It’s a Witch’s World

giovinco2Casey Giovinco is a consulting hypnotist and a professional speaker who brings occult wisdom down to earth so that average people can utilize that wisdom to improve the quality of their lives. In 2011, Casey earned the status of Third Degree High Priest within Wicca. Over the past five years, he has been exploring the hidden history of gay men, uncovering gay mythology and folklore, which could be used to empower other gay men to reclaim their birthright as energy workers and healers. In 2013, Casey dedicated his first group of gay men into the online coven of Two Spirit Wicca, where he is currently training them to become Wiccan clergy.

JRK: Before we get into the interview can you tell us about Casey Giovinco — Where you are from, your background and all that good introductory stuff?

CG: I was born and raised in Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Reading. While my family was extremely accepting of my being gay, the rest of the community I grew up in was not. The bullying started in 5th grade, and it got so bad that by 8th grade I had to transfer to a small private school in another town. The aggression started with name-calling, but quickly progressed to other students punching and kicking me. I was thrown down stairs. One kid even hung me on a fence by my underwear. It wasn’t until 8th grade when I was in the new private school that the bullying got better. That was also the year that I joined the wrestling team, and because I was stronger, faster, and more flexible than the other boys in my school, I started winning matches left and right. Initially, that athletic success encouraged other boys to give me a break. Eventually, they realized that I wasn’t so bad, and they even began to like me. By the time I graduated high school, I was one of the most popular kids in my class.

JRK: Diversity Rules Magazine is all about highlighting people in our queer tent that are impacting society and helping to create a better understanding of those who are different. One aspect that attracted me to you was your Wiccan background. Can you tell readers about that and what attracted you to the Wiccan belief system?

CG: When I graduated from high school this is the time when I found witchcraft. The first book I ever read on the subject was “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver Ravenwolf. She made it seem so acceptable, not at all taboo, like it was something I could talk about with my family at dinner. At the time, I needed that. I needed to feel like who I was would be accepted. I didn’t need one more thing for people to use against me.

JRK: Being a gay male, how have you integrated your Wiccan beliefs into the very essence of who you are?

CG: As I dove deeper into my occult studies, I found that gay men were not only accepted but lovingly embraced in Wicca. That was certainly a surprise. Christianity always preached fire and brimstone, declaring that I was going to Hell. Wicca acknowledged my intrinsic value. How could I not fall in love with it?

JRK: You had mentioned you had started a gay male coven. Can you tell us what a coven is and how you came about starting your own?

CG: As time went by, I joined a coven, received my third degree elevation (which basically means that I became a priest of my religion, much like a Catholic priest is to his parish or a Protestant minister is to his or her congregation), and I began webweaving (a fun little Pagan term for networking) within the Magical Community. Unfortunately, I also began to see a very different side to Wicca, witchcraft, and the broader Pagan Scene.

Not every coven was accepting of gay men. Some groups actively refused gay men and women entry into their Circles. Other groups would allow gay men and women to join their Circles … but only if they would agree to work as part of a heterosexual couple while they were in Circle, which, honestly, was no better (to my mind).

For the longest time, I was disillusioned with my faith because of these realizations. I felt betrayed by it. As I talked to more and more gay men online about their experiences with traditional covens, that disillusionment began to turn bitter. I found myself at a crossroads. I could either allow this revelation to sully my opinion of my faith, or I could do something about it. I chose to do something about it.

So, I spent a few years studying the reasons why traditional covens turned away gay men and women, and, to my surprise, their reasons were not completely invalid. Unlike Christianity that just hated homosexuality for no rational reason, the traditional witch covens had a very well-thought-out reason for making the choices that they made. By and large, their dismissals were not moral or judgmental. They were imminently practical

Though it shares some similar elements (like developing a relationship with Deity), witchcraft is not like other religions. It is not solely about getting together for community and a shared spiritual belief. Witchcraft is an occult mystery tradition, which means that the witch is pursuing universal truths and attempting to elevate his or her own consciousness.

