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Interview – Laura Perry: Re-enchanting the World

September 1st, 2018

Laura Perry: Re-enchanting the World

I recently read The Bed by Laura Perry and was pretty much blown away. It was a genuine page turner and you can read my review here. Laura is the author of various books including Ariadne’s Thread, an exploration of Minoan spirituality and Ancient Spellcraft, exploring ancient magics from all over the world. As well as authoritative books on ancient and modern spirituality, Laura writes compelling fiction with a magical twist. She was kind enough to return to PaganPagesOrg for another interview about her latest literary exploits.

Mabh Savage: Thanks for talking to us again Laura! First of all, what gave you the idea for your latest novel, The Bed?

Laura Perry: All my stories start with a “What if…” kind of idea. Here’s the “What if…” for The Bed: I was poking around an antique/junk store one day and I overheard a conversation between two women who were looking at an antique bed. One of them really liked it and was trying to get the other one to buy it. But apparently it was from an estate (the owner had died) and the second woman was concerned that the owner might have died in the bed, an idea that gave her the creeps. So I thought, what if someone did buy a bed that the previous owner had died in? What might the magical repercussions be? Might the bed be haunted in some way, and what kinds of problems would that create for the new owner? By the time I got home from that shopping trip, I already had the main storyline fleshed out!

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

LP: I like to think it appeals to a broad spectrum of people: Anyone with an interest in magic, the paranormal, and witch-y subjects, since that sort of thing is a big part of the book. But on another level, it’s simply a story of a woman figuring out who she is and what her life values really are, instead of what everyone has been telling her all her life, and I think that’s a basic premise that most people can connect with.

MS: The characters in the book are very believable. Are any based on real people; did you draw upon your own experiences at all?

LP: I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t put a real person in a book and expect them to behave themselves and stick to my plotline! LOL. But I am occasionally inspired by certain aspects of individual personalities. The ghost of the bed, for instance, was inspired by a professor I knew in college – I never took any of his classes but I did attend a few individual talks he gave. He was a very interesting man, but as far as I know, was never into the kind of ceremonial magic the book character gets into. And I’ve known people who had some of the annoying attributes of some of the characters in The Bed.

In a sense, the setting of a book is also a character. In this case, the Atlanta area where the main character lives is where I’ve spent most of my life, Emory University is where I did my undergraduate work, and Unicoi State Park is one of my favorite places to visit up in the mountains. So I set up the story in a place I’m intimately familiar with, at least in part because I love this area and wanted to share it with my readers.

MS: Have you ever felt a presence tied to a piece of furniture, or another household item?

LP: Not furniture, no, but I have encountered pieces of jewelry – usually in junk shops or at estate sales – that made me feel creepy, like someone was watching me while I was handling the necklace or earrings or bracelet. I took that to mean that the previous owner’s energy was still clinging to the item and they probably didn’t want anyone else wearing it. Needless to say, I always put those back and walk away from them.

MS: The books contains elements of ceremonial magic, angels, instinctive witchcraft; was it hard to tie all these elements together or was it a fun experience?

LP: It was mostly fun, though there were points in the process where it felt like an uphill climb. All the different aspects of magic and the supernatural tend to twine together in my life. I think this is probably the case for a lot of Pagans; we don’t fit neatly into any kind of pigeonholes, but follow whichever threads look interesting to us. At first I tried to restrict the magic in the book to just the ceremonial stuff, but then Liz showed me that she’s a natural magician (or witch) and I had to figure out how to work that in. Most authors will tell you that their characters run the show, and I think that’s true – they are who they are, and once we’ve created them, we have to follow their lead and not the other way around.

MS: Would you describe the book as ‘Witch Lit’?

LP: I think so. Witch Lit is writing that incorporates magic in one way or another. It’s not just “chick lit with sparkles” but a much broader and deeper genre. I like to think it’s a way of re-enchanting the world.

MS: Do you think magical fantasy is a growing genre at the moment? Why do you think this is, if so?

LP: It does seem to be growing in popularity, and I think there are two main reasons behind that increase. First, the mystical-and-magical side of life (magic, witchcraft, Paganism, the occult) is becoming more and more mainstream every day. So more people are discovering this aspect of thought and of writing and realizing how much they enjoy it. But there’s also the fact that the world is a pretty disturbing and scary place right now, and magical fantasy allows us to escape that for a little while. Not only do we get to dive into interesting stories with fascinating characters and settings; we also get to image ways of combating the dark forces in the world beyond just the simple methods we already have at hand. And that can be empowering, because if we can imagine overcoming our own imperfections as well as the nastiness that’s outside us, that gives us hope that we might be able to do it in real life.

