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Newbie in the Circle
- By Jessica A. Hilt

"You’re finally in a place in your life where you think you can reach out and meet other pagans. But you either don’t know where to start or you’re scared witless – I mean, you could end up as some virgin sacrifice. Well, join Jessica’s adventures into the brave new world of the Cincinnati circle. You may get a good idea of what’s out there and what’s newbie friendly. Just Take a Deep Breath and Go for It."



sol·i·tar·y - adj.

1. Existing, living, or going without others; alone:

2. Having no companions; lonesome or lonely.

3. Practicing, studying, or learning magik alone.

A solitary practitioner. It doesn't matter if you've been a "solitary" for six years or six weeks, meeting new people can be hard. I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to try something new every full moon. It took me six full moons to work up enough nerve to seek out other people who might have similar ideas to my own. My first step was The SCHEDULE; a website dedicated to holistic and alternative classes for Cincinnati. On The SCHEDULE, I found a listing for a class at The Occult Shop in Price Hill. And this is where my first adventure begins….

The Occult Shop
3647 West 8th St.
Cincinnati, OH

I called the Occult Shop early Friday afternoon. Banshee, one of the owners of the Occult Shop, answered the phone. I explained to her that I had seen her listing in The SCHEDULE for the Tarot Card class that started at 7pm. She was excited about my interest and told me they always welcomed new people. She gave me directions and told me I was welcome to participate in the drumming circle afterwards.

It never fails, I got lost. I suck at directions, especially in the West Side of town.When I finally did get there, I snuck in and sat down. There was about ten people sitting in a circle. They ranged from the frat boy preppy to the very very strange. A tall dark-haired man was teaching the class. Later I learned his name was Michael. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring my own deck. They were learning about the major arcana.

The class explored the major arcana in an interesting way. By using the symbols on the cards as a trigger for the meaning, I found it was easy to remember what each card represented. This was an approach that was new to me and incredibly helpful. The class was definitely for beginners but it was never belittling. It was relaxed enough that I felt comfortable interrupting with questions but it was also informative. Michael was an excellent teacher and kept the class on track. I learned he teaches many of the classes at the Occult Shop and is quite the expert.

After the class was over, I met the owners of the shop, Banshee and Mojo. Everyone who attended the class was very warm and made me feel like part of the family but Mojo and Banshee did a particularly wonderful job.

Afterwards, they invited me to participate in their drumming circle where I continued to socialize with the class. More people joined the group for drumming that had not been there earlier. Not only did I enjoy the company of the crowd; I spent the evening and the early part of the next morning with them. They were a well-versed family that enjoyed my company and had no hesitation about bringing in someone from the outside.

Let me intervene with some personal thoughts now. There is good reason to be a little apprehensive about going to a new place. As a precaution, there are some definite reasons why I picked the Occult Shop as my first venture. For safety reasons, I picked some place that was an established place of business. It was in the phone book, it had a residence, and it had owners. Since this was the first time I was going to be visiting, I wanted to talk with someone there to get a feel for the kind of attitude I might encounter. Banshee was receptive and encouraging to me being a newcomer. This is important because I didn't want to end up there and realize this was a close group of friends who weren't accepting to new blood in the mix. I also went alone. I am not recommending this but I feel more comfortable going alone because I can leave at the first inkling of being uncomfortable. These are just a few things you need to keep in mind when you plan your own adventures.


Bio: Jessica A. Hilt is a seeker. Happily she has explored paganism alone since 1994 and hopes to never stop learning. Raised in the conservative Cincinnati area, she aspires to bring new awareness to groups that don't necessary fit the cultural mold. She attends the University of Cincinnati and her dream is write and teach (in that order). You can E-mail Jessica Hilt HERE

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