Ren Zatopek was born under the towering thunderheads and clean cedar winds of East Texas, a place beloved by her Czech ancestors for its black soil which so resembled the country from which they immigrated a hundred years prior. Though the folk had been careful to bring their magicks and spiritual contacts across the Atlantic, many generations later the healing and divinatory wisdoms were all but forgotten save as curiosities in family recipe books. But lack of magical culture is no hindrance to the witch's awakening! What she may lack in culture, she makes up for in context -- so long as there are trees in the forest and stars in the sky her religious book lives on. Where there is not a priestess the Moon herself will baptize her silver children in the name of the Old Ways and wash away their forgetfulness, and all the Knowing that has ever been in the world will be theirs to dream and bear forth as blessings.
I must've been baptized young, for as long as I can recall I've had the gift of spiritual vision -- the Sight, not to mention the Hearing, the Smelling, and the Touching! (No tasting though. No good can come of lickin' the spirit food.) And so I was blessed to grow up with more spiritual teachers than you can shake a stick at, just none that were flesh and blood.
Oak forests, crawdad fishing, and hospitality aside, there were certainly things about living in the South that weren’t so romantic. At the age of 17 I moved (fled) to the City of Angels with the help of a writing scholarship and high hopes that I would find kindred spirits in this world. Los Angeles is the garden of wishes after all, where folk come to see if their dreams can take root or if they will wither in the cheerful sun. So it stands to reason the city attracts more than the usual share of dreamers, edgewalkers, wandering wanderers, through-seers, glamour-seekers, and other strange sleeping and awakened beings! The schizophrenic nature of the Big City was at first so toxic to my creek-jumpin' barefoot-runnin' small town soul that it gifted me with a powerful initiation by illness. Now there are certainly better and safer ways to initiate, but most folks agree that a soul sickness and some time spent darkening Death's door is a strong road. In my darkest times I spent more than 20 hours a day in fitful sleep and vivid waking-dream, diagnosed with a rare hypersomnia and REM-sleep disorder. Of course, it wasn't the disorder that nearly killed me, it was the treatment. And isn't it funny how with all the tests and evaluations and medications no one ever asked, "What are you dreaming?"
I dreamed of healing. I dreamed of Wholeness. I heard the cries of the world and dreamed of a world without suffering, where the body's prayers of pain became songs of compassionate joy. I dreamed of the ancestors. I dreamed of the angels in the land. I dreamed of the spirit language. It took many years and much effort and labor for my dreams to bleed through into my body, awakening in it the memory of vitality, of radiant health, of Purpose! I wanted to share my dreams, but realized I had only the heart-language and all the simple names I invented as a child to describe Otherworldly life and landscape... I needed to develop my spiritual healing vocabulary if I was to communicate effectively in this world.
I turned to the Druids first for their word-knowing and their reciprocal, hospitable relationship with the spirits and in time I became an Initiate and now an Elder of Raven’s Cry Grove, Ár nDraíocht Féin. I turned to the Shamanic crafts second for their word-wisdom and their familial relationship with the spirits and in time became a Temple Keeper and Priestess of The Inner Temple. And now I find myself apprenticing with The House of Brigh, stuyding the Seer's and Conjurer's arts wherein the spiritual world becomes as a lover and eternal companion to the graceful hearted, and where I found my teacher using the very names and phrases I thought I'd invented as a child.
Grateful for my many blessings, both apparent and disguised, I now bless my community in turn as a clergyperson, spiritworker, healer, and ritualist. I spend my time translating the teachings of spirit into the Hallowed Healer techniques which I share with anyone who will listen -- in small groups, at festivals, with private clients, in public classes, in prison ministry, in my e-journal, and in a book-in-progress. Ever-curious of the workings of things, I completed training at The Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing in 2007 and now couple my divine intuition with an encyclopedic knowledge of anatomy and pathology. I make my living as a licensed bodyworker, a Healer at the Crossroads, with clients that come for my technical Western medicine training, and others that come for my energetic Eastern medicine skills. Some come to heal their roots, others come seeking the stars. I'm happy to work magically, or strictly mundane -- whichever will be most healing. For me, science and magic are not so far apart anyway -- both are fueled by insatiable curiosity and blissful awe at the Aliveness of the world.
"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive." - Joseph Campbell