Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet once asked “What’s in a name?”
Names given to us by our parents are chosen to convey hopes, pass down heritage, and offer children an aspiration. The names given to us by others show how we are esteemed, what we have been and have become. T.S Eliot wrote, in The Naming of Cats, that even our feline companions hold possession of three different names; we are no different.
As Pagans, most Blue Star folk are aware of the importance and difficulty that goes in to choosing their sacred name, we seek a name that defines our everything, that will convey our everything to anyone who hears it, who utters it.
In the vainglorious era of twitter and in the land which coined the term “selfie” – is a man who prefers to leave the caps lock off.
In craft related contexts you may see him listed as CWM – he answers to jay, but when the day first came to choose a name of his own, left in the land of profundity, the name he found within, and the name he chose to be called, was Friend.
Today he will always accept that name, and in circle introduces himself as Charles Wallace Murry.
- Birth-name: jay lee linnell
- Married name: jay lee hatlen linnell
- Nom de plume: jl or CWM
- Birthdate: Jan 25, 1975
- Degree: 1st degree Initiate.
- Current Grove/Coven: Spiral Tor
- Other B* Ties: Lake Star, Ravenstar, Spiral Gate.
- Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Where to find him: Blue Star Mailing Lists, and Blue Star Facebook groups, Canvassing the streets and making waves of change.
- Lesser Known Hobbies: Makin’ Jam from fruits and flowers, Gardening, RPG Gaming, Shower Singing
What role do you play in the family – how would your Caricature be drawn?
“My caricature would have multiple faces. I live in different worlds and find that I am described very differently by people who know me in different roles. That isn’t problematic to me, as every relationship draws forth a different piece of my spirit, and the jay my wife married is quite different from the jay my coworkers know or even the jay who raises my children. I’d also have hands in multiple projects, one foot in my bedroom and the other on a path that goes somewhere better than now.”
Speaking of faces – Let’s talk facial hair – tell me truthfully, when was the last time anyone saw your “whole” face, and would you ever consider being a Facial Hair Model – if there was such a thing?
“Facial hair model? If someone wanted to photograph or paint my face, I’d be happy to let them. When was I last clean-shaven? Hm. I think I shaved once about six years ago?
[I] Didn’t shave at all until I was 21, and since 23 have occasionally trimmed just because I’m afraid of that middle phase between “respectably trimmed beard” and “ZZ Top”. One of the two is lovely, but between them I fear I look untrustworthy.”
Do you have an obscure, interesting, unique, fun, useful (or useless) talents you’d like to share with us?
“Scat-singing. I haven’t shown off onstage in years and I miss that!”
“I can also babble back and forth more than you’d like about 20th century pedagogical philosophies as tools of social management… Oh and I’m a purty good cook when given time in the kitchen.”
I noticed your facebook profile links to a “gofundme” account?
Can you briefly tell us who this is for and why?
“My son Wesley wants to do a several-week study abroad sometime this coming winter, in Costa Rica. We’ve been raising money through sales of cookies and jams he makes, chores for various friends and families we know, and by inviting direct donations. To read more, you can visit www.gofundme.com/Wesley-Abroad“
Where Politics and Activism meets Faith and Practice.
When asked if there was a correlation between what he does spiritually and what he does as an activist/politically, jay stated “Political action is one of many ways we act in the world on our values, and my values are quite entwined with my spirituality.”
jay’s mother is a municipal inspector raised in a strict Baptist background (they found Blue Star together when he was a teen), his father was an activist involved with the ACLU and environmental causes; it’s not too far a stretch to say, that from the very beginning spiritual values and activism have always been tethered in his life. According to jay, his parents have been incredible resources to him, insightfully opening doors that would reveal pathways he would want to travel, and educating him on how he might do that successfully.
“Mom took me to political caucuses most years, both parents encouraged my involvement in issues and campaigns which excited me, and my teachers in grade school also encouraged us to develop an understanding of what we valued, and to work to see those values take root in our community. So really… I’ve been an uppity activist from the cradle. “
jay is presently a:
- Caseworker in a county public assistance office
- Membership Officer for Northern Dawn council of Covenant of the Goddess
- Volunteer on various activist projects
Some things jay has worked on:
- Volunteered in a few campaign offices
- Served as an election judge for most elections from 1992 through 2002,
- Served a year in Americorps, managing volunteer reading tutors for grade school children
- Campaigned for local office-seekers and issue campaigns in Iowa and Minnesota.
