Fox, Selena (1 949- ) American Wiccan high priestess, Pagan scholar, ecospiritual minister and ritual artist. Selena Fox is renowned for her leadership role in the international Wiccan-Pagan community and for founding Circle Sanctuary, a legally recognized Wiccan church with a worldwide Pagan ministry.
Born October 20, 1949, in Arlington, Virginia, Fox was raised in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist family. As a child, she began having mystical experiences, out- of-body travel and psychic visions. Upon reaching her teens, she pursued her interest in dreams, the psychic and parapsychology and learned how to give psychic readings with Tarot cards. She left the Southern Baptist Church while in high school, citing a number of reasons, including the church’s disapproval of dancing and its refusal to allow women to become pastors.
Fox attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia, graduating cum laude in 1971 with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. At the age of 21, she led her first Pagan ritual as president of Eta Sigma Phi, the classics honor society. She led the society in a reenactment of a Dionysian rite of spring, which took place outdoors in the center of campus.
After college, she worked on an archaeological dig in nearby Hampton, Virginia, where she met a woman who was a hereditary Witch. Realizing her own spiritual orientation had much in common with her friend’s Craft, Fox embraced Witchcraft as a religion and later was initiated as a high priestess in several Wiccan traditions.
Following the archaeological work, Fox spent several years in various jobs, including work as a photographer and publications editor for a large corporation.
In October 1974, Fox conceived the name, logo and central spiritual focus for Circle, also known as Circle Sanctuary. Fox, along with her partner, Jim Alan, and a group of friends, formed the beginnings of Circle Sanctuary, with periodic meetings at the Fox-Alan home in Sun Prairie, near Madison, Wisconsin. In 1978, Fox decided to devote herself full time to the Wiccan ministry. The same year, Circle Sanctuary was incorporated as a Wiccan church.
In 1979, Fox and Alan were evicted from their Sun Prairie farmhouse by a prejudiced landlord. After several moves to other farmhouses in the Madison area, they settled on land near Barneveld and Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, and created Circle Sanctuary, a nature preserve, organic herb farm and church headquarters.
Fox and Alan ended their common-law relationship in 1984, and Alan eventually left Circle Sanctuary to devote himself to a writing career. In 1986, Fox married Dennis Carpenter, a Wiccan priest and former school psychologist and now a renowned Pagan scholar. Fox and Carpenter live on Circle Sanctuary and work together to coordinate Circle Sanctuary’s diverse activities and responsibilities: networking, publishing, research, counseling, education and nature preservation.
In 1995, Fox earned a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and became certified as a clinical psychotherapist. Soon after graduation, she was invited into a public practice in a mental health facility in Madison, where she works as a staff psychotherapist with a mainstream clientele. She also has a private spiritual counseling practice at Circle.
Fox travels extensively throughout the world, participating in interfaith dialogue and networking, and work- ing for various environmental, peace, social, civil rights and women’s studies efforts. She also works to preserve sacred sites in North America and elsewhere. Her involvement with the interfaith and academic communities has increased dramatically since the late 1980s, in response to interest in and study of contemporary Pagan traditions. In 1995, she was the first to publish a study on Pagans as a distinct cultural population with special needs in terms of recovery therapy.
In addition, her public work includes lectures, work- shops and seminars on Paganism, spiritual growth and psychology to all kinds of audiences in colleges and universities, learning centers, conferences, churches and Pagan gatherings. She does nature therapy, psychic healing, Tarot readings, dream work, guided creative visualizations and other types of spiritual healing services. For the media, she is a leading spokesperson on Wicca and Paganism and was a leading activist in the veterans’ Pentacle Quest .
Fox has been a prominent religious freedom activist in the Pagan movement. She has worked successfully on cases involving the right of Wiccans and Pagans to worship, allowing Wiccan priestesses to minister as clergy in prisons, securing paid Pagan holidays for a Canadian employee (see Charles Arnold) and helping Native American Indians protect sacred burial grounds and other types of sites, including rock art, in North America. In 1985, Fox was a leader in the effort to defeat the Helms Amendment in Congress, which sought to strip Wiccan churches of their tax-exempt status.
Fox founded WiccaN shamanism, an interfaith blend of Wicca, cross-cultural shamanic practices and transpersonal psychology.
Through genealogical research, Fox has traced her Welsh and Scots family lines back several centuries and found a family tradition of “religious radicalism,” which she feels she is part of and continues in her life. Ancestral land in Scotland includes caves decorated with Bronze Age artwork. Fox is descended from St. Margaret (ca. 1045-93), wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland.
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