Bartley finds family in spirit and school

Natalie Bartley is the executive chairperson for Durham College Student Inc. (DCSI). Photo credit: Brandon Wright

Family is a unique word with multiple meanings for Natalie Bartley.

“I’m a stepmom and a common-law wife, both of those were very new concepts three years ago,” Bartley said. “I’m very grateful that I am in this situation now.”

In Bartley’s traditional family life, she is a stepmother to her 5-year-old stepson. She relies on family and community to balance a busy schedule.

She also balances a busy family life with school.

Bartley is a student in the small business-entrepreneurship program at Durham College (DC).

Bartley is also a member of DC’s student government, representing the student body on the school’s board of directors as the executive chairperson.

Bartley says working in student government is like being a part of a family.

Beyond school, she is a proud and active member of a Wiccan church, based out of the United States. The Correllian Nativist Tradition (CNT) is a Wiccan church with over 40 temples around the world.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Wiccan faith is “a predominantly Western movement whose followers practice witchcraft and nature worship and who see it as a religion based on pre-Christian traditions of northern and western Europe.”

“I’m working on my clergy status within the CNT,” Bartley said. “I have all of the requirements except for two assignments, so I’m almost finished.”

The only CNT temple in Canada is located in Oshawa, Ont., and is led by Bartley’s husband, Rev. Brian Layng. The Oshawa church is known as the Temple of the Night.

“We are less of that mainstream ‘we’re a church, and I’m the head, and you’ll do what I say, how I say.’ It’s not that way. We are a family,” Rev. Layng said.

Both Bartley and Rev. Layng referred to different members of their church and community as their “brothers and sisters in spirit.”

Bartley said she believes in the same ideas as the church and is a proud member.

“We, as in the whole tradition, do a lot of community work,” Bartley said. “We are very proactive and environmentally aware.”

Bartley, a wife of almost four years to Rev. Layng, said it is an honour to represent her spiritual family at large church events.

The large events include group gatherings, conventions, or even something as little as meeting for coffee. Bartley said it is similar to spending time with family at home.

“One of my favourite memories with the CNT was at the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto last year,” she said. Bec

Despite her husband being such a reputable member of the church, Bartley felt welcomed and appreciated by his side at the event.

“Brian has been a member for a long time, as have I, since 2011-ish,” she said. “[Other members] all knew Brian, but they welcomed me with open arms, open hearts, in perfect love, and in perfect trust.”

Bartley also receives a lot of love and support at home, something Bartley always gives to others.

“She is very loving, very supportive, of both me and my son,” he said. “She does everything she can within her power to support everything I’m doing and going on in my life.”

Rev. Layng said the family plan is to connect the spiritual family with the traditional one with the next step.

Bartley and Rev. Layng said they eventually want to open a brick and mortar shop to continue providing for their fellow CMT community members.

“I don’t have the business sense that she does since I focus more on the spiritual side of things,” Rev. Layng said, “So after discussing things, she was very supportive in saying ‘well let’s do this, I’ll take on the business end and run the shop.'”

He said no day passes when he does not feel the support from his wife. Bartley said she hopes her friends and family see her in a positive light.

“I hope they would say that I’m fair, that I am hardworking and that I’m kind to everyone,” Bartley said.

Rev. Layng said she exceeds her own expectations.

“She makes sure that she’s there as best as she possibly can be, for us, for the members of the temple, and for everyone else,” Rev. Layng said. “She’s such a fantastic person and it’s only part of the reason why I love her.”