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Nikki Sleath’s Book Explains Witchcraft to the Unfamiliar, for PaganPagesOrg She Talks About Her Magick to the Familiar

November, 2017

 

 

Just in time for Halloween, Nikki Wardwell Sleath self-published “You Might Be a Witch.” It provides a simple overview of the Craft, defining what modern day witches think and what they practice, dispelling myths along the way.

In the first half of the 103-page book, she talks about her own life, going from a child with no magickal exposure to a woman in her 40s who is the founder and High Priestess of the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick.

The second half of the book covers such topics as the general belief systems of a witch, the ethics of magick and how to speak to skeptics. It ends with a twenty-question, multiple-choice quiz to see if you’re “Cautiously Curious,” “A Witchlet in the Making” or ready for a coven.

 

 

It’s totally just for fun; the questions are stereotypical,” she said.

Sleath hopes her book will increase public acceptance of earth-based spiritual practices and will help readers see the magick in themselves so they can be more accepting of it in others. Although she expected those who might be curious to purchase it, she said she’s also had many witches buy copies to give to their family and friends.

I think a lot of people are maybe a little more witchy than they think,” she said, noting that magick often exists in ways that may not be recognized.

For instance, when she was six and in the first grade, she wanted to win a raffle for the angel her teacher had made. It would go to the first student to guess the number the teacher had selected.

I knew the number was 11. I felt the same sense of disorientation that I would have when experiencing déjà vu, except that I also felt a surge of adrenaline, knowing I would win and that it somehow felt like cheating to have known the number ahead of time,” Sleath wrote in her book.

 

 

She did win, and 11 was to become a determining factor in many decisions and superstitions.

I still have to look away after seeing 11:11 on a clock out of superstition that if I look back again at it before it has changed to 11:12, that my wish will not come true,” she wrote.

Another form of divination she relied on as a child was to get the answer to a question by kicking off her shoe. If it landed face up, the answer was yes and if it landed facedown, the answer was no. If it landed on its side, she took it to mean there was continued uncertainty.

For a high school genealogy project, Sleath learned her eight-times great-grandfather was Samuel Wardwell, one of the “witches” hung in Salem. While she thought it was cool, that’s where it ended.

Prior to finding witchcraft, she said her big ah-ha moment was when she acted on psychic impulse.

I had been dating the same guy in college for three and a half years and I loved him. I thought we’d have a life together, I really did. But I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t had a higher quality relationship yet than that one. I didn’t know that all of these things that were weaknesses in it, I didn’t know them to be real problems.

 

 

Then, just one day, all of a sudden, the way that he spoke to me, I kind of realized it all and I made a snap decision: ‘You know, I think we’re done. I can’t do this any more.’ That was just an intuition in the moment. I wasn’t planning on breaking up with him that night,” she said.

The big moment came the next morning when she threw away his key.

I knew that once I did that, I would never go back to his apartment. As it’s going up in the air toward the giant hole of the Dumpster, I had images of myself, like flashes of myself forward through my life in various adult stages. Just me. No other people involved. And I saw myself confident. I saw myself professional. I saw myself rocking it out. I saw myself enjoying my life in all these different decades. And in my moment, I was at the age of 21, I was gifted with this big revelation that I am the one. I don’t need any guy for me to define happiness in my life. I knew I didn’t need a man for me to be happy. And I decided that I didn’t care at all. … It felt really incredible.”

It was only looking back that she realized how magickal that moment was.

As it turned out, the next day she was introduced to the man she later married.

That same year, she recognized a pattern that had been occurring. Each fall, she would become more psychic and have more instances of deja vu, “knowing exactly what someone was going to say before they say it, knowing what people’s thoughts were.” Then, come winter, she would go back to her normal intuitive level.

That started her researching.

I stumbled upon some good websites about the Craft and that hit me over the head. Everything I ever believed and didn’t know that it was all there as a practiced religious and spiritual way. When I was a kid going to a Protestant church, I just thought I wasn’t a spiritual person because I never had a spiritual experience there. And that couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

Sheath got her degree and became a physical therapist, but the structure of the healthcare system burned her out quickly. She started to study holistic practices beginning with meditation, yoga and Reiki and going on from there.

 

 

While practicing the Craft on her own, in 2012 she opened Nikki’s Nature, offering energy healing, aromatherapy, auriculotherapy and hypnotherapy. She did past life regressions and Reiki. She also began attracting students who wanted to learn witchcraft.

The coven in which she had trained moved back to New Orleans, so she began her own.

Then it just started snowballing, she said. “Since then I have been teaching the classes to an ever-increasing number of people.”

She moved her practice into a bright, airy space in an old ax factory in Canton, Connecticut.

When she had only a few students, lessons were individual. As more people came, she began groups that met weekly, together moving through her year and a day progressive curriculum. As one group completed its training, they were initiated. With night now open, she’d begin a new group.

 

 

It’s a magical religious practice and I take it very seriously as do all the people in my coven and my community. It’s a large community. Right now we have 41 active members in the coven and I have nine or ten new people starting in a couple of weeks, so it’s going to be 50 people. … It’s an awesome community. I keep it 100 percent drama free. I won’t allow anyone to stay if they make it ‘all about me’ or if they can’t hold themselves together.”

Of all she does, the magickal training is most in demand. The ninety-minute classes cost $20. Groups are about six to nine people – nearly all of whom are women.

It is really hard to find, and even sometimes when you do find it, it’s not great,” she said of training in the ways of the Craft. “It’s random. I have people in the coven who have been in other covens and a lot of them are more social and they don’t get organized, learning and deep magick done. They get together because they all identify as witches and they want to celebrate the full moon and do things like that, but I think there has to be structure in order to see routine, progressive growth,” Sleath said.

In my coven it is a true occult order. We teach ceremonial magick and so people have to learn the Golden Dawn style traditional ways of establishing sacred space, but then of course within that, the ritual varies depending on what it is. It’s different if it’s a moon or a sabbath – different things are done, but the whole casting and setting up of the space is very ceremonial in nature. It’s amazing because obviously, everyone can do whatever they want outside of the large group gathering that we have, if they want to experiment with other things. You do what you want, but by doing that routinely in a coven, they just wind up with such strong skills. They know that they can command energy and focus their words and their thoughts at a moment’s notice when they need to, and that’s an amazing thing that a lot of people can never get from a book. So that’s one of the big benefits of structured training and practices. The confidence in your skill set is just so much beyond anything that I could have achieved when I was a solitary, for sure.”

In their own practice, “what each individual person does can vary greatly depending on what their passions are, what their talents are, what makes them feel spiritually connected. And one of the cool things about witchcraft is there isn’t just one way of feeling connected to the divine. There’s so many ways and I think that’s one of the reasons people love it,” Sleath said.

Some people simply are into the nature and earth-based energy parts of magick in the Craft. Some witches find a lot of gratification in working with various deities, mythologies, spirits, angels. I do both of those things. I work with nature very closely, but I also have a lot of guides and deities that I have very personal relationships with. It’s intensely gratifying on many levels.”

After years of practice, dreamwork became a large part of Sleath’s magick.

 

 

Dreaming, I believe, is every person’s spiritual birthright, but … [it] is important for me as a witch. I get a lot of insight, a lot of precognitive information, a lot of direct energetic and communication experiences with the divine through my lucid dreaming practice that you would never be able to experience in waking.”

It was after about seven years into her dream work – journaling every day – before, she said, “my lucid dreaming ability blossomed to the point where the deepest magick I could ever imagine happens in that space. For me, that’s a big part of my practice.

