Now for something completely different… Amateur Religious Ethnography Botched, Or the Pagan Interviews, Part 16

Mari-Anne Mahlau on Minoan Wicca.

Skepoet: What is your religious background and how did you come to it?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I grew up Catholic but came to Wicca through introspection and a series of seemingly unrelated events that exposed me to it. It seemed to fit perfectly with my view of the divine as well as my personal philosophy that I had come to after years of floundering, looking for a connection with the divine since Catholicism seemed too misogynistic and unable to grow and change with time.

It was like arriving home.

Skepoet: What is your academic background?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I have a BA in Psychology, a minor in Childhood Education from CUNY Lehman College.  I also have a year of graduate work in Journalism/Public Relations with Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.

Skepoet: How do you see these interacting with each other?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I am a big fan of Carl Jung, as are many of the modern pagans that I know. I think my background and degree in Psychology overlaps with my religion quite a bit in helping me to understand human behavior, archetypes, etc. It has helped me with group dynamics working in coven and non-profit arenas. Being on the board of a Wiccan tax-exempt, non-profit for a number of years, understanding of human behavior and interaction came in handy. It also came in handy as a High Priestess training new initiates.

Skepoet: I have some specific questions that I asked as those. Which tradition of Wicca do you practice?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I practice Minoan Fellowship Wicca which is a subset of the Minoan Brotherhood and Sisterhood, which in turn are branched off from Gardnerian & Welsh traditions of Wicca.

We are as such heavily influenced by the format of the British Traditionalist Wiccan ritual style.

Skepoet: Have you seen your tradition develop or change since you entered it?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I’ve seen covens and other groups organize into bigger non-profit groups for the purpose of wider community, but other than that, not much.

Skepoet: Do you think that sometimes people over-interpret magic in terms of psychology?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: Ooh, that is a good and loaded question. I think it’s possible and that some people write off magick as solely a psychological construct. I have dear friends who believe this way. They feel the same way about the gods and goddesses. I don’t completely agree. I think even if it did all occur in our psyche, there is so much we do not understand about the nature of the psyche and whether it is connected to the soul and thus to the universe at large. It’s just another roundabout way of legitimizing magick. But I don’t think its origin lies solely within ourselves.

Skepoet: Many pagans I have talked to express some anxiety about how the economic downturn will affect their crafts/traditions. Do you have any such concerns?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: I, of course, have concerns about the economic downturn on a mundane level. Spiritually, the only way it might affect myself and my family is that we might not be able to attend festivals and large gatherings. but the recession has been going on quite awhile. We just have to tighten our belts to save and attend less of those events. No money is needed to practice one’s religion unless you wish to travel to be with others. I live in the NY metro area, so that isn’t a big issue.

I don’t see it affecting my tradition or practice in any other way.

Skepoet: How does the Minoan tradition relate to other pagan groups, particularly non-Wiccan ones?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: Well, at least in our immediate group of covens, many of us travel to festivals and events where other modern pagans gather and socialize as well as share some of what we can of our paths with each other. Also some of us (like myself), have partners from another pagan path. My fiancee is Asatru.

Skepoet: Anything you would like to say in closing?

Mari-Anne Mahlau: Just that it’s been a pleasure being able to participate in this. I wish you luck with your research. Thanks for allowing me to participate. Blessings to you!

Skepoet: Blessings to you as well. Thank you for your time.

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