MS: Which authors of fiction would you say have been your greatest inspiration?

LP: That’s a long list! I started out steeped in all the Victorian classics, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the top of the list along with all the creepy sadness of the Brontë sisters. In terms of modern authors, I’ve always wanted to be able to write like my favorite three: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. That’s not terribly likely, but I still love their humor, their way with words, and their ability to touch on the magical parts of life with lightness but in a way that still makes the reader believe in them.

MS: Which do you prefer writing, fiction or non-fiction, and why?

LP: Honestly, I like them both. They’re different experiences, both in reading and in writing, but there are places where they overlap. For instance, they both require research as well as organization. In terms of what I’m reading, I tend to have one fiction and one non-fiction book going at the same time. And I’ve recently realized that I’m much the same with writing: I’ll typically have one of each in the works at any given time. Each genre challenges me as a writer in different ways, and I enjoy that.

MS: What’s the biggest challenge with writing a novel?

LP: For me, it’s keeping all the details straight so I don’t mess up the continuity of the story. I don’t want to end up with a situation like J.K. Rowling, where readers realized the Marauder’s Map somehow transferred ownership between the end of one Harry Potter book and the beginning of the next. I simply can’t keep a whole story in my head, so I rely on extensive notes and outlines, and sometimes even spreadsheets, to make sure I don’t screw up the details somewhere along the line and confuse my readers.

MS: And what do you enjoy most about the process?

LP: I love immersing myself in the story, getting to know the characters as if they were real people, and following them through the twists and turns of their lives. There’s a certain amount of “brain work” that goes into setting up a novel: researching the setting and any technical details, outlining the plot to make sure it makes sense, and so on. But once the preliminaries are done, I can just dive in and flow along with the story – and that’s my favorite part.

MS: Any more books on the horizon currently?

LP: In terms of fiction, I’m working on a historical novel set in ancient Crete, right at the end of Minoan civilization when there was all that turmoil and all the cities were eventually burned down. Though it’s a very different experience from writing a modern novel like The Bed, it’s still ultimately about human beings and how they deal with whatever life throws at them.

MS: As an author, how do you get yourself in ‘the zone’ to write? How do you prepare?

LP: I wrote my first two published books when my daughter was a toddler (yes, I’m slightly insane LOL). That experience taught me how to focus quickly and take advantage of short time spans whenever they’re available. I don’t usually have the luxury of spending whole hours at a time writing, since I have so many other responsibilities. But when I do get that time, I’ve learned that it’s OK to allow the rest of the world to just fall away and disappear. That way, I can focus on what I’m doing, on the words I’m writing, and nothing else. It’s almost like a meditation – that is, until the phone rings or someone knocks on my studio door!

MS: And how do you switch off and relax?

LP: Nature is my favorite medicine. I have to have my “nature time” every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes puttering around the vegetable garden or walking in our little patch of woods. After a few minutes outdoors, I can feel my shoulders relax down and my whole body reset itself to something more natural and less busy-busy-busy. When I get the chance, I head up to the north Georgia mountains for day trips to “get away from it all” – that’s some excellent sanity time, if you ask me.

MS: Any plans for the summer [ed note: interview took place a few weeks ago!]? What does the rest of 2018 hold for you?

LP: My daughter just graduated from high school so we’re spending the summer shifting gears for her to start college next month. (Eeek! Where does the time go?) We had a lovely beach vacation earlier in the summer to celebrate her graduation, so the rest of the summer will be at-home time and doing my best to keep up with all the projects I already have going. I’m in the middle of revising and updating The Wiccan Wellness Book, complete with new illustrations. The second edition is due out at the end of September. I’m chugging away on the Minoan historical novel and trying out some new challenges with the Witch Lit crew, like doing video readings of excerpts from some of my books. This October will also see the publication of the first anthology I’ve ever edited, Deathwalking: Helping Them Cross the Bridge. It’s about the shamanic practice of psychopomp (soul conductor) work, and is very much a from-the-heart project for me.

MS: Finally, if you could speak to any dead person, not necessarily tied to a bed (!), who would it be and why?

LP: Now you’ve got me thinking about what kinds of dead people might like to be tied to a bed! LOL, Besides wishing I could chat with my grandmother and ask her advice about the issues I encounter in life (she was an amazingly wise woman), I think I might like to talk with Mary Shelley. She was such an amazing person, writing far more novels and travelogues than most people are aware of, besides her famous Frankenstein. Her life was quite troubled but she had an amazing persistence and resilience, and the overriding idea that we can change society from the inside out by practicing kindness and compassion and teaching our children cooperation over competition. I’d love to hear her views about the world today as well as finding out more about her life more than a century ago.

