Saturday, July 23, 2011

Renee Olson/Sosanna

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank Judy Dudich for her very interesting interview last week. Thank you so much for sharing your faith journey with us Judy!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Renee Olson/Sosanna. Renee is a Wiccan and I know you will enjoy her interview as well!

Here Is Renee Olson/Sosanna's Introduction:

I am a 42 year old married mother of one. My husband of 8 years and I live in a small town in rural North Carolina. We moved here to my hometown from his hometown of San Deigo. We raise Chihuahuas and I work as a business analyst for a consulting firm from home. Our daughter lives in London and is currently working on her Masters.

I love Latin music, Latin food and have a passion for justice. I donate to several organizations most of them being through I identify myself as a lesbian and work hard to further the rights of the LGBTQ community.

My other passion is our food. We are poisoning our bodies with preservatives and chemicals. Many of my blog entries also relate to Vegetarianism and going completely Organic.

Here are links to my social networks/blogs

Confessions of a Modern Witch - Blog


1) What religion do you practice?
I am a solitary Wicca

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?
My family raised me as good ole southern Baptist. I found very quickly that I didn’t fit there. When I was about 22 years old I met someone who was Wiccan. She introduced me to the earth and the moon. I learned a new way of loving and caring for people. For some you can “join” or “become” a witch and be brought into a coven. Since I am a solitary, I never had that and I practice my craft in the presence of the guardians and nothing more.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
There are lots of “degrees” if you will. Wicca is an earthbased religion that encompasses a variety of Gods/Goddess. Some groups have a specific Goddess they worship others only the “idea of the goddess”. So not a name (Dianic) for example, more of the spirit of the law if you will. I find it most comfortable to recognize the force behind the name and less about the name. Some are very strict in rituals. They must have exact salts or exact minerals, I’m more of practical witch, in that I use what I have.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I think I selected this type of practice because it feels most comfortable to me. In Wicca it’s more about how the world feels around you. Even if it’s a Sabbath I still may not call the quarters, or cast a circle if I’m not feeling connected to the moment. I need to have the spirit or the energy within to send it out. I abide by the rule of three. Whatever I send out comes back to me times three. I don’t want to send out something ½ heartedly. I want all good things positive things and whole hearted things to come back to me times three.

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)
The thought of an afterlife, is not really what most believe. Again, Wicca is very personal so each coven, or group may have their own beliefs here. Some believe in reincarnation. This is what I believe. I don’t think energy ever stops. Even after death, something has to happen to that energy. I believe in Karma. I believe that once we have learned all we need to learn from this world we can reach a higher state of enlightenment. Until we reach that state we keep coming back in different forms until we finally figure it out.

There is no heaven and no hell. Those are stories made up to make people obey laws. Instead of just obeying because it’s the right thing to do, sometimes stories are created to “scare” people into being good.

I don’t believe in any type of punishment system that way. That would mean that we would have a God/Goddess (energy) that seeks revenge.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Same thing here. At the end, you reach enlightenment and become a part of a bigger energy. You cannot have good without bad. There is a positive and negative, simply because it’s negative doesn’t mean it’s “evil”. Its just not good.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
It’s a feeling I get. Call it spiritual or a calling I’m not sure really. I do know that I stopped practicing for about 4 years. I put on over a 100lbs. I was miserable. I was hurting, my body, my mind. One day I pulled my altar out of the closet and lit a candle. My mind and body began to mend. When I stop and feel the energy from the grass and hear the wind in the trees my spirit can be calm and accepting of life. I think that without Wicca, my spirit (energy) suffers. I need it just as I need air.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
My favorites are Beltane and Samhain

The festival of light. It is being celebrated on February 2nd. We Wicca’s celebrate the Goddess’ recovery from birthing the God. We celebrate the lengthening of the days. Christians celebrate this day as Candlemas, and it is also known as Groundhog Day. On Imbolc, candles are lit everywhere in the house and left to burn. During rituals, people who hold the candles form a circle. The colors of this holiday are mainly white and orange. The altar is decorated with a wheel (for the wheel of the year) and flowers, for instance heather or snowdrops. During the ritual, milk and cheese, curry dishes and herbal tees are consumed as well as offered as sacrifices to the Goddess and the God.

celebrated May 21st. It is an enthusiastic celebration with music and dancing. The earth begins to awaken. The altar is decorated with the fresh green of nature, for instance SCHNEEGLOECKCHEN. Incense consist of frankincense and myrrh. Sacrifices are milk, milk products and herbal tees, and also wine.

celebrated May 1st. Beltane is the most important holiday for Wicca’s. Everything is fertile, the earth thrives. The sun god has matured into a man and desires the Goddess. They fall in love, and she is pregnant with his child. The Wicca’s celebrate the fertility of the Goddess and that she became a mother while a virgin. The festival is very frisky. The altar is decorated with colorful petals, spring flowers and ribbons. The green denotes the Goddess, for the God we erect a small May tree. The incense consists of frankincense, rose and lilac. The sacrifices are cherries, milk products, strawberries and wine. During Beltane, the participants sing and dance around a big fire which is built in a protective circle.

The summer solstice on June 21st is the highlight of the year. Everywhere, the earth shows the fertility given by the God and Goddess. The earth shares her plenty with us – desires which are brought forth during Litha are most often granted. The incense consists of frankincense, lemon, rose and lavender. The altar is decorated with summer flowers and fruit (which is also sacrificed). The colors of this holiday are yellow and orange. There is usually also a sword on the altar and a mirror to catch the sun, or rather the flames of sun. On this day, domestic animals and the family can be blessed and protected in a circle.