A lot of times when I start talking about lucid dreaming, and some of the really deep magical stuff that has happened, people want to know if their dream was lucid. The thing is, if you have to ask that, it was not. Every lucid dream has a very intense tangible ah-ha moment when you go, ‘Oh my god, I’m dreaming,’ and your whole sensation changes and you’re aware that you’re in your bed. It’s not astral travel.”

In lucid dreaming, she said, you’re in a different reality, a dream reality but you’re aware of real time in ordinary reality while experiencing the dream. “In that state, because we’re not limited by the physics here and our physical body, you can practice magick in ways [you can’t in this plane]. You can actually shoot lightning out of your hands and make a banishing pentagram and watch it dissipate. You can do all of the things we do here symbolically and energetically, but see, as if you’re in Hogwarts, the effects. And it’s amazing. But the deep magick is not just that energy stuff and the flying and all of that, it’s how I’ve been able to actually experience goddesses directly and that’s something that I can’t even make someone believe. No one can ever really believe or know what I’m saying unless they experience it for themselves. … It’s unimaginable.”

By setting her intention in the dream time and then again in the morning, she feels “in the flow of what I want to get done in my life.” If there is something urgent, she’ll do a spell. However, she said, most of the spells she does are on behalf of others.

The hard part of doing spell work is really knowing what you want and understanding the underlying motivations and getting the statement and the vision in your mind super clear. Most people never get that far. They have a vague idea. And then it’s hard to manifest. Doing a spell for money is not a great idea. People do it all the time and it doesn’t usually work that well, and the reason is that money is an abstract concept. We don’t need the money. We need the things that money affords us in our lives,” Sleath said.

For that reason, she tells people, “If you can’t afford a new car, do a spell for a car, because you don’t know by what means that may end up becoming available to you.”

Spells must have a crisp vision and a clear understanding of the goal. Lining up the correspondences – colors, herbs, gems, astrological timing – give the spell energy.

 

 

I think many witches nowadays are very, very ethical. We talk about ethics all the time and how to appropriately point your thoughts and your goals so that it is always as well-intentioned as possible,” Sleath said. “I think many spells done by witches are actually much more ethical than a lot of prayers being done by good-intentioned Christians. For example, I don’t think it’s ethical to pray for an outcome for someone else. … You don’t even know that’s the best thing for that person. That would be the same as me doing a spell for someone without getting their permission.”

In addition to ethics, karma is another topic that comes up.

It’s a bone of contention with a lot of groups online right now; everyone’s arguing about it. I absolutely believe in karma. I absolutely believe that you will attract what you put out there. … I teach that to my students, that you have to be aware that your thoughts are very powerful and what you think about – and especially what you put out there magickally in sacred space – will also return to you, possibly in an amplified way.”

While some people may poo-poo karma, calling it an Eastern concept that does not fit with their tradition, she boils it down to energy and ethics, saying there’s a reason all religions subscribe to that.

You do attract what you give off. If you do magick at all, the things you put together are sympathetic magick; you’re operating under the assumption that like attracts like. Well, if you’re thinking about revenge, that attracts revenge. To me it’s that simple. Our thoughts absolutely draw circumstances to us.”

When crafting a ritual, she encourages an escape clause, explaining, “If you’re not positive that there won’t possibly be an ill effect on somebody or on yourself in the act of conducting this spell, then you need to have a statement in there such as, ‘As long as it be for the highest and best good of all involved.’”

Witches need to be able to work with both the light and the dark, she said.

Given that light and dark are balanced in the world. Everyone has light and darkness within themselves. … I never intend people harm and I make sure I’m super ethical in any magick that I do, but I teach people to do shadow work. I help people to not fear death and to understand the affect of their consciousness that exists on beyond the body so they don’t fear moving on. I’ve worked in hospice. … I work with a goddess who is very closely tied to death and so it’s actually been given to me as a mission, to help people not fear the dark [and how] to conduct themselves responsibly.”

Sleath intends to write a book about dreams.

 

 

People that have excellent dream recall often have magickal tendencies because – and I did my entire master’s thesis on this, on dream recall,” she said.

Her survey-based research correlated a person’s rate of dream recall to how well connected to nature they perceived themselves to be.
“It was off the charts, statistically significant,” she said. “People who rated themselves as feeling like they were very closely connected to nature have much higher dream recall than people who say that they’re not.

In the act of doing that project I read every study about dream recall that exists. All of the factors come down to mental clarity, so all of the things that make you better at remembering your dreams are things that increase your mental clarity [such as meditation]. … A lot of pharmaceuticals ruin your dream recall and it’s because they have an effect on your mental clarity.

If you have a general belief that dreams are worth remembering, you’ll remember more. Your open-mindedness to the metaphysical enhances your dream recall. There’s even political ones, like Republicans have worse dream recall than Democrats. People who exercise more recall dreams better. People who do creative stuff, like music or painting, they also have better dream recall.”

That book, however, will come after she complete the one she’s already started that puts together two different magickal approaches. Unlike her first book that was meant to be accessible to everyone with an open mind, this book will be for magickal practitioners to augment their own practice and their relationship with deities.

Her message to witches is: “You can’t just leave your magick for your gatherings, your moons and when you’re standing in front of your altar. You have to bring it with you into what you perceive as the mundane, otherwise, how is it really helping you? You’ve got to trail those sparkles with you through your work, through the things [you do]. … I think that’s where the depth of experience really comes from – when you can maintain and live in your enchanted world view all the time, even when you’re not literally standing in front of your altar or gathering together with your friends to do magick. That’s like immersion. That’s really your Craft. And there’s a lot of ways to do that.”

For more information, visit nikkisnature.com, email her at nikki@nikkisnature.com or call 860-212-0055.

 


 

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About the Author:

 

 

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Book Review – Pop Culture Magic Systems: How to Create your own System of Pop Culture Magic by Taylor Ellwood

September, 2017

Book Review: Pop Culture Magic Systems: How to Create your own System of Pop Culture Magic

Author:Taylor Ellwood

Copywrite:2017

Publisher: Megalithica Book from Immanion Press

Pages:118

 

 

     I enjoy Mr. Ellwood’s style of writing. His writing makes the reader feel he is very approachable. He could easily be a great neighbor to get to know. He has a web presence that also lets you know, that he is available to readers and fans. He is the author of over 20 books.

 

     In this book, the author gives you the complete breakdown of what you need to create your own system of magic from the pop culture that sparks your imagination. He writes of how he wants to help generations to come to work with the stories that fit the current time and the new heroes that current generations are growing up with.

 

     Mr. Ellwood talks about his own work in the Universes of The Legend of Zelda, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dragonball Z. He even includes a chant that he has used with the main character from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn. He does this to show that you can use just about any Pop culture genre that appeals to you.

 

     The author goes into great detail explaining what correspondence is and how to work with it in a meaningful way. Mr. Ellwood also has written about the different Principles of Magic. He gives full definitions of each principle and he writes about 11 different principles, this is something that I personally have not seen many authors do. The author has done this because this is a true break down of how to Create a Magic System that will flourish and grow for you in the future.

 

     Mr. Ellwood writes about all the different magical theories that will help anyone be that a pagan fan of a Pop Culture or a witch looking to use her old pantheon spells with a modern twist.

 

     Each chapter of the book that Mr. Ellwood has put his energy into builds on the one before. There is homework of sorts if you care to do it. And he even gives the name of his Facebook group dedicated to Pop Culture Magic. He has some great insights into how to build a system from the stories that speak to you.

 

 

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About the Author:

 

 

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at:  https://www.facebook.com/NumerologistDawnBorries/.

Forgiveness Practice in Families

August, 2017

In my daily work with children and families, the theme of forgiveness makes its way into many conversations I have with parents especially. Parents are in a leadership role that they are sometimes ill-prepared for. If they didn’t experience good parenting when they were children or see mentors engaging children with respect, it can be like becoming the CEO of a company you have no previous knowledge of. All of the sudden, parents are expected to launch into a demanding world of care, consistency, and responsibility while operating on very little sleep! This would stretch the capacity of any human being.

