Talking My Path: Shannon Connor Winward

[Welcome to our weekly column, Talking My Path. Here, polytheists, witches, and Pagans of any tradition are invited to discuss and celebrate their spirituality in a series of five short questions. If you would like to participate, don’t hesitate to email us at]

ev0ke: How do you define your particular tradition or path? Does it have a specific name?

SCW: I guess the closest name for what I am at this stage of my life is “Kitchen Witch.” I have an independent belief system that draws from various –isms (Pantheism, Animism, Paganism, Shamanic traditions and folklore, et cetera), as well as my own personal gnosis and ancestral roots. I mostly practice in the home, in private, according to my own recipes and habits and inspiration.

ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits are honored in your tradition?

SCW: Out of all the deities in our collective milieu, I usually work with just a handful of regulars, if any. I identify culturally as a Celt, but I have longstanding working relationships with members of the Greek pantheon, for some odd reason. But mostly, on a day-to-day basis, I’m drawn to spirits of the natural world: animals, trees, the weather, the spirits of water, land and air, and the occasional freelancing ghost.

ev0ke: Among the various festivals and holy days celebrated in your tradition, which is the most important to you, and why?

SCW: Samhain (Halloween) is super important to me, for the usual reasons: it’s a festival of fantastic revelry that ties in all of life’s great pathos, sensuality, and magic. It connects us to our ancestors and to loved ones lost, with this implicit promise of a world where one day we might all be reunited. It celebrates the color and crackle of Autumn, the coming chill of winter, and the turning wheel with an intensity that only Beltane can rival, but with the added fun of being a mainstream holiday that everybody can get in on, regardless of their religious or spiritual persuasion. Witches, candy, scary movies, and little kids in costumes — what’s not to love?

ev0ke: Which texts, websites, or other resources would you recommend to someone interested in your traditions?

SCW: I mean, I could mention some of the texts that were seminal to me as a baby witch (Scott Cunningham, Margot Adler, Carl Jung, et cetera), but the world has changed so much since I started my own journey — there’s so much beyond Wicca, so many more voices contributing to a global conversation.

More than anything else, I think it’s important to just be well-read: grab what you can find and see where it takes you. Plunder the library and the bookstores. Read fiction, non-fiction, biographies, textbooks. Turn bibliographies into your To Do list. Join forums, go to open circles, take classes in mythology and anthropology and world religions. Consume as much knowledge as you can, from as many diverse sources, until you start to figure out what rings true to you — and then keep going. Never stop learning.

ev0ke: Is there anything you would like to add, such as creative projects you are undertaking, festivals or events you will be attending, and so on?

SCW: Last year I put out my first full-length collection of poetry, The Year of the Witch (Sycorax Press) — a mash-up of seasonal meditations, my own personal mythology, and tongue-in-cheek pagan spirituality. I also run an online journal, Riddled with Arrows which, although not pagan per se, has a reverence for the seasonal and a predilection for meta, magic, inter and fantasy. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much with either lately, as I’ve been dealing with some pretty major health issues. I like to think, though, that what I’m going through is my trial by fire; when I come through it, I’ll have earned my Crone crown. I’ll be ready for anything. xo