Fox, Selena (1949– ) 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, outof-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
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 working
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, workshops
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
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
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.