Marin IJ Interview:
San Geronimo shamanic witch dispels stereotypes
You don’t have to be a shamanic witch-like Cerridwen Fallingstar to conjure up everyday magic — no potions or spells necessary. A dash and pinch of appreciation for the natural world can make magical things happen if you look for it.
That’s one of the lessons the longtime San Geronimo resident shares in “Broth from the Cauldron,” her upcoming memoir about how a girl who grew up in an agnostic home in Southern California goes down an empowering, spiritual path after interviewing Wiccan pioneer Zsuzsanna Budapest in the 1970s while working as a journalist. After studying with Budapest, she founded three covens and EarthRite, an organization that for 12 years offered public rituals in Northern California.
The 67-year-old has taught classes in magic and ritual for more than 30 years. Now, semi-retired, Fallingstar, who has a master’s in English literature from the University of California, Los Angeles, is focusing more of her time to writing.
Q What are some of the misconceptions people have about your work?
A In our culture, we often argue about who hurt us most: Hollywood or the Inquisition? Hollywood has certainly portrayed witches as being very malevolent and powerful women as being evil. We have seen that same dynamic play out in our elections, where, for instance, Bernie Sanders is seen as the good wizard who will rescue us. He’s Dumbledore. He’s Merlin. And yet, Hillary Clinton has no place to go but the Wicked Witch of the West. We don’t have anything comparable for how a powerful woman could come and save us. It permeates our culture, it’s not just witches who take the brunt of not being liked because we stand up and take our spiritual power.
Q You’ve referred to your year-long apprenticeship programs as “Hogwarts for Grown-ups.” How did the “Harry Potter” series influence your work?
A I would say J.K. Rowling did a tremendous favor for us. I think those books helped people to feel more curious, more open and more accepting. I did work at a local bookstore when they unveiled a new book at midnight. I came as a witch and read fortunes for kids. One time, these two brothers ran up and one was like, “Can you tell us about Defence Against the Dark Arts?” And his brother was like, “You dummy, she’s not that kind of a teacher.”