On August 1st Wicca’s celebrate Lugnasad. The farmers begin the harvest of the grain which was sown in the spring. The God slowly loses its power, the sun becomes weaker. The altar is decorated with corn puppets, braided willow wreaths and stalks of grain. Sunflowers round the whole thing off. Incense consists of sandalwood, rose and aloe. The colors are red and orange. Sacrifices are rice, bread with wheat kernels and berries and apple wine. During the ritual we throw breadcrumbs into the fire and throw grain kernel at statues of the Goddess. Lugnasad is a festival of thanksgiving for the fertile soil in which a good harvest has grown.

Mabon is celebrated on September 23rd, it is the fall equinox. The God prepares to die, to begin a journey into the Unseen. Fall is clearly present. The trees begin to lose their leaves. We celebrate this holiday once more with the fruits given by the fall. The altar is decorated with acorns, pine cones and colorful leaves. Incense consists of myrrh, sage and pine. The colors are dark red and brown. Sacrifices and dishes are bread and root vegetables, apple wine and fruit juices.

Celebrated October 31st, Halloween. This is the parting from our God, yet knowing that it is only a brief separation as he will be born again from the Goddess at the Winter solstice. We use this day to meditate, honor the dead and let their memories live. The altar is decorated with Pumpkins, Photos of our departed loved ones, fall flowers and nuts. Sacrifices are apples, nuts and cranberry muffins with apple wine or mulled wine. Incense consists of nutmeg, sage or mint. Usually there is also a dark mirror on the altar which allows for contacting the departed. If we have a question for a departed one, we concentrate on the mirror during the ritual; the answer comes the next night in a dream. After the holiday, the leftovers remain behind for the ghosts.

The winter solstice on December 21st stands for the reincarnation of the sun god through the Goddess. The altar is decorated with a white or yellow table cloth; a yellow or white candle should already be present. Incense consists of frankincense, oak or myrrh. We sacrifice bread and wine.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Yes, I consider everyone to be my friend until they do something to me, or to others that would remove them from that category. I do not judge people based on their beliefs or their background. I judge on actions.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Every other Sunday we go to my grandmother’s house, who is devote Christian. She accepts me and my life, but does not fully understand Wicca. She prays before every meal. I sit quietly and observe. I would never disrespect someones religious ceremony or rites. Now, I personally do not pray, as I do not believe it in. But I would go, and learn about others around me. Variety after all, is the spice of life.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
There are many religions and belief systems that may not coincide with modern laws. Shariah Law is one of those. We cannot however, say, hey this is wrong, you can’t believe that! And then take away their rights to practice how they wish. We have to respect the fact that this is a choice. Some go and say, the women don’t have choices, they’re abused so on… We as outsiders cannot come in and make that judgment. How does that make us any different than finding native tribes and telling them they’re sinners and they have to wear clothes? It doesn’t. In today’s world, we have the internet, we have the media and newspapers. I understand that if someone were in a position of being “forced” to wear a burka then we may feel like we want to rush in and save them. But remember, there are those out there that wear their burka out of respect for their god. We are not so all knowing that we can assume what’s in the heart of another.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
As a Solitary I do not have any of these types of rules. In a Coven, they will have a High Priestess and possibly a high priest to conduct rituals. Some Dianic covens have only females in higher offices. One of the draws to this religion is that they value the masculine and the feminine.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
I am a solitary. My place of worship is the air, the earth, the sun… All are welcome here.

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?
Each morning when I wake, I try to take a moment to thank the air for being there. The sun for rising and the earth for strength. Deep in my heart I want everyone to be equal. Everyone. I don’t want anyone to be left behind or lost. I think that my spirit actually had me select Wicca instead of the other way around. I cannot even begin to order another person to Have or Not Have an abortion. Gays and Lesbians are just like everyone else. They just love differently than others do. To me it’s no different than being a vegetarian or a meat eater. I feel better when I only eat fruit and veg. The meat makes me feel full and gross. And I can see how gays and lesbians may feel the same about sex with different sex partners. To me Bisexuals are really fully enlightened in that they can see love in all.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
My daughter is agnostic. I raised her with bibles, religious texts and introduced all sorts of different traditions to her as a child. She is 23 now and says, she thinks something might be out there, but for now, she chooses to be agnostic.

I couldn’t be happier. I wanted to raise a child with an open mind, a clear head and a hunger for knowledge. I have that.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
There is no hell in Wicca.

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I’m not sure I understand this question. As a Solitary, I don’t have contact with others in rituals so I’m not sure who would be practicing and who not. Wicca doesn’t have a “one voice” if you will. There is Witches Vox and those sorts of sites that offer information to covens and non-covens. But there’s nothing that would compare to let’s say the Vatican.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Yes, after moving to California I had a car window bashed in on a side street. My bumper stickers were Wicca in nature.

I was let go from a job, oddly enough also in California after a security guard came up to me and said “Nice bumper stickers you have”

It was a temp job so there wasn’t much I could do about it and again no proof really because no one “officially” told me anything.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes, that is a staple in my practice and interpretation of Wicca. Again, not all Wicca followers believe this strongly but for me it’s a central point. I believe that after I have learned all I can I will then evolve up to the next level, or enlightenment.

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