 

In Hawaiian culture, there is a forgiveness practice called ho’oponopono that is passed down through family lineages. Uncle Harry Uhane Jim is a Hawaiian kahuna and teacher. He says of ho’oponopono that it is a “time-evolved practice of managing trauma and transforming chaotic patterns into shapes and vistas of order and profound peace.” What I love about this practice is that it teaches us how to forgive ourselves and others when we inevitably make mistakes, trip, and fall in life. No one escapes conflict while they are in a human body and each of us need a way of moving through our failures–real or perceived.

 

I approach parenting as a spiritual practice with the families I work with. I coach them to look back on their experiences at the end of each day to see what they need to forgive themselves for, what victories to celebrate (however small), and what they would do differently next time. This can be challenging initially when parents are used to beating themselves up for not meeting their own expectations of themselves. We think berating and shaming ourselves will keep our behaviour “in line” in the future, but these patterns work to keep us stuck. One parent I worked with recently was so used to leaving herself on the hook that it was initially hard for her to come up with victories at all. This was my response to her:

 

Although I hear that this was rough for you, there were several victories in this experience that I can see:

 

1.  You were able to disengage to calm yourself down.

 

2.  You went back to brainstorm solutions when both you and your children were more calm and resourceful.

 

3. You continued to reflect after the fact until you figured out what your part of the conflict was. You redefined your boundaries and upheld them.

 

4.  You apologized and promised to change your responses in future and you followed through on that.

 

5.  You took responsibility for your role in the escalation as the parent (leader and guide).

 

6. You remembered that your children are not adults yet and were conscious of their developmental abilities. You changed your expectations to match what they could reasonably do at their respective ages.

 

In regards to this piece: When things are not working well, we will stop, sit quietly together and think of a solution.  I’ve noticed that this is not always possible when the conflict is really heated.  In this case, you could make an agreement that you will all take some space and problem solve when everyone’s calmed down to a resourceful state again.

 

How does it feel to you to see these experiences–though not pleasant at the time–as valuable learning moments where you get to increase your emotional heroism and level of vulnerability tolerance?  What if you re-framed these experiences by looking at all your victories instead of focusing your attention on your failures?  This doesn’t mean we don’t reflect on what we could have done differently, it just means that you put more of your energy on the things you did right because I’ve noticed you have a tendency (along with many other parents) to focus on how you are screwing up. The truth is that there are loads of things parents are doing right and paying attention to those things is just as important to keep perspective–especially in challenging moments.

 

I am not breaking any confidences by sharing my response. I’ve written various versions of this in the past two decades in my work with many families. In the hubbub of everyday life, it can be so easy to forget what is important. Ancient Hawaiian families knew this and infused their lives with ritual because they knew this was a way to keep their mind/heart/body/spirit clean daily. At the end of the day, they sat at their taro mat as a family and did ho’oponopono before bed.  This is a ritual where each member forgives themselves for their shortcomings in the day.  If there were any disputes, these were handled before bed so they were not taken with them into the dreamtime and the next day to be relived or expanded upon.  In this way, harmful patterns were curtailed daily.

 

This is one of many ways to do ho’oponopono:

 

Put your hands on your heart and do your forgiveness that way.

 

Say:

 

I forgive myself for ___________.  For as many things as you need to forgive yourself for until it feels complete.

 

I.e.  

 

I forgive myself for losing my temper with my sister.

 

I forgive myself for forgetting where I put things.

 

I forgive myself for believing that I can’t read.

 

I forgive myself for forgetting to remember all the things I am good at.

 

And allow yourself to learn from and let go of your mistakes. If you struggle with forgiveness, I challenge you to try this practice for a dream cycle (7 days) and notice any positive changes you experience in that time.

 

To watch more on ho’oponopono practice, go to this interview Jennifer Engrácio did on “Real Lives. Real People.” with Shyloe Fayad:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHgr45yx_aY

 

 

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Author Bio:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

 

 

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

 

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing”

 

 

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Book Review: What is an Altar? By Rowan Moss

August, 2017

What is an Altar? By Rowan Moss

 

 

What is an Altar? Is Book 4 in the Pagan Children Learning Series, by Rowan Moss. This book explains what an altar is, where you put it, and the different types (inside/outside, holidays, etc). After explaining that an altar is a sacred space, the author explains why it’s never okay to touch another person’s altar. A craft is included at the back of the book, which encourages children and their families to create an altar. This craft teaches children the items needed for the altar and the step by step directions to creating it. A glossary Is also included to explain words that children may not know.

 

I really enjoyed this book and the way that the illustrations explain what the author is saying. It’s easy to read and understand, which makes it a great book for younger children who may be just learning about it. An altar has so many uses, along with many different types. This book does a great job of explaining the different uses, whether its permanent/temporary, for a specific intent, an ancestral altar, or anything in between.

 

I shared What is an Altar? with my three-year-old son. While I have not explained much to him about Pagan ways, he thoroughly enjoyed this book. He enjoyed pointing out the different items in the illustrations. At the end of the book, we completed the craft. He loved choosing a spot for his altar, along with finding items to place on the altar. Most books he forgets about in a day or so, but What is an Altar? stuck with him. His new daily routine involves checking on his altar, placing or replacing items, along with saying a few thanks. While my son has his own altar, we also set up an outside altar that we leave offerings on. There is also a new family altar inside the home that he is helping decorate for the different holidays/occasions.

 

This book has been very helpful when it comes to introducing my son to Pagan beliefs. I highly recommend this book to anyone who might be having trouble explaining what an altar is to their children. It takes the guesswork out of what to say and explains it in a fun way.

 

Interview with Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

May, 2017

Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

 

leah1

 

I was recently sent a copy of a book called The Fearless Path, and was immediately drawn to the ideas within the pages. The book addresses very real and modern concerns about healing in practical ways, but instead of telling us, as so many other sources do, to let go of our pain and past, it leads us down the more rewarding path of putting ourselves back together. Leah was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and herself for Pagan Pages.

Mabh Savage: Thanks for talking to us Leah. To start us off, can you describe yourself in three words?

Leah Guy: Sensitive. Determined. Sassy.

MS: Your book, The Fearless Path, is tagged as a ‘radical awakening to emotional healing and inner peace’. What prompted you to write this book at the time you did; what made you feel ‘now’ was the time to share your approach to healing?

LG: Honestly, there are two reasons. One is my personal timing. When I felt grounded enough, emotionally mature enough and ready to extend this part of my world with the masses. Secondly, and this sounds like cosmic fluff, but I was told to write the book, once by a voice in a dream that woke me and the other by a voice in a meditation. I don’t often hear voices, nor do I act on them, but this was something different. It was like a charge, a torch that was handed over to me to run with and I felt it was the right thing to do. It felt like the right time and my next step and almost a ‘duty’ or ‘calling’ if you will.

MS: Who would you say your book is primarily aimed towards?

LG: I used the dedication to reach out to all who suffer, yet have the courage to love. There is not one person that couldn’t benefit from the principles in the book because we all know pain, fear, heartache, guilt. We need to learn how to have a better relationship with suffering as it is a part of life. So I aimed the book at those, like me, who have had addictions, eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, low self-worth or other kinds of deep wounds.

MS: What was the biggest challenge in putting the book together?

LG: Starting! After I got started, the biggest challenge was allowing myself the freedom to speak openly about my experiences, many of which I’ve never spoken about publicly at all, and relating those in an honest way so that others can benefit.

MS: And what did you enjoy most about the writing process?

