From a writing prompt by Mat Auryn.
My very first witchy book as a child was Gobbolino the witch’s cat and somehow I instinctively knew that witches were nice.
I went to the leaving party of my primary school dressed as a witch (I had somehow — incorrectly as it turned out — got the idea that it was a fancy dress party).
It was about this time that I read the Noggin the Nog books, which got me interested in Norse mythology.
In the second year of middle school, I was introduced to the books of Cynthia Harnett, and one of them, The Writing on the Hearth, had a witch in it who was a herbalist and healer (further confirming my view that witches are nice). I think this book was also where I first learned about heraldry.
Very early on, I had a recurring dream of a magical being, maybe a god, who lived underground. Gwyn ap Nudd maybe? Or Odinn?
Then aged 12, I started trying to talk to trees after I read the Narnia books. And then I discovered Puck of Pook’s Hill. (My Mum read it and said she understood why I’m a Pagan after reading it.) I especially love the characters of Parnesius and Pertinax.
I also remember my excitement on looking at the stars — especially Orion and Cassiopeia — and the Moon. And loving silver and cats, both of which I see as witchy.
I have loved Nature, especially flowers, since I was a child. I also developed a love of burial mounds very early on in life.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit was also really important as the first place I learned about runes; and The Lord of the Rings gave me a yearning for elven things. I loved the creation myth in The Silmarillion and thought it was better written than the one in the Bible.
Honourable mention also goes to Midnight is a Place by Nina Bawden, and Thursday’s Child by Noel Streatfeild. I can’t remember much about Midnight is a Place but it introduced me to the fact that there were once wolves in England and that the last one was killed in 1775 (so it gave me ecological awareness); and Thursday’s Child got me interested in herbs and folklore. Oh and Elidor by Alan Garner (very magical).
I think the short stories of Saki had a big hand in me turning out Pagan and witchy, too. Not only the overtly Pagan stories like The Music on the Hill, or Sredni Vashtar, or The Bees of St Vespaluus, but also the less obvious ones like Tobermory, The Mappined Life, and The Lumber Room.
But most of all, having been introduced to the underlying values of Paganism through reading Kipling and Ursula Le Guin, I realized I am a Pagan not long (about six months) after my best friend came out as gay, because I wanted a religion that wouldn’t deny and repress his sexuality.
In my last year of university, someone had the excellent idea of forming an occult society, and it was through a friend of mine who also joined that I met my very first Wiccan, who then referred me to the coven that eventually initiated me.
I still talk to trees, read loads of books, and get nerdy about history and folklore. So thank you, formative childhood reading, and the authors who created these magical worlds. It’s hard to separate my witchiness from my Paganism, so I suppose that’s why polytheist and inclusive Wicca works so nicely for me, being witchy and Pagan and polytheist and queer.