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Interview with Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

May 1st, 2017

Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

 

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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.

 

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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.

Raven Grimassi: Communing with the Ancestors

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I was sent a copy of Raven Grimassi’s latest book, Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies and the Cycle of Reincarnation, and was immediately intrigued by the beautiful style of writing and the inclusive nature that encompasses people of all paths. A full review of the book will be available on Pagan Pages next month, but in the meantime, I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask Raven some questions about this fascinating volume.

Mabh Savage: Tell us about Communing with the Ancestors. What was your main aim with the book, and what type of reader will get the most out of it?

Raven Grimassi: The primary purpose was in deepening the work of connecting with the Ancestors.    It’s important that we enlist the aid of the Ancestors.  I feel that the readership for this book is anyone who wonders about the purpose of Life and about the role of reincarnation.

MS: You say that in your book you avoided focusing on any one particular cultural view or practice, which makes this book very accessible. What culture so you most identify with though, when communing with your own ancestors?

RG: If I had to focus on just one, then I relate most to my Italian heritage.  However, I am also German and Scot and I do not ignore this lineage.

MS: Is everybody capable of making a connection with their ancestors, or the ancestors?

RG: Yes, definitely.  The Ancestors are part of our DNA, they reside within us to the cellular level.  Even adopted people who don’t know their lineage can connect deeply with their bloodline heritage.  The Ancestors have never lost track of them for they reside within them.

MS: You speak of ‘getting out of the way’ during the writing process. Can you tell me more about that?

RG: When I struggled with writing this book, I head the inner Ancestral voices say “Stop trying to write this book and let this book be written.  I had to stop forging and directing the work, which meant I had to let things come through me as opposed to from me.   The hands on the keyboard were mine, but the material was coming from some other source.

MS: How did you first come across the concept of the Spirit Rider?

RG: Like so much else in the book, it was passed to me from the Ancestral voices. At the core was a concept I found in studying the Mayan Vision Serpent, an entity intimately connected with the Ancestors. I had also run across some material on the Hawaiian Huna concept of connecting with the Ancestors through a Shamanic technique that requires projecting consciousness outward from the tailbone of the spine. The purpose was to meet the Ancestors. From this two concepts, something formed and was passed to me. I was given the imagery of the Spirit Rider as a serpent form in which the Ancestors can connect with us through our spines.

MS: You write in a beautiful, metaphorical style. Do you think there is magic in poetry?

RG: I think that the essence of magic can be conveyed through poetry.  Poetry can also initiate a magical consciousness that can open inner portals that lead to visions and enlightenment.

MS: You mention that in writing the book you became a student to it. What further lessons have been imparted since the completion of this volume?

RG: It’s been an ongoing process.  The most activity has been around trying to firmly grasp where the persona worn by the soul comes from, and what exactly is the “pool of consciousness” that legends suggest was the original of the human consciousness.

MS: The ancestral realm you speak of; is this what lies beyond what many Pagans refer to as ‘the veil’?

RG: I’ve come to see the Ancestral Realm as the residing place of those who came before us.  It is connected to the Earth Plane and the Elemental Plane, even though technically it is in the Otherworld or Inner Dimensions.  That being said, I think that what is found on the other side of the veil is the Afterlife Realm, a temporary realm in which the Dead dwell for a time.  This is different from the Ancestral Realm.

MS: What part of the landscape gives you the closest connection to the ancestors?

RG: In general, areas with distinct rock formations seem to hold memory best.  This includes manmade formations such as Stonehenge.  Caves are excellent gateways to the Ancestors, and lakes and wells are also good points of access. 

MS: Are you working on any more books at the moment?

RG: I always have at least two books going at one time.  My primary focus at present is to complete a book I started over 30 years ago.  It is an examination of the Witch Lore contained in the writings of folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland.  In the book I will also present new findings about his “Witch informant” and the authentic tradition that she revealed to Leland.

MS: The writings in Communing with the Ancestors sound like quite an intense process. How did you relax or take time away from it?

RG: I actually don’t take time away from a manuscript that I am submitting to a Publisher. I work every day on it, and the process takes months to finish (anywhere from 3 to 6). I often take my meals while writing, and there are no days off.

MS: And finally, what are you most looking forward to over the next few seasons?