LG: Every step of the way I felt very supported. It felt as if I was supposed to be doing it and there was no time to wait. Although I practice what I write and teach, there’s a good deal of guidance in the book that was inspired and channeled, meaning that I had to get my own agenda out of the way and just listen. Before each writing session I gave myself 5 minutes to sit in meditation and listen, then trust that when I got to the computer I’d have something to say.

MS: How did you become introduced to the idea of chakras and energies within the body?

LG: When I was on my own healing journey, a couple of years after the sexual assault, I was encouraged to go to a metaphysical “school” in California. There is where I immersed myself in energy healing, meditation and learning about the chakras. Since then I’ve continued to work with energy and the chakras as a way to guide me to information within the body system, the emotional bodies and spiritual energies. I don’t base all of my work on the chakras, but they do offer information and guidance and I believe should be better understood in the scope of our overall wellness.

 

leah2

 

MS: During the introduction to the book, you tell us of your own traumatic experiences, and one of the questions you asked yourself at the time was ‘Is this my fault?’. Do you think this is common of many victims, to question their own culpability first and foremost?

LG: I believe one of the first thoughts that comes to a person who has been victimized is the self-inquiry ‘Is this my fault?’ Once the initial shock and fear of an incident has worn off, we immediately go to the programming and patterning that we know, which often results in kicking way back to the shame or guilt pattern of our youth. Because each of us has experienced shame to some degree, the ones of us that have had a moderate to severe imprint of shame will almost always consider how or what we did to cause any kind of suffering in our life. Even those with a mild shame imprint will have the fleeting thought of guilt because it is hard for our brains and emotional bodies to rationalize how something so painful could happen for no reason, or for a reason we can’t justify, therefore it must have something to do with my actions, looks, self-worth, or whatever the reason we conjure.

MS: Do the healing principals work for those who perhaps haven’t had an emotional trauma? For example, someone may suffer from chronic depression, caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, not a particular event in their past. Would they and others like them benefit from The Fearless Path?

LG: Yes, very much so. The Emotional Workouts, meditations and other exercises and philosophies are usable and impactful for any person who is experiencing imbalance, pain or trauma. Not to say that these concepts should be used exclusively, there is certainly room for medical care and other approaches to wellness. But the ideas are deep and profound in some instances, yet the very base root of their meaning is applicable and usable for all. Chemical imbalances can be helped by medicinal approaches for sure, but also, we know that diet, emotional stability and a connection to our true selves help to create balance as well. They should all be used together.

MS: Obviously, and as your books states, there are no quick fixes, but are there simple, everyday things that everyone can do to stay connected to their Self and Soul?

LG: I included the Emotional Workouts in the book for this very purpose; to give people ways to daily and simply stay connected to their Self and Soul. Gardening, journaling, meditation, helping a stranger, chanting or any of the others are wonderful examples of ways that we can get stronger and more connected day by day. We don’t turn fear or shame around with a simple decision. We have to solidify a stronger framework from which we operate and we do that by small acts of self-care and Emotional Workouts.

MS: Who is your biggest inspiration?

LG: I’ve never put any single person on a pedestal. There are so many people who inspire me for different reasons. The truth is I don’t know the names of most of the people who impact me the greatest. Yesterday I passed a man on the street who was struggling to walk. He had very worn and tattered clothes on and teeth that were never cared for. He was carrying two heavy grocery bags for what seemed like blocks and the look on his face stopped me in my tracks. His eyes and the lines on his face were saying that his experience alive had been hard but his determination, pride and his purpose was so very much worth living for. I walked by that man and was struck with humility and inspiration and the desire to have half of the strength that he showed.

MS: Do you have a favorite place to relax, or a place where you feel most connected to yourself?

LG: I love being in nature of any sorts. I love paths… walking paths, bike paths, beach paths. I’m a very purpose-oriented purpose, meaning I enjoy time and space when I’m creating ideas or art, gaining new perspectives, helping others or purposefully taking time to connect to nature or myself. A path is very symbolic to me. I feel inspired to keep going forward and seeing what new there is to discover.

MS: What other projects do you have on the horizon?

LG: I just recorded my first meditation CD, Guided Chakra Meditations for Emotional Healing. It’s inspired from the meditations in the book, but with music, visualizations and even a walking meditation practice. I’m in awe of this project as me and the musicians got together, without rehearsal, and flowed with the energy of the meditations without flaw. The CD is raw and uncut! I’m also planning some online webinars and private teachings, which I’m excited about also!

MS: Should we expect more books in the future?

LG: Yes! I’m already working to expound on a couple of topics from The Fearless Path. Some of the key ideas in that book are the PTED, or Post Traumatic Emotional Disorder, and Spiritual Mapping to name a couple.

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

LG: I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons. The past several years I have been hunkered down building a healing center and writing the book. I’m beginning to experience the many opportunities that are arising from those things and I’m eager to get back on the road, meet new people and hear their stories, as well create more stories in my own life.

Leah’s book The Fearless Path is out on 15th May 2017 and is available for pre-order now. You can follow Leah on Facebook, Twitter or her website.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Interview with Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

March, 2017

Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

 

Rachel

 

Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

Rachel Patterson, or Tansy Firedragon, is an accomplished witch with a passion for learning. She has written numerous books and is the High Priestess of the Kitchen Witch Coven, and an Elder of their School of Natural Witchcraft. I caught up with Rachel to find out a bit more about her craft and her writing.

Mabh Savage: Can you summarise what it is to be a Kitchen Witch?

Rachel Patterson: It is a term that has been used in the past to describe someone that is a bit of a food expert and actually nothing to do with witchcraft at all. It is also a term used to describe a Scandinavian doll that is hung in the kitchen to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

Now whilst I do like to think I am a bit of a whizz in the kitchen I am also most definitely a Kitchen Witch. I follow the path of the old ways, I work with the Goddesses and the Gods and I work the Craft. So, what makes me specifically a kitchen witch? I like to use whatever is at hand, I don’t need fancy schmancy tools or expensive items and I work a lot of my magic when I am cooking food or working with herbs and plants.

I do have beautiful tools to work with but I find that most of the time I prefer to use whatever nature provides, for instance I have several beautiful hand crafted wands but what I tend to use is my finger. When I am working in a circle I cast it with herbs and I use natural items such as stones and feathers to represent the elements. I do have a cauldron but you could use an old casserole dish, I don’t use a chalice as such, I use a glass from the kitchen cupboard (although you can get some interesting and beautiful glasses from charity/thrift shops). If you want an athame then a vegetable knife or even a potato peeler work perfectly and if you want to use a wand how about a wooden spoon?

The kitchen is and always has been the centre of the home probably originally because the fire was kept going to cook the food and was therefore the warmest room in the house. It is a place where I feel comfortable and ‘at home’ and that is not just because I love food…It is in my kitchen that magic happens.

MS: You also go under the name Tansy Firedragon. Is this your magical moniker, and can you tell us how it came about, or is it a secret?

RP: Tansy Firedragon is indeed my Craft name and I have used it for many years. Tansy came from a visit to a local Roman palace where they were hosting a Celtic re-enactment day. There was a lady cooking ancient Celtic recipes and a lot of them used the herb Tansy, one in particular caught my attention and that was Tansy pudding. The name resonated with me and as I love working with herbs and cooking it seemed to fit me well. Fire is my favourite element to work with and I work with dragon magic a lot so that fell into place too.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about the talk you recently did at The Enchanted Market, in Bracknell?

RP: The Enchanted Market is now in its third year and is run by Max and Baz from the band Spriggan Mist and it is a wonderful event to be a small part of. My talk this year was about Animal Magic and working with spirit animals. I talked about where to start to find your spirit animal guide, how to connect, how to keep working with guides and we also did a meditation to meet an animal spirit guide. We had lots of different animals appear such as deer, frog, bat and even a dung beetle!