Witchcraft uses the libido to do a lot of that work. It is highly sexual at times. Covens need to be able to tap into the sexual energy of their members in order to create powerful magic together. Because covens are generally composed of a small, close-knit group of people who eventually become like family to each other, a gay man or woman thrown into the mix could cause complications that the coven was not prepared or qualified to deal with in the past. Imagine trying to build a relationship with a romantic partner who was not sexually interested in you, and you can get an idea of why I say these traditional covens were justified in making the choices that they made.

As research often does, this course of study gave me more questions than answers. I began to ask myself why we rarely (if ever) see a gay face to God. The Christian god is presumably a straight man. Jesus was supposedly interested in women. The Buddha. Even Pagan gods appeared to be straight. If my sexuality was acceptable, why were there no images or stories of gay male gods in any mythology I had been exposed to up to that point?

This one question ignited a fire in me that has yet to die down. Uncovering the hidden homosexuality of our gods has become a passion of mine. Many of the gods people are most familiar with were either completely gay or bisexual originally. For example, Hercules (the most virile archetype of masculinity we know of today) had more male lovers than he did female lovers. He was even said to wear a dress when he was in private with his consort. You never hear about that in school.

As I began to uncover the hidden lives of these gods, I asked myself why more witchcraft traditions didn’t embrace these stories. I asked why our religious ceremonies didn’t utilize the homosexual elements.

The plain and simple truth I came to was this: Witchcraft is highly personal. If it does not apply to the individual witch, it is probably not going to be expressed within his or her spiritual practice. Since most of the people who started the witch traditions were straight men and women, and since witchcraft has a fertility aspect to it, they naturally approached fertility from the straight perspective.

If I wanted to see the gay mythology expressed within my own spirituality, I would need to do the research and learn how to incorporate it effectively into witchcraft myself. This realization convinced me to reach out to other gay men who felt the same way and invite them to create a tradition that was unique to us, a tradition that embraced what it means to be a powerful gay man, a tradition that explained why gay men exist in the first place. Are we just Nature’s way of creating population control, or is there some deeper meaning to the gay man’s reason for existence? Stuff like that.

Eventually, I found a group of guys who wanted to explore this topic with me. We called ourselves Two Spirit Wicca, combining the Native American concept of what it meant to be an honored gay man with my training as a European-style witch. Because we were all across the country, I had to build the coven online initially. Aside from meeting every week through video chat, we also get together once a year in person. Initially, I trained them using the material I was given by my teacher. However, we have modified that material together so that it is more appropriate to the path of the gay man exploring the male mysteries, and we built something truly powerful that has enriched all of our lives.

For me, personally, our gay male coven and the work we have done has changed me dramatically. Before Two Spirit, I genuinely hated the gay community. I felt like nothing was more predatory. Gay men had been brutal to me. I was raped twice within the gay community. The first time, someone slipped something in my drink, and he gave me to his friend as a birthday present. After that experience, I contracted syphilis. The second time, someone else slipped something in my drink at a gay bar in Philadelphia, took me to a bathhouse, had his way with me, and left the door open so that the entire place could do what they wanted with me. The next morning, I went to the ER to get post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, and I was declined because I was already HIV+. I did not contract HIV from that second rape. The rape was simply the reason I found out about it. Today, after working with these guys in my coven for the past couple years, I am able to be grateful for the second rape. It really was a blessing in disguise. Without it, I might never have known that I was positive until I got sick. If nothing else, witchcraft has given me the mental and emotional strength to handle whatever this world throws at me.

Beyond that, though, I really do integrate witchcraft into everything I do. It becomes a part of you. As I said before, witchcraft is not like other religions. It does not allow you to just show up on Sunday, give an offering, and then go about your daily, mundane business until the following Sunday. Witchcraft is called the Path of the Wise. Witches seek knowledge. Once you know something, especially something profound (like a spiritual truth) it changes the way you think about everything else. For me, that knowledge has provided a self-confidence and a sense of comfort, joy, and contentment that enriches every aspect of my life.

You may have noticed that I have used the term “male mysteries” in connection to witchcraft. You asked me to talk a bit about the gay coven, so let me start there. For the past few decades, witchcraft has been enamored with the female mysteries. Witches delight in female power. (Even the image of the witch is primarily female. In truth, the title witch is unisex. It applies to both men and women within the Craft.) However, there is another side to witchcraft, and, unfortunately, that side is often neglected by most modern covens. The female mysteries are important, but they are only half of the whole. Witchcraft as a spiritual path is about balance, so, necessarily, it must also concern itself with the male mysteries.

