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Interview with Author Rose Orriculum

November, 2018

Interview with Author & Spell Writer Rose Orriculum

 

 

Rose Orriculum is the author of Pastel Spells & Of Witchcraft and Whimsy. She also hosts a blog on Tumblr with links to pages of great help and information from herself. She also has a YouTube Channel and her own Etsy. Her books, and the spells used in them, are from Rose’s personal collection. After reviewing her 2 books in this issue, I had the chance to interview her.

Deanna (D) – You currently have two books published, Pastel Spells and Of Witchcraft and Whimsy. Do you have any other projects in the works?

Rose Orriculum (R)- There’s one witchy project that is going very slowly, a potions recipe book. It keeps getting pushed to the back burner by other writing projects and schoolwork. I hope to dedicate some time to it soon.

D – Pastel Spells is full of different spells, “most of them centering around the concepts of love, self-care, and healing”, although there are a few curses towards the back. Do you find that it is important to know how to curse even if we never use them?

R – I think it’s important to be familiar with structure and practice of curses, if not for your own use but to be aware of how to recognize one in effect and how to respond. Just because someone never intends to, say, be an accountant, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a working understanding of taxes and the math behind it, because the need for at least some basic knowledge of those comes up in life every so often.

I know relationships and self-care seem sweet and clean, but I think healing is more complex than that. Healing involves expelling bile and sweating out fevers, and strong emotional scars that need to be processed are no different. Jumping immediately to forgiveness and happiness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and not every situation calls for it, so sometimes healing is ugly and involves holding the people who hurt you responsible, sometimes healing means being proactive and binding them from hurting others the way they hurt you.

D – I was surprised to see how simple these spells truly are. The ingredients can mostly be found around the home, and the spell itself doesn’t seem to take very long. Pastel Spells really brings magic back to its simple core. What would you say to someone who believes magic should be more complicated?

R – I suppose I’d ask why they feel it needs to be complicated, what do we gain by making things needlessly complex and inaccessible? Does the same logic that more components to a spell will make it stronger rather than filled with redundancies or conflicting intents lend to the idea that simply more is better? Should then I stuff my spells with, say, several cups of salt rather than a teaspoon? What motivates the need to complicate things? Is it an agenda of aesthetic and pride or is it purely based in research?

While I suppose some spells may demand particular nuance in the correspondences of the ingredients and therefore demand several, not everything needs to be a strenuous production, not every spell is a goetic summoning. In regional and folk witchcraft, there’s a simplicity to them with practices that are so small they become ingrained in everyone as superstitions. Tossing salt over your shoulder, painting the porch ceiling faint blue, sprinkling a pinch of cinnamon out the window, all those little things. I really think that is the core of magic, a collection of little things that ease the way and blend witchcraft into everyday life.

D – In the foreword of Pastel Spells, you mention “blowing out birthday candles and hoping it would draw whatever student I had a crush on that week closer”, it seems that you have been practicing magic from a young age. How old were you when you started practicing?

R – Ooh, hard to put a number on that. I think children tend to believe in a more fairy-tale idea of magic being inherent in the world, and as a child I really tried to hold onto that. It was definitely somewhere in high school I discovered witchcraft was practiced by real people in real life, and I began to ease into that.

D – Out of all the spells listed in Pastel Spells, do you have a favorite one or one that you seem to cast more than others?

R – I think it’s called the “sweet and salty love spell”, probably because I have all the ingredients on my desk. It happens more by accident than anything else, I think to myself I’ll do a little impromptu magic, cobble together some things within reach, and then oh dear I’ve made that one again, sugar, salt, and rose petals. It’s a weird habit now and I’m too embarrassed to count how many jars of that I have lying around.

D – Of Witchcraft and Whimsy is listed as a beginner’s guide to witchcraft but it is truly more than that. What were you hoping to accomplish with this book?

R – Honestly all I ever intended it to be was just a beginner’s guide. It was a summation of the general basics that seemed to be agreed upon the pagan and witchy people I’d come across, a series of notes and a rundown of topics in witchcraft that I might as well put together. It still doesn’t feel like much of a book to me, maybe a pamphlet. Someone remarked to me that it felt like a very brief overview on a bunch of smaller topics, and I wish I had put more into it and gone into the depth each topic deserved.

D – One of my favorite sections is on coffee, tea, hot chocolate and infused water. “There are plenty of ways to work a little magic into your day without doing a full-on ritual…”, this is a great reminder that spells can be very simple but effective. Do you have a go to drink concoction that you use daily?

R – It’s a little silly but the two main things in my life I focus on are my projects and love in all things, so coffee with chocolate. That’s a Capricorn sun and moon in the fifth house for you. Also doesn’t hurt that it’s just a good drink.

D – Witchcraft is never just white and black, and there are many different areas, sects, and branches. However, witchcraft always seems to teach us something. What is the biggest lesson that witchcraft has taught you?

R – The power of names and the act of naming something. Those hold more weight than we think, but rarely do we take on the power of naming, of deciding and designating, but it definitely starts when someone first chooses to call themself a witch. That’s the beginning of discovering what personal agency is, and it lends to just how much control you have over yourself, inside and out, that I don’t think we’re ever reminded to stop and consider.

D – If you could give a beginner a piece of advice, what would it be?