MS: How many students does the Kitchen Witch School have, and how do you manage your teaching alongside being an author and a busy witch?

RP: The numbers vary as we are online and therefore open to students from around the world but I co-run the school with my friend Tracey Roberts (Sunchylde Dryadmoon) and we split the students between us so that we can always provide one to one mentorship. It is very important to us to always be available to our students and never to take on too many so as to be overwhelmed. We also have a team of Hearth Guardians who are students that have worked through the three levels at the school and have either already earnt their High Priestess titles or are currently working on it. They provide another level of support to Tracey and myself but also to the students.

I am always busy! I also have a job out in the real world and two school age children so life is definitely all about finding the balance. Thankfully I work from home so it is easier to fit everything in, I don’t always achieve it but I try. The key for me is having a schedule, I use bullet points in my diary to plan out each week. And in recent years I have also learnt that it is OK to say no sometimes. I always felt that I had to do everything that everyone asked of me, which leads to being totally exhausted and overwhelmed. Now I weigh up each request and see how it fits into my diary and how it impacts other things. My family and own wellbeing has to come first.

 

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MS: Your upcoming book is Pagan Portals: Animal Magic. How did this volume come about?

RP: Working with animal spirit guides is one of my favourite areas of the Craft to work with and we teach about it within the Kitchen Witch School and we have run workshops as well so it seemed the natural next step to put it all together in a book.

MS: Who will this volume appeal to? Does it matter what path the reader is on, or is it accessible to people of all spiritualties?

RP: Hopefully to everyone! Although I am a Witch I have also delved into all sorts of magical pathways including Shamanic practice so it has elements of all sorts within the pages. I hope it offers something for everyone no matter what journey you are on.

MS: Previously you have written about topics as diverse as Hoodoo and The Cailleach. Do you find that you can work across many magical paths, and do you have a favourite type of magic, one that calls to you more than others?

RP: My witchcraft journey started in Wicca but probably because at the time that was the only structure of learning available to me. I did complete all three of the Wiccan degrees but I also started to venture off in different directions. I love to learn and I love to study so I have ventured into Hoodoo which I found I was working with a lot of anyway as it has folk magic roots but I have also studied all sorts of different pathways taking bits from each one that resonated with me and added them to my own practice. I am a bit of a miscellaneous witch really. In fact, at a recent talk a lovely lady suggested that I was a cocktail witch; lots of different flavours blended together with a paper umbrella and a plastic monkey…I like that description.

If you had to pin me down I guess the path of a Kitchen/Hedge Witch is my real calling with a bit of goddess spirituality thrown in for good measure.

MS: You write a great deal about magical food and plants. How did you first discover the intertwining nature of food and magic?

RP: Working with herbs was one of the first areas of the Craft that I really connected with. I love gardening, cooking and eating so it all felt very natural to me. Once I had worked with herbs for magic it seemed only logical that food ingredients would have magical properties too.

As a busy working mother and wife, I have to work a lot of my magical practice into everyday chores and cooking is one of my passions and also a daily necessity so it just fell into place that I add magic into creating food.

We also started baking cakes for our open rituals and workshops…we have ended up with a bit of a reputation as cake witches…

MS: Is there a special or sacred place where you can relax and unwind, away from the hustle and bustle?

RP: My garden is my sanctuary. It is not large (we live in a terraced house on the edge of a city) but it is the place that I love to escape to. There is something magical about sitting in the peace and quiet of the garden surrounded by plants that I have grown and tended.

MS: What’s your favourite festival throughout the year, and how do you mark or celebrate this?

RP: This is a tricky one because although I originally learnt and followed the dates of all the sabbats, a few years ago, I realised that I was not connecting very well with most of them mainly due to the mad weather we have. I suspect Mother Nature is menopausal. When it was too warm to wear a coat on the winter solstice and geraniums were still flowering in January it all seemed a bit upside down. So, I started to work more with the energy of each month rather than dates of festivals on a calendar and then it progressed and now I actually work with the energy of each day. One of our lovely Hearth Guardians calls it ‘falling off the Wheel’.

My birthday is 31st October (yes really) so I should like Samhain best but I prefer the energy of December and the build up to the festive season, so Yule is probably the festival I feel most connected to.

MS: What books can we expect from you next, after Animal Magic?

RP: I have three more signed contracts:

Witchcraft…into the wilds – the manuscript for that is nearly finished.

“A book that leads us through the wilds of nature and back to the roots and bones of witchcraft, a natural witchcraft that works with the seasons and all the natural items that Mother Nature provides drawing on magical folk lore and a little bit of gypsy magic too. No fancy schmany tools or ceremonial rituals, this is about working with the source. Mother Earth provides us with the changing of the seasons and within that turning of the year she gives us everything we need to work magic with from natural energy in the form of storms, rain and sunshine to tangible items packed full of magical energy such as seeds, leaves and stones.”

And then probably for 2018:

Pagan Portals: The Triple Goddess

“An introduction to the mystery and magic of the Triple Goddess exploring her history, meaning and individual faces.”

And:

Beneath the moon: Witchcraft and moon magic for a deeper practice

“A full and in depth book about working with the moon and the magic that she offers.”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have music that you enjoy, or a favourite book to lose yourself in?

I love to cook, specifically baking whether it is bread or cakes.

I love to read and my favourite author by far is Terry Pratchett.

My husband is in a rock band so music is always a big part of our life and my favourite band is Fleetwood Mac.

I make sure I have spare time and that is spent with my husband and children.

Who has been your biggest inspiration along your magical journey?

I have had some very good teachers during my years but I think the honest answer to this question is ‘my students’. The people that I have walked beside during their journeys have taught me so much.

And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

I am very blessed to be able to do what I do so continuing to write and share with others that which I have learnt and to spend more time with my lovely family. I do count my blessings, perhaps not as much as I should but I am thankful for the life that I lead…so more of the same for 2017 would be great!

Find out more about Kitchen Witchery at http://www.kitchenwitchhearth.net/ and http://www.rachelpatterson.co.uk/, and you can follow Rachel on her own blog, at Witches and Pagans and via Patheos.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Interview with Elen Sentier: British Shaman

March, 2017

Elen Sentier: British Shaman

 

Elen

 

Elen Sentier walks in the Deer Trods of Elen of the Ways, and has written about this and many other magical topics. She is awenydd, spirit keeper, and keeps old British ways alive, passing them on for future generations. Elen spoke to Mabh here at Pagan Pages about her books, her magical life and more.

Mabh Savage: Your most recent release is Merlin: Once and Future Wizard. What inspired you to write this volume?

Elen Sentier: Well, actually, my publisher had the idea and commissioned it. It was great fun, and it seemed that he was thinking about Merlin at the same time as I was, and more than that, he didn’t want yet another academic-style treatise but something more personal. Our conversation ended with me saying, “Well, I’ve known him [Merlin] all my life.” To which Trevor replied, “Well, you’d better write him then.” Trevor also dreamed up the title – Merlin: Once & Future Wizard. He must have read the English author TH (Tim) White’s lovely sequence of hurian novels, The Once and Future King. It certainly fits Merlin as I’ve always known him.

MS: What were the biggest challenges writing this book? And what did you enjoy the most about it?

