Witchy Woman Spotlight: Thora Dorn
Thora is a gifted Crone whose wise ways sparked an immediate interest.
"I wasn’t always a witch…I was raised in the Anglican Church, on a military base in Canada.
I had a difficult childhood. When very young, I would see guardian spirits that I associated as guardian angels. My neighbours thought I was peculiar, and talk about it to this day. Before the age of 5, I was drawing pictures of palm trees, pyramids and funny huts made of mud brick. I also drew pictures of jewelry and talked about making jewelry for the king’s tombs. I never felt like I fit anywhere.
Even as a child, I had a strong affinity to nature, and a belief in justice and equality. This didn’t always make me popular with my peers. Although deeply spiritual, it was the hypocrisy I experienced in church and Sunday School as a child that made me turn from the church.
The teen years were so hard – I had feelings I didn’t know how to explain. I dreamed of future events before they happened, and nothing I did could change them. When relatives died, they came to say goodbye. When I told my parents, they chalked it up to bad dreams, until they got notified of my grandmother’s death. These feelings made me incredibly anxious, all the time, because I wasn’t acknowledging or accepting them.
At the age of 15, in 1970, I almost died. I remember a drawing in of the darkness, then a burst of light, like rushing through a tunnel. At the other end was the most beautiful place I had ever seen – with trees, flowers, streams, tame animals, colours that don’t exist here on earth, and people, people I knew. More than that, there was a beautiful woman, with a presence so compelling I instinctively knew she had to be Divine. I was confused, because I thought God was a male. We talked, and then she said “it is not time for you to be here. You must go back. Remember me, and seek me out. I will not abandon you.” With that, I returned to life and a life-long search. So I wouldn’t forget, I wrote about my experience as soon as I came back.
It took me a year and a half to figure out who She was. As I studied and searched, I discovered Wicca, and one of the goddesses in the Celtic pantheon jogged my memory. The feeling I got when I read Her attributes was unmistakable – Cerridwen, the woman of my vision. She is my patron Goddess to this day, among other deities.
I found Wicca to be a good fit for me. Always asking questions as a kid, I’m sure I drove my parents crazy at times. Wicca satisfies that need in me. The first book I read was Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch. It touched me deeply to know there was a name for how I felt and what I believed. But I still didn’t know how to become a witch, and had no one nearby to talk to. Then one day, I found Scot Cunningham’s book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. It spoke of witchcraft as a calling and a way of life, in easy terms. I resolved to work my way through everything I could find. Now I have a huge library of witchcraft-related books that I still refer to. You would be amazed, too, at what you can find on the internet. Yes, I know a lot is not real. But enough of it is of value. I don’t stop at witchy books – I also look at history, archaeological evidence, sociology, anthropology, psychology and other disciplines. My deities guide me to the right place at the right time.
I have always been a Solitary Witch. Although I had opportunity to join a few covens, they never felt like the right fit for me. When I finally stopped worrying about what others thought of me and followed my own path, it was incredibly freeing. Instinctively, I chose a Celtic path, since that was my heritage. I could just as easily have chosen a Norse path, because that is also my heritage. It just didn’t feel right. Because I am a Solitary, I never went through the degree system so common to Covens. I simply dedicated myself to my patron deities. That was three years after I began my search.
As I worked my way through all the books I could find, I recorded everything I learned in a series of notebooks. Later, all my notes went onto the computer, and only unchangeable notes were printed for my permanent Book of Shadows. Something about crystals and herbs drew me. I discovered as I went along that I could ask for help from my patron deities, but only for others. Healing, both physical and emotional, became an important aspect of daily life.
My relationship with my deities is like a friendship. We talk and exchange favours, just like any other friends. The difference is, my friends are divine beings capable of so much more than any human. I have come to understand over the years that the beings I call gods are just faces or facets of the Divine, created so that humans can understand the Divine better. We can’t entirely understand the Divine, but the gods help us get there.
