So said my teacher in one of the five semesters of training we had before initiation into The Third Road. My reaction to that statement was a kind of awe that she could be so audacious to try to tell us our purpose in life. But, if nothing else, it’s a paradigm that’s worth trying on and seeing if it fits. It actually made a whole lot of sense to me.
The way Paganism is seen emphasizes the “have fun” part. We are used to being portrayed as sky-clad, polyamorous, polymorphously perverse, ren-faire wanna-be Harry Potters and Hermione Grangers. In contrast, we often see ourselves as servants of the Old Gods and warriors for this good Earth and the living ecosystems She nurtures and sustains. Thus, while it is true that not all Pagan traditions have a stated service ethos towards other humans, there is a deep commitment across Pagandom to serve the Goddesses and to serve the Earth.
One of the major themes of this second series of books by Debora Geary is service. These books are set in the same universe as those of Geary’s A Modern Witch Series between the first and second books, and share many of the same characters. However, unlike the other series in which each book has a new protagonist, The Witchlight Series focuses on three characters and their change and growth under the auspices of mentoring and guidance program called WitchLight. Jennie is a famous artist whose medium is photography who had a pivotal experience in the program when she was younger and is now called to be a mentor. Her two mentees are Lizard, a young adult mind-witch who chooses the program as an alternative to a jail sentence for borrowing an acquaintance’s car without his permission, and Elsie, a thirty-something therapist who senses the need for change in her life.
Lizard starts the novels with a low sense of self-worth and the propensity to run away from any challenge. Elsie is rigid and controlling. So, of course, Jennie makes them become roommates. It soon becomes clear that Lizard is far more capable than she believes she is, and Elsie discovers that despite her denial and repression, she is a passionate Italian fire-witch. Jennie finds a place for Lizard as an intern with Lauren from A Modern Witch while Elsie is placed assisting the still pregnant Nat at her Yoga center. Lizard soon reveals that she is much smarter than she believes herself to be, and soon proves to be well-suited to be a realtor. Elsie, on the other hand, constantly chafes against looseness of Nat’s yoga classes, and tries to impose order and control in ways that are pretty contrary to the entire idea of yoga. Needless to say, Nat is soon frustrated with her new assistant, and pushes Elsie to let go and discover herself.
Geary continues to excel in her portrayal and development of characters. Her Witch Central in Berkeley is filled with people that you want to spend time with. These novels are not grand battles in which heroes battle mighty foozles to save the world. Instead, these novels focus on growth and self-discovery.
And so Jennie serves Lizard and Elsie as she was once served by her mentors, Vero and Melvin. While Lizard is a telepath, and Elsie can start fires with her touch, the real magic in this story is that of community, service, and love. Witches On Parole is a novel of first steps, and an initial and natural resistance against change. Lizard and Elsie both learn that they are not who they thought they were. They are opened to new possibilities, but it is not clear what exactly they will become. The next book in series, Witches Under Way is about exploring that range of possibility.