ES: Oooo heck! Challenges … I suppose, really, the worst was, and still is, exposing myself. In this day and age of debunking, especially esoteric stuff, it’s very scary to come out about have a personal relationship with someone known as perhaps the most famous wizard in the world. I could imagine the comments of “Oh come off it!”, and the potential shredding by academics. I talked about it with my husband who reminded me of the Hamlet quote, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” It worked, began a new way of feeling for me. And then I remembered some work, early on, with my psychology teacher, Ian Gordon-Brown. He disagreed with an experience I’d had in an active imagination exercise, shredded it in fact. Then, at the end of the session he came over to our little group and said, “Wait! I must say something. I’m sorry, Elen, you were right and I was wrong. Your experience is yours, I should not have shredded it.” Remembering those two things, Hamlet and Ian Gordon-Brown, gave me a new vision of reality, and so the courage to get on and write the book as Trevor had asked me to.

I still worry, on and off, now, and I’m slightly nervous when people ask me about it, but I’ve got a handle on it now. It’s mine, it’s real, it happened and – even more important for me – it’s useful to others.

What did I enjoy most? Oh, the memories. I loved reliving the memories. Time-travelling. That’s what you do when you go over memories, you travel in time. Remembering the journey with my French teacher, when I was sixteen, was amazing and has encouraged me to spend a week in Brittany this summer, going there on my own two feet instead of in a spirit-journey. There was also a wonderful closeness feeling as I retold the story of how I came to live where I do. That’s all Merlin. After all, hereabouts is both one of his birthplaces and, nearby, is one of the places where his crustal cave is in the stories. I’ve been there, to the top of the little mountain called Mynydd Myrddin, taken students there, and every one of us has had a marvellous journey to the cave.

MS: Your author page tells us you grew up surrounded by mythology and cunning folk. What’s the most enduring memory of your formative years on Exmoor?

ES: There are so many! I loved going out with Uncle Jack. Sometimes we would sit under a tree most of the night, in the dark, watching and listening to the wild night-animals come round us. We sat very still, I learned what fun it was to be still from a very early age, how wildlife would come up to you, and that if you screamed and fussed and shouted you never got to see anything. Uncle Jack could call wild hawks down to his wrist, and owls too, and I’ve sat beside him when he had an adder twined round his wrist, stroked her even. And I can still call owls now, and ravens.

MS: What inspired you to pass on the old ways of British shamanism and magic?

ES: I think it was the shouting! Otherworld can be rather like the Vogon guards in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I sometimes think they’re only in it for the shouting! They pestered me, shouted at me, hung spirit-carrots in front of me to lure me on, fed me fun happenings, and generally coerced me into passing them on. And they’re right, it’s great fun, students are great fun and so are readers. Readers quite often come back to me, through Facebook usually, with comments and questions and descriptions of things that have happened to them. I love this, and I often learn from them too. I’m always happy when I get feedback from readers.

Also, I feel it’s absolutely vital that we remember that, here in Britain, we have our own tradition. Archaeology tells us there’ve been humans here for at least one million years, and they even found little goddess amulets. Then there’s the cave with the sophisticated abstract reindeer drawing over in West Wales; the faint scratchings on the wall show a reindeer with a spear in its neck, and date back 14000 years. We have plenty to know and learn here, from our own spirit of place, spirit of Britain, we don’t need to look abroad, and the world will be richer for us remembering and bringing the old ways to light.

MS: Do you feel more at home in the Welsh Marches than you did on Exmoor, or does each place have its own magic for you?

ES: I love both, and Dartmoor too which is where I was born and lived until I was about seven years old. And part of my soul always lives in the far north Highlands of Scotland, in Assynt, and also on Orkney. I have spirit-memories from many places. I love living in the Welsh Marches now, it’s home, and although I still travel it wonderful to come back. And I love going back to Exmoor which I do with my students every autumn for their practical workshops. Each one has its own magic, its own spirit of place within the over-lighting spirit of Britain.

MS: Do you have a favourite book that you have penned so far?

ES: Very difficult, I’ve loved writing them all. I think, if pushed, I go back to the novels. I love writing fiction and all my fiction is bound up with the old ways of Britain while, at the same time being stories of mystery, danger and love. I’ve learned a great deal throughout my life from reading good fiction, probably more from that than from non-fiction, after all we all live a good story, don’t we? I hope I’m slowly contributing to those.

MS: And what’s your favourite book to read for pleasure?

ES: It changes all the time, with my mood, the seasons, the weather. If the house was burning down, or I was about to be dumped on the desert island I’d have to demand to be left with more than one. At the moment the choice would be The Wood Wife by Terri Windling, The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart, Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K le Guin, and the 10 Amber novels by Roger Zelazny. There, you see? All fiction LOL.

MS: Who or what inspires you the most, either as an author or as a magical person?

ES: Waking up every day to something new to do. Working for otherworld – which is what I do – is such fun, and anything that’s fun inspires me. I really do get something new to do, write, explore, teach, tell, draw, paint, sing or just enjoy, every single day. Oh, and the dreams each night are good too *smile*.

MS: What new books can we expect from you in the coming months/years?

ES: Well, I’m under contract to finish the Numerology book at the moment, it should go into production over the summer. Then I’m contracted to do a compilation book called “Conversations with Witches”. It will be a collection of conversations with witches coming from all sorts of British traditions and will be a lot of work but great fun to do. And I’m going great guns with the third novel too. It’s another mystery, and romance, set in London and down in the Cathar country of southwest France, which I know very well. And no, it’s not another variation on the Da Vinci Code! It’s being great fun to write and I hope you’ll all enjoy reading it as much as I am writing it.

MS: Most people might not be aware that there is a tradition of British Shamanism. Can you tell us a little bit about being a British Shaman?

ES: Ooof! There is one fundamental principle to the old ways of Britain and that is to ask. We ask everything, all the time. Other traditions speak of anima (spirit or soul) in all things and we know this too, and we act on it. We ask the trees and the spirits of place, the rivers and the hills, and all the spirits of otherworld … but we also ask things many folk consider inanimate like our car, fridge, computer, teapot, the house we live in, the central heating, etc etc. That likely sounds fairly weird because most people are not used to it. But it works. You can ask my students if you like.

Asking, being able and willing to ask, put you in a whole different relationship with everything. By asking, you acknowledge it has spirit, is alive in its own way, can help you, and also has its own opinion on what you’re doing. That is truly acknowledging you are connected to everything. It’s hard to learn for many, they come to it in the middle of their lives, already very well ingrained in the idea that humans are top-dog and everything else is here just for us to use. Learning to ask tips all those ideas on their heads.

So we truly work with everything, knowing ourselves to be the most junior species on the Earth, and learning from everything else, for everything else is our elder brethren – and all shamanic traditions teach that, including ours.

 

Elen2

 

MS: How have your presentations on Merlin, Thresholds and the Fatherless Child been received?

ES: Very well, very enjoyable. I’m now looking forward to do the workshop on it on 2-4 June at my home here in the Welsh Marches. There are a couple of places left … but probably not for long.

MS: Once and Future Wizard is a Pagan Portal, an introductory volume; would you expand upon this at any point to give us a larger volume on Merlin?

ES: I really don’t know. It’s one of the questions I’ll be asking when I go to Brittany this summer. I’ll be staying in what was the old Broceliande so it’s a good place to ask. It’s possible …

MS: What is your favourite time of the year, or festival, and how do you mark or celebrate it?

ES: I love all our seasons, and the eight seasons of the year in our old ways. The busiest season for me is from Midwinter through Sun-Return and on to 12th Night. I’m working every day then, partly because of the biodynamics we do. Midwinter is the turning of the year, the real new year because this is the time the sun itself turns around, from midwinter the days begin to get longer again, so this is my new year celebration, not the silly human calendrical 1st Jan. I celebrate from Midwinter’s Eve, 20th Dec, right through to the Wassail of 6th Jan. perhaps the most important part of the celebration is making the biodynamic potion of frankincense, gold and myrrh, the three things represent upperworld, middleworld and lowerworld. It begins on Midwinter’s Eve and the potion is gradually made up to 5th Jan then, on 12th Night (6th Jan) I sprinkle it on the garden.

