Satisfy Alachua’s Resident Horse Driving Trainer and Wiccan Priestess

Kami Landy observed her shiny yellow costume just in time for the spring equinox.

It was a floral gown she designed with material she bought from a garage sale months in the past. But that night time, her overlooked passion project was fantastic for the night’s spiritual situation.

Yellow signifies air, the east and spring in Pagan traditions — and at the ceremony that night, associates of distinct pagan groups met above Zoom to celebrate Ostara, the season’s equinox.

Kami Landy and her partner Nelson Boon are Odyssean Wiccans who presently live in Alachua. Their methods are more than custom — it is a way of daily life. It’s a element of almost every little thing they do, from educating Zoom courses on applying herbs in spells to having care of their horses for Kami’s horse riding business enterprise.

The altar on the next-flooring landing is a person of the numerous ways Kami and Nelson practice spirituality in their dwelling. One particular of Kami’s puppies, Ruby, experienced medical problems, so she and Nelson sewed a crimson “poppet” of her to consist of in a ritual for her health and fitness. The poppet sits next to two candles and crystal to channel power. (Ava Loomar/WUFT News)

Typically, Kami and Nelson are the ritual leaders for a small area team of Odyssean Wiccans, but that night, they have been congregants to rejoice improve, harmony and rebirth.

Nelson lounged on a couch in their dwelling space, divided from Kami by a table adorned with candles. She swayed and tapped her foot as the priest and priestess sang:

“Let people love now who have never ever cherished. Permit these who have loved adore yet again.”

The ritual was significantly like any other religious holiday provider. Leaders give blessings employing traditional resources. Congregants join in to say prayers. They sing, link with their gods and explain to a story about what they rejoice.

For Ostara, that meant they forged a circle to perform the ritual by blessing every single cardinal route with a ceremonial blade and a wand. Then, they invited the god and goddess of spring, Angus Og and Brid, to sign up for them. One attendee acted as Caileach, goddess of wintertime, as she informed the story of the holiday break. They gave many thanks for spring beating winter, but also requested the Caileach for forgiveness. Equilibrium is integral to all of their methods.

Soon after the ceremony, Kami and Nelson chatted and laughed. None of the close friends experienced been equipped to see every other for a while. It experienced been a difficult wintertime, with the pandemic building it really hard to delight in. Spring seemed extra hopeful — and laughter, right after all, is a characteristic of air, Kami reported.

But Wicca isn’t all grand ceremonies and rites. For the Kami and Nelson, it is almost everything from earning small charms for the well being of their horses to feeling the vitality in the world around them just about every day.

“I don’t know that I could call it a faith,” Kami explained. “Wicca is a way of functioning.”

A woven basket sits on an finish desk in Kami and Nelson’s residing space. Inside of, a statue of a goddess sits at the center of a pentagram, a 5-pointed star that represents the elements in Wiccan faiths. Nelson collected the spring bouquets and fungi from the woods on their assets to celebrate the spring equinox. (Ava Loomar/WUFT Information)

How Kami and Nelson Identified Odyssean Wicca — and Every single Other

Neither Kami nor Nelson grew up training Odyssean Wicca, a Wiccan sect focused on opening the apply to the general public in its place of trying to keep it powering shut doorways. But each would at some point come across it in Canada, in which the custom was originally born in the late 1970s. 

As a kid in Miami, Kami was lifted under Reform Judaism. Her mom believed in seeing God in every little thing and in conversing with him any time.

“I bear in mind staying 4 yrs old and mom getting me out on the balcony,” she reported. Kami recalled that she questioned her mother, “‘How big is our globe?’ And the respond to she taught me was: all that I can see and contact and almost everything I can really like.”

Kami gestures to the spot in her woods in which she would have held in-human being rituals, if not for the pandemic. She loves the duo of tall trees that cast shade over a round clearing. It would’ve suited a circle of Wiccans perfectly, she claimed. (Ava Loomar/WUFT Information)

But Kami was a fanciful youngster. She recalled conversing to critters in the woods and looking at imaginary points in the corner of her eyes, she mentioned. When she attended Oldfields Faculty, an all-women boarding school in Maryland, in eighth grade, she felt that the land was alive beneath her toes. This is the place she very first uncovered how to trip horses, a enthusiasm that would direct to her recent profession.

At university, pals taught her Gregorian chants for meditation and how to browse tarot cards, matters she practiced all through substantial university and college. It would finally direct to Kami staying released to the Wiccan Church of Canada, or Odyssean Wicca.

Kami spent decades driving back again and forth from the United States to Canada to participate in the church. That is how she satisfied Nelson, who came to Odyssean Wicca from a completely different route.

