Dorothy Morrison is the author of a number of books on Wicca and Paganism, including the brand new Utterly Wicked. Dorothy was able to take some time out from her busy tour schedules to answer a few questions for About.com.
Pagan/Wiccan Guide Patti Wigington: Dorothy, I'd like to take a minute to thank you for answering questions for our readers at About.com. I was reading your bio and saw that like many Pagans, you were actually raised Catholic. Can you tell us about the journey that eventually led you to Paganism, and a little about the path you're currently on? What is it in particular that drew you to your present spirituality?
Dorothy Morrison: Even though I was raised as a Catholic, I think I was always a Pagan. For one thing, I simply refused to pray to Jesus. It wasn’t that I thought he was unimportant in the scheme of things – it was just that I saw it as a waste of time. I simply couldn't understand why anyone would spend an exorbitant amount of time asking him for something when it was just as easy to go to the supreme source; that, of course, being his mother. Looking at it from the view of a six-year-old – which I was, at the time - I reasoned that even Jesus wouldn't disobey his mother. That being the case, the Goddess and I developed a firm relationship early on.
I also came into this world with the ability to see auras. Of course, I had no way of knowing that everybody didn’t see them. I just thought that everyone knew that people were colored on the outside. Of course, I found out differently in first grade when my teachers insisted that I not color outside the lines. There was such a ruckus over it that my folks finally made an appointment with a specialist to have my vision and motor skills tested!
It wasn’t until twelve years later, though, that a tarot reader introduced me to Paganism. She happened to be a member of the Georgian Tradition - a very eclectic form of Wicca - and so I studied that trad, moved through the initiation processes, and became one of its elders. The eternal student, though, I'm now ensconced in the studies of RavenMyst Circle and hold second degree status in a coven based in Michigan.
Guide Patti: You've got a new book coming out, called Utterly Wicked, which is about what to do when you've run out of nice options. I love this whole concept, because it encourages practitioners to be pro-active, rather than reactive. What inspired Utterly Wicked, and do you think modern Pagans are ready to embrace the not-so-fluffy side of Witchcraft?
Dorothy Morrison: While all Pagan paths aren't governed by some version of the three-fold or harm-none laws, many are. And for years, I've watched folks strive to live by these laws. There's nothing wrong with that, and I certainly applaud their efforts. Like anything else, though, it's often taken to the extreme and gets out of hand - and when I realized most folks were following these laws to their own detriment, that really bothered me.
For one thing, no one can truly live by the "harm none" portion of the Wiccan Rede. Why? Because every time we take a breath, we literally destroy thousands of bacteria, making it virtually impossible to live on this planet without harming something. But even if that weren't the case, we, as individuals, are included in that "harm none" clause - and when we allow ourselves to be harmed and don't do anything about it, we are not only in direct violation of the Rede, but everything for which it stands.
The three-fold law can be just a problematical. While I seriously doubt that whomever came up with that system ever intended for us to heed it to our own detriment, let's assume for a moment that they did. If we consistently let people walk all over us, then according to the system, here's what we'll get back: three additional heaping helpings of the same. I certainly don't want to invite that into my life, and I doubt that anyone else does either.
So, it was from those thoughts - and the reality check that ensued - that Utterly Wicked was born. It is not a book that advocates tossing out the hex or curse just because one can; rather it's a down-to-earth, common-sense approach to protecting oneself, standing tall in the face of adversity, and confronting one's problems responsibly as they arise.
But are modern Pagans ready to embrace these concepts? I think a good many are. And those who aren't will eventually follow suit. The fact of the matter is that I've seen the community at large grow up a lot over the last thirty years. Most have finally come to realize that you can't have the light without the dark - that one depends upon the other for its existence - and that in order to walk in balance between the worlds, it's imperative to acknowledge, understand, and embrace one's personal shadows. That to do otherwise is not only a slap in the face of the Gods, but serves to make us ill-suited to any spiritual path that involves magical practice.
For more information about the book, I have a website at Utterly Wicked.