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

Finishing the novel! It has to be that, I’m loving writing it but I need to get it out there … it needs to come to birth.

You can find out more about Elen and her work at www.elensentier.co.uk and on Twitter, Facebook and her book are widely available.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Interview: Melusine Draco- Author, Teacher & Witch

February, 2017

Melusine Draco: Author, Teacher and Witch

 

Melusine Draco

 

Melusine Draco is a very prolific author, with titles ranging from Pagan Portals: Pan to Starchild I: The rediscovery of stellar wisdom. Melusine talked to Mabh at Pagan Pages about her writing, her teaching and other mysteries.

Mabh Savage: Why are some of your books under the name Suzanne Ruthven and some under Melusine Draco?

Melusine Draco: For many years the ‘day job’ was working as a creative writing tutor, author and editor of a creative writing magazine. In order to keep the persona different from my esoteric writing there had to be a different name for readers to identify with. I’ve written fact and fiction under both names, and the lines get blurred sometimes but there’s no real problem anymore as I do very little tutoring work outside my own personal writing interests. Nowadays I use my real name for the non-magical novel series, i.e. The Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries (set in the antiques trade) and The Vampyre’s Tale series, although my first magical novel, Whittlewood, was published under that name. Melusine Draco writes all the magical stuff including the novels in the Temple House Archive series.

MS: What is the book you are proudest of, if you have one?

MD: Actually there are three and for completely different reasons. The Dictionary of Magic and Mystery was never intended for publication having been compiled for my own personal use. John Hunt thought it might make a good addition to Moon since it has more entries than anything similar in publication. Wearing my writing tutor’s hat, I can honestly say it is a really useful book for esoteric writers.

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones reflects the essence of the magic taught by Coven of the Scales in that we draw our energy from what’s beneath our feet. One of my tutors had a doctorate in geology and so I had a thorough grounding in the subject and this was my offering of thanks in recognition of the knowledge that had been passed on.

Root and Branch: British Magical Tree Lore has just been re-released and gives a glimpse into the world I grew up in – a countryside unspoiled by urban development. Again there is another aspect of CoS teaching encapsulated in its pages.

MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

MD: I enjoy writing novels because there are no limits to where the imagination can take you. With non-fiction you are confined by the factual brief of the subject matter – although one reviewer commented that one of my non-fiction titles ‘feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet’. I was very moved by that comment because I felt as though I’d reached out and touched him.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about Coven of the Scales? How did it start, and how many students do you have?

MD: The Coven is traditional British Old Craft and was founded by Meriem and Bob Clay-Egerton from a lineage that can trace its roots back to the mid-1880s in Cheshire. I’ve been acting as caretaker for the past ten years since their deaths, and officially retired as of 1st January, because I have a wonderful husband and wife team to take over as Magister and Dame – although I remain Head of the Order to help with any magical queries. Students have to complete a year’s probationary course before they are accepted as full members; and since we are an Initiatory Order, this is the next step on their magical journey. We currently have a dozen full members and some twenty students at varying stages of study.

MS: How do you balance the needs of your students with being such a prolific writer?

MD: Ten years’ experience as a conference organiser means you can balance anything! I have set days for dealing with specific jobs

MS: You are also involved with the Temple of Khem. Do the two groups have any cross over, or are they completely separate?

MD: I am Principal of the Temple of Khem and the Egyptian Mystery Tradition has always been my first love. Now that I’ve discharged my obligation to CoS I have returned full-time to ToK. They are completely separate organisations and do not interact with each other since the magico-mystical methods and techniques are not compatible. The existing ToK members have been with me for a long time

MS: Do you find one aspect of the Craft appeals to you more than the others? Or are they all equally fascinating?

MD: Back to those natural earth energies and tides, I suppose. It never ceases to amaze me just how simple it is to harmonise with them and utilise them for magical purposes.

MS: In several places, your teaching methods are described as ‘Highly individualistic.’ What is it that makes your mentoring style so unique?

MD: The wording isn’t mine, by the way, it came from a student who was asked how it was for him, and it stuck! The simple answer is because I don’t teach from books or any provide set answers – and it’s possibly very much a case of ‘you have to have been there’ to fully appreciate the technique. Each student is catered for according to their needs and strengths and each one is completely different; therefore, the teaching comes from the student’s answers to a question, and my response in order to open up a dialogue about magical applications – and not just a straightforward Q&A session.

 

Melusine Draco2

 

MS: Your latest book, Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root, is already receiving some great previews ahead of its February release. What inspired you to write this volume?

MD: Yes, people are saying some very positive things about the book and it gives a nice warm feeling inside to read them. The inspiration came from research I was doing for one of my novels and, like Topsy, it just grewed!

MS: Do you have your own garden of poisonous or unusual plants?

MD: No, but I have an acre of uncultivated land surrounding the cottage and many of these plants grow quite naturally without any help from me. In the summer and autumn my woody nightshade is a joy to behold.

MS: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? And what was the best thing about the process?

MD: At the risk of sounding flippant, there was little challenge as it wrote itself. The most interesting thing about the process was the direction it took in making the point that the poisoning Olympians of history weren’t witches at all.

MS: Another popular series you have written is the Traditional Witchcraft series, of which there are six volumes currently. Are you planning to add to this series?

MD: No. I’ve said all I have to say on that particular subject since the series takes the reader on a journey from beginner to initiate without giving any ‘secrets’ away. Book learning is always only an introduction to any esoteric system – it’s the personal journey that provides the answers. We can, however, arrive at Initiate level and still come to realise that we know nothing!

MS: What other books do you have planned for the future? Are you working on anything currently?

MD: The second book in the Hugo Braithwaite series is at the proofing stage and the third in the series of The Temple House Archive is almost finished. Then it’s back to The Vampyre’s Tale … there are a few non-fiction ideas moving around in there but nothing concrete yet.

MS: Do you have a favourite sacred or spiritual place that you like to retreat to?

MD: I’m in the throes of creating an authentic Japanese Garden in a private corner that will be my own private space for musing and meditation.

MS: How do you relax when taking a break from teaching or writing?

MD: I’m (un)lucky that writing is my work and my hobby, so I find fiction writing to be my relaxation. Now that I’m officially retired from Coven of the Scales I hope to find the time to create a new vegetable garden complete with greenhouse. So that should keep me busy for the summer.

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

MD: Nothing for the moment but I dare say I will soon have my lot quaking in their boots when they hear those dreaded words: “I’ve had an idea!”

Find out more:

Website: http://www.covenofthescales.com

Website: http://www.templeofkhem.com

Blog: http://melusinedracoattempleofkhem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Melusine-Draco-486677478165958

http://www.facebook.com/TradBritOldCraft

http:// www.facebook.com/TempleofKhem

http://www.facebook.com/TempleHouseArchive

https://www.facebook.com/BraithwaiteMysteryRuthven/

https://www.facebook.com/VampyresTale/

 

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Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com

Interview with Author Nikki Starcat Shields

December, 2016

Nikki Starcat Shields: Centered in Reverence and Joy

 

starcat

 

