Articles

Interview with the Witch

Bruce Hay Interview, by Shiloh Logan

Transcription:

[0:00]

Located relatively close to downtown Bakersfield, California, at 30 H Street, is a local business inside of an old converted 1920s 3 bedroom, 1 bath house. This, however, isn’t just any normal business that you’ll find regentrifying old homes along H Street — like a lawyer, dentist, or accountant’s office… No…  In fact, located blocks away from the county seat in notoriously conservative and predominantly Christian Kern County, California, a person not at all familiar with witchcraft, druidism, runes, tarot, crystals, enchantment, Wicca, or anything verging of the seeming occult  — would not be at all familiar with the business goings-on inside this little unassuming house. 

Even if you were looking on Google maps for directions and happened to see the 351 4.8 star reviews, you would not know what to expect from Bakersfield’s Enchanted Cottage.

[1:00]

While my wife–who had accompanied me to the Enchanted Cottage– had been here for the first time only days before, this was my first time. It was my wife who upon visiting days before had talked with the store owner about her husband who needed to interview a ‘witch’, and the owner had immediately agreed that I should talk with him. “I’m a witch,” he said to her, “and I would love to talk with him about anything he wants to talk about witchcraft and/or Wicca.” She was so impressed by her visit that she couldn’t wait to return, but I tried not to let her praise of the Cottage affect my own initial impressions. It was a few brief moments before I could clearly see why she was so anxious to return…

The minute you step into the Enchanted Cottage you are immediately transformed and enter a realm of the old. Part of this is the uniqueness of the age of the house itself, but the aura of something mysterious and ancient hold you almost spellbound from the moment that you walk through the door. 

[2:08]

On the main floor and to the immediate left of entering the Cottage is the largest selection of incense that I’ve perhaps ever seen. Like most things in this store that I would see over the next hour, I don’t know what I’m looking for, — or was I looking for anything at all? — and my look just seconds into the story must have told its own story of confusion…

Suddenly, a voice behind the checkout counter a few feet away observed, “You look lost. Can I help you find anything on your journey?” 

Lost? Am I lost? I wasn’t aware that I was on a journey?

“No, thank you,” I said smiling… “I’m just looking.”

“Well, let me know when something speaks to you…”

“What an odd way of saying that,” I thought to myself, “When something ‘speaks’ to me? What kind of store IS this?” 

[3:00]

As I meandered through the story soaking in all of the different smells of incense and perfumes, I came upon a selection of stones and crystals. “What… what am I supposed to do with this?” I thought. As if he heard my thoughts, the same man as before immediately asked out loud, “Have you ever used crystals or stones before?” I shook my head no… he continued, “next to each stone or crystal is a paper describing what they do… But the paper is not the important thing… Don’t read the paper first. Just walk around and see what, if anything, stands out to you. Then, if something stands out, pick it up and hold it… If it feels good, then look at the description and see what, if anything, you can understand from it…”

I smile and not politely, “Oh, … okay. Thank you,” I say as I continue to meander through the store. My wife immediately pulls me into a smaller adjacent room. “Shiloh, she says excitedly, look.at.this!” This small room couldn’t be more than 8 by 10 feet, and in the center was a large bar — the kind you might find in an old saloon. On the wall to the right side were floor-to-ceiling candles. Behind the bar was a large assortment of glass jars with what looked like various herbs. “Look at this,” Rachel said, “You pick your candle over here and then you get one of the owners of the store, and they’ll offer a blessing over the candle for you!” This was, without a doubt, my favorite room of the store. Decorated around as something straight out of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts castle, speakers in each of the four corners softly played sounds of rain and rolling thunder. This space felt somehow… different from the rest of the store. As if something–something beyond the mere decorative motif–meaningful was created in this space — something safe, something… secure. 

[4:46]

As I continued through the Cottage I came into the largest room that was a dedicated library of books about spells, the occult, druidism, healing, potions, and all things witchy… I can’t resist a good book, so I purchased a few books on Scottish Witchcraft. My ancestors came from Scotland, and maybe this was a way to connect with my past Celtic roots. 

In the final room were a wide assortment of figurines and jewelry to all things mythical. Orbs, dragons, fairies, wizards, charms, bracelets, witches … it was all there. 

On my way back to the main lobby, I stopped back to the stones and crystals. Was it just the ambiance of the store? Was it something that I had just connected to outside of myself? Was it… something within myself? I couldn’t tell, but as I passed around the tall kiosk of stones and crystals, certain things started to… “speak to me.” I picked out three stones. … Interesting… What do they mean? I picked up the notes next to each stone as I was previously instructed to… What do these stones do? “Clarifies thinking and mental vision and perception,” says one; “raises consciousness,” says another; “repels negative energy” reads the third… Huh… interesting… That sounds about right. 

For as much as these stones seemed to call out for me, the other stones seemed … should I say, intentionally silent? As if their own secrets were closed off to me? 

It was a different kind of experience… 

[6:22]

As my wife and I were checking out and buying our stones and books, my wife introduced me to the man checking us out — Bruce Hay — one of the two owners of the Enchanted Cottage. He was the man who had been talking to me about the incense and stones from before. He had remembered Rachel from the days before. I told him of my need to interview a witch for a school project, and he immediately smiled and said, “Well, I’m a witch… Is right now good for you?!” 

“In the middle of the workday?” I thought… As if he could read my mind, he smiled and whispered aloud, “My husband can take over the register. Let’s step outside into the backyard to chat for as long as you want…”

I hadn’t realized it before, but there was a covered patio in the backyard as well as customer parking behind the store. Bruce led my wife and me to the backyard and we set down… 

And that’s when our conversation began… 

[7:16]

Shiloh: Well, awesome. Well, thank you for doing that. 