R – Well, a question I get a lot is always where specifically to start, so I’d say to take time to assess what you are already, because the dearest parts of your craft will grow from what’s already in you, whether they were childhood superstitions, or a topic you’ve always found fascinating. Your craft isn’t a performance for other people, it’s a celebration of yourself, and an exercise in introspection.

D – In Pastel Spells you mention a blog. How can people get in touch with you?

R – The easiest way might be my blog Orriculum.tumblr.com, but there is also an email Orriculum.rose@gmail.com.

 

We’d like to thank the beautiful Rose Orriculum for sharing some of herself with us and our readers!

 

Where You can reach Rose Orriculum:

Email: Orriculum.rose@gmail.com

Tumblr Blog: Tumblr

YouTube Channel: YouTube Channel

Etsy: Etsy

 

Her Works:

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft on Amazon

Pastel Spells on Amazon

The How-To Guide on Washing Your Hair with Natural Ingredients

December, 2017

A Few Words

Tired of all the chemicals beauty products put into your hair? There is an alternative and it may be more beneficial than using store-bought shampoos. If you love your hair, then you should consider switching to using natural ingredients to clean your hair.

Natural ingredients bring with them all the vital nutrients your hair needs to look its best. If your hair looks good, then so do you. You may not be sure that you can use natural ingredients on your hair. That is okay, our guide on how to do wash hair properly with natural ingredients will provide you with the confidence you need to try it yourself.

The Benefits of Using Natural Ingredients

(Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/spices-jar-kitchen-cooking-wooden-2548653/)

Everyone knows what store bought shampoos bring to your hair. Most are great products that contain the vitamins and nutrients your hair needs to shine and look great.

Sadly, most of these products also bring a lot of harsh chemicals that may bring you shiny hair but it will also damage your hair as well. Cleaning your hair with natural ingredients brings all the vitamins, nutrients and other vital natural contributors your hair needs to feel soft, be shiny and look healthy, without the harmful chemicals.

If you add baking soda to your new natural ingredient shampoo you will be able to remove all the dirt, grime and other buildups that comes from using other shampoos and cleaners. But only use baking soda on rare occasions each month. Too much of this natural alternative will also hurt your hair.

Step by Step Guide

Learning how to wash your hair using natural ingredients is quite simple. You do not need an advanced degree in chemistry or be a rocket scientist to mix the new cleaning mixture together and clean your hair.

Here is one simple and easy-to-use method that will change your life and how you will wash your hair in the future.

  1. Gather your ingredients – in this method you will need water, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and a cup.
  2. Add baking soda to water – you will only need to use just enough water in order to make a nice paste and to cover your head.
  3. Massage – you apply this paste to your scalp and roots only. Massage the paste so it covers all of your head and then after a few minutes of massaging let it sit. Make sure you do your temples and the back of your head completely.
  4. Mix the vinegar in water – you will only need approx.. 2 tbsps. of vinegar and between 8-12 ounces of water.
  5. Rinse the baking soda paste – you need to rinse the baking soda and water paste out of your hair before applying the vinegar and water mixture.
  6. Pour the vinegar and water over the ends of your hair and let it sit for roughly one to two minutes then rinse that mixture out as well.

And that is it. We told you it was simple and easy. There are other methods you can use, just click on the word methods to find what those are.

You do not have to worry about a shortage of alternative ways to clean your hair with natural ingredients. There are a variety of recipes that will help you avoid the risk of using too many chemicals.

Shampoo:

  • 2-3 raw eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. of honey (melted)
  • Mix thoroughly

Rinsing mix:

  • 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 liter of water
  • 3 drops of scented essential oil

Of course, the amount of the ingredients will vary depending upon the length of your hair

A Word to the Wise

Don’t believe every word you hear about washing your hair with natural ingredients. Your results will vary and not all natural ingredient shampoos work right away. It may take a few shampoos to see and feel the difference. You may need to customize the amount of ingredients you use to fit your hair quality and make up.

Some Final Words

Switching to natural ingredients may be your ticket to being the envy of all the women you know. You can get that great store-bought shampoo look without hurting your hair with the harsh chemicals they use.

Using natural ingredients is easy and simple. It may even save you money as you possibly have the ingredients in your home right now. One key to having great looking hair is to make sure that you do not wash it every day, even with natural ingredients. One last word you can dry your hair with the best hair dryer in the world but towel or sun drying is best.

 

***

About the Author:

 


Justin Bounds is the main editor at The Barbr – a Hair Care blog dedicated to providing honest advice and trustable information about the topic. He also spent hundreds of hours researching just to find out the most natural ways to take better care of our hair. He is also the author of 12 Bad Habits That Can Lead To Hair Loss. You can also follow him on Twitter to learn more about his work.

Merry Meet

December, 2016

marciayuleornies

 

                       Welcome

 

Our beautiful Front Page Image is the artwork of Marcia Stewart (RocknGoddess)interviewed in this issue of PaganPages.  

 

 

We have a Fantastic & Packed Yule Issue for you this month with some great features, such as…

 

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A Book Review on the book Meditative Mandala Stones By Maria Mercedes Trujillo Arango.  

 

 

starcat

 

An Interview with author  Nikki Starcat Shields.

 

paganway

The Final Episode of Patrick Kavanagh’s short story series Kiara!

