Evolution of An Eclectic Witch

Tara Perillo- Author, Eclectic Witch

Unlike most natural born witches, I didn’t find out I was one until much later in life. Before my beloved grandmother passed from this life, she revealed all of the secrets she had held for most of her lifetime. She had known, from the moment she first held me in her arms, I was a special child. Throughout my childhood, she taught me all of the lessons I would need as a growing witch. While encouraging and fostering my natural gifts and occult curiosity, she protected me from the truth and persecution, so I could discover my own path.

Once the truth was revealed, I understood so much more about my distaste for the Catholic Church, my friendships with those in occult circles, my never ending desire to read every book on witchcraft, and my constant need to heal others with the powers of nature. I finally understood myself.

My grandmother loved telling stories about how I, as a child, would tell her the phone was about to ring, or that someone was coming to visit, before it actually happened.  She also loved telling of our trips to the zoo, when all of the animals would notice when I came near. The big cats would roar, the wolves would howl, and the birds would squawk. Of course, she would only tell these stories when we were in certain company.  I never really noticed at the time. I just remember her telling me never to talk about those events, to let her talk about them instead. 

Throughout my childhood, preteen, and teenage years, my fascination with witchcraft, occult, horror, and herbs, was satisfied with countless books from the local library. Any time the librarians would ask my grandmother if I should be reading such books, she would answer with a shrug and a laugh. The truth is, I really didn’t make it easy on her. I was a pretty odd child. Like, I had a habit of rescuing hurt birds. Most of the time, it was no big deal. I would find them, bring them home, nurse them back to health, and release them. But, one time, I saw a bird fly into a window at my school…..my CATHOLIC school. When the recess bell rang, I ran out to where I knew the bird had landed. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it in time, and the bird had died from it’s injuries.  Well, I couldn’t just leave the poor thing there. I had to give it a proper burial, in my pet cemetery at home. So, I scooped up the little dead bird, went to the bathroom to wrap it in tissue, and went back to my classroom to put it in my book bag. By the time recess was over, one of the other kids who had seen me pick up the bird, had ratted me out to the principle. Sister C promptly located me, and asked what I had done with the bird. To make a long story short, I refused to give up the dead bird, they called my grandmother in to convince me to give up the bird, and I finally brought out the bird once they had agreed to let my grandmother take it home and bury it. They even gave her a small box to carry it in. See, I didn’t make it easy for her.

I could go on for hours with weird stories from my childhood. But, I’ll spare you for now. Let’s fast forward to my late teens and early twenties, otherwise this post will be as long as the Nile. By this point, I was living in New Orleans. I was heavy into the gothic scene, all jet black hair and pale skin. Most of my friends were artists, of some sort. I worked as assistant director of an art gallery on Royal Street.  Finding magical friends and mentors was not a problem. One of these wonderful mentors was Chicken Man, the Voodoo King of New Orleans.  He taught me everything I needed to know about voodoo. I still incorporate many of the things he taught me into the magic I do today. 

Because of the diversity of my magical friends’ practices, I never ascribed to one system or coven. I finally realized I was on the right path when I walked into a little purple magic shop, in uptown New Orleans.  As I walked through the door, I felt a strong pull towards a particular book, on a particular bookshelf.  I opened the book, as I was being drawn to do.  At the top of the page was the name “Tara”…..my name.  I then proceeded to read all about the Goddess Tara. I knew I was right where I needed to be. Of course, I bought the book, along with many others. This served as my introduction into Wicca. All of a sudden visions from my childhood came flooding back. Not only were many of the rituals similar to some of the every day practices of my grandmother, but, I remembered my birth father’s family as well. I recalled family gatherings, where my Irish and Welsh aunts and grandmother would celebrate by dancing around a large bonfire. Thinking back, their behavior was quite Wiccan-like. That’s when I began practicing Wicca, with a bit of voodoo and Cajun folk magic (gris gris) mixed in.

In 1993, I moved to Chicago. For the next six years, I practiced as a solitary witch. Although I searched for others like me, I couldn’t find anyone.  Finally, after moving to the suburbs, I found a coven.  This particular coven practiced Gardnerian Wicca.

Before initiation into the coven, I had to undergo a year of education and spiritual growth.  I spent that year learning the fundamental traditions and rules of the coven, participating in all sabbath rituals, and attending all workshops and conferences given by the elders. Once I had completed my year of studies, I was invited to join the coven. My initiation was held under the light of a full moon, in the woods of Illinois.