Bruce:  Sure. 

S: Um, all right. So your name is Bruce Hay. 

B: Yes. 

S: And you are the owner here of…

B: The Enchanted Cottage One of them [the owners], yes. 

S: Awesome. So are there many Enchanted Cottages around or is this the only one? 

B: Only one. 

S: Okay. And how long has this been here? 

B: Uh, it’s been in this location for 15 years. In November, we started here 10 years that we’ve had it. 

S: Wow. And what got you, what, what made you want to do this? 

B: Well, oddly enough, um, we used to come in here. I used to be a massage therapist, and then eventually became a massage instructor that we came in here and I get stuff from my room, you know, things regarding Buddha and different things.

And, uh, we took a class here and it was on mindful meditation. And we said, what would we do if we had this place, what would we change? We go, we were putting our intent into the universe. So the law of attraction, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but we’re very strong believers in the law of attraction.

So we feel that’s how we came to own this place. 

[8:34) 

S: So you said that when you were going to take this over, you had some ideas for it. 

B: Right. 

S: Where did you feel that that was going towards and how have you done that? 

B:  Well, I, I kind of felt more of a connection. That spiritual connection, I guess, with, uh, the Buddha, you know?

And, uh, so I studied a little bit of Buddhism, not to a great deal, but I just like the cosmology, so to speak about it. Um, but then, like I said, we were just saying what would we do differently if we had this place and… And we always came in, we were really good customers. And then out of the blue, she called in and asked for us to come in and… We thought, oh, gosh, what did we do?

And then she said she was wanting to sell. And we were the first people that she wanted to, to offer it to. And so we told her we needed some time to think about it, um, because we had no retail experience. He [Stan] does software websites, that kind of stuff. And, uh, I was teaching massage, and prior to that I was an escrow officer.

Then when the real estate market crashed, you know, then the company I worked for closed. So I went to massage school and then three years after becoming a massage therapist and I started teaching. And then all of this came about. 

[10:06]

S: Wow, so have you always been, [or] do you consider yourself religious or do you consider yourself spiritual?

B: Spiritual. Spiritual. 

S: What does that… what does that mean for you in your journey? As far as where you’ve come from? 

B: Well, I grew up going to church, not at my parent’s insistence or anything like that, it was something my sister and I chose to do. Um, my parents never, um, encouraged or forced any type of religion, you know. Just do [and] be you, is what they said.

And… but for me, spirituality is just [acceptance]. So, I just accept that there’s like a higher being. I don’t see it as a male or female, you know, like everybody says “God” and “he” and stuff, but it doesn’t work for me. Um, I just still, there’s a higher being and that we can’t even begin to imagine that being, and it’s just to me, it’s, it’s doing the best you can in life by, you know, treating people well and being kind to the earth and animals and that kind of stuff. 

[11:15]

S: Do you consider it like a benevolent being.

B: I do. I don’t see God as being judgmental, like to me, [what’s in] the Bible. And you know, because it’s been interpreted and reinterpreted, and then you have King James that said, no, we’re going to change this. We’re going to get rid of all these different books we’re going to change this… This is to me, it’s too influenced by man.

And I truly think that that, uh, being had all this power that wouldn’t feel that way. And especially because I’m gay and, you know, in the church,.. You know, you can be gay, but you can’t really act upon it. But, you know, Stan and I have been together for 23 years and married for 13. So, and I just don’t feel.. I feel that like organized religion is very judgmental and it’s not our place to judge each other, especially regarding our spirituality.

So whatever your religion maybe is, is your journey. It’s your religion. It’s not for me to feel anything about it. It’s just, you’re welcome to it. 

[12:35]

S: So as far as… Do you practice Wicca? Or is it a… a… 

B: I am a first-degree Wiccan Priest through the Corrillion tradition, which is a Scottish and Native American tradition built, um, started in the latter eighteen-hundreds.I don’t feel I’m completely Wiccan. Uh, a lot of people have misconceptions of Wiccans because of the Rede of, you know, do no harm, do what you will, but do no harm. Well… My thought is do what you will, but take no shit. Ya know? 

A lot of them think it’s, it’s all, it’s a little funny thing. You can do whatever you want because they’re Wiccan and they’re not going to do anything about it, you know, and no, I.. I’m like that at all. 

[13:28)

S: I love that… Um, and then here in the community, I, I’m not familiar with enough the community of this, but when Rachel came in [she heard], but apparently there’s a very robust community here in Bakersfield? 

B: There is actually, there’s a tradition, a Wiccan tradition it’s called the Georgian tradition [that] actually started in Bakersfield and it’s um, I don’t know how many of the original members are left because they were, uh, elderly, um, that it was Pat Patterson was his name.

Uh, but Georgian Wicca, I got started here in Bakersfield. And there’s an interesting lady. She was actually my witchcraft teacher. Her name is Sandy Hancock and she’s pretty well-known in town. I don’t know. Um, you know, I think her health is kind of failing her, I’m not real sure, but, um, she was part of that, that tradition.

S: Interesting. 

B: Yeah. 

[14:21.5]

S: How is that different as… the Georgian order versus any other?

B: It’s minor things? Um, then I think they are more Goddess oriented where I like more of a balance of the God and the Goddess, you know, like on my altar, I have the God and the Goddess. And… traditional Wicca, in what comes over from England when they’re setting up their quarters to do ritual, anything like that, they will have in the East it’s for air. South is fire. West is water. In the North is earth. Um, yeah. And then, but with the Georgian tradition, they feel that the North is the wind, for the prevailing winds, and the East is for earth because we’re on the West coast. And they think about all the east coast as being earth.

