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  • Writer's pictureCasey Giovinco

Are Your Roads All Crossed Up?

Are you a Gay man?

Are you looking for an initiatory tradition of Witchcraft that will allow you to connect with other like-minded Gay men?

Does it sometimes feel like all roads to that possibility are closed to you?

If so, come sit by me, and let's just shoot the shit as two magical Gay men for a moment. Allow me to give you a sneak peek behind the curtain into Gala. You just might find that our brand of witchcraft is exactly what you've been longing for.


The Need For Long-Distance Training

When I started Gala Witchcraft, I knew that long-distance training would have to be part of the deal. An initiatory tradition of Witchcraft specifically for cisgender Gay men would necessarily be quite niche in its scope. First, both witches and Gay men are a small percentage of the overarching population, and Gay male witches are an even smaller subset of both of those demographics. Second, finding Gay male witches who wanted to initiate into a traditional system of Witchcraft (instead of a more eclectic style of magic) would be an even smaller subset of that population. There was just no way that I would be able to require in-person training.

As a social person who got so much benefit out of my own coven training, I really struggled with the idea of teaching students long-distance at first. I felt like I was depriving them of the "real experience." I wasn't even sure that I could effectively teach them the material without being in the same room. I mean how could I be sure that they would actually be doing "the magic in the magic" and not just going through the motions if I wasn't there with them to guide them? It really did plague my mind for quite a while, but, as usually happens, the gods had their designs and nothing was going to stand in the way of progress.

Students started beating down my metaphorical door, seeking training, and they didn't care that it was long-distance. They just wanted the wisdom and the practice. Some of them even made really excellent cases for why they needed to be taught long-distance instead of in-person. One student lived in Mississippi, and the nearest Gay man to him was 2 hours away. If he had to wait for in-person training, he'd never be able to learn. I couldn't argue with his wisdom. Not all Gay men live in cities or have the privilege of being in an area with an active Gay community. In fact, many Pagans or Gay male witches actively eschew the cities.

If I weren't willing to train long-distance, how did I expect to help the Gays who live in the country?


My Solution

As Judy Harrow says in her book Wicca Covens, "You can count on your covenmates to be there for long haul, and this is very important. Covens nurture the spiritual and magical growth of their members, and this cannot be done in a session or two." Her wisdom deeply reflected my own experience. I felt like I had come home to the witches in the coven where I was initiated, and I wanted to give that same feeling to Gay men who trained with me, whether they trained long-distance or locally. I just wasn't sure that I could do it at first.

The idea of long-distance training felt so impersonal, so removed, and, to be honest, humanizing it did take some deep reflection and careful planning on my part, but, eventually, with the help of my elders and the patience of my first group of seekers, I eventually stumbled upon a method that worked well for everyone involved.

Using a combination of all the tools at our disposal (communications platforms like zoom to teach material, one-on-one telephone calls, in-person visits, and more), I was able to make the experience of long-distance training feel just as intimate as local training. I generally met with each seeker once a week, and we had personal calls where I focused exclusively on them–going into more depth on the material taught each week, answering their questions, and just catching up on the events of their lives. I even texted back and forth with students in-between calls to keep us engaged with each other. In fact, more than one student trained this way has made the comment that they forgot that there was so much geographic distance between us. Honestly, that was probably the biggest compliment they could have given me.

In addition to all those methods, I also asked that students (regardless of where they lived) be willing to travel to me once a year for a week of in-person training and celebration. As Gala Witchcraft grew from a coven into a tradition, we began calling that yearly gathering "Grand Coven," and it has evolved into a celebration of the bonds of companionship between Gala witches, regardless of whether they are in a coven or choose to work in a more solitary capacity.

One of the quintessential memories that exemplifies the energy and spirit of Grand Coven for me is that time when a long-distance student, Afolabi, and I "sheet caked" each other. As you can see from the pictures below, his remote training really didn't impact our ability to love and trust each other at all.



The idea for this actually came out of a joke the night before at dinner. Tina Fey had just gone on SNL and responded to the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rallies with her hysterical sheet caking skit, and, of course, it was all any of us could talk about once it was brought up.

Naturally, some of the more theatrical witches, started to ham it up a bit, and soon we were finding double meanings and creating inside jokes all over the place, as we are often wont to do. One witch suggested that maybe some of us, who were a little more salty than we ought to be, should actively take Tina's advice and vent our frustrations out on a sheet cake. So … we did!


If you haven't seen Tina's skit, it's worth watching. Check this out:


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Let's work together.

Casey Giovinco is a public witch, Chief Elder of Gala Witchcraft, and the CEO of Gala's federally-recognized church.

 

Casey has worked tirelessly to empower Gay male witches to reclaim their history and restore their rightful place as magical workers. 

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