Nelson’s grandmother was a folk magic practitioner in England. When the locals needed support, she was the 1 they arrived to. 

“It was sort of a relatives custom,” Nelson mentioned. “I grew up with the idea that you could make items like blessed charms and make points to overcome people or protect against some curses. That was not unusual to me at all.”

But when Nelson moved to Canada at 10 a long time aged, he was exposed to Wicca. He study e-book just after guide on the subject matter until finally he was in his 30s, and then he took cost-free lessons at the Wiccan Church of Canada to conduct investigate on the tradition. That’s the place he achieved Kami. 

The two fell in enjoy and ended up betrothed, or engaged, for two a long time. Nelson traveled from Canada to Kami’s ranch in Alachua County for a routine visit in March 2020 — and then the pandemic started.

“I’ve been trapped down listed here for months,” Nelson sighed. Then he laughed. “So we obtained married.”

A Enterprise and Passion: ThumbsUp Using School

In May perhaps 2010, Kami moved to Alachua County from Miami-Dade soon after her father passed absent. She didn’t like the chilly of the North, and she understood there have been some pagan groups in the region, so Alachua it was.

A person year later on, she purchased the property that would come to be her driving school.

Two black wire pentagrams and a sign that says “ThumbsUp Using School” welcome visitors to the ranch. Most individuals really do not detect the pentagrams, Kami reported. Only just one guy at any time remarked that is was odd, but Kami thinks he imagined it was a Jewish star. (Ava Loomar/WUFT News)

At the entrance gate, concerning two black wire pentagrams, a indicator welcomes friends to ThumbsUp Driving College. The assets is 75 acres of pastures, wetlands and woods. It is household to endangered gopher tortoises, spatting alpacas, pleasant loved ones canine and stables of horses.

On the ranch, there is minor barrier concerning the wildlife and the human people. Friends and staff members dwell in trailers or smaller properties, and Kami and Nelson produced their blue two-tale house suitable at the edge of the woods. Inside a 30-yard extend, the forest has hundreds of various species of shrubs, vines, trees and herbs. Kami, Nelson and the other inhabitants stroll by way of it every working day to carve horse trails and gather plant lifestyle for rituals.

Kami’s Wiccan faith has knowledgeable how she instructs and interacts with other persons. “Religion is so significantly part of currently being human,” she mentioned.

She mentioned she enjoys the principle of the cowboy church — “Just men and women, on their horses, connecting to their sense of religion.”

But the couple’s spirituality is not commonly marketed to their horseback driving college students.

“When I train driving, I teach using,” Kami stated.

Kami teaches a observe referred to as centered using, which focuses on connecting the rider’s head and body to the horse’s. It is dependent off of the teachings of Sally Swift in her reserve, “Centered Driving.” The teachings use aspects of system awareness, and it incorporates harmony and bits of yoga.

On a Tuesday early morning in March, Danielle Leonard, 33, brought her 8-12 months-aged daughter Mia for a lesson with Kami. Mia experienced only had a handful of lessons so considerably, but she had big goals of staying a competitive equestrian.

Danielle Leonard supervises Kami’s lesson with her daughter Mia, who fixes the saddle of her companion for that day. Each individual lesson commences with understanding how to treatment for the horse by brushing its coat and cleaning its sneakers. Leonard chose Kami as a instructor since she liked the emphasis Kami puts on the rider connecting with the horse. (Ava Loomar/WUFT News)

Leonard claimed she did substantial analysis right before determining wherever to deliver her daughter for driving lessons and does not regret ultimately choosing on ThumbsUp Riding University.

“Kami is incredible,” Leonard reported. “She focuses on stress-free Mia and owning her assume about the horse’s system. She has her learners close their eyes and actually feel the relationship.”

Mia sits on leading of Myla the horse and Kami normally takes maintain of the direct hooked up to Myla’s halter. Kami instructs Mia to do numerous balancing duties: “Play the drums on your belly! Fingers to the sky! Hands on your hips!”

Exterior the using ring, Charles “Doc” Baillie, 76, emerges from a trailer. At the time, he experienced been dwelling on the property for about four months. Baillie began his vocation as a chiropractor until eventually he made the decision to switch from working on people to horses. Now, he has been in the career for in excess of 4 many years, and he fulfilled Kami and Nelson by way of the horse business.

Charles “Doc” Bailey lives on a trailer on Kami and Nelson’s ranch with his dogs. When he met Kami as a result of the horse enterprise in Miami, neither of them realized about the other’s spirituality. Inevitably, Doc came to perform as a horse chiropractor with Kami and Nelson. Now, they each delight in the relationship to nature they foster on the residence. (Ava Loomar/WUFT Information)

On Baillie’s 1st wander in the woods surrounding the driving university, he claimed he could “feel the connectivity.” Baillie does not believe that in structured religion, but he claimed he is extremely religious.