 

gifts1

 

 

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone is running themselves ragged trying to find the “perfect” gift for each person on their list. Well Susan Morgaine decided to help us out this year with her article “Crafty” Gifts for Witches & Pagans: A Guide to Yule & Holiday Gifts

 

and much much more!!!

 

Join us on Facebook  & Twitter!!

 

 

 

Interview with Author Lucya Starza: The Bad Witch

April, 2016

Lucya Starza: The Bad Witch

lucy

 

Lucya is the author of the very popular Pagan Portals: Candle Magic, which has now spawned a series of workshops. Lucya also has a ‘bad witch’s blog’ which I hoped she would be able to tell me more about…

What inspired the name of your popular blog, badwitch.co.uk?

The name A Bad Witch’s Blog was inspired by the book How to be a Bad Birdwatcher, about birdwatching for people who only know how to identify normal garden birds. I wanted to get better at being a witch. I had been a witch for some time, but wanted an incentive to do more witchy things and learn more. Writing a regular blog forced me to read books that I’d meant to read for ages, to get to more pagan events and generally to be more active.

When did you first become drawn to witchcraft?

That’s a difficult question, because it depends how you define witchcraft. I came from a family that was into all things magical. My grandma was a Theosophist and had worked as an astrologer. My parents would probably best be described as New Age. My dad taught me palmistry and dowsing when I was a kid. Back in the 1960s, the word witch was still not a polite thing to call people. My school friends called my family witches – actually they also called my family The Addams Family – but that wouldn’t have been what anyone in my family called themselves.

When I was in my 20s I became interested in Celtic spirituality with a boyfriend. We would go into the countryside or onto the beach and spend time honouring the Celtic gods and goddesses in prayer or meditation. However, I didn’t technically become a witch until I was about 30. I trained with Shan at House of the Goddess, in London, and then later joined a Wiccan coven, where I was initiated.

Tell us a bit about Pagan Portals: Candle Magic. What prompted you to write this volume, and who is it aimed at?

Friends had been saying for a long time that I should write a book based on the type of things I write about in A Bad Witch’s Blog. Candle magic is my favourite type of magic, so it was the obvious choice of subject for me. The book is in Moon ’ Pagan Portals series, aimed at beginners to the Craft.

Can anyone perform candle magic?

Yes – and pretty much everyone does. Who hasn’t made a wish over the candles on a birthday cake?

How was the launch party at Treadwell’s?

It was lovely. Treadwell’s is a wonderful venue for the launch of any esoteric book. As well as being one of London’s best occult bookshops, it has a great basement room that is ideal for book launches. The staff looked after me very well too. Christina, who owns the shop, told me to just let the staff organise everything so I could be the “belle of the ball”. I must admit I did get a little tiddly, so perhaps it was best that I wasn’t doing the organising!

Are you planning workshops or courses on candle magic or similar subjects?

Christina invited me to run workshops on candle magic at Treadwell’s. The first one was a couple of days after the launch and was fully sold out. The next one is on April 9, but I think that’s sold out too. I expect I will run another later in the year. Here are the details: https://www.treadwells-london.com/event/practical-candle-magic-2/.

Was it a shock to find Sainsbury’s selling your book in the Satanism and Demonology section? Do youthink this is indicative of a wider misunderstanding of esoteric topics? Or is it more reassuring thatSainsbury’s is quite happy to even have a Satanism and Demonology section?

I think it is quite funny, but it is a bit sad that there is such a misunderstanding and that some people still think that anything to do with spellcraft and magic must also be Satanism.

Are you planning more books? What other projects do you have on the horizon?

Yes – when I get time to start writing it! I still write A Bad Witch’s Blog and put new posts up every day.

You recently used Thunderclap to promote your book. How do you think social media has transformed the way we market our products, whether these be books, crafts, music or any other creation?

Social media has transformed marketing massively. I used to work on a local newspaper and before social media most marketing involved sending out press releases to journalists and trying to get reviews in magazines and papers. That’s all changed. Now you need to promote products online first and foremost.

What are you looking forward to most in 2016?

I’m going to the Druid Camp (http://www.druidcamp.org.uk/) in the summer. I’ve been invited along to give tarot readings, but I am likely to also give a talk or workshop on candle magic. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Do you have a favourite season or time of the year, and why?

I love all the seasons; the first flowers in springtime, the long hot days of summer, the golden leaves in autumn and the festivals of midwinter. However, if I had to pick one as my absolute favourite it would be spring, when blossom is on the trees and the woods are a carpet of bluebells.

And is there a particular place that you find more magical than any other?

Yes indeed. To quote Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

Follow Lucya at her Bad Witch’s Blog and find her book on Amazon and all other good retailers.

Interview with Author Rebecca Beattie: Nature Mystic

April, 2016

Rebecca Beattie: Nature Mystic

RebeccaBeattie

 

Author of Pagan Portals: Nature Mystics, Rebecca is also a regular contributor to the UK’s premier Pagan magazine, Pagan Dawn, and is in the process of writing another book called Urban Nature Mystic. I had the chance to find out a bit more about Rebecca, and about nature mystics.

Tell us a bit about Pagan Portals: Nature Mystics. Who are Nature Mystics?

