Not applicable - see above.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Most Witches hold with some version of the Summer Lands - a part of the Faery realms, where the apple trees hold bud and flower and fruit at the same time, where all is golden and joyful, where the lessons of the last life are examined and laughed over, and the choice is made whether, when and how to reincarnate. But really, nobody knows. It's entirely possible to hold an entirely secular vision of Pagan afterlife, in which our bodies and energies are rewoven into the fabric of Life, rotting into the earth, passing into the cycles of entirely physical death and rebirth - it's even possible to hold with several versions of afterlife at once; Witches are good at living with paradox :-). The Summer Lands are at the very least useful image and 'place' for connecting with the Other realms and the spirits of our Ancestors and Beloved Dead.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Well, I don't believe in Hell, in the Christian or Muslim sense. I think the closest to it is when people live trapped by their beliefs about themselves and others in constant suffering - which certainly feels eternal! I do think it's possible that if someone dies in that state of mind, heart and soul, that experience may follow them into the afterlife, and even into future incarnations. This, to me, is the real meaning of karma, which originated with Hinduism, but came into Paganism in the early 20th century. The Summer Lands isn't something to be achieved by good behaviour, or repentance - unless by repentance we mean forgiveness of self and others which brings peace of mind, heart and soul which enables the experience of joy.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
That question raises confusion in me, as 'my religion' and 'me' aren't separate enough for one to be a fit for the other. It's who I am, it's how I live, it's how I breathe and see and pay attention, it's how I relate...

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Every day is a holy day, and I often make offerings to the local sidhe (spirits of various kinds), but there are also 'special' times of year at which particular energies are stronger and easier to connect with. Personally, I celebrate Samhain (31st October - 2nd November), Yule (21st December - 2nd January), Imbolc (1st-2nd February), Ostara (21st-22nd March), Beltaine (31st April - 2nd May), Litha (21st-22nd June), Lughnasadh (1st-2nd August) and Mabon (21st-22nd September).

Samhain: I set up a special ancestor altar, with a white cloth, candle, glass of water and images, objects and food and drink which I associate with my beloved dead and ancestors (e.g. my grandparents, my first dog, etc.).

Yule: I bake - a lot! And make cards, gifts, and other things. I make libations outside over the doorways of my home. I celebrate Giftmas along with everyone else on the date of Saturnalia (25th December), and also Hogmanay (31st December-2nd January) as the final section of the twelve-day Yule time-out-of-time between one year and the next.

Imbolc: I look out for snowdrops and oyster catchers.

Ostara: I bake a Pagan version of Simnel cake, cleanse, and meditate on balance.

Beltaine: I beat the bounds of our land and tie bright ribbons.

Litha: I look out for thunderstorms. If I feel up to it, I keep vigil - staying awake overnight. I at least stay up to midnight and track the sun, which can be followed by the light still showing on the horizon where it's passing below the horizon.

Lughnasadh: I bake (again!), and make summer pudding with the 'first fruits' from the garden (raspberries, currants, gooseberries usually).

Mabon: I breathe the air and meditate on balance.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Absolutely! I have and/or have had friends who are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist, as well as many varieties of Pagan, and also many atheists and agnostics.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, of course, if they were generous enough to invite me. Celebration of Life is always joyful to me.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I think whether or not to wear a burka should be a Muslim woman's personal decision, between herself and Allah alone. It is not a matter for pronouncements by male religious or community 'leaders', and most certainly not a matter for secular law.
If a community of Muslims choose to live by Shariah Law, that is up to them. It should not, in my view, be imposed by some Muslims upon others; nor should it take the place of whatever the laws are of the state or nation in which that Muslim community live. (I recall that living in accordance with the laws of the land in which a Muslim lives is one of the commands within the Koran.)

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, imam etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
I find the word 'allowed' amusing, within the context of Paganism! Within British Traditional Wiccan covens - i.e. Gardnerian or Alexandrian (neither of which are my tradition of Witchcraft, but is what many people think of when you say, "Witch"), initiation into the coven and tradition is also initiation into the Priest/esshood, and covens within those traditions have both a High Priestess and a High Priest. Solitary and non-initiatory coven traditions have quite a fluid version of what 'religious office' means, if they have any concept of it at all.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Well, my place of worship is anywhere I am, so, no ;-) Some covens and groups have 'women's mysteries' and 'men's mysteries' groups in addition to the whole group, which is not segregation but provision of space for deep recognition of the sacredness of all bodies and experiences. It doesn't appeal to me, currently (although it used to), as the version of gender and sex it encapsulates is too binary to match with Life, in all its diversity. Fortunately, nothing within my faith is compulsory.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My religion *is* my daily life. I don't give thought to it when making decisions - it's naturally present in every decision I make. I'm not sure whether my approach to questions of life and love is affected by my faith, or whether my approach to both those questions and to my faith come from the same soul-place: whatever increases love; whatever opens the heart; whatever offers compassion; whatever deepens connection.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
I don't have children, so this is a hypothetical question for me. I think it would depend on the person they wanted to marry, and on the version of their particular faith that person practiced. I would want to make sure my child was truly following hir heart, while safeguarding hirself from bullying, browbeating and manipulation.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
See my comments on hell above.

17) Who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
There is only one person I can think of who claims to speak for Pagans/Witches in public, and he's worthy of nothing but ridicule (a certain gentleman who claims to be "King of the British White Witches". Why yes, I am rolling my eyes). Other than that, the Pagan Federation exists to protect the rights of Pagans to practice and to have our faith recognised, but they do not claim to speak on behalf of Pagans in matters of belief or practice, beyond the three principles to which all members subscribe.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Not directly, no, but I have heard my faith being ridiculed, and I have chosen to stay 'in the broom closet' on many occasions to protect my livelihood and/or my personal safety.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
In no way. Neither as a woman nor as a person who is capable of sexual and emotional attraction to all genders have I ever felt anything other than cherished by my Gods and Guardians, and the sidhe of the land, anything other than accepted fully by my fellow Pagans and Witches.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
It is a constant challenge to my (natural, human) tendency to think only in terms of my small circle of interaction. It is a reassurance that I am a small part of an infinite Universe, which will carry on fine without me, and yet of which I am an essential part. It is an experience of deep, vast, endless, passionate Love. I'm not sure whether or not that counts as 'peace of mind'.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Sometimes :-)

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