Paula "MamaCat" Morhardt
Paula, born on the auspicious day of April 1, has always felt close to Nature. “I used to make small piles of rocks and decorate them, from the time I was very young. Little did I know, those were my first Altars!” She attended the Lutheran church in town up to her marriage in 1975, and actually taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for a few years after being married, but felt something missing from her Spiritual Life.
“It didn’t seem real, and I hated being told what to do all the time. Being told how to approach the Divine felt wrong to me, but I didn’t know any other way.”
In 1988 an article in a Rockford, IL newspaper on Circle Sanctuary, in Wisconsin, introduced her to another way. “I had no idea what these ‘pagans’ were at the time, but I do know I was pulled that way -- hard.” Paula visited Circle, and found the life that had been missing.
About that time, Paula was given a vision of a sanctuary she was supposed to open. She did nothing, telling herself that she only had two acres, what could she do? Throughout the next year she was shown many small sanctuaries -- some were simple rooms in an apartment. The next year the vision reappeared, and Paula told the Goddess that she did not have enough money to make such a thing happen. Again, that entire next year was filled with small sanctuaries found which ran on a shoestring. The third year the vision appeared, Paula decided she needed to tell her husband, DragonSeeker, about this vision. “His exact words were, ‘what do we do first?’”, she laughs.
While this was going on, Paula was being led to different people who taught her. “There was a woman who ran an art gallery and book store -- A Pagan book store. She was run out of the town she was in, but not before introducing me to Scott Cunningham books, and Campanelli books, and Llewellyn Publishing. I read as much as I could, as fast as I could. I ran across a shop that sold Tarot decks, one that had a psychic, all kinds of ‘other’ stuff; I was being force-fed as fast as She could feed me.”
Once the sanctuary was figured out, Paula was given a student, again totally unexpectedly. Kenny, known as ThunderHawk, was brought into her life, and she was told to teach him- and he was told to listen!
“I had to read and devour books, information, songs -- everything I could, as well as devise lesson plans, and try and stay ahead of Kenny. I have never worked so hard in my life.” But it paid off -- Kenny became High Priest to Paula’s High Priestess, and Four Winds Sanctuary became a functioning Sanctuary, with rituals, celebrations, and networking. “We came into being in the early 90’s, when there wasn’t anything else in this area, and we set up the Sanctuary as a learning Sanctuary, expecting people to learn the basics of Wicca, the basics of Paganism, and if they were interested, the basics of Witch Craft, and then leave, go on to start their own coven or group. They still came back for celebrations at the Sanctuary, though.”
Paula had been invited to the Avalon Elders Gather, and shortly after that found Earth House Midsummer Gather was a good home. Now a member of Sweetwood Temenos, Paula credits the early attendance of all the other groups with the background that enabled herself, ThunderHawk and DragonSeeker to find their own balance and way to go forward. Four Winds Sanctuary is not Wiccan, nor totally Witch Craft either. A blend of those, plus some of the Native American in the back ground of both Kenny and Paula, along with some of the Traveler tales in Paula’s back ground, make up a good share of Four Winds practices. Paula has also been studying Shamanism, while Kenny finds Medicine People practices interesting, and they combined that with their shared love of Past Life regression; a solid teaching style, plus lots of homework, means their students learned a bit of everything, and a lot about what Four Winds stood for and meant.
In 2009, a young man attended an information Earth Day event Four Winds held at the Stockton Park House, and soon he was studying with the same fervor and intentness that Kenny had shown. Paula knew she had a good one, and after discussing it with her HP, asked Chris to keep studying and become co-HP. He agreed, and the lessons began in earnest. In 2013, Chris was installed as co-HP at Four Winds.
Today, Four Winds Sanctuary does not hold rituals often, but is open for those who need a place to sit, unwind, relax and recharge. “There are enough groups out there now that there is no need for our teaching Sanctuary,” Paula explains. “So we partially closed down. After my husband died, I considered closing down completely, as I just could not imagine continuing without him, but after much thought and discussion with my children, we are going to try an Open House this summer, see how it goes, and perhaps, just maybe, we might reopen again.”
What does the future hold for Paula and Four Winds?
“I will continue to teach those who ask, continue to learn from those who offer, and see what the Goddess has in mind for me in the future.”
What more could anyone ask?