So that’s one of the differences. I, I’m not well versed on Georgian tradition, but that’s just some of it

S: That’s interesting. 

B: So, there’s always a little things that they will tweak to basically coincide with how their thoughts and their beliefs, you know, like how a lot of religions started from Catholicism and then they branched off. 

Rachel: Right. I was just going to say that it reminds me of all the denominations, and… So many different versions of the same thing…  

[15:54]

S: Now you said something interesting about, about the kind of the proximity—that geographic proximity—is about being here on the West coast and these guys on the East coast… So, do those differences then change with the geographic proximity because of the experience you have in that location? Or is it more of like an overall general metaphysical objectivity? Or is it more subjective?

B: I think it’s more subjective. Uh there’s like with, uh, Wiccans and a lot of witches we do the Sabbats — the Eight Sabbats — and they’re based on, it’s actually a solar… based on solar times where, you know, the planets are going through different things.

But what we do in North America is going to be opposite in South America, you know? 

R: So, based on the equinoxes…” 

B: Right. So, whereas here, like when we’re celebrating Samhain, or Halloween time, in the Southern hemisphere, they’re celebrating their, um, going into summer, their springtime.

S: Interesting. 

B: Yeah. 

[17:10.5]

S: So as far as the community here is [concerned], I consider it’s grown. 

B: It is, it’s interesting. The amount of people that are interested in Wicca in which. Now with, Wicca: all Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. And so, that’s where I kind of am a little bit of both, you know, and I’m a first-degree Wiccan priests, but I’m a witch more than anything.

S: How do you make that distinction? How do you feel that distinction’s made for you? 

B: Because it’s not doing all the things, like… Wicca is more of the religion, whereas witchcraft, even though some states it’s a religion and art and science, but to me, it’s just, it’s an art and a craft and its part of me is just the things that I do. I still, I mean, I still do rituals and I still do spells and, and all that kind of stuff, but it’s not based on the religion for religious’ portion.. 

S: Gotcha. That makes sense. So when, when Rachel came in yesterday, she had talked about kind of coming in, seeing what speaks to you was like, there’s no one right way of doing anything.

B: Right. 

[18:35.0]

S: In organized religion, there’s this idea of, especially with, with new religious movements, they have to kind of create meaning in certain practices that they have. And if they’re gonna come up with new practices, they have to kind of give a reason for it. And to do that, or do you find in witchcraft or, uh, or in Wicca that you…  Is it really just taking in what is there present for you–like the universe or nature telling you what you need–or is there like an active participation that you’re going to go out and you’re going to create a meaning and in a practice or a spell or a prayer or..

B: Well, it’s kind of a little of both. Now, bear in mind that there’s various traditions in Wicca. Like I mentioned, the Georgian, and then there’s the Hellenistic, which is primarily female. There’s Gardnerian, and Gardnerian is, … it’s more of an initiatory tradition. So you can’t study or learn about it and say, I’m Gardnerian no, you have to actually be initiated into a coven and you follow their traditions.

So there are some of them that their traditions are sky-clad or nude, and it’s not a sexual thing. It’s just that everyone is on the same basis, whether you’re rich or poor or whatever, there’s nothing separating you. And that’s not, for me, I’m not trying to show that to anyone – which is why I wear a cloak. So, within certain traditions, there are guidelines that you do follow.

Sometimes there’s a hierarchy. You have your priestess or your, your high priest, high priestess, and then anyone below that. Um, so to me, it’s about finding what really resonates with you within the scope of that practice. And it doesn’t mean that you have to live your life completely by that. It’s what you do in ritual.

[20:45.5]  

So you follow the things that they do in ritual that in your own personal life, you do your craft or whatever, how you want to do your craft. 

S: Right now, there’s a lot of, uh, talk about organized religions falling apart in a lot of ways. And there’s this movement towards spirituality. 

B: Right.

S: And here in town, it’s very conservative community in Bakersfield… Has there been much pushback from the community that you’ve ever felt? 

B: Fortunately, we have not experienced anything. Now, I’ve heard in the past that people have this type of story where people have even protested would stand out in front and protest. We’ve not, thankfully, experienced anything like that.

You know, we’ve had some people that you can tell they’re, with some that you could tell, like Jehovah’s Witness, who come in and they’ve walked in and looked around and are all “thank you” and then leave, you know? They see that the pentagram and things like that, and automatically assume that’s the sign of the devil when it really is not. If they, you know, [knew] it’s actually used by the Catholics and was a years ago as a symbol of protection, and which is, you know, to me, it still is. So you have the top point, which is spirit and then earth, air, fire, and water, all the different elements that were made of.

[22:09.5]

S: So for the symbolism, like the pentagram that stands for something, is there a meaning that is given to it just by the order itself, or is it more considered that these [symbols] have more objective meanings or objective powers?

B: It pretty much is, um, you know, the, the spirit earth, air, fire, and water.

Um, if it’s inverted, some people feel that’s the sign of Satan. And the, the thing about that is a lot of Christians believe in Satan, but the witches don’t believe it’s the Christian version of Satan, you know? So they, they identify the same as being some type of entity, but not the Christian version of it. And they don’t worship it. They kind of respect that entity. I’ve never really delved into that…  is not my cup of tea, so to speak. So, you know, I’m not an authority on that. 

[23:15]

S: You’ve been around long enough to probably be able to see, but with, as people transitioned from religion, from organized religion into more of an unorganized… either just being a witch, or even if they just want to substitute it and go the Wiccan path.