“I noticed some things in the forest that I assume are burial mounds,” Baillie claimed. “You can really feel that Indigenous People in america have been below.” He spoke about seeking to dwell out in the woods, and then went to address another horse, Norman, for lameness.

A Community Grounded in Inclusivity

Peggy Macdonald, community historian and adjunct professor at Stetson College, is not shocked a Wiccan local community would seek out a property foundation close to Gainesville, in the outskirts of Alachua County.

“Wicca is actually the only organized religion where by gals tend to have a larger representation in the race of leaders,” she stated.

Gainesville was 1 of five epicenters that pushed for women’s suffrage all through the 1960s and ‘80s together with Seattle, Boston, New York City and Chicago. The feminist relationship in the record of Gainesville, she said, could reveal why customers of minority religions these as the Wiccans would truly feel safe and sound congregating in and close to the city.

According to Macdonald, Gainesville played a central part in the origins of the Women’s Liberation Movement, which would be captivating to any practitioners of a Wiccan sect.

“With the University of Florida remaining here, you have a inhabitants of men and women who are young and extra receptive to different views and exploring other religions,” she explained.

A single instance is the Hare Krishna religion, which has been serving vegetarian foods on the College of Florida campus for many years. They chant and dance in community spaces all-around city.

The development of the Krishna group, Macdonald thinks, is a testomony to the cost-free-spirited mother nature of the city, which has been residence to individuals who apply a more communal type of existence.

For Kami and Nelson, the Krishna Temple’s existence in the group gives them some amount of convenience for possessing a non-traditional way of life, even on the fringes of Alachua County.

The couple dwell in conservative territory. They are a 30-moment drive from the progressive bubble that college or university learners inhabit, and are often worried their neighbors would choose them if they understood about their Wiccan traditions. They do not want to ruffle any feathers and know that their tactics make some individuals uncomfortable just before they fully grasp, Kami reported.

Kami and one particular of her quite a few dogs lounge versus 1 of her stables. Horses wait within, prepared for one of Kami’s classes. (Ava Loomar/WUFT Information)

But within their shut circle, they consider to make the space as inclusive as achievable. Kami is on the autism spectrum and grew up with people today making her sense like there was one thing erroneous with her, she stated. 1 of her children is nonbinary and faces others not comprehension their gender identity. Kami and Nelson never want any person to experience like that in just their practice.

They have a nonbinary man or woman in their Wiccan team now, and Kami and Nelson enable them pick out which of the typically “masculine” and “feminine” roles they want to fulfill all through rituals.

“Wicca is not Orthodox,” Kami reported. “You can roll with the dissimilarities, and you’re very good to go.”

The Long run

When it comes to the potential, there are goals and there are realities, Kami said.

Kami would love to build a community Wiccan church in Gainesville — equivalent to the Wiccan Church of Canada. Her authentic plan was to contact it the Wiccan Temple of Florida. 

In her head, the church would be set up in an aged household at the moment on sale off of Freeway 441. As a previous back garden store, it characteristics a wraparound veranda and hardwood flooring. Each time Kami drives by it, she sees the developing becoming renovated into a pagan neighborhood heart wherever weekly courses are taught, impartial pagan sellers marketplace their products and therapeutic massage therapists or other practitioners rent out place.

“That’s my difficult pipe desire,” she reported. “To make that come about, you’d have to have a large plenty of community of nascent leaders who want to be there.”

And that just is not the truth in Alachua County. She and Nelson consider the lack of desire has to do with students’ transitory character.

Nelson has a various method. Following he and Kami retire, he wants to travel the United States and Canada in an RV, instructing lessons on Odyssean Wicca. With Kami’s assistance, he also wishes to publish a guide codifying how to train Odyssean Wicca, as the methods differ.

But most of all, they just want to exist without having judgement or ridicule.

“We are usual men and women who set on our magical robes a person leg at a time like anyone else,” Nelson claimed.

Correction: An original model of this report referred to the couple as Kami and Nelson Landy, which was incorrect. Both equally Kami and Nelson retained their surnames. The post has been corrected to identify them as Kami Landy and Nelson Boon. The primary version also improperly referenced the goddess Caileach as “Celiac,” which has also been corrected. It also said Nelson moved to Canada as a teenager. This has been updated to properly point out he moved there at age 10. Ostara was improperly referred to as Imbolc in the preliminary variation, this has also been corrected.

Karen J. Simmons

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