The Bed and other Laura Perry books are available from Amazon and all good book stores. Find out more at Laura’s website.

The Bed

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Book Review

The Bed

By Laura Perry

 

Having ready and enjoyed Laura Perry’s non-fiction work, I was excited by the thought of a novel by the same accomplished writer. However, I had no idea what to expect. What took me by surprise were delightfully real characters, a magical story full of occult surrealism and a page turner that I literally couldn’t put down. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as I review this great piece of ‘witch lit’, as I really want you all to go and read it for yourselves!

Relatable

The first thing that struck me was how relatable Laura’s characters are. The dysfunctional family. The best friend who isn’t always in tune with what you need. But who ultimately comes through. The overbearing paramour. Or hopeful paramour, anyway! The flawed parents, and ethically dubious lecturers. No one is perfect in this drama, not even the protagonist, and I love that. ‘Warts and all’ is the best way to portray humans, and I find I have much more empathy with a character who makes mistakes and battles demons of self-doubt as well as other realms, than one who sails through life as a paragon of justice.

Occult

Unsurprisingly for a seasoned academic of Minoan mysteries and other occult studies, Laura weaves a great deal of occult references throughout The Bed. There are references to Crowley, ceremonial magic, angels (but not the type you’d find on top of a festive tree) and grimoires galore. The protagonist ends up with more than she bargained for when she purchases some antique furniture, and the book follows her unwitting introduction to the world of magic and the beings that it attracts, plus her mission to free a cursed soul.

I adore the fact that the temptation of higher power through magical ritual is dealt with, and the inherent dangers. Too often we see magic either demonised or romanticised. This novel is much more realistic; yes, magic is real and can help you and others, but it is dangerous! Heed the warnings or get hurt. Fantastic stuff.

Romance

I’ve heard ‘Witch Lit’ described as ‘Chick lit but with magic’, and to be honest, I think that’s a bit of a disservice. Romance is one factor in the story, but one thread among many, weaning a delicate but bright embroidery where every stitch is vital. The romance in this book veers from possibly the most high handed, arrogant wannabe to what I can only describe as (without spoilers) pretty much the exact opposite. Talk about low maintenance… that’s all I’m saying!

In summary, a fine work of fiction and sure to appeal to any who love a good mystery story, a dash of romance and a healthy dose of magic. Even though the story wraps up neatly, I’d love to read more about Liz (love her real name!) and her friends and family, as the way they interacted and dealt with the obstacles thrown up was totally compelling. Five stars, recommended.

The Bed

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

Laura Perry: Exploring Ancient Magic

Perry
Laura is the author of the recently published Ariadne’s Thread which explores the Minoans and their spirituality, and how to utilise this in the modern world. She has written three other books, and has been involved in a wide range of healing and magical activities. She let me quiz her on her book and other aspects of her magical life.
Mabh: You’re described in your bio as a Naturopath. Can you tell us what this means?
Laura: Naturopathy is a variety of natural/complementary healthcare that encompasses many of the well-known modalities such as herbalism and homeopathy. I find that it dovetails well with my spiritual beliefs and practices, focusing on finding the root cause of health problems and balancing the body rather than suppressing symptoms. When my first child was born with severe orthopaedic disabilities I began studying herbalism to help ease her chronic symptoms that conventional medicine couldn’t relieve. I moved on from there, eventually earning a Doctorate in Naturopathy degree (N.D.). I had a private practice as an herbalist and naturopathic consultant for a number of years, but eventually I burned out and decided to retire. I still apply my knowledge to my writing where appropriate, and my background allows me to be a very effective freelance editor for authors of books about herbalism and other natural healthcare modalities.
MS: Your latest book, Ariadne’s Thread, brings the Minoan world to life by making the rituals relevant for our modern world. How vital is it, do you feel, that even ancient religion or spirituality is altered to fall in tune with our modern rhythms?