Nature Mystics are people who connect with Nature as a part of their spiritual lives, and experience mystical epiphanies in nature. A mystical epiphany is something that brings knowledge from outside of yourself, something you would not have otherwise known. They might have a slightly ‘otherworldly’ air, as they exist between different realities, and not just our supposedly solid, physical world. Nature Mystics can come from any religious or cultural background, and the mystical experiences will differ from person to person, depending on their worldview. For example, someone from an Abrahamic religion may frame that experience as being one that fits within their religious framework (seeing a burning bush is one example), while a pagan may encounter a god like Pan or Cernunnos, nature spirits, or elementals. The key thing is that the experience happens whilst being immersed in Nature. It is the Nature Mystics’ ability to transcend all religious or spiritual labels that appeals to me (although I realise it also conversely creates another!)

What inspired you to write this volume?

I was doing a PhD on Mary Webb, who was a much forgotten writer of the early Twentieth Century. She used to meditate in nature for long periods, and then awaken with a fully formed novel in her head, which she would then have to write down frantically, before she lost the details. Using this method, she wrote her first novel in three weeks. I fell in love with her last completed novel, Precious Bane, when I was fifteen, but always struggled to see how she fitted in with mainstream writing of her time. When I started doing an MA in Modernist Literature a few years ago, and I spent a good chunk of my time wondering where Mary Webb could or should be placed among her peers (writers like Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Vita Sackville West, Evelyn Waugh etc) and she just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The Bloomsbury set looked down on her as she made her own clothes and wasn’t fashionable enough, but she also didn’t fit in with the Victorian writers of the generation before either, as her subject matter really wasn’t Victorian. She felt like a Modern Pagan, but I knew that Modern Pagans didn’t emerge until a few decades later, after the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in 1951. I started to research other writers of the time, to try and trace who she might sit alongside, and I discovered that quite a few writers also had very pagan elements before they ‘should’ have, writers like D.H. Lawrence, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mary Butts etc. I revisited Hutton’s Triumph of The Moon to look for clues, and had a bit of a lightbulb moment, when Ronald started talking about the influences that contributed to a culture from which Modern Paganisms could emerge. Gerald Gardner and his peers were not working in isolation. These elements were all found in both Webb and the other writers I was re-discovering. That was when I realised there was a whole research project there, waiting for me to dive in.

This is your first work of non-fiction. Will you be writing more?

Absolutely! I love writing, full stop, but I realised non-fiction allows me to write about the things I am interested in. It’s not academic, but it is definitely influenced by my academic training, and I absolutely love the research angle. All those libraries to visit and get lost in! At the moment I am writing another ‘Work In Progress’ blog for Moon , which is called “Urban Nature Mystic”. In it I am exploring how we practice our Nature based faith systems whilst living in the city. Someone once asked me how I could be a ‘proper witch’ whilst living in the city, and my immediate answer was, how could I not be? Nature is all around us, even in the most urban settings. It’s great, as it enables me to reflect on my own practice, and the differences between Dartmoor (where I grew up) and London (which has now been my home for nearly twenty years).

How was the process different to writing a novel or a short story? Was it more challenging?

In some ways the process of writing is similar, as you have to have the same discipline, but they do use slightly different skill-sets to get there. With non-fiction, you get a chance to go down the rabbit hole and explore topics that you are fascinated by, and then share that with other people. One of the dangers in post-graduate research is the risk of getting lost in the research and forgetting what it is you are ‘supposed’ to be doing. You can end up going off on tangents, and getting lost in the woods. Writing non-fiction gives me a chance to go off the designated path and deliberately get lost. It can give me a legitimate reason for exploring, and examining, and uncovering truths I was not consciously aware of. I am absolutely passionate about reading and writing, and the non-fiction writing enables me to share those enthusiasms with other people, and really see the world from a different angle. With fiction writing, you get to show people the view inside from the character’s head, which is a different skill entirely. I trained as an actor originally, and that skill is very useful when writing fiction, as I get to put on another person’s skin, and walk around in it for a while. Non-fiction keeps me inside my own head a bit more.

You enjoy walking; do you have a favourite route?

Where I grew up on Dartmoor, I had one favourite walk I used to do regularly, that I really miss, even now. It took me across the moors to a little valley with a brook that flowed through it. I used to sit for hours under a beautiful old Willow tree, and tell it all my troubles. For years I really resented the fact that I couldn’t go there as often as I would like, and then, more recently, I have tried to stop looking back with regret, and instead focus on what I have near me now. I realised I need to walk regularly in order to ‘walk things out’ in my head – it helps me to think through what I need to write about next, lowers my stress levels, and enables me to connect up with my gods. Although I have an active spiritual life with my coven, the walking becomes my day-to-day practice, and keeps me sane. Last year I discovered there are a number of ‘green trails’ all though my part of North London, and I have now discovered a trail that is my favourite walk. It goes through a nature reserve, and then winds on towards a farm with a riding stable. Finally, it ends in a wood where there is a pond that I can sit by and contemplate the world. If I am lucky, I get to see cows, horses, lots of birds, and the pond at the end is visited by the occasional swan or heron. Even when it is not, it is a lovely place to just sit and watch the reflections of clouds, or ripples on the surface of the water.

What’s the most mystical or magical place you have ever been?

