Friday Gladheart

ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual path? Does it have a
name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?

Friday Gladheart: It has never been easy for me to put a hard label on my spiritual path.  The very moment we put a label on something, we also put a limit on it, giving it boundaries.  I draw from many disciplines and spiritual ideas, so “eclectic” applies to my practice. Eco-spirituality, Slavic Paganism, science, and feminism strongly influence my practice, and I’ve syncretically blended some ideas from other paths when practical (and when it isn’t cultural appropriation).

I have a deeply personal relationship with Deity, and that relationship changes and grows as I learn new aspects and meet new Deities such as when I visit other Witches and covens.  As a guest at a ritual honoring a Deity with whom I am unfamiliar, I get a feel for the compatibility with other Goddesses, Gods, and spirits, and an introduction in a way.  From this introduction I may connect with new Deities, incorporating them into my regular practice when appropriate.

ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or spirits do you honor in your tradition?

FG: For decades I didn’t disclose this information for two reasons — because as a semi-public figure I didn’t want to influence the choices and direction of my students — and because I was oath-bound not to reveal this as a part of one of the formal traditions I trained within.

Now things have changed.  Upon meditating on this subject for quite some time and asking the Deities, I feel that the time has come to share some names of Deities I know and love such as Mati Syra Zemlya (sometimes associated with Mokosh); my first two Goddesses, Hecate and Mórrígan; and of course my namesake, Frigg, along with Freya, Odin, and some surprisingly compatible Haitian Goddesses.

ev0ke: What inspired you to start writing these almanacs?

FG: Growing up in a rural area in the 1970s meant that a farmer’s almanac of some sort or another was always within reach. Prior to the internet, this was some of the only reading material in remote areas, and almanacs were treasure troves of information. I poured over the charts and data for hours, reveling in the articles, and loving the classic printer’s artwork.  Through these classic farmer-style almanacs I learned about our seasons, and the Earth’s celestial dance.

I wanted to share those “Ah-ha!” moments of realization and understanding with others by making a practical guide to encourage those Ah-ha moments in every Witchy discipline from tarot and herbs to meditation and understanding the Sabbats.

The magical almanacs I tried to use in the 1980s and early 1990s were both a boon and a bane.  In these early days of my practice, it was a joy to have a constant daily record for my very private spiritual path and it became like a friend I could secretly confide in while in the “broom closet.”

However, the data and information in the various magical or herbal almanacs and calendars were not always accurate or relevant. Time zones for events were inconsistent, and astrological symbols used in them were often undefined or irrelevant to my practical approach. Although I enjoyed the various almanacs and calendars I tried, the practical information I needed for my homestead, garden, spiritual practice, and magical herbalism were seriously lacking. In addition, some of the annuals I tried contained articles, about half of which were spectacular, while the other half were poorly researched, badly written, and sometimes lightly plagiarized. Some of the herbal advice was often downright dangerous.

So, twenty-four years ago, I began creating an obsessively accurate almanac for myself and published it online for my students at PaganPath.com (now WitchAcademy.org). To my surprise and delight, it became so popular over the next two decades that it now has its own following of avid readers from all walks of life and a diverse array of spiritual paths.

ev0ke: How did you get started with Microcosm Press, the publisher of
your recent almanacs?

FG: Microcosm Press is an independent, employee-owned company.  A person from Microcosm ordered one of the almanacs from PracticalWitch.com while I was still printing it at home and collating it on my bed. She said she really liked it, could she have ten? They sold so fast in
their Portland, Oregon store that she asked for another fifty.  At that point I asked her if she would be interested in printing it for me in future years, or sharing the name of a good printer because living in a tiny home meant camping outside during printing season. They replied that they might be interested in publishing it directly, and began asking about sales numbers.  The first printing did so well they had to do a second printing.

ev0ke: How many almanacs have you written so far?

