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Gypsy woman playing the violin

[Read part i first]

I left home permanently at age nineteen, though I’d lived away from home a couple of times before that.

Summary of a teenager

Some of the experiences of my teen years have been documented on this blog already, with more to come (see Timeline for a list of related posts).

If ya don’t have the time/inclination to read them, suffice to say I was a pretty unhappy, wounded and messed up kid. And read the summary below…

Before I turned twenty-one I’d already clocked up two different addresses. And then came my move to Sydney. Why was that again? Oh yeah…

Moving out of the family home wasn’t far enough away from my emotionally and physically abusive older brother. He could still turn me to ashes with one of his laser-like hate and anger filled glances, directed solely at me. Even though he couldn’t hit me any more, his hatred still cut deeply.

Then, I hadn’t finished high school properly and I dropped out of repeating my final year. Shortly thereafter I wound up working as a topless waitress and a stripper.

I also performed in all kinds of theatre productions (I’d been acting since my early teen years) and working as a waitress earning just enough money to make rent with a little to spare.

Somewhere in there I’d gotten into the party drug scene rather significantly, and at the time of my move still had a few years to go before I gave it up.

Wandering gypsy

I also couldn’t feel or see a future for myself in Melbourne. What I really wanted to do was go overseas, but I didn’t have enough money for that, and living away from home, I was having trouble saving anything.

Unsettled and flighty, I had no idea what to do with my life (I still struggle with that!).

However, I was auditioning for two famous drama schools (VCA in Melbourne & NIDA in Sydney). I already realised that if I got into NIDA, I’d be moving interstate. My next thought was: What if I don’t get in? What will I do then?

Speedily, I decided if that happened, I’d go to Sydney anyway. That decision brought sunshine and possessing possibilities to my world…

What happened next was, I auditioned and almost got in to NIDA, but didn’t make the final cut (and bombed the VCA audition). Disappointing as it was, I was excited about moving to Sydney!

I decided I’d try to get into NIDA again the following year, and in the meanwhile I’d study at the prestigious Actor’s Center in Sydney. That was the plan.

So I packed my meagre belongings, bought a plane ticket and landed in a brand new town – one that felt like home from the moment I arrived.

Pagan leanings

It’s fair to say I was fascinated by magic and witchcraft etc before I ever knew what they were. Like there was some kind of electric pulse that bleeped whenever I thought about such things.

And so, around six months after moving to Sydney and through a series of very strange events (a tale for another time perhaps… in which I ended up having a fling – twice – with a supposedly gay man), I was living at my third Sydney address in lovely inner city Newtown.

Back then, Newtown was still very gritty, artsy. Yuppies hadn’t discovered it yet and the vibe was all hippy/uni student-ish which suited me perfectly.

I spent half of my Sydney life there and I’ll always love that place passionately.

It was the launching pad for my career as a bellydancer, where I took my first ever yoga class, met my ex-fiancé, and began my spiritual quest in earnest – and much more.

So yes, I’d once again begun thinking about my interest in paganish things.

Only problem was I had no idea where to start. So… what does a girl do in the very early 90’s before the internet was widespread?

Picked up the Yellow Pages (print book) of course! I laugh about that now, but it seemed so logical at the time. Hey, perhaps I can find witches in the Yellow Pages!!

And it was Halloween.

I don’t remember what I looked up exactly. But I think I called the Sydney Psychic’s Hotline. Some kinda hotline anyway.

Spoke to this lovely man, who kind of freaked out when I told him what I wanted (I was still unsure of the labels).

Oh, you want to know about witchcraft? Paganism? Just so we’re clear, we don’t do any of that stuff HERE. But I can put you in touch with someone who does.

That was my introduction to T – a darkly witchy type, all dressed in black with his redwood bookshelves, better stocked than many a new age store. We met at his place (a short walk from mine), and discussed all things magical over a pot of tea. It was a tantalising sampler.

He also told me about a weekly event called “Pagans in the Pub”.

Yessiree… you read it correctly. Coz it was a group of Pagans getting together in a Pub. Get it?? Yukyukyuk!! And, tantalisingly, only two short blocks from where I lived at the time…

Even better, the next event was coming up that week. I was going and I’d meet up with T there. I couldn’t believe my luck!!

[Read part iii]

~ Svasti