Interviews with Pagans: Beolach

Now, this guy’s an absolute CRACKER. When you run into him on forums he’s sharp as a tack, yet he’s fairly young — and he demolishes the stereotype of slack-jawed uncritical pagans. We have more like him…


1. Name / username
Beolach Lasair

+ What does it mean?

It’s very botched Gaelic, roughly meaning a long living fire – Beo being in most Brythonic languages meaning life and living. Although because my knowledge of the language is so little, I might be a bit off – but it fits, and I like it. I did find it a few years ago, and it just stuck.

2. What age are you and where do you live?

I’m 18 years old, living in Uxbridge. Before that I lived in Cardiff for the past 18 years of my life.

3. How would you describe your spiritual path?

I’m a polytheistic Pagan, with I suppose a small dash of Hellenic belief because of my personal experiences; the practice and worship of which is still evolving.

4. How did you get involved with this path? What’s your “history”? How did your personal background influence this?

I first became involved with Paganism when a friend of mine approached me. She was very interested in Wicca, mainly because a boy she fancied was as well. But, sensibly, she wanted to read and find out as much as she could, and wanted me as an outside point of view – Devil’s advocate if you will. So during this process, she decided it was silly, and something sparked in me. And I didn’t look back; that was five and a half years ago. Since then I did the fluffy thing, but avoided the Pagan scene and forums like a plague – I didn’t want to be embroiled in something I didn’t understand for one thing, and I was also afraid of being seen as too young and scorned at. Over time as my reading expanded from the books you get at the bookshops in town to other avenues, and then two years ago I had a very powerful and changing experience, which set me on the path I am on now and is also where the Hellenic beliefs come in, and the polytheism.

5. Have you always felt the same way about your spirituality, or have there been changes? If so, when, and how?

As I said, two years ago there was a very large change in my spirituality, before then I was very, well, fluffy. I’m not ashamed of it. It was when my reading had expanded, I was looking beyond the confines of “Wicca 101” books and spent a lot of time down at a local park in the nights, and on one night I had this experience with a deity, and changed everything. It’s that point that I became more at home with my spirituality, and where I realised that I wanted to absorb as much of it as I possibly could.

6. Have you ever been physically attacked or discriminated against because of being a pagan?

No, never.

7. Has anyone ever made assumptions about you (good or bad) because of being a pagan? What were they?

I had the odd devil worship comment, but after a quick three minute rant from me they changed their minds soon enough!


8. What do you do for a living? Is there any conflict between your work life and your spirituality?

I am a student reading Law, and find no conflict. I’m not sure if afterwards in a legal career I will find conflict; the risk of becoming a suit is ever present in my mind, but hopefully it’s a fate that’s avoidable!

9. What are your hobbies and interests?

As you may guess from being Web Team {of Pagan Network, a well known and reputable pagan forum}, I’m very much a computer person. As well as this, I enjoy taking walks in any direction, without purpose, and I’m a big music person. I play the piano, and sing sometimes. Pieces from musicals are currently my favourite things to play, they just have so much emotion that it really equates to me; everytime I play the piano I feel very connected to the music and feeling coming out in the notes.

10. What about your family and friends? Are they of similar spiritual paths to you, or are there differences?

My family are staunch Roman Catholics, though they love me anyway! My friends are generally all from very different backgrounds; Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian, Pagan, Jewish, and all these differences make for very interesting discussions round the breakfast table sometimes!

11. How would you rate the importance of the following aspects of your life? (Use percentages, total equally 100%)
• Time with family
• Time with partner(s)
• Time with friends
• Spiritual time alone
• Spiritual time with others
• Your work, career, or time in education (if a student)
• Hobbies and pastimes
• Other (please describe)

I don’t think there are enough percentages to be honest; I’ve thought about this question for about ten minutes and just couldn’t think of how to answer, since the importance I place varies so much. Generally, time with family, partner and spiritual time alone are up there at the top.


12. Do you believe in the existence of a ‘deity’? If so, have you ever had any divine experiences?

I believe in the existence of many, I worship two specifically. I’ve had experiences in the past with these divinities, as I said above, and that’s what shaped my path. I believe that they’re up there, but they aren’t necessarily the benevolent love and light that so many would wish them to be!

13. Do you believe in the existence of ‘spirits’ – human or non-human? Have you ever had any experiences of ‘spirit’?

I do, I believe in spirits both human and non-human. I have, however, had no experience of them. There’s just something that says they’re going to be floating around somewhere!

14. Do you believe in the existence of magic? As a believer, how would you explain it?

The existence of magic to me is very much a practice of skill, which can be wielded by the experienced and the knowledgeable, and essentially those skilled in it, but to those who aren’t experienced, or skilled (whether through training or by some sort of gift) magic will seem to either be pointless, or even not real. I believe that magic is the practice of using the mind to ‘bend’ the world around us to create some form of change, and how that bending takes place varies, but somehow it finds a way, but again, to those not skilled, it would be like someone who can’t do DIY trying to put up a desk, a disaster!

