We’ve been saying for a few weeks now that we had interview questions to help ya’ll get to know our executive board better, but then we added a Librarian and that delayed things a bit while she caught up, but now we’re ready, so here’s the first installment of the EBoard interviews!
First Question: Who are you? Can you tell us about your upbringing and education? Where are you from?
Cat: I’m Cat, President and Co-founder of the Fellowship.
My parents raised me without religion, which is lucky on my part. Stories were always a big part of my childhood, either being told by my mother and grandmother, else I was reading them in whatever books I could get my hands on. I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2012 with a B.A. in English, as well as a minor in both history and classical studies, and a concentration in medieval studies. I currently work for a consulting firm in Alexandria, VA, as an editor.
I am a born Chicagoan, and I was raised by two Chicagoans. I moved to the DMV in 2012 after graduating college.
Kate [Vice President]: Wow. That is a tough question. I am not sure that I fully know who I am. I am amazed and surprised by all the new things I learn about myself every day.
I know this:
I am a hedge witch.
I am a farmer’s daughter from Nebraska that values her family traditions of hospitality and folk magic.
I take my oaths and loyalties very seriously.
I am fiercely protective of my tribe of people.
I am an Aries, and I act like one most of the time.
I am an intellectual that values learning and constantly seeks knowledge.
I was raised on a farm and ranch in rural Nebraska. We were the fifth generation of our family on the land, and the relationship with that land was an important part of our family traditions. These traditions have a heavy influence in the way that I practice my witchcraft.
I went to a small public school in Nebraska. We were K–12 in the same building, and there were about 200 of us in those days. I went on to do my undergraduate work at a small Presbyterian liberal arts college in Nebraska where I majored in International Studies, International Economics, and History. Then I went on to Indiana University- Bloomington to pursue my PhD in African History and Master of Library Science. I was in Bloomington for almost 10 years and absolutely loved it there.
While I had always practiced folk magic, it was in Bloomington that I really began to pursue my study of witchcraft. I was very active in the pagan community there.
Tal [Secretary]: I attended conservative Christian schools up until college, and attended a Christian college to study theology—which sparked my conversion from Christianity to paganism. Upon looking deeper into Christian theology at an academic level, I came away with more questions than answers. When I left the church, I decided to focus on my artistic pursuits professionally and attended the University of Maryland, where I graduated with a B.A. in Theatre. I currently work as a professional ballroom dance instructor. I am from Bowie, Maryland.
Aleja [Librarian]: I’m a witch, I’m a pagan, I’m a polytheist. I use she/her pronouns, I’m not straight, I’m married, and I have a toddler. I’m chronically ill. I’m not really sure how to explain myself, so let’s focus on upbringing!
I’m from the Midwest. I was born in Wisconsin in 1990, and grew up all over the US, because we moved around a lot, but I returned to the Midwest at least once a year to see family. Since the cities make a long list, have a list of states I’ve lived in: Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, Montana, Hawai’i, then Ticino (Switzerland) for college, Kentucky during school breaks, then Virginia again, Minnesota again, and Virginia again-again. (I currently live in Reston.)
My mom’s family is indigenous (Brothertown/Oneida, enrolled Brothertown), and Euro-American (predominantly Polish and German 19th century immigrants). My dad’s family is entirely Euro-American, and a mix of early German and English immigrants, and more recent Irish and Scottish immigrants, some of whom can trace their ancestry back to Norse settlements in Ireland. The majority of my family on both sides are practicing Catholics, so I was raised in that faith, but my mom, her sister, and their mother began exploring our traditional indigenous spirituality around the time I was born, so I grew up immersed in indigenous culture, as well, though my family traditions are heavily influenced by the Oneida and the local Ojibwe people, especially now that we’re related through my aunt’s marriage. The Ojibwe culture is related to the Brothertown linguistically, and they have kept their traditions alive much better than the Brothertown, who were very early converts to Christianity, unfortunately. This mixed religious upbringing is really what drew me to paganism, because I wanted a syncretic spirituality that acknowledged my mixed heritage, and didn’t tell me that half of what I was doing was Not Allowed. Catholicism plays better with other traditions than some of the Protestant or Evangelical faiths, but the insistence on it being the only true religion just didn’t jive with me. And I should probably stop there, because discovery of paganism is one of the other questions!
Education is pretty straightforward – public school K-12, then to Switzerland for undergrad at a place called Franklin College (now Franklin University), which is dual-accredited, American and Swiss, with classes mostly taught in English. I graduated in 2012 with a combined major in History, and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (CLCS).
Second Question: What are your hobbies?
Cat: Most of what I do these days is reading, bullet journaling, and bingeing YouTube videos, when I’m not working. I also like to pursue art in various ways, with watercolor being my current experiment.
Kate: Does sleeping count as a hobby? Otherwise, CrossFit and witchcraft are my two big obsessions. I actually view CrossFit as part of my practice of witchcraft. The energy that I expend in CrossFit and the improvement of my body is dedicated to my deities and my ancestors. I was called by them to get stronger, and it is a significant part of my daily practice. I am devoted to studying and practicing witchcraft, and usually one of my three cats is there to “help.”
Tal: Oil painting, ballroom dance, axe throwing, thrift and antique shopping, figure drawing, woodburning, guitar and songwriting, video games, meditation, binge watching everything on Netflix.
Aleja: Does witchcraft count as a hobby? Otherwise, I like to write fiction (though I keep coming up short on NaNoWriMo lately), I do a bit of tabletop rpg, and I like board games. I do a bit of costume sewing and I did a lot more cosplay and art modeling before I got pregnant. Honestly, right now my main hobbies are just: 1) raising a toddler, 2) doing my spiritual work, and 3) getting enough sleep.
Thanks for reading! The next installment should be in a few weeks!