In your experience from what you’ve been able to see, why is that shifting? What are you seeing as far as people [who are] making that shift?

B: I think because they’re tired of being told what they should do, what they shouldn’t do, what they can and cannot do. Now, bear in mind, there’s there’re Christian Wiccans and Christian witches, which is interesting, but a lot of people who have grown up with, uh, with a Christian background or, um, an organized religion background… They will face challenges in their practice because they’ve always taught, no, you can’t do that because it’s wrong but they’d never been told why. And so there’s some things that they have issues with, but they will usually get through it. It’s like, okay, you think, why does it bother you? And let’s look at what it truly means. What does that mean? ’cause your, your spirituality is such a personal journey that people shouldn’t be telling you what you can and can’t do. I mean, you should be able to worship how you feel is appropriate for you.

So there’s a lot of people that are leaving the organized religion, and it sounds like Wicca is organized, too, but it really isn’t. We don’t have the dogma other than, you know, do no harm, you know? So we don’t have the whole “thou shalt not” and all this stuff, and we don’t proselytize. So, you know, you’re never going to find some witches going to somebody’s door and say, “Have you heard the good news?”

So I think it was hot. It’s too hot. Nah, I don’t care what they do. 

S: [Still, that would] probably be the most fascinating conversation. If someone like would have showed up at my house… I’d be all, “Come on in!” 

B: Exactly.

Yeah. I joked with some of it because, um, uh, the Henrietta Weill Institute called me and wanted me to do and discussing with all of their mental health peoples. Let me tell you it’s very intimidating. And then before I spoke, father Craig spoke, and this is well before what was going on with him. Um, and so he had the whole, everyone laughing, gosh, I’m going to follow this?

Fortunately, there was a lunch break, you know, and they just wanted to help their employees know about Wicca and  things about, um.. You know, somebody says, “God bless you” [and] you may have a wish to go, which one? You know, so, and there, you know, you don’t have to be afraid to say something, you know, that I’m Wiccan, I don’t believe that…you know? 

[26:28]

S: It’s a bigger funnel than it’s more widely accepted. 

B: Oh yeah, yeah. Shockingly enough. It really is. I didn’t know anything about Wicca until we bought the store, so it 10 years. So it’s still relatively new to me, but we had the Kern County [inaudible] circle that I said earlier that met here on Sundays. They were, they were here before we bought the store and I thought, okay, I don’t really know anything about them. So I’m going to sit in a few meetings and get an idea of who they are. So, I did that. And then I felt, and Stan and I both felt that we needed to have more items here to support them in their path, because it’s almost like the previous owner kept everything in the closet and that not everybody could see or, you know, it wasn’t displayed properly.

So we thought, why should these people ever feel afraid or, um, to, to celebrate who they are and why should we have to hide products? It’s like, we’re not going to do that. So, since then, it’s just grown a lot that we have a lot of witchcraft items, um, which I probably more than what we really anticipated because we do want it to encompass all walks and spirituality. 

S: It helps normalize it.

B: Yeah.

S: Okay. So what have you found that is probably the most shocking. So someone brand new coming into this, what have you found that is usually more shocking to someone if they, if they come in or where do they start? I mean, so in the way your store is laid out, you come in and there’s, there’s the stones and this, and you can go into the herbs and the candles and that’s an awesome room, by the way. 

B: Thank you. 

S: And by the way, um, where, where do you usually go? 

B: I think usually people with start off with the stones and crystals, um, because there’s just, it’s so popular. And, um, you know, a lot of people have the misconception that everyone comes in here as a witch, and they’re not, I mean, there are all forms of people that come in and, um, then we get questioned periodically… have those… especially younger people that wanted to do spells.

And it’s like, do you want to jump into everything? Skip all the learning that you want to do the spell — which I never encouraged. But you, before you just start, you want to know what you’re doing, but I get shocked all the time: “Can you teach me how to do the spell to kill someone or to have someone fall in love with me?”

I mean, I could do that

R: Haven’t you seen Aladdin? It doesn’t work that way!

B: I want this person, this specific person to fall in love with me. And we always say, you really don’t want to do that. If you want to find the person that you’re supposed to meet with, then do the spouse spell at the right person comes to users without naming needs, because we’ve had people do that, and then they get that person and then they see how that person really is and think, “What the hell was I thinking?” Ya know? Sorry, that’s what you wanted. But when you, when you’re doing schoolwork, all you’re doing is, you’re bending or tempting fate into something that we want and it doesn’t always work.

And a lot of times it will, [but] if it doesn’t work then you figure out what’s going on… Did you doubt it? Maybe you need to do something different on a different day or different Moonphase? Anything like that. But, yeah, they… too many people think it’s like Harry Potter and something’s going to happen just like that, you know, really just support that way.

S: That’s interesting.

B: So yeah, we get all kinds of people in, in new, in their path and a lot of them struggle with. Um, their history, their background of Christianity. Catholicism… my recommendation to them is to take your time. Find what interests you learn about it. Don’t take on too many things at once because personally, if I take on too many things, I won’t finish.

And that’s the big thing about me being an Ares as well as I’ll start off and do the things, but I never finish them. That’s where Stan comes in handy. I already have. I kind of like going in all directions…

[31:43.5]

Segment 2:

The sounds of the street and the bustle and conversations of the customers are a fascinating urban backdrop to frame the discussion that I am having with Bruce. He’s so delightfully open and authentic with his experiences, and I admit that I in my lack of preparedness to interview him on the spot that I found myself in a difficult position of just wanting to listen to him talk of his own experience while also trying to think of the next question and line of inquiry to progress the conversation further. I stammer a lot. However, Bruce makes it easy. He’s open, kind, and laid back. But, as he said, while he adheres to the Wiccan Rede of “An ye harm none, do what ye will…” he has the discernable presence that he’s not taking shit from anyone. 

