“Lofgren and her partner, Cynthia Shea of Niantic, had just returned from Slidell, La., where they spent two weeks with the Red Cross aiding hurricane victims. For Lofgren, her experience was a manifestation of her spiritual beliefs as a Wiccan.”
By JULIE WERNAU
Published on 10/21/2005
Groton – It’s hard not to offend people when you’re a lesbian witch. But Sheryl Lofgren pays no mind when people ask if she eats toads; she just lives her life.
“I don’t kill any bugs. I don’t even kill mosquitoes. I don’t kill anything,” Lofgren sighed as she flitted about, tweaking Halloween decorations in her Groton condominium.
Pointy-hat witches and broomsticks hang in Lofgren’s house like any other Halloween-abiding citizen, but a plaque near her kitchen, Lofgren explained, is what Wicca is really about.
She recited from memory:
“Abide the Wiccan law ye must,
in perfect love and perfect trust
eight words the wiccan rede fulfill
‘an’ it harm none, do what ye will
And ever mind the rule of three;
what ye send out comes back to thee
follow this with mind and heart
and merry ye meet, and merry ye part.”
Lofgren and her partner, Cynthia Shea of Niantic, had just returned from Slidell, La., where they spent two weeks with the Red Cross aiding hurricane victims. For Lofgren, her experience was a manifestation of her spiritual beliefs as a Wiccan.
“I am not a religious person, but I am a very spiritual person. And I think that’s what makes me want to go do something like going to Louisiana,” she said.
Lofgren is technically a Dianic Wiccan, meaning her spirituality focuses mainly on goddess worship with other women. But she also belongs to the welcoming community at All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church in New London, where all faiths meet to find common ground.
“They say (Wicca) is passed down from mothers to daughters,” Lofgren said, explaining that most of her beliefs center on helping others and promoting and practicing a profound respect for the earth, which Lofgren considers a mother.
Lofgren does not use chemicals in her home. She believes in using organic products and practices Reiki, or energy-healing.
“We’re destroying ourselves by the global warming and everything else,” Lofgren said, citing an article she read in the New York Times.
Although many traditions in Christianity find their roots in ancient religions like Wicca, Lofgren said, there was a time when thousands of women and men were killed for real or imagined witchcraft or wizardry.
“The church massacred thousands and thousands of people, men and women,” Lofrgen said.
On Halloween, pagans celebrate Samhain, which marks the New Year and is a time for remembering the dead and honoring the Crone Goddess. Lofgren believes that it is at Samhain that the veil between this world and the world of the dead is thinnest.
“It’s kind of magical,” she said. “It’s not a bad magic, though.”
Each year on Samhain night, Lofgren leaves a bowl of milk on her windowsill for lost souls wandering in the night. This year will be an especially important Samhain, as Lofgren recalls the devastation she encountered in Louisiana.
In their travels, Shea and Lofgren saw caskets pulled from their graves, senior citizens covered in black mold from their flooded homes, and devastation they’d only imagined. While they were there, Hurricane Rita barreled through in Katrina’s wake.
“The people we saw were human beings, just; they’re souls. You know, we’re all souls. That’s why I don’t even kill animals,” Lofgren said, her eyes welling with tears.
Lofgren and Shea volunteered on Lake Pontchartrain, about 30 minutes outside New Orleans, in a school-turned-shelter, where 500 people slept 2 feet apart.
“Babies, infants, black, white; it didn’t matter,” Lofgren said.
In Louisiana, the women slept in the school’s science lab, with 30 volunteers from all over the country.
Shea said while she is not a Wiccan, she is proud of Lofgren’s beliefs. She said traveling to Louisiana was the best decision of her life.
“I think people have preconceived ideas about (Wicca),” Shea said, “… but if you practice the principles, you’re leading a great life.”