RG: Reconnecting with family and with old friends. Too much time has passed while pursuing my work.

Raven’s latest volume can be purchased here and more information about his previous words can be found at his website http://www.ravengrimassi.net/.

Yvonne Ryves: Weaving the Web

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Yvonne Ryves is a practicing shamanic healer, shamanic drum maker, holistic therapist and trainer. Living and working in West Cork, Ireland, she runs courses on energy healing and shamanic work. She has recently contributed to the Shaman Pathways series with the book Web of Life, cited as a new approach to using ancient ways in contemporary times. I caught up with Yvonne to find out a bit more about the book.

Mabh: What inspired you to write Web of Life?

Yvonne: For some time before I wrote Web of Life, I had been aware of how often I came across ways of working which were powerful and useful but which did not really fit me, and so caused me to adjust either them or myself accordingly. For example I had been struggling on and off for about four years with working with a medicine wheel and not being able to hold on to any of it enough to work with it. A healing blanket made for me, which contained the spirit animals I work with, really highlighted that I actually work within an amalgamation of cultures; some Celtic, some Native American, some Andean and that this was completely right for me. This got me thinking and made sense of why the medicine wheel as such didn’t fit me. Alongside this I had become increasingly aware of how other cultures have guidance e.g. in the form of medicine wheels, wheels of life and the wheel of the year, for example, but those of us who are not from such cultures or backgrounds have nothing to guide and support us. Out of this thinking came the need to create something that could be taken by anyone regardless of culture or beliefs and be developed by them to create something unique to them and with which they could work. This turned out to be the Web of Life.

MS: Who do you think will get the most out of this book?

YR: Everyone! And I really do mean that. I think we all benefit from opening to the connection we have with all that exists, learning to listen to the guidance and knowledge that is around us and using it to assist us in moving through our lives with greater awareness of what we are choosing to create as we do.

MS: So, would you say the ideas within this book could be adapted by those not on a specifically shamanic path?

YR: Undoubtedly. My aim was to create something that was accessible and adaptable by everyone regardless of their culture or belief. Web of Life is not specifically shamanic; rather, it is based on the belief that everything that exists is alive and communicates with everything else that exists, a belief that is shared by Pagans, Shamans, Buddhists, Wiccans and also some scientists to name but a few.

MS: Tell us a bit about the Shaman Pathways series this book is a part of.

YR: The Shaman Pathways series is a collection of short books by a range of authors and published by Moon Books, which look at different aspects of shamanism. There is a parallel series Pagan Portals also published by Moon Books.

MS: Shamanism is often regarded as a South American or native American idea; how well does shamanism translate into our western culture?

YR: The origins of the word shaman actually come from the Tungus people of Siberian rather than South American or Native American. It has though grown in use as a general term used to describe tribal cultures which work in similar ways to those seen within the Tungus people. There are many aspects of shamanic practice but the one thing that makes it different from everything else is the ability to walk between worlds and work with spirit helpers or guides.

Shamanism in some form was probably used by every culture that existed and not restricted to any one culture. Although the names that were used were different (e.g. Witch, medicine man or woman, sin eater) they were all forms of what we now would term as shaman.

In the West we have always had a shamanic culture even if there is little evidence of it having existed. I think that the world needs shamanism and that in the current climate people are seeking a way to reconnect with this element of their lives. Shamanism here is not necessarily tribal shamanism, nor does it need to be. As everything adapts, so has shamanism so it is very relevant and translates easily into our western culture.

MS: How did you first become interested in shamanic ways?

YR: While I was doing my apprenticeship as a Reiki Master I had some spontaneous past life recall one of which was as a young Native American child being shown how to identify and work with the plants in the woods by my Grandfather. He has lead me ever onwards since that time although it was a few years since I had a name for what I was being taught and a name for shamanic journeying. By the time I had these names it was just something that was part of me and what I did.

MS: You do many aspects of magical work including Reiki and holistic therapy as well as shamanic healing; would you say, overall, that you are a healer?

YR: Mmm that’s a difficult on [laughs]. I had an argument with one of my students years ago about just this. I denied that I was a healer, instead holding onto the belief that it was the energy that did the work and that I was just a channel for the energy. I could also add to that, that it is my spirit helpers that do the healing when I do shamanic work but this really negates what I do and my role within the process of healing. Overall though I would now say that yes, I am a healer.

