In the spring of 1974, Lady Lathina, her official witch name, entered a house in Bakersfield, Calif. and met her first witches' coven.
"I was 27, separated with two children and working as a waitress in a bar and grill, when one day I answered a personal ad and called a phone number in order to find out the truth about witchcraft. I received information in the mail and went to a meeting.
"I was scared to death because I didn't know what it was," Lathina said.
Although Lathina had a happy childhood in Bakersfield, she said she grew up feeling a "hollow pit of loneliness" inside herself and was unable to find what she desired in the many Christian religions she studied until she discovered Wicca (or what she calls Craft of the Wise).
"I always felt different, like there was a void, or something missing inside of me," said Lathina, with tears in her eyes. "I studied with a great many different Christian religions, but they weren't completely right. As I sat and listened to the meeting, for the first time in my life I found home."
Lathina said Wicca is a serious goddess religion which believes in a female creator and offers believers a way to worship their goddess. All believers of Wicca worship the goddess, but not all are witches, and some worship more than one god.
"For me it goes back to when I started an early identification with the female aspect of God, and an early identification with a woman entity," she said.
After the meeting, Lathina began studying with the coven, The Georgians. She learned healing and other rituals, the uses of herbs, reincarnation, the affect of colors on people and read extensively on witchcraft. "The main thing they told me to do was to question everything within myself, and even everything they told me," Lathina said. "We were taught not to manipulate and control others. The witch's motto is "Do as thy will as long as you harm no other.' " Recently, high priestess Lathina received the status of "Crone," which means she is welcome in any coven through out the country. She said although she does not have a coven of her own in Oklahoma, her crone status is equal to being a minister in a Christian church. Crones in Wicca are treated with a "revered mother image."
"There is one ultimate source," Lathina said. "It is neither male or female, but both. The gods are known by many names, the "Earth mother" and the "Sky father." It depends on what culture your from and what time period. Wicca is older than Christianity."
Lathina said Wicca is recognized as a legal religion and she is recognized as a minister in California, but not in Oklahoma.
"I am a minister of the Covenant of the Goddess. Wicca is a legal religion, but we can't go to the park and worship the Goddess, because we'd be run off," she said. "The reason I don't go public is fear. I don't like physical pain.
"Most of my friends are Christians, they know I'm a witch and they see me as love. They don't see me as a threat and as evil, but those who don't know me might. If they knew I was a witch, they might stand back and condemn me."
Lathina said witches are not allowed to charge for healings or for lessons to other witches. She said some witches use magic, like rituals, crystals for focus of energy or read psychic tarot cards to reveal the future.
"In Wicca, there is magic performed. It is using the natural forces in nature to bring about change. If they try to manipulate or control someone else's will, then they are not going by the witches laws." BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 325266