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Selena Fox - Written and compiled by George Knowles

Selena Fox is a Wiccan High Priestess, a Psychotherapist, Author and a Lecturer on Paganism, Wicca and other comtemporary Religions. She is the founder and co-director of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan Church and Nature Preserve set in 200 acres of land near Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. She is also a founding member of the Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) one of the oldest neo-pagan festivals in the United States held annually at Litha (Midsummer).

Selena was born on the 20th October 1949 in Arlington, Virginia, and raised in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist family. She claims to be descended from ancestors in England, Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany and other parts of Europe, some dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. She is also part Native American, descended from the Cherokee people.

As a child Selena grew up appreciating nature, often playing alone in the woods near her home. In time she was able to identify many of the plants and creatures she found, and developed a deep respect for all aspects of nature. By the time she had reached her early teens, she had begun to explore psychic phenomena and parapsychology. She also learned to read the Tarot cards.

While in ninth grade at high school, she was introduced to the study of ancient Greek and Roman religions, and comparing it to her own Baptist upbringing, saw at once the patriarchal nature of the Christian Church, their bias against female clergy and their prejudice toward other religions. Soon after, she stopped attending the Baptist Church, preferring instead to concentrate on her own spirituality outdoors where she could be at one with nature.

After leaving high school Selena attended the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, majoring in Psychology while at the same time maintaining her interest in Classics. She was also involved in student politics by organising Civil Rights rallies and attending peace vigils. In 1970 she helped organize celebrations for the first Earth Day parade. This was held at the Spring Equinox on the 21st March 1970 and is now an annual International event.

During summer vacations from College, Selena did temporary work in the office of the Army’s Chief of Staff at the Pentagon. She considered working at the Pentagon her own contribution to serving the country, more so as many of her ancestors and family members had served in government roles before her. In conflict with her social reform work, Selena claims not to be anti-government, but believes that only by working from within the governments can needed reforms be made.

While majoring in Psychology, Selena continued her interest in Classical studies and was made President of Eta Sigma Phi the college Classics honours Society. She was also made President of the non-academic Classics Club, which was open to anyone regardless of academic achievement. In her last year at college she staged a re-enactment of the ancient Greek and Roman Rite of Spring ritual, which was held outdoors in the centre of the college campus.

Selena graduated from William & Mary in 1971 with a BSc. (cum laude) degree in Psychology. She then moved on to Rutgers University in New Jersey to begin post-graduate training, a part of which included work on an archaeological dig in Hampton, Virginia. It was here that Selena met a practising hereditary Witch called Marianne, who introduced her to the practice of Witchcraft as a religion, a practice that closely resembled her own nature-based spirituality.

In 1972 after leaving graduate school, Selena moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she worked initially as a photographer and later as a publications editor for a large corporation. She also took initiation into a number of Wiccan traditions, quickly rising to become a High Priestess. Early in 1974 while attending a local psychic fair in Madison, she met her first husband Jim Alan, a trance medium and musician. They were handfasted eight months later, and shortly after that founded their own Coven called Circle Wicca. The coven initially met at their home in Madison, and performed their first public ritual there at Yule.

In the following year 1975, Selena and Jim Alan moved onto a rented farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, from where they began to expand and develop Circle Wicca. They started by hosting a weekly radio program sponsored by a local community radio station, and a year later in 1976 recorded their first music cassette of Pagan Ritual music called Circle Magick Music. This was one of the earliest Neo-Pagan music albums recorded, and is still available today. They also played together at the Gnosticon 6 Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, a major festival sponsored by Carl Weschcke, owner of Llewellyn Publications.

In 1978 Selena suceeded in having Circle Wicca incorporated as an official non-profit Wiccan Church in the State of Wisconsin, after which Circle Wicca became known as the Church of Circle Wicca. They also changed the coven’s structure from being a simple "coven" lead by a High Priestess and Priest, to that of a regular Church run as a corporate organisation with a Board of Directors and Ordained Ministers.

They next set-up and published Circle Network News (now called Circle Magazine), which is, and continues to be, their main networking facility providing support and research resources to Pagans all around the world. Initially this was published as a newspaper, and then for the Spring issue of 1998 it was changed into a magazine format. It changed again for the Autumn issue of 1999 when it was renamed Circle Magazine. Today it is a glossy 72-page magazine published quarterly, and one of the leading Neo-Pagan publications in the United States.

That same year in 1978, building on the success of their local radio program, they produced and directed a weekly television show, the Magic Circle Show, which was broadcast on Cable 4 (now called WYOU) in Madison. Each of its hour-long programs featured a variety of topics, such as: holistic health, spiritual healing, parapsychology, divination and Wicca/Pagan spirituality, interspersed with interviews and music.

In 1979, an article featured in Time Magazine reported a handfasting ceremony performed by Selena and Jim Alan at the Pan Pagan Festival held in Demotte, Indiana. This article, published on Monday 06th Aug 1979, did much to raise the profile of Wicca/Witchraft and Paganism across the USA. Soon after, Selena began to appear in various other national and international news media, including T.V. shows like: The Today Show, Donahue, Sightings, Sally Jesse Raphael and Larry King Live, on radio networks such as: NPR, BBC, ABC, CBC, and in numerous magazines and newspapers such as: Time and The Wall Street Journal.