Present sporadically throughout the audio is the faint sound of the fountain in the back courtyard where we are talking. Some customers who either meander into the store like I did or who are seasoned customers who march into the store with purposeful step often take hours to simply sit in the courtyard to talk to passers-by or to just read a book in a relaxing environment. 

There is a general sense and space of acceptance here, and even though this is still my first time at the Enchanted Cottage, I wouldn’t be uncomfortable to pull out my own new books on Scottish Witchcraft and to spend an afternoon quietly reading among the door chimes, faint chatter, and urban noise that fills in the local landscape. Everyone that I see who comes into the Cottage has a smile on their face, and everyone is quick with a sincere greeting. 

The witchcraft and Wiccan communities are growing in Bakersfield. This is paradoxically both surprising and not surprising. Bakersfield was founded in the mid-nineteenth century and got its name when Thomas Bakers — an Ohio lawyer and militiaman — had moved to the banks of the Kern River and created a stopover for travelers in an area known as Baker’s Field. The city was incorporated and then disincorporated by 1876, but by 1898 it was reincorporated for good. The culture of Kern County, California, was set by the 1930 Dust Bowl migrations of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma migrants to the Central Valley looking for work in California’s agricultural economy. Migrants brought with them their conservative Christian beliefs, and Kern County has been a predominantly conservative Christian community ever since. 

I was pleasantly surprised that Bruce had never had any problems from other local religious sects. Across the country right now there is an emigration out of organized religion as many are seeking to find far more nuanced and alternative paths to their spirituality than, perhaps, they would have previously imagined while worshiping within the walls of a Christian church on Sunday. The rise of New Age and Neo-Pagan practitioners is not new, although there have been many evolutions and waves of religious immigration since the initial rise in the 1960s and 70s.

Bruce observes that there is something in witchcraft for everyone, as many Christians, Buddhists, and other customers with various religious backgrounds all consider themselves witches of different types and orders. 

[34:54.5]

S: *Turning to Rachel* Do you have any questions that you wanted to ask, too? 

R: I mean… so I guess I’m, I’m one of those people that comes in curious. Right. But I’ve done some preliminary work in the last couple of years of getting rid of a lot of my religious superstitions and being very open to everything, but I’ve noticed, um…, your reader, what’s your name again? 

B: Mercia. 

R: Mercia… So, she wanted me to feel comfortable with the skulls that she had on her table, which I already felt comfortable with. But, do you find that there are people who come in who are curious, but there needs to be some… um, … or you feel like they need a little bit of explanation to help them feel comfortable with some of the things they’re encountering?. 

B: Yeah. And, and we, like I said, we try to help however we can. Um, because a lot of times when, when people see the skulls they automatically assume it has to do with death and that witches are consumed with the thought of death. Well, no, not really… I’m afraid of it. But, um, but for the longest time, I didn’t like skulls and now I collect them. I can’t get enough of them. And then I have them on different altars and I have them on my ancestors’ altar, you know, and, and to me it could be, it’s honoring the past and it’s honoring your ancestors who are no longer here. But, t’s also, if you’re doing some type of, uh, working for somebody that’s asked you to do, um, on a, you can have that represent a person and that you’re doing spells to help that person heal or whatever. So, um, yeah, there, there’s usually in different symbolism, there’s various meanings that it can be, you know, Um, try our best to help people with that when they have questions.  I mean, I’m going to be very honest with people. And if I don’t know, then I have no idea. And that’s the thing about witchcraft and Wicca. And I think any spirituality is you’re constantly studying because you’re never going to know everything and there’s always something to learn.

S: So are there spells that help deceased loved ones like trauma or past trauma, even from those who passed on is that, I don’t know.

B: I’m really ambivalent regarding that, you know, like, um, I’m not a big fan of karma. You know, I, I still might sit very ambivalent about karma doesn’t really exist to like from a previous life or anything like that, or, you know, does that go with somebody to their, to their next side?

I mean, I kind of do believe in reincarnation, but I don’t know to what extent, um, there’s a type of energy healing called Reiki, and there is, uh, different things you can do to send Reiki, uh, to the past to kind of help heal whatever that is. But, is there any proof of it? I, you know, this. And it like with a lot of things, there’s no proof. You’re just going by the faith that you have putting into it.

I mean, when I do spells and I see the actual thing happened and yeah, that’s, to me, that’s proof.

R: I don’t have any more specific questions. I just really like talking to you. 

B: You’re too kind. 

I just, I can talk forever. I just like goin’ on all kinds of paths.

[38:45.5] 
R: I think like growing up in a fundamentalist Christian Church, like… Just being around someone who’s nonjudgmental and more open-minded, it’s just like a breath of fresh air. I just want to drink it in…

B: I used to go into the Foursquare church, and I was baptized in a Baptist church, went to a Nazarene church, and… but never felt spiritually fed… spiritually fulfilled.

You know, you, you do for a while, but then real life hits you, you know, especially with, with being gay and them saying, “You’re not supposed to be gay.” Well that can’t help us at all, like… now I’ll sign up for that, you know? Nobody does. And, yeah, treat me like shit, you know? But, um, you know, I, fortunately, because I never had any issues with either employment or friends or family, anything like that.

