Shay Skepevski is a 28-year-old witch residing in Sydney who’s about to release his first publication: Lunatik Witchcraft: Illuminating Your Underworld as a proud priest of Hekate. Every now and again I will read about people who have explored Wicca but choose to take on a new path of magick which is one of my many reasons for wanting to interview Shay. Shay’s path is primarily solitary and he also acts as a facilitator for the global coven Covenant of Hekate or CoH as that role of ‘torch-bearer’ is passed from member to member. As a man who likes to quote William Blake with “The path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” I happily introduce you to the very unique path of Shay...
Elspeth: What was the first book you read on the Craft?
Shay: I was a proud owner of various books on the "supernatural" as a young child. I held an interest in the history of Witchcraft and the Salem Witch Trials. I read books on Palmistry, Crystals, Ghosts and the afterlife, as well as my favourite illustrated stories from Classical Greek mythology. It wasn’t until I was a young teenager that I had read my very first book on Witchcraft that was written by someone from inside the community and living the ways. I discovered the work of Silver RavenWolf, specifically her book 'To Ride a Silver Broomstick". Although my practice today has moved much away from traditional Wiccan teaching, I still believe that book, and much of Ravenwolfs books I read at the time, have given me a strong spiritual foundation to build up and grow upon.
E: How and why did you move away from traditional Wiccan teaching?
S: I guess in a big way I feel like I have not so much left Wicca, but rather transcended it. Wicca, for me, became a brilliant formula or map of sorts which I could neatly place my unique beliefs and spiritual views upon. As time went on, as I further explored numerous other pagan and occult paths, from the Hellenic Eleusinian Mysteries and Dionysian Shamanism, to Mysticism, Theurgy and even Psychology - my view on the world and of myself transformed greatly. I speak further about this in the introduction to my book. I used Wicca as a tool to my becoming, but it is no longer all that I am, and if I were to identify, I would be an Hekatean Priest, Mystic and Witch walking an ecstatic path, as opposed to one of fertility.
E: How did you form your relationship with Hekate?
When I initiated my relationship with The Goddess at the age of 14, like many, I began working with a variety of deities from numerous pantheons, moving around from goddess to goddess in accordance to my desire at the time. As I continued along my spiritual journey, gradually I began to notice if I were ever in danger; in times of desperation, crisis and great sadness... more and more I would instinctively and intuitively call out to Hekate and Hekate alone... She became an authority and a mother figure for me. In my eyes, She conferred upon me all these great blessings. I would start having visions, signs, and inspiring dreams initiated by the goddess. It was a gradual thing for me, and then at the age of 18 I had finally accepted Her into being what it was that She wanted to be for me...and I guess, looking at it now, She is exactly where I want to go as a Witch. The aspects of magick and the universe that She is intimately associated with, I want to go towards those places... She has become my spiritual ideal... a divine consciousness to attain. It is Hekate alone who holds my deepest devotions and quenches my spiritual thirst.
E: Tell us about your book
S: Ultimately it is a book sharing my personal journey and practices as a Witch, hoping to inspire other Seekers to see their world in a whole new way. I wrote it with the grand notion that within us we hold the infinite universe, and all the powers, worlds, and light within it. Dedicated to the Hekatean Devotee, 'Lunatik Witchcraft' has become not so much a book honouring the goddess Hekate, but rather a practice on becoming Hekate. I share ways we can use the unique mystery embodied by the triple torch-bearing goddess of the crossroads as a way to view our own soul and our power. The book includes practices held uniquely under Her guidance, such as rites of necromancy, blood magick, Theurgy, visionary work and prophecy, and the use of herbs and poisons in both magick and medicine.
E: How fascinating! How have you found the path of the male witch?
S: I have grown to believe that our physical gender doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all, at least, not on a spiritual level. The focus upon male and female I think has gotten a bit out of hand, if not to the point of sexism. I’m against anything which separates us. I have personally found that being a male Witch has neither been a help nor a hindrance to my path… Having said that, I have found it rather freeing as a gay man particularly. As a Witch, I not only honour myself as a man, but also as everything else. On the deepest level, we are the whole Universe. I am at once, male, female, neither, both, water, moon, fire and star… Witchcraft has taught me that my body, although sacred, does not necessarily have to entrap or limit my view of my soul, or my ability to venerate and assume the goddess, but rather, it initiates only the beginning of who I am and how I can view myself.
I honour my physical body and am proud of this vessel carrying me in this world, but I also am aware that my spirit, and my psyche (beyond the ego-face) is androgynous, omnipotent, both this and that and yet neither at the same time, both light and dark, strong and vulnerable… An ecstatic union of all things…
E: What criticisms may you have about the Craft right now within the general new age scene & how do you think your book challenges that?
S: As a book focused on the mysteries of the goddess Hekate, much of my approach is liminal, including and beyond the notion of polarity or “balance.” The so-called notion of “balance”, I feel, gets casually thrown around a lot without anyone really expressing any further as to what this really means. There seems to be a shame applied to someone who venerates only the goddess, or only the god or any other side of duality, as though they have somehow become sick and incomplete. My book teaches that we do not need any other to complete us, that within us is all things, and that our spiritual and psychic balance has nothing to do with being energetically neutral in our practice or opening up to all powers of polarity at every moment equally. Witchcraft Spirituality is about recognizing the things in this world that we find beauty and healing in. Things we can take power from. I have come to believe that to be balanced within yourself is to find the "powers" in this world that uniquely resonate with you and your individual spirit.
E: I really like that you’re emphasising that witches out there find their own individuality amongst the Craft and you’re really making me think more about my path aswell. Added to this: if you were able to give some really strong advice - particularly to those just starting out - what might that be?
S: Challenge everything! Never be content with yourself, keep pushing your mind and your spirit. In the end, everything you think you know is both truth and a lie. It’s how you decide to receive the wisdom that makes it your own. Don’t simply accept a so called “law” or belief blindly. Find the laws, beliefs, ethics and creeds that you inherently possess. You are your own truth. Spirituality isn’t about changing yourself to fit into a belief system or way of being, but rather, revealing and becoming aware of what is naturally within you, and then applying that knowledge towards self-empowerment.
E: What is exciting you about the Craft at the moment?
S: It would be impossible to not have noticed the rise in Witches reclaiming Darkness again. It’s beautiful to see people unafraid to explore the things of the Universe, of nature, and of themselves which much of society would consider “scary” or forbidden. There is a courageous return to exploring the dark divine archetype, the chthonic Underworld and the mysteries of death and rebirth. The Shadows have become Sacred again, and with this, I feel, will come a greater awareness of our truth and our unique humanity.
In my book I hope to show an empowering link between Witchcraft spirituality and Psychology, as we explore both the chthonic Underworld of ancient Greece, and our own personal underworld: our unconscious. We will be confronting our Shadow Self for psychic evolution and initiating the awareness of a deeper immanent power, as opposed to a higher power. With a focus on Ecstatic rites to induce an altered trance-state of consciousness in order to facilitate this communication with our Unconscious, the exercises I offer are designed to be expressive, emotionally evocative, influential and psychologically transforming. On the deepest level, ‘Lunatik Witchcraft’ teaches reconnection, becoming the liminal bridge between self and divinity, between psyche and nature, devotee and deity. A rendering of the boundary between polarities and remembering again our unity and kinship with all things.
Lunatik Witchcraft: Illuminating Your Underworld is expected to be out on the shelves later this year so watch this space for updates!