At first, I was just happy to be around like minded people. All of the rituals were exciting and intricate. Since my previous traditions, voodoo and Gris-Gris, were forbidden by the coven, I found myself missing the freedom I previously possessed. But, that wasn’t enough for me to leave my newfound Wiccan friends. I stayed with them for another few years. During that time, I did local media interviews to dispel any misinformation about the neighborhood witch coven, participated in a hand fasting ritual between a Celtic Druid warlock and a faerie witch, and taught Wicca 101 classes at the local college. I was a busy witch.

Although I was very active in the coven, there were certain traditions I wasn’t crazy about. As Gardnerian wiccans, our rituals were extremely disciplined. Plus, there was the constant attention to the elements. I am an air sign, Gemini, which meant I had to wear a yellow robe, and I always had to represent my sign for each circle construction. Yellow does not look good on me. I longed for my black hooded robe, hanging untouched in my closet at home.  And, I didn’t feel like air. I felt like FIRE! Alas, I had to do as I was told, even though it didn’t feel like me at all.  The politics of the coven was another thing I didn’t enjoy. Eventually, it was politics that would make me leave.

I suppose it was divine intervention that would help me make my escape. The elders were in chaos. Apparently, one of the elders began practicing black magic, in order to cure her ovarian cancer. She began bringing new witches into our public rituals. These new witches would set upon members, during our post-ritual feast, and speak to us of new, more free traditions of Wicca. I have to say, it sounded much better than the dated, boring protocol we were following. When many of the other elders figured out what was going on, they quickly banished the black magic witch. Half of the coven left with her. On top of that, she cursed the remaining coven with a nasty ass hex! Out of a sense of obligation, I had decided to stay with my coven. Hence, I suffered the curse as well.

When none of the coven’s spellwork could undo the hex, and I had lost my unborn child, I finally chose to leave the coven. I returned to my previous practices, with a new sense of discipline and maturity. I sought out the originator of the curse, and a few of her minions, gathered a few personal items from them, and avenged myself, using the magick I had practiced for so many years before.

Never again did I join another coven. I decided to forever practice as a solitary witch ( which was basically a new term at the time). Over the following years, I studied many religions, traditions , sects, and the occult as a whole. I’ve incorporated different magical entities into my spellwork, to learn which ones work best for me. I’ve learned everything from kitchen witchery to Alchemy.

I also took the time to get advanced degrees and certifications in Herbal Medicine, Reiki, Homeopathy, yoga, Nutrition, and Acupuncture.  Because of all this, I’ve been able to heal so many others.  One of my aunts was a Cajun Traiteur (treater, healer). So, I guess it was only natural that I was drawn to natural and spiritual healing. And, of course, there’s the whole healing of the birds thing.

For years I have practiced in private, honing my skills, never really discussing my beliefs with anyone. I even taught catholic religious education for four years, while doing research for my upcoming novel. Yeah, I did that. I also helped to build a successful real estate brokerage with my husband. And, I built my own thriving health and fitness business, with a blog, specialty cookbooks and a fitness book for those with autoimmune disease.  I’ve experienced loss and even my own health challenges. 

Now, as I approach my fiftieth year in this lifetime, and teeter on the edge of the stage of crone,  I no longer wish to hide in the shadows. There’s even a name for witches like me now, an eclectic witch. I have to say, I do like the sound of it.  I believe it’s my duty to pass on my Magick to other witches, who may be interested.  The most important thing I can teach any witch is to never be afraid to mix different traditions. Never, ever let anyone tell you your path, magick, or belief system is wrong. If it works for you, do it. Above all, never stop studying and learning new ways of practicing.

Today, I mostly practice Alchemy magick. Working with angels and demons feels most comfortable for me. It’s more of the tradition I was taught as a child. Almost daily, I perform some kind of kitchen and/or herbal witchery. On Wiccan sabbaths, I always pay respect in ritual form. My altar is a reflection of my Wiccan, voodoo and Cajun folk magic history. Alongside my pentagrams, I have my Spanish moss, gris gris bags, and a chicken foot. I have mixed many traditions and magickal systems, with great success.  I know you can too.

Over the next few months, I plan to feverishly add new information to my blog. It will contain everything from witchy recipes, to spells, to where to source the best goods for your witchcraft. I’ll also be adding some short stories that give a peek into some hidden witches lives. By writing these stories in the fiction genre, I can allow them to continue their traditions without disturbance. But, you, the reader, will know when you are in the presence of one of these glorious witches.

I would love to know more about you as well. You can freely comment on any of my posts or pages. Or, if you prefer, you can always find me on Instagram

Blessed be to all!

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