MS: Web of Life is quite a slim volume; any plans to expand upon it?

YR: Not specifically. I could so easily have made it a much bigger book and included more background on Medicine Wheels, more theory behind the idea of a web of life for example, but I wanted it to be immediately accessible to people including those who might never have picked up a book like it before. I made a conscious decision therefore not to do this. I really wanted to give readers their freedom to create something that works for them rather than have to adapt a way someone else has created. I believe therefore that people, once they have worked with Web of Life, will create their own unique ways to expand their work with their webs.

MS: And what other projects do you have on the horizon?

YR: I am in the process of writing a book about shamanism and labyrinths which is something I am very interested in and have another idea for a book lurking but nothing firm yet.

I have also been contacted recently about shamanic training and this is something that I would like to look at in the future, both in person and distance training if I can find a practical way to make it work.

MS: A few of us with family in Ireland have observed that talking about life as an alternative practitioner or Pagan doesn’t have to be so ‘hush hush’ anymore. Living in Ireland, do you feel as if Paganism is on the rise there?

YR: Yes I do. There are still those who see anything alternative as being the work of the devil of course but in general people here, even older generations, are much more open than in the past and there is a growing interest in returning to the roots of our ancestors. I have really noticed an upsurge in those offering access to courses relating to all forms of paganism including shamanism. I actually find it very easy to be authentic here and never feel I have to hide what I do or what I am.

MS: Do you feel a connection to the land where you work and does this help with your healing?

YR: Yes very definitely. The land, and my connection to it, is vital for the type of healing I do. I rely a lot on being in contact with the energies around me and being able to call upon their assistance when I need to. I am blessed with living in a place that has amazing energy.

MS: Your academic qualifications are in teaching and education. Is this still a big part of your life?

YR: Not teaching in the traditional sense but passing on what I know and what I have learnt to others is still a big part of what I do whether this is in person or through my writing. I have tried many times to walk away from teaching but it is such an intrinsic part of me and my path here that I have now just accepted that. I do love seeing others grow, develop and find their own paths and it now feels like a gift to be able to be part of this.

MS: Does the teaching experience spill over into your spiritual endeavours; do you use the same skills when passing on your knowledge of shamanic skills, for example?

YR: Yes very much so. I have always been a facilitator rather than someone who is didactic and this is still how I work. I myself learn best by doing, through experiential learning and this really is how I pass on skills and knowledge now.

MS: You have a diverse range of experience and your bio tells us that you are now studying with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. What is the common theme in all your endeavours; what drives you to learn these skills?

YR: I think the common theme of all of it is going where I am led. I rarely know why I am drawn to do something, but trust that somewhere in it all is something I need. It’s a way of being that has taken me to some interesting places now but I can honestly say that none of it has ever been wasted. It might be several days, weeks, or even years before I understand why I did something but in the end it does all make sense. Sometimes my guides take pity on me and I am given some insight before I start but this is rare and to be honest makes it all so much more fun.

I think that whatever I do I learn more about myself and the more I learn the more I can help others.

MS: And finally, where do you see yourself in your own Web of Life 5 years from now?

YR: Oh that really is an impossible question for me to answer and always has been. I have never been able to visualise where I will be in 1/5/10 years’ time for some reason. I can remember during some training being asked to do this and honestly not being able to. I think it’s linked to my going where I’m led, going with the flow as it were. If I live this way, if I trust I am being looked after and guided then I only need to know about the now. When I plan my life path within my own Web of Life it is only to connect with the energies/teachers who are going to help me with what is ahead. I know if I work with them I stand a much better chance of learning the lessons that are there for me, understanding what is going on and not missing something important. With every path I weave in my Web of Life I weave it in the knowledge that it will take the time it needs, so I never know whether the part of the path I have woven is a short path or a long one.

Yvonne’s book Shaman Pathways: Web of Life is out now via Amazon and all other good book retailers.

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 Books 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 Arthur, 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. Books 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.

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

 

 

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                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

marciayuleornies

 

                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

marciayuleornies

 

                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

marciayuleornies

 

                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

marciayuleornies

 

                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

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                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

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                       Welcome

 

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

 

 

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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.

 

animalmagic

 

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.

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