Dartmoor is a very mystical place for me. Wherever I go in the world, I will always have an invisible cord that ties me to it, so much so, I have already bought my burial plot, several decades ahead of time (hopefully!) so I know that I will always end up there, just next to my Mum. There are a lot of other very special places where we can connect to the Divine in nature, and it is usually the really wild places that I connect to, like Scotland, or the Isles of Scilly.

I think the most mystical place I ever went to was Egypt. I have had a lifelong fascination for Egypt, and went there eight years ago. I went with the intention of visiting as many temples as I could in a week.

From the moment I landed there, I felt more awake than I have ever been. It is the first time I have consciously had that sense of ‘knowing’ about a place, the feeling that you have been there before. I was drifting up the Nile seeing sites that were so familiar to me, and when I visited the Temple of Philae near Aswan, even though the island itself has been moved from its original location, I could tell you where the gardens were laid out, and what went where around the temple.

Egypt is also one of the places where I have felt the presence of the old gods most clearly. It was a week of deep emotional shifts, and coincidences, and magic, and I would be lying if I said I came back the same person. I had been studying Psychic Development classes at the College of Psychic Studies, and also learning NLP and undertaking my work of the first degree in Wicca, so I had a lot of different development work going on. I think I felt my way around the tour that week, which is how I could connect so deeply to it all.

And the most mystical experience? A truly magical moment you could recount for us?

I think the key with Nature Mysticism is that you are connecting to life in a way that most people wouldn’t notice, as they go about their day to day lives. There is a big dollop of mindfulness involved, and you also have to be prepared for experiencing things that your senses can’t quite explain, and also for knowing things that you wouldn’t otherwise know. Some of the most mystical experiences can also be the most personal – the moment when a friend of mine came and tugged on my hair when I was at his funeral (he was a very playful person) or midwifing my mother through a terminal illness was pretty mystical. There is also an element of ‘knowing’ things – insight that comes from those mystical encounters that I couldn’t otherwise know. But it is also incredibly subtle – I won’t tell you that I experience daily visions of the Goddess while commuting to work on the Underground. Mystical experiences can be indicated by minute details – for instance, under my willow tree on Dartmoor, I would gradually start to see the ground beneath me undulate in waves, which I knew was not ‘physically’ possible. For me those mystical moments in nature are a way of ‘checking in’ to see what’s next on the agenda – a life in Wicca is also a life of service, so it’s a bit like checking in to get your instructions for what you need to do next. Also, the insights that come can’t always be shared – you have to get a feel for what you can and can’t appropriately tell people, without them thinking you are barking [crazy, for the American readers!].

How do you think the perception of modern paganism is changing as it becomes more widely understood through books like your own?

I think that the biggest change we have seen in recent years is the shift from ‘Modern Paganism’ to ‘Modern Paganisms’, as we have realised that it is perfectly acceptable to have many different blueprints for this faith system, and they are all as valid as each other. What appeals to people is the ability to follow your own path, and not to have too much dogma or doctrine imposed on you (unless you like that kind of thing). In the past we have gone through periods of debunking old myths (such as the unbroken line to pre-Christian societies) or the de-bunking of the myth-makers, like Margaret Murray who wrote The Witch Cult in Western Europe, or Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote The Mists of Avalon. I feel like we have spent many years apologising for some of our roots (when we are not arguing over them!) whereas now, I think we are coming back round to acknowledging that, while those myths may not be true, it doesn’t mean they are invalid. Margaret Murray’s view may not have been factually accurate, but it still influenced a lot of people, which means it still has value.

Although my own background and training is in Wicca, I wanted to ensure that “Nature Mystics” was a book that transcended some of those labels – it can be just as relevant to a Traditional Witch, as to a Druid or a Heathen as it could be to a Wiccan. The readership seems to be reflecting that back to me, so I *think* it may have worked. The thing I love most about researching our cultural (and specifically literary) roots, is that it gives us space to embrace all of those ideas we love so much, such as the idea of Priestesses of the Goddess living on an island that is only one step in the mist away from the ‘real world’ or the world of faery, or the idea of rats and moles encountering Pan in the woods, or the idea of a woman leaving her home in the 1920s, to go and join a witches’ coven in the countryside. We can embrace those magical moments without having someone come along and break the spell, even if those moments are essentially fictional. And the poetry that comes from these authors’ love of nature seeps its way into the language of our prayers and rituals.

Did you always want to be a writer? What’s your ‘day job’ and how do you fit it around your writing, or vice versa?

As a child I was absolutely adamant that I wanted to be an actor from the age of about seven. I kept this going for quite a few years, until I was feeling quite bitter and unhappy as I had a lot of creative energy that was going to waste, as you had to land the acting work before you could use that energy. Having one of those ‘what if this is as good as it gets?’ moments, I decided that I needed to take a sabbatical, and would only return to acting when I could feel positive about what I was doing. This coincided with decision to spend more time exploring my spiritual life. Although I had spent many years as a solitary witch, I had met my HPS, and was just embarking on the beginnings of my year and a day. One of the tasks given to me was to explore your local folklore. As I was researching, I came across the story of the Lychway on Dartmoor – a pathway lead to the Parish Church across the open moors, before the Turnpike roads were built. If you lost a relative and were living in my village, you would have to have carried your dead loved one across the moors to bury them, a path that was said to be ‘eight miles in fair weather, and fifteen in foul’. My dad and I did the walk, and it was exhausting, even on a nice day (and we did it over two days). As I was walking, I started to think of a short story of a girl who had to make this journey, except when I sat down to write it, the short story kept growing and growing, and it became my first novel, “The Lychway”. Although it was a bit of a surprise at the time, I realised I got the same buzz from writing as I got from acting, only I had more control over writing, as I could do it any time I wanted to, as long as I had a pen and some paper. Somehow I never went back to acting.

