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Modern-Day Witch' Is Given Away By A Ghost During Her Death-Themed Wedding

Modern-Day Witch' Is Given Away By A Ghost During Her Death-Themed Wedding
PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Forget fairy-tale white weddings! Not only was Danielle Dulsky married wearing black, but she was given away by a ghost.

Flanked by three bridesmaids, or "wolf maids," as she preferred to call them, she carried her bouquet inside her late father's cowboy hat, as she walked towards her husband-to-be, Ryan, 35, in her long gown, with an eight-foot train and a dramatic fake fur-trimmed cloak.

Danielle lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, with Ryan and her sons from her first marriage, Bodhi, and Sage.

"I knew that I wanted my father's ghost to give me away," she said.

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

"I knew that I wanted my father's ghost to give me away," she said. "I carried his cowboy hat with my bouquet inside it, so that it really did feel as if his ghost was there."

Her nuptials – held on the Winter Solstice on December 21, 2018 – took place outside. Which is unusual for a winter celebration considering the weather.

And the theme of this extraordinary wedding was death.

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle, is a fully-fledged witch, who married according to pagan beliefs.

"When our friend, Peter, who married us, visited to consult for the ceremony, we spoke about how important the 'til death do you part' words are," she said.

"I remember my husband saying, 'Any wedding ceremony is really about death,' and I was like, 'Yeah, that's it. That's everything.' We married in mid-winter, which is the void of the year, when everything has died, so we had an ancestral altar with photos of people we loved who have also died, including our ancestors, and invited our guests to bring their precious photos too."

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle, whose mum Maureen is a born again Christian, and whose dad Glenn, died in 2007, is adamant that death has a different meaning to pagans like herself.

Danielle said:

"Being a witch and a pagan means understanding that any death is also a birth, and any birth is also a death.

"So, for instance, in magic, you cannot call anything into your life or the world without also calling to release or let go of something. So, yes, it was a wedding. It was the birth of our lives together, but it was also the death of who we were before."

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Her beliefs are shared by thousands of pagans around the world. They focus on the balance between life and death.

"Witches have the long-vision, so we live very close to the prospect of our own death and the death of our loved ones," Dianne said. "We are all going to die some day and living with that understanding creates an immense opportunity to live and love more fully, more freely."

The ceremony was conducted outdoors, under the full moon, on the overgrown site of Phoenixville's abandoned steel mine.

It was opened by one of the bridesmaids, Shine Black Hawk, a fellow witch and shaman who used a witch's broom to cast a 'ceremonial circle,' after which the 50 guests, made up mostly of local friends and neighbors, listened to talk of death and ancestors, as the couple made their vows.

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle and Ryan then, literally, tied a knot, in a pagan hand-fasting ceremony before celebrating their marriage by jumping over a broom, which represents leaping into marriage and their new life together.

Danielle has always felt a deep connection to death and her ancestors.

"When I was a little girl, I would see and talk to my paternal great-grandmother, who was dead. That didn't frighten me at all, but when I told my mother I would see my ancestors, it was her reaction that scared me. Because of her beliefs, she thought anything like that was the work of the devil and that I would be going straight to hell."

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Scared by her mother's reaction, Danielle hid her interest in witchcraft and the pagan world until she left home and found like-minded women, with whom she could study the rituals and meanings of the magical arts.

"I lived in Florida with my first husband and was part of a coven there, but we had to hide in that part of the country which is very conservative. When that marriage ended, I moved back here with my small sons and was able to tell people I am a witch, because attitudes here are much more liberal. I can live openly as a witch and am never afraid or worried that my children will be shamed or targeted."

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle even holds witchcraft workshops in her family home, which her sons are so used to she says they do not bat an eyelid when groups of women start chanting and banging drums.

She laughed:

"They couldn't care less. I haven't raised them as pagan because I don't want to indoctrinate them, like I was indoctrinated by Christianity. And my husband, although he doesn't call himself a pagan, accepts me entirely as I am, which is one of the things I love about him."

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle practices different daily rituals.

"I light and burn three candles every day. These present the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone and also honor my female ancestors who are Irish on my mother's side. I will also decide what I want to feel on that day. If, say, I want to feel peaceful, I will work out what part of my body already feels that way and then move my body in a way that enhances that feeling."

The author of two books, Woman Most Wild and The Holy Wild – guides to help women liberate the witch within her – is now working on her third guidebook.

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

Danielle says her true inspiration for becoming a witch came after a trip to the west coast of Ireland when she was 18. Looking out across a mist-filled ancient landscape, she recalled knowing in that instant that she was part of something bigger than herself.

"I felt held by my ancestral grandmothers and part of the spirit of the place; it was the first time I had ever felt I belonged," Danielle said.

PA Real Life/Lauren Driscoll

"Then, soon after my son, Bodhi, was born, I remember looking down on him during one of those dark nights of the soul and promising he would never have to hide who he truly is. In that moment, I knew it was time to tell the world I was a witch!"

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