And you know what you see of me is exactly who I am. I don’t put on acts for anyone or anything like that. Try to act differently. So I thought this is me. I don’t care if you like, which I think more, more people should be that way. Yeah. Stan is definitely that way. I aspire to be like him. Yeah. 

[40:07]

S: Are you a native of Bakersfield, or…

B: Yeah, pretty much.. Bakersfield… Lake Isabella is where, um, you know, I graduated high school from… I’ve lived in San Francisco and Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and… Bakersfield has a way of bringing you back, I don’t know what it is. 

R: Yeah, what is that? 


S: So I, I grew up on I-15…Like everywhere from like Idaho all the way down into, uh, into Southern California. And then when I was 14, my family moved up to Tennessee. So I grew up in Memphis until I was 21 and moved for school, but we came down here after we were married, we came to Bakersfield. I had a job that brought us. It was a summer sales job. So I was a door-to-door salesman selling pest control. So, if you’ve ever had a pesky salesman on the door selling pest control then it was probably me at some point. But then it just, we were going through stuff… We were going to school out of state, and then we just kept on coming back, like every other year to self pest control to put me through school. And then when it came time for us to kind of pick a place…  it’s just, Bakersfield…  of all the places in the world we could have picked. It was like, this felt like home and kind of pulled us back.

R: I complain about the bad air every day, but it’s home. 

B: It is, and it’s funny… is that people that I’ve worked with, uh, moved from New York and were all “What are you thinking?” But, you know, it is relatively close to all kinds of things and, um, and it’s still fairly small considering.

But it’s, it’s actually, I think it’s opening more to this spiritual awareness, you know, I think more and more people are questioning their spiritual path and being more receptive to things.

R I feel like, I mean, from, from my experience, it feels like COVID helped a lot with that because you, you took people out of what was their habits and you kind of forced them to be more self-reflective in a more isolated way.

B: Right: 

R: And then you kind of wake up to this… that it isn’t for me, maybe that wasn’t authentically me. And so do you, do you feel that way with some of the people you talk to you and that there’s just this. Yeah, coming back to yourself and then remembering who you are…

B: Yes, because you’re forced to spend more time with yourself.

R: Yes, yes. 

B: *To customer walking by* You have a good day. Thanks for coming in.

Customer: Thank you. 

[42:39]

B: Um, and going back to my witchcraft teacher, um, she sent a few rituals here before I felt comfortable enough to do them and you, you can’t help but think in the back of your mind, is this real? And so during the ritual, she invoked the goddess and that’s where she’s calling the goddess into her.

And it was cool because, um, A few hours prior, this one guy was in and he and I were talking and he was saying that he used to be Wiccan but that his wife didn’t approve. So he got away from it and he was coming back to it. And so Sandy came for the ritual, and she invoked the Goddess. And there were a bunch of us. So we did a small ritual, but there were about 30 people in our backyard and she would go around to two people… and if the goddess had a message for them, she would stop. And she talked to them about it. And… It’s interesting because it’s like, she’s looking right through you. She’s not making really eye contact with you. It’s just like, it’s somebody else there. And so I thought that was really kind of cool because that was my first ritual with her.

And, um, so she got to the one guy next to me. She started to pass in and then she stopped and she said, “Welcome back.” I go, okay. This is amazing. You know? And, um, another guy that came in with his wife, he had been in prison and he was learning about Wicca. And I guess he had been there quite a few years.

And then he was having a prayer with the Goddess. He said, okay, if you’re real, find the way to get me out. And they let him out. I don’t know that, you know, I don’t ask details, but… So my life is now devoted to worshiping the goddess though. How cool is that?

R: I love that there’s no, there’s no religious experience that has a corner on that. You know, like you find those stories and, and anywhere that someone puts their intentionality through whatever religion or whatever thing it speaks to them, then you have those, those stories of it manifesting in a way from that.

B: Absolutely. 

[45:10]

S: How often do you have them? I mean, COVID sorta threw a loop for everything, but how often have you had or do you have [rituals performed]?

B: We would normally do formal rituals every month, sometimes twice, depending on the full moon. And then we started doing new moon rituals as well. There’re certain things that you could do, uh, on each phase of the moon.

You know, like if you’re doing full moon, we can do healing protection. You know, that kind of stuff. If you’re doing the new moon is things that you want to build, what you, you know, planting seeds, so to speak, to have them grow to fruition, whether it’s something that you want to achieve. So you’re planting the seeds for what it is that you want to do.

And then throughout the moon phase, you see how it’s grown or what you want to do… whether it’s finding a new job or, or anything like that.

[46:05.5]

So it’s cool during the full moon, and we’ve done healing ones, whereas a, as a Reiki practitioner, I, um, you’re used as a vessel, a channel, so speak. And so you place your hands on people and they can feel the energy… And it’s really cool. Um, and so a few of us that are Reiki practitioners, and there’s some that are just there and are naturally gifted that ability to use the energy is even, and then they would get involved as well. You just put your hands on their shoulders or low back or something like that. And you just send that healing energy. And then we have everybody on the outside who’s not healers. And we have just, you know, hold your head, your palms out.

And you just imagine that you’re settling, sending love and healing to these people in the middle. That’s what most of our rituals are… 

R: Ya know, I need this COVID stuff to go away. 

B: I know! And, you know, it’s fun. Um, you know, with, with people, there’s a lot of moves that are, that would be brand new to ritual. And we always tell people you’re welcome to participate, or you can just observe if you want. And we don’t want to ever put people out… But maybe just a little bit out of your comfort zone, because we want you to grow.

R: Right, but sometimes it’s just being there. 