I have always maintained a day job alongside the creative work I do. Although it started as a necessity, it has become a habit, and it has the dual functions of keeping a roof over my head, and also freeing me to write whatever I want to, as I don’t have to be governed by what will bring the money in. It also keeps me very grounded as I work in a drug and alcohol charity. When I started there sixteen years ago, I told my colleagues not to get used to me, as I was only staying for a month. (Did I mention I also like to think of the Divine as ‘the cosmic joker’?)

What other projects do you have on the go?

As well as the non-fiction writing, the full time day job and keeping my sanity intact (barely!) I am also studying for a PhD. Through two years of a traditional English PhD about Mary Webb, I struggled to make her ‘fit’ into among her Modernist peers, and realised I had to bring my interest of Paganism in as well, which was a bit of a no-no as far as my old university was concerned. I decided to jump ship and switch to a Creative Writing programme. Now I get to write a novel about Mary Webb, as well as explore my Nature Mystics a bit more for the critical commentary part of the project, so I get the best of both worlds.

Aside from that, I also write regularly for Pagan Dawn, and I also have the Urban Nature Mystic blog going for Moon .

If you had to recommend three books that highlight our connection to nature most beautifully, which three would you choose?

My first choice would be Mary Webb’s novel, Precious Bane. The lead character, Prue Sarn, has a facial disfiguration, which it is believed was bestowed upon her by way of a curse, as her mother crossed a hare during pregnancy. Prue is also accused of being a witch, and has to deal with the prejudice she encounters in her community, as they believe that if there is something wrong on the outside, it must reflect the inside. Prue is a Nature Mystic, so she gains consolation for this prejudice by going out into the landscape to commune with the unseen force that resides in Nature. There are some truly magical encounters in the novel, and reading it for the first time (at the age of fifteen) enabled me to make sense of how I saw the landscape around me. Webb writes the landscape as a magical, mystical space which has agency, and a space in which anything can happen.

Second would be Robert Mcfarlane’s book, The Old Ways. I loved his descriptions of walking the landscape and the feelings he encountered, especially the encounter he had with a mysterious force among the trees in the middle of the night when he was trying to sleep. The encounter occurs on the South Downs, and it is really eerie. Usually, Macfarlane is quite logical – It reminds me that even the most logical of us can still make room for the mystical.

Thirdly, I would probably have to say Elizabeth von Arnim’s novel, The Enchanted April, in which two very downtrodden women decide to flee the boredom and dissatisfaction they encounter in their own lives by running away to Italy for a month. The descriptions of the gardens overlooking the sea are so arresting in their intensity. As more people come to the house, they all gradually start to unfurl and find themselves among the flowers and the birdlife. The descriptions are really beautiful, and the place has a real sense of magic.

What is your favourite Pagan festival and why?

I really love the Wheel of the Year, and it has to be my favourite part of the Pagan path(s) as it allows us to pause in whatever we are doing, and just focus on nature. It’s a reminder to be mindful. This is going to sound a bit gloomy, but my absolute favourite festival is Samhain. I lost my mum to cancer about eleven years ago, and I love the fact that Samhain gives me an opportunity to focus on her and my other ancestral spirits. Attending Samhain circles was a really important part of my healing during the years when my grief was new and at its most raw.

On your website you say you help others who are creatively blocked to unblock themselves. How do you do this?

I have a few tools in my toolbox that help with this, but they don’t all get an airing at the moment. Firstly, I am a master practitioner of NLP and a certified coach. So, at times when I haven’t had the PhD on the go, I can use my coaching skills to try and help them work through things (although these days it is mainly me that I work with!) The other tool I have is as a proof-reader and editor for other writers. Again, it’s not something I get to do much of now but I really like the challenge of coaching other writers through their work, as it enables me to help them, and also to reflect on my own practices. It is something I return to from time to time, and I can see a time in the future (probably post PhD) when I dust this one off and use it again. I have worked with quite a few authors on their novels, and it is really rewarding, especially when you see someone getting a light bulb moment after struggling with something for a while.

As well as writing and studying for your PhD, you make beautiful jewellery and pendulums. How do you find the time for everything?

With some careful time planning, but also by following the natural patterns of my own energy cycles. I am definitely a morning person, so I have developed this slightly bizarre habit of doing most of my writing on the tube, during my daily commute to central London. I actually go out of my way to make this last as long as I can, choosing a route that gives me the time I need to have a fairly concentrated burst of writing. I tend to be a ‘short bursts, very often’ kind of writer. I wrote all four of my previous books this way, and it seems to work.

At weekends I tend to have more at home time. The beading work seems to work best then. It’s something I can pick up and put down, as my time and energy allows. I also used to make natural soaps and bath products, but when I started my MA I had to hang up my soaping shoes, as there just wasn’t time for everything. I think we have natural cycles for things, and times and moods that elicit different bursts of creative energy. It’s just a case of needing to work out what works, and then you harness it. But I also have to be quite ruthless about how I choose to spend my time. It doesn’t leave me much time for ‘shoulds’, which is never a bad thing. You know, ‘I would like to go for a walk, but I should be painting the bathroom’. Stuff the painting, I say!

