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A Paganism Uniquely Yours

Join me as I interview Francesca De Grandis.

Francesca De Grandis—aka Outlaw Bunny—is the bestselling author of Be a Goddess! and founded The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition. She teaches a public version of Third Road through the written word, as well as an oathbound version through oral transmission. De Grandis describes herself as "a trickster who works for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Her websites are www.outlawbunny.com and www.stardrenched.com I interviewed Francesca about being yourself despite Pagan trends.

Arwen: Francesca, you wanted to talk with me about the downside of Pagan trends. Why?

Francesca: First, neither you nor I would deny that some trends are wonderful. And some are truly innovative. But I'm concerned about the proliferation of trends with dictates about what is "correct" Paganism and the "only right way" to do magic. I have strong feelings about this. Some trends, no matter how popular, can be so rigid that their adherents fiercely invalidate anyone unlike themselves, which can really mess with people new to the Pagan community ... or even oldtimers.

Arwen: Let's leave the issue of trends for a moment. I've known you since the '90s. When it comes to your personal Paganism, you've always had a strong independent streak. Would you talk about that a bit, trends aside?

Francesca: From the get-go, a lot of Pagans thought my particular approach was weird. I never understood why; my thoughts and methods make a lot of sense to me, LOL. I like who I am. Often, it's our strong points that people naysay. Being myself allowed me to be successful in my endeavors.

Arwen: Have you always been considered an oddball?

Francesca: Oh, yeah! I was raised in a conventional, straight-laced neighborhood. Everyone thought I was weird. I started leaving the neighborhood at age 14 to work as a musician in clubs. ... It was unusual for someone that young to get paying gigs in "grownup venues." But unusual and weird are not synonymous. ... Anyway, the music scene had a lot of eccentric individuals. I enjoyed it a lot more than the old neighborhood, but I also had a surprise: even a lot of eccentric people thought I was odd.

Luckily, there are always individuals, like you, to whom I make sense and who make sense to me. As a young writer, I wondered if anyone would ever understand what I was saying, since I'd had little luck being understood in the past. The funny thing was: my bestsellers are filled with my "odd" approach. The world apparently has lots of wonderful oddballs who relate to my work. It was humbling and beautiful to know I was not alone.

Arwen: Thanks! Why do you think some individuals manage to trust themselves no matter how much they're invalidated by other people?

Francesca: I think there are a lot of reasons. Being blessed with support by a good role model is one. In my case, there was an exception to the close-mindedness I grew up around. It was my mother. She was an oddball and stuck to her guns. Because of her, I can try to honor—and celebrate—exactly who I am. Then my so-called oddities become the traits that make me succeed.

Because I have not "toed the line," some people have responded cruelly, both in my childhood and later in life. Despite whatever struggles that caused, under it all was my mother's example of mysticism, courage, and joy. That kept me confident ... or at least confident enough to act according to my beliefs. Mom's example is still a mainstay for me.

What I admire about you, Arwen, is that you've seen a lot of Pagan trends come and go, and you just continue to evolve in whatever way you want, regardless of what's popular at the time.

Arwen: Thanks! I appreciate that, Francesca. How do you see Pagan trends affecting people honoring their own approaches?

Francesca: People often oversimplify in these trends. For example, you're either family tradition or you're not, you're either fairy magic or you're not, you're either Wicca or witchcraft. But, if you are a mystic trying to touch the core of reality and of magic, you find yourself living in subtleties that create paradoxes—supposed contradictions.

If you're that mystic, and are in a part of the Pagan community dominated by a trend that oversimplifies, the oversimplifications likely invalidate the subtleties I'm talking about, thereby invalidating your unique journey. To be deep into a beautiful, truly honest process, while everyone around you insists neither your hunger nor what feeds you is valid, is to have your essence trashed. It can tear you up inside. One reason I'm doing this interview is so people who've been hurt like that will know I support them, you support them. We celebrate their process.

My point is, and this also adds to my answer about how people can better accept themselves: the subtleties and paradoxes of your own special path evolve if you see the validity of your approach, so find people who support you to stay true to yourself!

Another suggestion about how to stick to your path is ... well, Arwen, I never see you online ranting in the angry debates some trends engender. You just go about your business, serving community. When we commit to helping others, it's much easier to stick to our guns; focused on service, we may not even notice the trends but, if we do, they don't have much power over us. I think the Gods shield us so we can keep serving.

Arwen: How does all this affect the Faerie shamanism classes you teach?

Francesca: The sort of people drawn to my classes don't buy into trendy dictates. They hope to create that sophisticated, insightful, personalized path I was just talking about, or they have already created it and want help taking it the next step. Even when I'm teaching basic magical skills, I try to do it in a way that helps individuality shine. I love watching my students notice and expand what is wonderfully unique about themselves. It's one of my favorite things to do! I love helping people find their special magical and mundane skills. If they already know their special skills, I help hone them. I get so much joy from teaching.

Arwen: Sounds like you guide wonderful people. Want to talk about them a little more?

Francesca: Yes! I'm grateful for the sort of individuals drawn to my classes. When teaching, I'm in the company of independent thinkers with beautiful spirits. In fact, speaking of some trends being good, a lot of my students are trailblazers in their own fields, whether as a celebrity chef, movie blogger, activist, or whatever; they do it so successfully that they get imitated by many of their colleagues. It's thrilling to work with my students.

Arwen: Thanks so much for this chat! Where can people find out more about your classes?

Francesca: Yes, thank you, it's nice to be in touch! My free newsletter announces upcoming events. Click here to go to subscribe.

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Professional Tarot conversationalist, Arwen Lynch has worked with Tarot as a vehicle for personal transformation since 1980. Her personal philosophy is that Tarot is best used to correct your life course. She is a published author (in romance, as Marilu Mann) as well as past president of the American Tarot Association (4/1/2007-4/1/2014). She specializes in helping people who are determined find their joy and writers who want to finish their book. She's an initiate of Wicca.


  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Saturday, 20 May 2017

    Arwen, thanks again for interviewing me. It's always a pleasure to work with you. Take good care of you, Francesca

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