[47:29]

B: It doesn’t mean you have to go right into it. Then you kind of gets an idea. And so a lot of times, I will … Ya know, when I will starting ritual I’ll ask, “Are there any new people who’re volunteering to be the sacrifice?” So, a lot of people laugh. 

The erroneous thought that when we do sacrifices, it’s an animal or anything like that, which we don’t do. The sacrifice would be, uh, lighting incense as a way of honoring whatever. Uh, a poem, a song, or, you know, anything like that. It’s giving something of you as a sacrifice? No, no animals or babies have ever been harmed here.

R: Um, sorry, what’s her name again? [The reader]?

B: Mercia. 

R: Okay. I’m trying to remember it. Um, does she do readings for children or is it just something she does for adults? 

B: Um, if the, the parent gives approval. Yeah, absolutely. And most likely, depending on the age, she may have you sit in there with her.

R: I told you though, yesterday, my daughter has decided she, I don’t know what she watched… She watched something on YouTube and she came to me and she was like, I want to go to Hobby Lobby and I want to pick up some jars because I wanna make,I want to put some things that are important to me, the jars, because I want to be a witch of the woods…  and I was like, let’s do it.

So we just went that day and picked up some jars and she’s out some of my herbs. I was into herbs for a number of years. So I use, or I make verbal medicines and a little bit, um… 

B: Oh, so you’re a Green Witch? 

R: Oh, just a little bit, a little bit. II can’t get anything to grow, so I have to go buy my herbs dry or, or if I use, you know, plantain or something that I naturally, you know, wildcrafted, and that’s different, but I can’t get anything to grow my own.

Um, not yet. Anyway. But so she, she did all of that. Now, everything she says is she told the dog this morning and she was witch, but she said, “Don’t worry, I’m a good witch!” 

B: Haha, that’s so cute! That is too cute! 

R: And the dog just stared at her… 

B: *Responding in jest as if he’s the dog* And you’re telling me this because? 

[49:52]

R: It’s been fun to watch her kind of blossom and to see her open up from, from trying to fit herself into a really small box to just be like, just obliterating the box. I’m just like, yeah. Yeah. 

B: Well, you know, the interesting part is, is, um, in, in dealing with deity, a lot of people feel that you’re worshiping—and maybe some do to a certain extent—But usually people who are within, tiches, you’re not asking God or deity to do something for you, you’re asking them to work with you, you know?

So it’s helping you to, to develop your power within, you know, instead of, oh, I can’t do this and you know, no, you can, you just have to resurrect that ability to do it. 

R: Right. Right. Do you feel like your background with Judaism kind of help inform that for you? 

B: Well, it got me where, where I know that there’s just not one way, you know, because Buddhists don’t believe in a God. Um, I think they, uh, The way, the way that I look at God is I look at God like a diamond. So we know diamonds have lots of, lots of facets in the endless fast as there can be different gods and goddesses. To me one. Um, but it’s hard to build a relationship with something you can’t see. And so with the facets of the goddesses and gods, it kind of helps you with building that relationship.

And so God… it’s all rolled together, if that makes sense,

[51:40]

R: Yeah, it’s like taking something infinite and making it just a little bit finite so that you can touch it. 

B: Right. 

R: Yeah, that’s cool. 

B: But, um, so, and, and it’s, it’s interesting because, uh, I’m really the only one in my family like this, um, who believes in witchcraft, even though my sister kind of does, because she has a lot of gifts, but she’s still very, you know, very, not overtly Christian, but she’s, she has other Christian belief and, um, And my parents were, well, my dad had already passed when I got into this, but my mom, um,… I have a tattoo of the pentagram on my foot. And before she passed, she was like, and she goes, “What’s that?” and when I told her, she goes, “Okay… well, what does that mean?” … “Well, that means that I’m a witch.” “Ohh.. okay.” 

R: Aww, good momma. 

[52:40]

B: Yeah, she is adorable.

But, um, it’s, it’s, it’s really hard for people at times, just to accept what you know is taught in church and you know, when you’re going through the Bible verses and the pastor is telling you what this verse means, you’re going, huh? I don’t see that. And it’s like, I don’t know. I’m a lot more simple-minded than, you know, that.

So explain it to me or whatever. And how did you arrive at that? That. That final thing. This is what that means. Right. And I just think men in organized religion is very much male dominant. You know, it’s always God, you know what happened?

I,..  nobody knows, in my opinion, nobody truly knows anything what’s going to happen when we pass. I just think he just kind of go by what feels right to you.

R: Well maybe we need to go just so that can just come back.

B: Haha, Well, you’re all fine with me, I’m having a blast! 

[54:08]

R: I just, um, I dunno, I, I recently, I don’t know, like a year ago, I don’t know. I don’t know how long ago it was, but I decided I was going to go back through and read the Bible without my goggles on… I was just gonna take, you know, whatever the church taught, taught me of how I was, how I was supposed to read it. And I was just going to read it.

And there were so many beautiful things that I, number one, never even noticed before that were in there. Um, but then also so many things that it’s like, like, you actively preach against this, but it’s like right here, like, what else has the spiritual gift except this, you know, like what, what are these things that we deny and put into these small boxes?

And there’s so much bigger than that. And I’ve always felt, um, I guess, more attracted to that. And then, I guess this like, um, this sense of frustration, I’ve always feeling like I’m kind of up against a wall. Like, I’m wanting to take off and I’m hitting up against this whole time and they just decided the walls go away.

Okay. And I was wondering, like, it’s gotta be fun here to see people who are going through that sort of transition. Do you have a lot of people that come in that are like, just excited? It’s exciting to be there? 

