Glenda Bartel along with her best friend Melissa Collingham opened up the Livingston County Spiritual Center (LCSC), an alternative and holistic health service, to educate, inspire, and heal others.
The two provide services such as Reiki attunement, tarot and medium readings, and chakra and aura healing. They also teach classes and host workshops at the center.
One of the classes is Wicca 101.
According to Thea Sabin in her book “Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice” Wicca is an evolving religion and a Wiccan is a person who has either formally or ritually declared themselves a Wiccan or simply is following the Wiccan religion/spiritual path.
Bartel is a medium/clairvoyant and though she no longer follows Wicca religion she still identifies as a witch and enjoys educating others about Wicca.
“I wanted to share my knowledge with people, because I know what it did for me,” Bartel said. “So why can’t this be for other people?”
Bartel said she first realized she was a medium when she predicted her grandmother’s death when she was 12 years old. At age 14 she saw her great-grandmother’s spirit, an encounter she described as “bloody frightening.”
As for being a witch, Bartel said she didn’t really know anything about Wicca until she was 22 years old.
“I noticed how sensitive I was with the moon phases,” Bartel said. “I paid attention. But I’m also a triple Scorpio.”
Howell resident Faye Sweeny attended the Wicca class to learn about the religion and satisfy her curiosity.
“It may sound selfish, but to get a better understanding of myself. What am I doing here, where am I going, what’s my purpose,” Faye said. “I think this will help.”
Bartel believes Wicca is a great stepping stone for spirituality.
“It gets you in tune with Earth,” Bartel said. “It gets you in tune with the elements, it gets you in tune with the universe. It makes you respect all living things. These are essential things to know and learn on any spiritual path, not just Wicca.”
Two years ago Bartel decided to stop following Wicca and explore other religions and her own spirituality. Wicca is still a fundamental part of her though due to her being a witch.
“I was looking for spiritual awakening, spiritual enlightenment,” Bartel said. “And that takes a lot of work outside of Wicca. And because it is a religion you do have things that you have to follow.”
The religion of Wicca is based on a simple moral code called the Wiccan Rede “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”
According to Sabin’s book, the earliest church documents mentioning witchcraft is in the “Canon Episcopi” which could date as early as 906 AD. “The Canon said, essentially, that witchcraft was an illusion that originated in dreams, and to believe in it was heresy, or against the teachings of the church,” Sabin said. So ensues the witch hunts and trials.
It wasn’t until about the 1950s that Wicca popularized. Followers began to make their own form of it and the faith made its way to The United States. Wicca made its way into popular witchcraft-based books and television shows, such as Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Popular media featuring witchcraft is still prevalent but strong stereotypes still exist such as Halloween dressing up as the ugly witch with the face warts or calling someone who is being nasty a witch.
When asked about stereotypes and what people think about her being a witch, Bartel had a quick and firm answer.
“I don’t base my life on other people’s opinion because that means they control my life, not me,” Bartel said. “And I’m not giving people that kind of power.”
The Livingston County Spiritual Center is located in Pinckney, Michigan but Bartel and Collingham plan to relocate. Updates can be found on their Facebook page at facebook.com/livingstoncountyspiritualcenter/.