Today, Wicca is a part of everyday life. Every day I find something to be grateful for. Praise is a big part of every morning and evening. I make and serve meals with intent and blessing. Each weeknight (it used to be every night), I perform a distance healing ritual.
A great deal of my time is spent researching and writing – as a witch, learning is never done! The internet makes this much easier than before, but I’ve found you have to be careful to verify what you learn. It isn’t always easy, because as I learn, I have to examine myself. At times, that can be painful. No matter how old you get, this process continues.
I came out of the broom closet in the mid-80’s. My workplace was very accepting, and I know how lucky I was. Family had mixed emotions. My mother wanted me to remain Christian, but accepted it when she realized what Wicca was. She even participated in some sabbat rituals before she left for the Summerland. And it turned out I had relatives in the Craft! My brother Otter, a niece and a grand-niece all walked the path. Another niece followed the Kemetic Church, becoming a priestess in her own right. I found out my grandmother and great grandmother had been herbalists and midwives. But other family members became upset, telling me I would go to hell. Over the years, they have gradually come to accept my choice, even if they aren’t comfortable with it. We agree not to discuss it, and love one another just the same.
I particularly love working with crystals. Each one has a different vibration, whether by touch or by looking at it. Some are bought in stores, others online. Rarely have I found a crystal I cannot use, and I am always guided to the crystal I need most.
My love of herbs came about as I learned to cook. I write my own recipes with a view to the magickal properties of each ingredient. Mixtures are stirred clockwise to attract and counter-clockwise to repel. Today, I grow some of my own herbs and prepare them. My cupboard holds more than 200 varieties of herbs and spices, and I use all of them, either in cooking or ritual. An offshoot of this activity is incense-making. This became a sacred task, as I make blends for specific purposes and rituals. Some recipes take weeks to make properly!
Manipulating energy took a long time to learn to do. Sometimes it is exhausting, other times it increases your own energy. Only practice makes you get better at it. And really, that’s what magick is – manipulating energy. One thing I have learned about manipulating energy is that it can come back to bite you if you aren’t specific about your intentions. As a Wiccan, I ascribe to the Rule of Three, and the credo “Harm None.” That doesn’t mean I never do harm, just that I consider the consequences of my actions and select the actions that will cause the least harm to myself and others. I once did a spell to ask for rain, and we ended up with a storm that caused a great deal of damage. The area that really needed the rain didn’t get any. All because I wasn’t specific!
Another aspect of Wicca is the need to give back. As a disabled person, mostly housebound these days, I give back in the only way I can. I use my gifts to share information, and to conduct distance healing rituals. Not only do I enjoy the process, but the results are very satisfying!
I met my husband in 1972, and he knew right away who and what I was, because I told him. Although a Christian, he accepted me and my beliefs as part of the package. Today, we honour both traditions in our sabbats and holidays, and our daughter was raised knowing about both faiths. Our daughter was encouraged to seek faith on her own, as well as with guidance from us. Our grandson, who lives with us, is encouraged to do the same.
Care for yourself so that you can do proper honour to your deities. Your path is your own – there is no right or wrong. All paths lead to the same place, so respect every path even if you do not follow it yourself.
The most important lessons I learned on my path is to trust my deities and not to place too much stock in what others think of my decisions. I still ask for advice and opinions, but my decisions are my own. Like an artist, I have my own vision, and I have to stay true to it.
If you are starting out, the most important advice I can give you is – READ! Read everything you can, with a view that not everything will apply to you but that there are gems of knowledge in unexpected places. Use common sense – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Work hard, but play hard too! Care for yourself so that you can do proper honour to your deities. Your path is your own – there is no right or wrong. All paths lead to the same place, so respect every path even if you do not follow it yourself.”
Thank you, Thora, for your lovely contributions to the witchy community as a whole! You shine as a stellar Crone amongst your Sisters!