In 1980, the Church of Circle Wicca finally received federal recognition as a Church from the US Government, but just as things were coming together, they were evicted from their rented Sun Prairie farm by a prejudiced landlord. Forced to move, they first rented a home near Ashton, Wisconsin, and then moved again to another rented farm near Black Earth, Wisconsin. Undaunted by these forced moves, and clearly in need of their own permanent place to expand the Church, they begin promoting fund raising events with the aim of purchasing suitable land of their own.

Selena started by running training programs for various groups and traditions, followed by workshops and spirituality courses, and then providing counselling services and intensive training for ministers. They also started monthly rituals at the farm and sponsoring festivals and events in nearby Madison. This led to the first annual Litha (Midsummer) gathering, which in the following year 1981 became known as the Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG). Today the PSG continues as one of the largest annual Neo-Pagan gatherings in the USA.

By 1983 supported by donations from the Pagan community and various other fund rising events, Selena had enough funds to purchase a 200 hundred-acre piece of land near Mt. Horeb in Wisconsin. They called the land Circle Sanctuary, to which the Church of Circle Wicca was re-named as its legal trading name. Circle Sanctuary was the first land purchase project in the United States to be bought solely for use as a Pagan Spiritual Retreat and Nature Preserve. At Yule that same year on top of what is called Ritual Mound, a permanent Stone Circle was erected complete with an the altar stone and fire ring.

Not everyone was happy with the land purchase however. Just a year later in 1984, local residents in the area started a smear campaign in efforts to stop them using the land as a Pagan Sanctuary. Local officials and the county zoning administrator were sent in to investigate their activities, but could find no breaches of the law or any moral or ethical religious reasons to shut them down. After a four-year legal battle, and with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union, in 1988 they finally won Church-zoning rights for all 200 acres of the land, thus Circle Sanctuary became the first Church associated with Paganism and Witchcraft to own a Nature preserve in the United States.

Circle Sanctuary however, is not freely open to use by the Pagan community, which was and still is a point of contention for many. As the funds needed to buy the land was raised mainly through voluntary donations, many believe that it should be open for use by the community without restriction. Fundraising appeals made through Circle Network News routinely stated or implied that the land, once purchased, would be used as a permanent site for the Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), however, the PSG has never been held there. Similarly, those who gave donations and provided labor for the project, have also been turned away. The land is privately owned and access to it is strictly controlled. Only Circle Sanctuary staff and their working volunteers may enter the site on a regular basis, while others can only enter by prior appointment or to attend on-site festivals, rituals or classes…and so it remains today.

Ten years after they handfasted in a common-law marriage, Selena and Jim Alan parted company in 1984, after which Jim Alan left Circle Sanctuary to devote himself to a full-time writing career. Two years later in June 1986 during the Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) held at Eagle Cave Campground near Blue River, Wisconsin, Selena married her present husband Dennis Carpenter, a Wiccan High Priest and former school psychologist. Margot Adler officiated at their handfasting, which was held in a large cave on the site used for community rituals. Today they work together as co-directors of Circle Sanctuary, with Selena as Director of Spiritual activities and Dennis as Director of Research and editor of Circle Magazine.

During their fight to secure church-zoning rights for Circle Sanctuary, in 1985 Selena founded the Lady Liberty League (LLL). This is a support group led by Circle Sanctuary and dedicated to religious freedom worldwide. The LLL with the aid of Circles networking capabilities, provides information and support to anyone working with religious freedom issues, an example of which is the ongoing battle with the US Military to allow families of soldiers killed in the line of duty to place symbols (pentacles, pentagrams, etc.) of their religious beliefs on their memorial markers. Together with the American Civil Liberties Union, Circle Sanctuary and the LLL were also active in defeating proposed anti-Witchcraft legislation from passing through the US Senate. Known as the Helms Amendment, this was a bill designed to take away federal Church status from all Wiccan Churches in the USA.

As a long respected public speaker on Paganism and other forms of contemporary religion and spirituality, in 1988 together with Margot Adler, Selena was a delegate at the World Council of Churches Women’s International Interfaith Conference in Toronto, Canada, the first time that Paganism and Goddess Spirituality had been represented on an international stage. Since then Selena has regularly attended other international conferences including the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago (1993), in Cape Town, South Africa (1999) and again in Barcelona, Spain (2004). She is also a member of the 250 strong Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders associated with that Parliament.

In 1995, Circle Sanctuary dedicated space on its land to be used as a National Pagan cemetery. Circle Cemetery is one of the first conservation "Green" cemeteries to be established in North America. The Cemetery is located in an area on top a ridge where cremated remains are scattered and Green funerals conducted. In 2005, they also began legal proceeding to permit actual body burials, in anticipation of which they have expanded the size of the cemetery to 20 acres.

Also in 1995 Selena finally completed her Master’s degree in Psychology, for which her thesis has been published in a book called: "When Goddess is God: Pagans, Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous". As a Spiritual Counsellor in private practice, Selena also works as a staff Psychotherapist at the Wellspring mental health outpatient clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Counselling Association, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and the American Academy of Religion.

When not attending International conventions and conferences, Selena continues to travel throughout the Unites States giving lectures and workshops on Paganism, inter-traditional Spirituality and Psychology. Between times she and her husband Dennis Carpenter live on their own land adjacent to Circle Sanctuary.


Plus so many others, too many to mention.

Best Wishes.

Merry we part.

George Knowles (Man in Black).
E-mail - George@controverscial.com
or - themaninblackuk2001@yahoo.com
Website - http://www.controverscial.com

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.