How do you relax and take time for yourself?

I try and swim several times a week. I have an outdoor (heated) pool I go to in central London, which is just magical. On really cold days you get a mist that rises from the water, and I really love lying on my back in the water, watching the clouds and the birds flying overhead. It’s my water element moment.

At weekends, I take time for myself by walking. My husband is a night owl, which means he is still snoring while I am awake early with ants in my pants. He doesn’t love mud as much as I do either, so I use the mornings to go off walking while he has a lie in. These are my earth and air moments.

I think there is also something truthful in the idea that if you are doing the things you love, you find the energy somehow. I know when I am engaged in all the things that fit my life’s purpose (to have as many creative adventures as I can) somehow it all flows naturally. When my energy levels nosedive (I have M.E.) then I have to hibernate for a while so I can come back renewed.

And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2016?

One of the things I am looking forward to is doing more talks. I gave my first talk at Treadwells hop in Bloomsbury recently, and I felt like a duck who had found her pond. Somehow it harnesses all the skills I have learned over the years and brings them all together in one place. I loved every minute of it – from the talk, to the question and answer session, to the social time afterwards. It was really nice meeting readers face to face and being able to share our enthusiasm for our literary gods, and people have been really enthusiastic. It’s a great (and immediate) way of getting feedback, and knowing if you are on the right track or not. And it’s also a lovely way to share the research I am doing.

Find out more about Rebecca at http://www.rebeccabeattie.co.uk/ and follow her blog at the Moon website.

Interview with Luke Eastwood: A Druid’s Journey

May, 2015

Luke Eastwood: A Druid’s Journey

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Luke is a musician, poet, painter, photographer and the author of The Journey and A Druid’s Primer, as well as numerous articles on subjects ranging from politics to horticulture. He currently writes a blog for Moon on Druidry and Celtic belief. I caught up with Luke to quiz him on his many projects.

Mabh: What inspired your original interest in Celtic culture?

Luke: It has been so much part of my life for so long that I can’t remember where it started. My father sometimes enthused about Bonnie Prince Charlie and King hur, which left a deep impression; my Granny bought me fairy tales – I remember being read ‘Peronique’ (a Breton tale I still have) in a picture book version before I could read myself. I had a set of Ancient Briton and Roman soldiers about 1 inch high that often fought for hours on my bedroom floor, the Romans usually won as they had all the sexy weaponry!

MS: And how did this lead to your involvement with Paganism?

LE: I had been a Roman Catholic but found myself dissatisfied with it, although I did feel attracted to the teachings of both Jesus and St. Francis. I could see that the true roots of Christianity had become obliterated by the Romans and in looking through the dark history of the Church I discovered that much of R.C. ritualism is derived from European and Middle-Eastern paganism. At this point in time I had come to regard Jesus as a prophet, like Moses or Muhammad, so it was not much of a leap for me to abandon Christianity completely and become a Pagan. Being strongly connected to nature, Druidry/Druidism seemed the obvious best fit, although I did investigate Buddhism, Hindu pantheism, Hermeticism and Wicca on the way to choosing this path.

MS: I know from experience that studying Celtic history and mythology can be arduous and time consuming, although always rewarding. What have been your finest resources, and what source do you return to again and again?

LE: Yes it is extremely time-consuming but ultimately rewarding as you say. Apart from the many people I’ve learned from (often informally) I’ve found many books to be incredibly useful and/or insightful. To name just three I’d suggest – ‘The Religion Of The Ancient Celts’ by J.A. McCulloch, ‘Irish Trees – Myths, Legends & Folklore’ by Niall Mac Coitir and ‘The Celtic Heroic Age’ by John T. Koch & John Carey. can be wonderful but book knowledge alone is useless in my opinion. Experience of living and working spiritually is far more important but at times the ‘knowledge’ accumulated suddenly elucidates an experience or gives some frame of reference that completes the picture. Without the living and breathing experiences, the sum of all I’ve read is just so many pages in a dusty old tome, as dead as the wood from which the pages came!

MS: You paint, write poetry, books and articles, make music and take some beautiful photos as well. Is there any particular medium in all this creativity that you connect to more than the others, and why?

LE: No, there isn’t a preference I’m aware of. It has occurred to me that I’ve gone through several creative phases in my life, some overlapping slightly. In the last few years writing has been my main focus and it will probably continue to be so until my intuition draws me elsewhere. I am unable to work to order creatively for myself, I do only what feels right, so I’d be hopeless if I had to rely on it for an income. I suspect I’ll return to playing music fairly soon, it’s something that has always been part of my life in some form.

MS: What drew you to Druidry initially?

LE: I can’t really explain it. I think it appealed on a subconscious level. I had great difficulty in finding out about it, most of the books I found were very shallow and uninformative, which lead me to explore other less obscured areas, such as Hindu Culture. However, I remember walking past a bookshop in Swiss Cottage, London in 1996 and seeing ‘The Book Of Druidry’ by Ross Nichols in the window. I rushed in and bought it, even though it was £20 or something ridiculous like that. This was the first book I’d come across that was written by a real Druid as opposed to some academic or historian.

