Among my co-religionists and as an author, my name is M. Macha NightMare, a name taken at a time when practitioners of alternative Pagan religions kept separate identities to avoid discrimination and/or harassment. I’ve been publicly known by that name for so long that many don’t recognize me when I use my mundane name.
About the name NightMare, capital “M” in the middle – the mare who rides through your dreams — it’s my “nom de broom,” just as legal as my mundane name. I ’m well aware of how outrageous it is. Believe me, it’s not easy to wear, but there it is. The name on my driver’s license is the one given to me by my parents, Aline O’Brien. I answer to either.
Like most Witches of my vintage, I searched for years for a spirituality that made sense to me before I found the Craft. I encountered Witchcraft at the meeting point of three paths in my life, at the sacred trivia of the goddess Hekate. The first path was Second Wave Feminism and in Craft I had my first experience of a feminine image of the divine. Secondly, were my concerns for the environment, before I’d heard the now commonly used word “ecology,” were accorded a theological foundation in Craft. Third was an acknowledgement and respect for intuitive ways of knowing. These ingredients, spiced with the flavors of mythology and folklore, seeking knowledge of my personal ancestral heritage, and engaging constructively in society to help make a better world, combine into a brew that continues to nourish and inform my beliefs and praxis.
I live in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais (the Sleeping Lady) in Marin County, California. For the past decade-plus I’ve concentrated most of my efforts on two areas. One is the development of Cherry Hill Seminary to better prepare Pagans of all paths to serve their communities and to interface constructively with the public, and to explore our rich heritages with scholarly rigor. The other is the world of interfaith activities, where I make use of creative ritual whenever the opportunity arises.
As a Witch at Large, I’m happy and comfortable circling with all manner of Witches and other Pagans of various traditions. I invite you to read about my travels and experiences in my Broomstick Chronicles blog as well as the Broomstick Chronicles archives. I also have a blog called Witch at Large and occasionally contributed to the CoG Interfaith Blog, Wild Garden: Pagans in the growing interfaith landscape at Patheos, and elsewhere.
I have a daughter, Deirdre Blessing, and three stepchildren, all grown. My grandson, Ian Kappos, son of my deceased son, Nick, gave me the thrill of my life when he appeared in 2012. I live with my beloved partner Corby and our two adorable and adored felines, Fernando and Oona.