[55:13]

B: Oh yeah, absolutely. And when they’re here, they’re jumping up and down there. They’re that excited.

R: That would be so fun. 

B: You know? And, and, and they’re wanting, they’re wanting to grab everything and start learning, which is all good. But, and maybe it’s not good on my part because it’s like, slow down, I understand the excitement because I’m like that too. Find what interests you first and go from there. You don’t have to be up on this and this and this.

And that’s what I’m saying. When people are setting up their altar, they think, oh, I have to go and buy all this new stuff. It’s like, you don’t necessarily have to do that. You can, if you want to, if you have the money to, but you can also find things from in your home… But don’t use it for anything else, you know?

R: Yeah. I think it’s what I’m trying to do this differently than I’ve done these in the past. I’m like, as I learned about different religions, I kind of just jumped all in and um, this time I think, because I feel like I’ve just remembered something about myself and I’m remembering these at at different times.

And so I’m trying to just stay true to what I remember in that moment and not get ahead of myself and not turn it into an idea, just being more authentic. Um, which is why I just come like, you know, whatever one stone feels like is right for me that day, but I’m also a minimalist, like an extreme minimalist.

And so I had this balance between like, I want all the things, but also I don’t want any of them. And so I have to, I have to balance, I have to balance that and try to just take it one step at a time. And then I feel like I remember, I remember things better. I remember what I’ve learned about. But I’m learning it. 

And when I learned herbalism interval healing, I learned it as I went. I didn’t, in fact, I still don’t own a book of verse because it’s too much, you know? So, um, just learn one thing at a time. My friend, Brenda, who was here with me yesterday. She just messaged me. She’s like, “Are you back already?!” So, if there are any events or anything.. 

[57:26]

B: You know, what’s interesting is because so many of the organized religions for people who are truly psychic intuitive, that we… that’s, that’s a sin… But,t then why do you have that ability? Right? Like, Stan is extremely intuitive, irritates the hell out. But, um, because I don’t have that gift.

That’s just jealousy. But, um, you know, it’s something he’s had all of his life, but he used to go to a Southern Baptist church and it was just really very much frowned upon and you don’t do this. You’re gonna go to hell. And so he kept it quiet for years and years. And then… He came out of his shell and we bought this place and, um, you know, he’s just really embraced that side of his life. It was fine. 

R:  Do you have anybody who’s making that transition? It feels like they need to perform some sort of ritual to make that break official, or is it more of a gradual transition? 

B: It’s gradual, but there are some things like cord-cutting.

Um, … But, I truly think it’s just something that, uh, it’s dealt with through time. Your time and experience and, uh, doing the things that’s right for you. I don’t think you have to put your Christian background completely behind you or anything. You can keep the things that really have a lot of meaning to you.

Um, but, uh, I think it plays a part on how you develop in your spiritual path, whatever that means. So, um, I think it’s just about dealing better with time.

S: So a couple of things you said in the, uh, the gift of intuition sends intuition or, or you’re like, I don’t have that. 

B: Uh, well I just, and he always has a more intuitive than what I believe I am, but. … His, his guide, which is his grandmother, speaks to him a lot and will give him messages to give to people when they come in.

Not always, but it’s always a message that they need to hear that he is just validated something for them, that they were really needing. A lot of them will break down in tears because it just hits home for them so much. But if he doesn’t relay the message to them, then his guide just doesn’t shut up.

You need to do this there… do it right now, right now. And it’s something that sometimes you think, okay, it’s just a voice in my head that I’m making up… or is it really, you know, a guide trying to help me… And your intuition. And most of the time, I think our intuition is there to help guide us, to protect us.

And I’ll do little, little tests on myself with, especially when driving and I may have that little voice and say you to switch lanes and sometimes I’ll go, okay. And then everything will be fine. Other than that, no, it’s just, I’m imagining it. He stayed there and it’s like, I get stuck behind somebody who makes me stay at the light.

And so, you know it could be coincidence, but, you know, I really do believe in intuition that we all have intuition. And I truly think that it’s up to each person to delve into it as much as they want to help build it. But I think it’s like a muscle, and the more you meditate, I think that helps to align better with your intuition, your guides.

[1:01:27.5]

S: So, do you think that this path is more of a path of self discovery? Or do you think it’s a path of, kind of like choose your own adventure? So you can, like, I don’t have that, but I want to have that. So you work and kind of push yourself into having that, um, or combination of both. 

B: I think it’s a combination. Absolutely. Um, because you, you do want to be, uh, the self-empowerment — for one thing, you want to be able to rely on yourself and not be so afraid to, to face life, but yet it’s things that you want to achieve. Um, so yeah, it’s definitely both. 

S: Well, I want my reading, too.

R: Well, do you want to right now? 

B: She’s ready whenever you want.

R: Well, go do it. 

[1:02:23.5]

Section 3:

This is the first time that I have had my reading done. Tarot is an interesting thing. I have many friends who are deeply into tarot and who derive a lot of meaning and purpose from it. My introductory reading was short. Only 15 minutes. I remain skeptical, but the kindness and authenticity expressed during my reading were human, authentic, warm, and honest. 

I loved my first visit to the Enchanted Cottage. I plan to return again and again. My wife has already returned by herself and with our children. My youngest daughter decided long ago that she’s a witch, and she loves the store. It is a magical place, and I guess that’s the point of witchcraft, isn’t it? To set a place apart to be magical? 

I’m grateful for Bruce and for the open and complete willingness he expressed and exemplified in sitting down with Rachel and I and helped upon our eyes to a new and wondrous world of witchcraft.