15. Do you practice your spirituality alone, in a group, or both? Was this a deliberate decision or a necessity?

Alone mainly. I have practiced in a group before, however I found it stifling. So whereas previously my isolation was through circumstance, it is generally through choice now.

16. If you’ve done both, which do you prefer?

I’m not averse to group work, but I do prefer practicing alone.

17. Do you believe in the reality of curses? Would you ever do one? What types of spell would you include in your concept of a ‘curse’?

Yes, I certainly do believe in the reality of curses, however I don’t believe that I would do one, although I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been so incensed I’ve thought about pre-meditated cursing. My concept of a curse would be anything wishing ill on another.

18. Do you think the law of three-fold returns exists?

No. I believe that the only way Karmic laws could occur is by balance – eye for an eye, if you will. I think that the universe does balance itself, but it can’t balance itself by going three times the other way for a single imbalance on the other site.


19. What practices are regularly incorporated in your spiritual life? (E.g. meditation, prayer, ritual, magic, visualisations, trance work…)

I try every day to have at least a bit of meditation and prayer during the evenings, and ritual and visualisation I tend to keep up regularly at least once or twice a week, it’s just keeping myself disciplined enough to go through it. Trance work is usually quite dangerous for me, I’m hypnotised very easily!

+ Do you think having a catholic background has been a help or a hindrance in your practices?

I think it’s a help. When I was in a Catholic service I had a great sense of ritual, I loved it. I enjoyed watching the Eucharist being held by the priest, I loved the incense, and the chalices, and it still awes me when I watch it. I might not believe the intent behind it, but it is such a beautiful ritual that I can’t help but adore it.

20. What festivals, holy days, special occasions etc do you mark as part of your spirituality?

The main eight festivals – from Samhain all the way through to Mabon and so on. I never really recognised Mabon or Lughnassad on as large a scale as I do Samhain and Beltane say, mainly because I never felt that connection there, though recently it seems that Mabon onwards is my time of the year, when the good things happen, and the last two Imbolcs have been rather depressing, due to events occurring on or around them. So possibly I should start ignoring Imbolc just for my own sanity! Other than that, I try and mark the full and dark phases of the moon, but sometimes I do lapse – mainly because of time, the world is such a busy place I just don’t always have the time to focus as much as I would like to.

+ Wow! All of that and academic work too… how DO you find the time?

To be honest, I don’t. Either one or the other falls behind, usually academic work, but then I find a way to catch up so that’s fine. The festivals occur once in a specific period of time, whereas academic work I can catch up on any day of the week!

21. Have you ever done magic to get something and did it work?

No, I wouldn’t risk it. I tend to have such bad luck with such things that I wouldn’t go near it, and I think I want to leave myself fallow there until I feel ready to get into practicing magic.

22. Do you spend much time in nature, in the wild? Do you spend enough time out there?

I spend as much time as I can, but never enough. I sometimes go off into the wild, the fields, just on a random walk somewhere, and do that as much as I can. But again it’s the time – finding the time to get away between my studies and everything else that’s going on.

23. Do you think paganism works better in the country than in the city? Why?

I think it’s easier, but I don’t think it’s better. I do think it requires more effort to be able to focus without the smog, and the oppressive atmosphere, and the general noise and nuisance, but there’s no reason why you can’t – there is nature everywhere, and the Gods are everywhere, why would they all avoid the cities?


24. How do you define the term “Wiccan”? How do you feel about the idea that “Wiccans” are people who have been initiated into a lineaged Wiccan coven?

I define the term Wiccan as being someone who is, or has been, part of a Wiccan-lineage coven – i.e. one that came from Gardner and his group. I believe that Wicca should be kept in lineaged sense, but there’s nothing wrong with saying that you follow a Pagan path with “Wiccan influences” – that’s not saying you are Wiccan, it’s just saying that parts of Wiccan belief/practice influences your own belief and practice.

25. Is Wicca and paganism generally too “fluffy”?

As far as the books from the mainstream bookshops go, the media interpretation and so on, yes there is too much fluffiness. But looking beyond that, not at all. You get the fluffy people, I was incredibly fluffy a few years back, I’m sure a few here would say I still am probably! But people change and grow, and fluffiness generally doesn’t survive in general Pagan circles, and those who persist in it get bored and drop out over time. But then it comes down to a person’s definition of ‘fluffy’.

26. How involved are you with the Pagan ‘scene’? What are your views on the Pagan community –its strengths, weaknesses and any issues facing it?

I’m not very involved – I’ll go along to PN moots, and a few Moot With No Names. I think that the Pagan community is very political and bitchy, which to be quite honest isn’t what it should be. I would like to have that feeling of community spirit, that commonality that we all share at least something. I think that at times though it is a great place to share ideas and debates, and I’ve had some interesting discussions over a few pints at the Blue Posts.

27. Does British Traditional Witchcraft represent a real surviving ancient form of witchcraft pre-existing Gardnerian Wicca?

In a word, no.