FG: This is the twenty-fourth. Next year will be the twenty-fifth anniversary. At first they were online, with a few printouts and spreadsheets. Sometimes I would put up a PDF that could be downloaded and printed. They were pretty rudimentary. I used a few fancy pieces of calendar software for a bit, but they were not very practical and I wanted to create a full, printed almanac. I wanted people to have something tangible to track moon cycles for their witchcraft. I wanted to include little witch tips that were similar to the old almanac tips, but geared towards modern, practical witches.

ev0ke: Was there anything special about this latest one?

FG: This year’s theme is “Crafting Your Magic” and it is geared towards making your own style of magic, no matter what your level of experience or spiritual path.  I’ve researched the foundations of magic as it is used around the world and throughout history, and then created a practical guide to approaching magic in your own way.  I’ve tried to give people new ideas that might not be based on the traditional Western occultism they know, but will fit well with whatever their path might happen to be.  I’ve also tried to blend in
more psychological aspects to appeal to more Pagans that might not be deity or spirit-centered, but are more nature-based.

I also added some recipes that aren’t necessarily as healthy as I usually add, but are frequently requested by students at WitchAcademy.org.  One is a Sabbat cake recipe that is an adaptation of my grandmother’s “wacky cake” — a cake that developed in the days of rationing in World War II, something I didn’t want to be lost.  It can be made vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, or whatever you need, and  it is very much an American recipe (perfect as an ancestor offering for those who lived through that time period).

ev0ke: Where can we purchase a copy of your latest almanac?

FG: In the United States you can order directly from me at PracticalWitch.com. Personal international orders and larger wholesale orders can be ordered through through Microcosm Publishing.  It’s also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and through independent bookstores like The Parlour in Hot Springs.

ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?

FG: Amy Davis offered to host my magical Apothecary services inside her amazing store, The Parlour (340 Ouachita Ave, Hot Springs, Arkansas.)  My services are what I’m calling “Witcharista” duties such as making custom oil blends, cosmetics like Dragon’s Blood lip balms and tints, spell candles, muscle and massage potions, mojo pouches, and so much more.  You will be able to see how essential oils are made (from plants grown at the Pagan Sanctuary) and I can help you find creative ways to approach any issues you are working on.  I also offer my tarot reading services at The Parlour on Fridays and Saturdays.

The rest of my time is dedicated to WitchAcademy.org, the new home for all the courses from PaganPath.com.  I’d started PaganPath in 1996, the oldest online and highly respected academy for learning about witchcraft, tarot, magical herbalism, wortcunning, Paganism and more. Many authors and elders started out at the PaganPath Academy and some have gone on to start their own Witch (and in one case Wizard) schools.  Moving the curriculum over to WitchAcademy.org gives us a chance to provide a better format for learning with podcasts, videos, engaging chats and forums, and better one-on-one engagement. It’s much more exciting, not just the six core classes I’ve offered before, but others can come in and offer a course (short term or long) pending approval. They can offer just their class for any fee they set, offer it for free, or put it in as part of the main membership for the site and get a commission from people who join. Instead of going to just one teacher, then, you have a variety of instructors. I hope it carries on long past when I’m gone.

Besides the book writing, and the Apothecary inside The Parlour, and the courses at WitchAcademy.org, I’m still establishing the Pagan Sanctuary.  In 2012 I purchased ten acres of land adjoining the Ouachita National Forest to provide a place for Witches and Pagans to feel safe, learn new skill at workshops and gatherings, provide urban Pagans a place to celebrate outdoors privately, or camp out for personal meditations and initiations.  The sanctuary is basically an ongoing organic teaching garden and campground for Witches and open minded people.

ev0ke: Which classes are you currently offering?

FG: Three of the core classes are available, with three more core coming in October.  Core classes are included with an annual membership so you don’t have to pay for each class seperately. Comprehensive Witchcraft,  Tarot Proficiency, and Wortcunning are the three major areas in the core curriculum.  There are also quick videos, podcasts, chats, and Zoom classes available to all students (that give you credit in your other core classes) on runes, community
service, gardening, ministry legalities and duties, potion making, candle making, incense making, and much more.