- Campaigned for Marriage Equality
In his early youth, jay attended a liberal Baptist church with his family. He even continued to attend Sunday School for a solid year after the rest of his family had lost the desire to go. Of his experience he says
“Our Sunday School opened my eyes in beautiful ways. They made a point of teaching us about the basic beliefs of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and a few other traditions. …That showed me there were so many ways of understanding the world, and encouraged me to listen with an open and critical mind.”
Although he stopped attending that Sunday School around 9 years old, he was lucky enough to have the kind of community that would indulge his questions. jay maintained a voracious appetite for religious, mystical and philosophical texts.
Were there any books influential to your spiritual growth?
“Frankly I’m a classic example of Wicca as ‘people of the bookcase’. I’m going to cut this short lest I never stop naming books, but let’s just say I’ll be happy to chatter about books with anybody. If I haven’t read it, you’ll probably excite me to do so!”
“John Williams led me to a focus on individual relationship with divinity as the ultimate spiritual community beyond and superseding any doctrine, and from George Fox I learned to pair that with a humble understanding that those with whom I worship are as close to divinity as I, and our differences in faith and opinion are to be honored as part of the conversation of faith. “
The quick and dirty list: Madeline L’engle, ee cummings, John Lennon, The Witches’ God/Witches’ Goddess books by Janet and Stewart Farrar, Principia Discordia, and the writings of many poets, novelists and playwrights.
The naming of jay is a difficult matter, it isn’t just one of your holiday games:
At birth, he was given another man’s initial – named ‘Jay’, after his parents’ friend Jon Jackson, Jr., who generally presented as ‘JJ’; jay rarely shares his full middle name, and generally presents only the initial. This is because it is the name of a relative whom he knows largely as an abuser of others in the family.
It was in-fact through his love of reading and poetry that jay came to question the way writers present themselves, and how he in turn preferred his own name to be treated.
“When I was a teen I looked at ways various poets presented their names and asked myself why certain choices were made. Capitalization to set myself apart from all else I value in the world felt… self-interested? prideful? I’m part of my world, not the center of it, thus I prefer not to be placed in a higher class than things like “home”, “sky”, or “water”, which are spirits due their own respect.”
The Path to Blue Star
Through his father’s peer group comprised of “a lot of post-sixties hippies,” and a few “openly spiritualist/eclectic/pagans” jay met a woman named Lisa – whom we know as Lady Spiral – a coworker of his father’s at an environmentalist political fundraising group in Minneapolis.
jay’s mom developed a close friendship with Lisa, and he spent a lot of time around her home, both socially and in later teen years in employment caring for her son Orion. When jay was around fifteen years old, Lisa, having met K&Tz during the tour years at a festival, invited a number of friends to form a study group. That study group later became Lake Star. At age 16, at Heartland 1991, jay was Dedicated.
I asked jay how his friends took the news that he had changed his faith/practice. For the most part, he kept mum about his new path. “I didn’t actually talk about it to other kids at school so much, but to a few when I figured out where they stood. But one year I gave out Christmas/Hanukkah/seasonal cards I hand-made, to like 50 folks at school. I made a couple that said “happy yule” to a couple girls I knew were pagan. They were happily surprised.”
Is there a particular Sabbat that is most fun or fond for you?
“My favorite circle memories ever were old 12th-night circles we held with Lake Star and with Ravenstar in the 1990s. But my fondest actual-sabbat would be Lammas. The table’s part of it, but I feel so warmly connected to community, to earth, to history and to future in the Lammas celebration. It’s also a night of particular importance to one of my patrons, Lugh, and I share that night with him in other ways.”
A Pagan, and a Friend of Christ:
For many pagans, the faith of their childhood and/or the masses is often greeted with a degree of animosity; jay’s experience with the church and with Jesus was never tarnished even as he found another spiritual path calling him.
Of this jay spoke:
“Along the way, reflections led me to re-explore that Baptist upbringing from an exceedingly liberal and polytheistic bent. I came back to the church which began the journey leading to Blue Star, and I maintain membership and active attendance there. Jesus is a patron to me, along with Arawn and a significant relationship with various fox spirits. This church knows I am a witch who seeks a relationship with Jesus as one among many gods, and I am there because his rituals are specific to his community, thus lead me to spend some of my worship time in a setting apart from Blue Star celebrations. I’m certainly no orthodox follower of Jesus, but they’ve accepted me, and I’m on the church’s board.”
If you could offer a single message to young or new seekers to the Trad – what would it be?
Welcome to the conversation! I look forward to learning from you. 🙂
Thank you jay for being so willing to share this conversation with me, and the rest of the world. We really appreciate the way you live your faith, practice what you preach, and the warmth and good nature which you share so willingly in act and deed. You’re one of a kind, and we’re truly blessed to have you in our priesthood!
If you would like to be featured, or know someone who should be – drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org