Starcat is a Pagan based in Maine, and the author of numerous books, including Starcat’s Corner: Essays on Pagan Living. She’s the co-creator of the 30-Day Core Belief Kit and a personal spiritual coach. Despite her busy life, Starcat took the time to talk to Mabh at Pagan Pages about her world and her inspiration.
Mabh Savage: Where does the beautiful name Starcat come from?
Starcat: When I was choosing my Pagan name, more than 20 years ago now, I was inspired by Starhawk’s writings and her name. I too resonate strongly with the stars, and I have had a lifelong love of all things feline. So I decided to choose the name Starcat. Years later, when I attended a Reclaiming Witch Camp, I was worried that some of the people there who knew Starhawk might think my name was a bit of a rip-off of hers, but actually when I chatted with them about it, they thought it was a lovely tribute.
MS: When did you start documenting your experiences as a Pagan? What inspired you to do this?
NSS: I began in the early 1990s, when I discovered that there were others who had beliefs similar to mine. I found a local newsletter that was published by the EarthTides Pagan Network, a group of Pagans in Maine who had formed in order to network with other Pagans in those pre-Internet times. I wrote a letter in response to one of the articles in the newsletter, and the editor wrote back and encouraged me to share my own thoughts by writing regularly for their publication.
MS: When did you realise you could make the transition from blogging to a book?
NSS: Well, first came the transition from writing for the EarthTides newsletter into starting a blog, which happened in 2006. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but was discouraged from it by family and teachers who felt that I should focus my efforts on a career that would earn me a living. When I began to revive my dream, it occurred to me that I had been writing for a while, and could share those thoughts and ideas with readers in the form of a book.
MS: Were there any challenges putting the book together? What did you enjoy most about it?
NSS: I loved putting the book together, because I could really see my evolution as a writer and a Pagan, and I figured that my journey might help to inspire others on their own path. One challenge was making sure that readers understood that the writing was done over the course of more than a decade, so the writing “voice” wouldn’t be exactly the same throughout the book. I think we accomplished that through the way the book is organized and the explanation given in the introduction.
MS: Are you planning any more books? If so, would they follow the same format or something new?
NSS: I have actually since written and self-published a couple of books, which are intended for a wider audience interested in personal spirituality, not just for Pagans. As for more Pagan books, I’ve been branching out into writing fiction. It is urban fantasy, and the main characters are Pagan. I’m still in the early stages, but I look forward to sharing this new endeavor in the next year or two. Also, a long-time Pagan friend of mine asked me when I was going to stop writing introductory-type books and start branching out into sharing more intermediate ideas and practices. So that’s a new and intriguing idea.

starcat

 

MS: Who do you think will get the most out of your book [Starcat’s Corner: Essays on Pagan Living]?
NSS: I think that it’s targeted to those who are either new to Paganism, or have practiced for a while but are looking for some inspiration. It’s for those who want to bring their Pagan beliefs and practices more fully into their everyday lives. That’s the main focus of the book.
MS: Tell us a bit about the EarthTides Pagan Network.
NSS: The EarthTides Pagan Network was formed in 1989 in order to help Maine Pagans find each other in those years before the Internet. Maine has a small population, but is spread out over a fairly large geographical area. The Network helped us to find one another and stay in touch when Paganism was still fairly obscure in the area and there weren’t easy ways to stay in touch. These days, the Network hosts the annual Beltane on the Beach celebration each May, which is well attended, and offers a booth at an autumn organic-living fair.
MS: How do you keep a connection to nature in our modern and ever changing world?
NSS: I am blessed to live in a beautiful rural area where I am surrounded by natural landscapes. So, simply spending plenty of time outdoors, especially barefoot, helps me stay connected. I also honor the passing of the seasons and the phases of the moon, which helps me to stay in tune. Daily meditation is my favorite spiritual practice; I do at least 20 minutes of silent meditation each morning.
MS: What is your favourite spiritual place?
NSS: My favorite spiritual place is Acadia National Park, located in Down East Maine. The energies there are incredible. It’s very fae. You can hike through the forest, emerging onto a pink-granite hilltop, where the view is the ocean all around you, sparkling and gorgeous. I love it there.
MS: What music are you listening to at the moment? Do you have a favourite piece that is magical for you?
NSS: I like all kinds of different music. I really love Michael Franti and Spearhead, and their latest song, Once a Day, is very uplifting and magickal for me. I’ve also been enjoying Anoushka Shankar’s album Traces of You. It’s excellent.
MS: Do you have a favourite season or time of the year?
NSS: Late summer into early autumn is my favorite. It’s still warm enough to spend time outdoors, and that vibrant harvest energy of fall is in full swing. My birthday is in mid-September, so it feels like a special time of year for me.
MS: What inspires you on a day to day basis?
NSS: Meditation, my dreams, reading lots of books of various genres. I love stories, and they always inspire me. Actually, the Doctor Who TV series is very inspiring, because it makes me think about alien life and other planes of existence and all kinds of magickal philosophies.
MS: If you could give one piece of advice to someone venturing onto a Pagan path, what would it be?
NSS: I would encourage them to listen to their inner wisdom. It can take some practice to tune into your inner voice, because we’re not encouraged to do so in modern society. But with time and attention, you’ll discover a rich inner well of inspiration and connection. Your intuition can lead you to more joy, love, creativity, and magick.
MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in the coming months?
NSS: My partner and I have a business called Feline Dreamers, and we help people connect with their own inner wisdom with a variety of tools, including guided meditations, Reiki, and spiritual mentoring. I was inspired to create a new program called The Heart of the Goddess, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with our clients this year, and helping more people to get in tune with the Divine Feminine that resides within each of us. I believe that’s what our planet needs, the expansion of human consciousness, so that we’ll begin to live more in harmony with nature and the cosmos. We’re all contributing to this evolution in our own ways.
Starcat can be found on her website, and you can purchase Starcat’s Corner at Amazon and other reputable bookstores. Follow her blog at http://www.starcatscorner.com
Mabh Savage is a Pagan writer and journalist, and the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. You can follow Mabh at soundsoftime.wordpress.com.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

September, 2016

 

Book Review:“The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes

spell1

Merry meet.

Some books stand the test of time and I find myself returning to them time and time again. “The Big Book of Practical Spells” is one of those books, in part because it’s in its third incarnation. In 2001, it was published as “Earth Mother Magic” and again in 2007 as “Pure Magic.” It was Judika Illes’ first published book.

Into it, she poured all her working knowledge of magic, making it a comprehensive reference book for those new to the path as well as for those with experience. The first part covers working with the earth, a glossary of magical vocabulary, a primer on the elements, supplies and more. Part Two discusses magic allies such as animal totems, ancestors, crystals, botanicals, altars and dreams. The last section has spells for 16 different situations including protection, psychic enhancement, fertility, money and healing.

The book serves as a basic reference with solid, accurate, practical information, making magic accessible to everyone.

It has been around longer than I’ve consciously been a witch, and I’ve referred to it along the way. Like many others, I learned much of what I know about paganism and witchcraft through books. Starting out, their quality is especially important because you have no other frame of reference. I appreciated the introduction this book gave to many aspects of magic. It was also important to me to learn early on that there was no one right way to practice magic, and that its most important elements were the desire and focused energy I brought to it.

Illes explains that magic in its purest form is a dialogue between you and the earth. “Magic is your birthright,” she states. Then she offers straightforward, easy steps to working with energies and magical allies.

Can’t decide which psychic enhancement spell or which luck spell is most suited or most powerful? Illes’ sound advice, given in the introduction to the section on spells is, “Read through them and see which ones call to you.”

Looking through the latest book, published in June 2106, I found it still had things to teach me. For instance, I did not know that copper is a purely positive metal, that it’s sacred in some cultures, or that it stimulates romance and healing.

On Amazon, Illes’ page reads, “When I was six, my older sister brought home a deck of tarot cards. I took one look at them and fell in love. Around the same time, I heard (and loved) the Rolling Stones’ version of Benny Spellman’s song, ‘Fortune Teller.’ Either or both of those experiences may have been what started my career. I have been a student of metaphysics and the magical arts ever since.”

The Big Book of Practical Spells” is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her other books include, “Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells,” “Encyclopedia of Spirits,” “Encyclopedia of Witch Craft,” “The Fantastic and Forgotten,” and “Magic When You Need It.”

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

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