Many gay men are turned off by Wicca (arguably the modern-day religion of witchcraft), because they feel that it is too highly focused on the feminine. To my mind, this is a shame, because no other religion, that I am aware of, values gay men as much as Wicca does. No other religion embraces us in quite the same way. Two Spirit focuses on embracing the gay male relationships between the Old Gods without loosing the appreciation of the Goddess that is the hallmark of Wicca.

JRK: What are some of the stereotypes of Wicca and those who practice it that should be dispelled?

CG: One of the most brutal stereotypes of witchcraft that truly needs to be dispelled is that witches are evil or that we worship Satan. We are not, and we do not. In truth, many of us really want no part of Christianity at all. Satan, like Jesus, is purely a Christian concept. As a gay male witch, I am decidedly not Christian. If I won’t accept their god or their judgment about homosexuality, if I don’t believe I’m going to Hell or that I’m a sinner, why would I be willing to embrace their devil–the source of that judgment and sin? The Christian god and the Devil are necessarily entwined. You cannot have one without the other.

JRK: In addition to being a practicing Wiccan, you also practice and specialize in hypnosis. What was your motivation to add “hypnotist” to your credentials?

CG: As for my hypnosis practice, I originally found hypnosis because of my HIV diagnosis. While I was handling all of the STIs that my rapist gave me that night at the bathhouse, I hired a consulting hypnotist (as opposed to a stage hypnotist) to help me get my mind under control. I did not want to be afraid of the disease, and, as a witch, I knew that if I could control my own thoughts, I could shape my reality. I spent two years working with a hypnotist, and, in that time, I experienced so many wonderful benefits from the experience that I sought out training in the National Guild of Hypnotists in order to help other people to experience those same benefits. In June of this year, I opened up my own hypnosis business where I consult with individual clients about issues ranging from weight loss and smoking cessation to past-life regression.

JRK: There are many misconceptions about hypnosis with the main one being that a hypnotist is going to make us do things we don’t want to do. That is not the intent and purpose of hypnosis at all really. What are some primary motivations to seek out a hypnotist?

CG: Many people fear going to see a hypnotist, because they believe that the hypnotist is going to make them do something that would either be embarrassing or that they don’t want to do. Hypnosis is not like that. In truth, hypnosis actually helps the client to be more in control of his or her life. You cannot avoid other people attempting to influence you. Some of them do so subtly. Others are more blatant, but everyone you interact with wants to influence you in one way or another. We have companies trying to influence on the television with their commercials. While driving, you see billboards along the roadside, trying to influence you. Your mom wants you to come home more often. She’s attempting to influence. Your partner wants this or that from you. He’s attempting to influence you. Your boss wants you to be better at this or that before he’ll consider giving you a promotion. He’s attempting to influence you. Every where you look, you are being influenced by people. By engaging a qualified consulting hypnotist, you can choose which suggestions and which influences you want to follow. You can program your mind to do what you want it to do, not what other people want you to do.

JRK: You seem to be a very intuitive person which is not surprising given your background. How do you use your intuition in your many pursuits and with the people you come in contact with?

CG: I’m at a loss to explain how I use my intuition in my life. It’s sort of like asking a fish to describe the water it swims in. It’s everywhere. When I go out in the world, I try to be open to people, to meet them where their at, and, 9 times out of 10, I have the most enjoyable experiences because of that level of openness.

JRK: Any final thoughts and words of wisdom you wish to impart?

CG: I’m not sure I have any real words of wisdom to give, but if I could leave you with one message that you can carry away from this article, it would be this: You are valuable. As a gay man, you have a long and honorable history of strength and power. In the Holocaust, gay men saved lives. In Ancient Greece, gay men held off armies. Before that, gay men were the premiere shamans of their tribes and communities. Do not allow our society’s current perspective to be the only one that influences you. It is only one opinion. You are not going to Hell, and you are not a sinner.

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