My Mom in the News
My mother, Gretchen Faulk, sent me a note today that she’s been in both of the local Salt Lake City papers as a local pagan and witch in the last couple of weeks. As most of my friends know, my mother is a 20+ year veteran of paganism and has practiced for that entire time in Utah. She started her own church, the Order of Our Lady of Salt, years ago and they’ve met for monthly Goddess services open to the public ever since then.
The article in the Salt Lake Tribune is on Harry Potter (of course). It is up here.
Her section of it is as follows:
While the Rev. Gretchen Faulk, a Wiccan priestess, loves the books, she sees no connection between the fantastical potion making in Harry Potter and real witchcraft. But she acknowledges that Rowling did her research into folklore and witchcraft when mentioning potion ingredients. And in referencing people. Nicolas Flamel, the famed maker of the Sorcerer's Stone in the first Harry Potter novel, really did exist and was made famous for his work in alchemy. Animals and plants such as bubotubers and devil's snare don't exist anywhere outside the pages of Harry Potter, but many of the ingredients mentioned in the stories do. The medicinal, magical and seasonal use of herbs and plants has been around for hundreds of years and continues today. Wiccans often use herbs such as St. John's wort, which falls into all three categories. It is used to treat depression, it acts as a protective herb that is often woven into garlands to ward off negativity, and its yellow flower, which blooms near the summer solstice, associates it with the sun. Faulk is struck by how often Utahns use natural remedies and herbs in their day-to-day lives. "People here have a lot of respect for herbs," she said. "Pioneer knowledge here is preserved and respected." But she strongly cautions people to check with doctors and herbal reference guides before putting anything new and unusual in their bodies.
The other reference is from the Deseret News, which hides its linking so you have to search in the archives for “Paganism in Utah.” Here are some selections from the article where they quote my mother:
Misperceptions and fear cause many pagans to keep their choice of religion hidden, especially in the workplace, says Maureen Duffy-Boose, founder and president of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist pagans, a national pagan group. "Even in our culture in 2007, the normal cultural response is that pagans are weird," Duffy-Boose said. "I know people who have lost their children because of this religion. I know people that have lost jobs. I know one person who was actually evicted from her apartment." Prejudice occurs because pagans have been the subject of "1,000 years of negative propaganda," says Gretchen Faulk, founder of the Order of Our Lady of Salt, a pagan group in Salt Lake City. One woman, who asked not to be identified, says she lost her job as a public school teacher when it was discovered she was Wiccan. But Duffy-Boose and Faulk agree that such conflicts are rare, and most Utahns are respectful of pagans. When conflicts do occur, discussion usually leads to understanding, they say. [...] Duffy-Boose said many people seek a religion in which feminine deity play a significant role, and nearly all pagan religions honor both gods and goddesses. That desire led Faulk to create the Order of Our Lady of Salt nearly 12 years ago. She was raised Christian, but as an adult she lost interest in the notion of God the Father and was drawn more and more to the idea of female deity. Eventually she began to practice Wicca, which emphasizes the importance of both gods and goddesses. The Order of Our Lady of Salt holds monthly Goddess Worship Services that center on a specific goddess from one of the world's cultures. Faulk and her group have worshipped figures from Norse, Greek, Roman and Egyptian traditions, among many others. The group has also focused on revered female figures who aren't usually seen as deity, but who "function as goddesses," Faulk says. Mary Magdelene, the LDS Mother in Heaven and even Lady Liberty (the Statue of Liberty) have all been the subject of worship services.