MS: And now, what is the most vital part of being a Druid for you?

LE: For me, being able to go outside and watch the world happening seems more vital than anything. If I were unable to do that I think I’d be incredibly unhappy.

MS: Was this part of what inspired you to write The Druid’s Primer?

LE: I didn’t feel that any one single Druid 101 book was sufficiently in-depth or comprehensive to provide a useful guide in one volume. I’m not sure that TDP is either, but it is my attempt to compile all the basics from all of the Celtic traditions I could find. In particular I was keen to promote the Irish traditions and knowledge which has been neglected, as well of that of the other Celtic/ex-Celtic nations.

MS: What advice would you give to someone with an interest in pursuing Druidry?

LE: Try to find the fine line between experiential, intuitive practice and academic, knowledge acquisition. Knowledge was always an important aspect of Druidry but so too was creative, empathic and intuitive skill. To be balanced I think we need to try to develop both sides of ourselves in a harmonious way so that what we do and what we know become integrated completely into who we are.

MS: Can someone be a Druid without worshiping any particular deity, or perhaps without honouring a deity at all?

LE: Not everyone would agree with me, but I would say yes to both. I would say that it is essential to have some understanding of the Celtic concept of deity and the mythology associated with it. However, many people have a nebulous sense of deity or even regard nature itself as the source of divinity or perhaps even just the source of life. I don’t see why such theological differences would stop someone from being able to live a Druidic life; I’d say that sincerely walking the path is more important than points of dogma.

MS: Tell us a bit about your recently republished book, The Journey. What was the key message you wanted to convey?

LE: In truth the way that we live is more important than what we profess to believe. Our deepest beliefs and concerns are demonstrated and manifested by the choices we make in how we live in the world. Much of the truths about human experience and the universe (from a human perspective) seem to me to be independent of the religion from which they originated. It strikes me (using a crude analogy) that many religious people are obsessed with the colour of the car they are driving or that other people are driving, when what is really important is keeping your own car on the road!

MS: You play an astonishing range of musical instruments; do you think this talent ties back to Celtic ancestry at all?

LE: I really can’t give a definite answer. I can say that my recent ancestors and relatives, including my father and grandfather have been very musical. I’ve been listening to music since I was born so it’s almost part of me at this stage. My siblings and my daughter all play instruments too, I guess it’s a minor compulsion in my family!

MS: And do you have a favourite instrument?

LE: I suppose guitar is my most played instrument but recently I’ve an urge to get back to playing the cello. I’m very rusty right now, but it has such a wonderful sound I really think I should make more time for it.

MS: Your bio says you are currently working on a novel; can you tell us a bit about that?

LE: It’s a sci-fi with a spiritual element to it. I’ve projected some of the current concerns relating to secularism and religious strife into the future surrounding one particular character who experiences a momentous, life-changing event. That’s about all I want to say, any more might reveal too much.

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

LE: I’d very much like to write a book on sacred sites, cross referenced with some of the most ancient writings related to each of them. Although I love photography it might be interesting to work on this in conjunction with a photographer with a different view of such places.

MS: Do you still write poetry? What themes inspire you?

LE: Yes I do, but only when I feel inspired. That might happen three times in one week or once in a year. I appear to have no control over when I write poems. Nature, love and modern society are three themes that seem to crop up over and over again; usually something that has happened or something I’ve seen will inspire me and the words will just come flooding out.

MS: You write on many socio-political themes. What currently has you fired up?

LE: Injustice is something that makes me very angry – injustice to the weak and impoverished of the world and also injustice to the natural world. I think that inequality is a perennial problem and in some countries it seems to be getting worse not better. As the human population grows the stresses on the planet and on human society are growing, I really think that we need to collectively find creative and fair solutions fast if there is going to be any kind of future worth having.

MS: Tell us a bit about Éigse Spiriod Ceilteach. [Gathering of Celtic Spirituality]

LE: I was very inspired by Féile Draoíchta (Festival of Magic & Spirituality) in Dublin, which is run by Barbara Lee and Lora O’Brien. Basically I decided to copy their idea and move it outside into a rural setting, but focusing more specifically on the Celtic end of magic/spirituality. Both ladies have been very supportive with advice and Lora also gave us a talk in August just gone. 2014 was our 5th year and I’m delighted by how it has gradually grown since the first one. For me being outside is the main plank of my spiritual practice and I’m keen to provide others the opportunity to share that kind of experience with other like-minded people.

MS: You’ve had a very interesting spiritual journey it seems; from being raised Catholic to an interest in Buddhism, to studying Wicca and eventually becoming a Druid. Do you feel that where you are now is where you are meant to be, or is there still a further journey ahead for you?

LE: Yes I suppose it is a bit strange, I guess I’ve wandered like a stray dog until I found a comfortable spot to rest! I’ve learned a great deal from exploring these different paths and I’d be a different person than I am today if I had not done so. I do feel that I am where I am meant to be right now but of course there is still more to come. We are always learning every day, there is always something new to learn. I think that the day that I feel I have nothing further to learn from life is the time for me to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Luke’s books are available through Moon books, from Amazon and other retailers, and you can find his other projects on his website. Éigse Spiriod Ceilteach has its own Facebook page and more info can be found on the Irish Druid Network.