 

Thread
LP: I think there needs to be a balance between being true to the ancient tradition and making it accessible to modern people. While it is certainly interesting to read about the details of ancient traditions, there are many aspects that modern people are uncomfortable with or unwilling to approach. How many people do you know who would be willing to bring a live bull to a ritual and sacrifice it in honor of a deity? This particular activity was a focal point of ancient Minoan rituals to honor the god Zagreus. My purpose in writing books like Ariadne’s Thread is to provide ways for contemporary pagans to honor various deities and make them an active part of their spirituality. I want people to enact those rituals, not just read them. In fact, I have performed most of the rituals in the books I have written, and those I haven’t actually performed, I have presented to the deities in question for approval before publishing them. In several cases, the gods and goddesses involved have given me ‘hints’ that they would rather the ritual be changed in some way (poltergeist-like activity is a common way of drawing my attention to something they don’t like) and I have always honored those nudges. To me, the purpose of a spiritual practice is to connect with the divine. If rituals that feel comfortable to modern people allow them to connect with deity in a way that deity approves of, I consider those rituals to be successful.
MS: And does pure reconstructionism have any validity too?
LP: Any method that allows a practitioner to achieve their goal (whatever that may be) is valid. For some people, the purpose of a reconstructionist tradition is to help them feel a connection with their ancestors and their ethnicity. For others, the purpose may be to connect with particular deities. If the practice achieves that goal, it is valid. No one should judge anyone else’s spiritual practice; we are all different, with different needs, different beliefs and different ways of connecting with the divine. In the case of Minoan spirituality, it is almost impossible to reconstruct a full religious tradition because we have no written records of actual rituals like we do for Greek, Norse and other reconstructionist traditions. Linear A, the writing system in which the native Cretan language was written, is still not deciphered.

MS: As a Wiccan priestess, do you use Wiccan structure as the basis for your Minoan ritual?
LP: I do, mainly because that structure is familiar to the broad pagan community. Like many people who did not grow up in a pagan tradition, I began my journey with Wicca. My private spiritual practice is shamanic in nature, but the rituals I write for publication and those I lead for groups adhere – to some extent at least – to the well-known arrangement of Wiccan ritual because that is what many people are familiar with. As I mentioned above, I wrote the Minoan rituals to be performed, not just read, so I had to choose a structure the pagan community would be willing to approach. Among other spiritual activities, the ancient Minoans enacted mystery plays in which they depicted the events of their mythology on stage with an audience watching. While this might be an enjoyable project for some groups, many pagans would prefer to connect with these deities in a more familiar setting. And mystery plays are simply not possible for the solitary practitioner.
MS: What made you put your thoughts and experiences with Ariadne and Minoan history and culture onto paper?
LP: I’ve been fascinated by the Minoans since high school, when I first encountered the Knossos frescoes in an art history class. Part of the work for my second Wiccan degree involved writing a set of rituals from a chosen pantheon. Ariadne spoke strongly to me so I centred those rituals around the Minoan deities. That was the beginning, almost twenty years ago, of the book Ariadne’s Thread. I have used that core set of rituals in actual practice over the years, adding to it as needed for various celebrations and rites of passage. I have also read a great deal about the Minoans due to my interest (honestly, fascination) with them. What really compelled me to gather it all together was the realization that very few pagans have ‘met’ Ariadne and her family; very few ever considered the Minoan pantheon for real-life ritual practice, mainly because there were no resources available. So I decided to create such a resource and put it out there for people to use.

 

tarot
MS: How challenging was the research into Minoan life?
LP: It was not nearly as difficult to write the section on Minoan history, which I did over the past couple years, as it was to compile those first few rituals two decades ago. Back then, the Internet was still a meagre resource and I had to search in libraries for what scant information was available. So much more data is accessible now from wonderful researchers like Nanno Marinatos and John Younger, it’s much easier to get a handle on what life was like on ancient Crete. Still, I had to avail myself of university libraries and journal articles in order to find the details I needed to build an accurate picture of daily life so long ago.
MS: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of writing and publishing Ariadne’s Thread?
LP: I feel like I’ve finally finished a project that has been ongoing for two decades. Looking back now, I can see that those original rituals were just the beginning. And I’m especially gratified to be able to share my connection with the Minoan pantheon with others. It’s not a well-known spiritual path, but I would like more people to ‘meet’ Crete’s native deities and incorporate them into their lives.
MS: You’ve done four books, all on very different subjects, and one of them is fiction. Are you thinking about doing any follow ups on any of the books, or is each project completely new for you?
LP: I supposed I could be accused of having a short attention span! So much interests me, I’ll never live long enough to research and write all the books I have ideas for (or read all the books other people have written, that I’m interested in). In a way, Ariadne’s Thread is a follow-up to Ancient Spellcraft; it’s an exploration of a specific culture from the broad spectrum of ancient spiritual traditions I touched on in the earlier book. And all my books have a single thread that connects them. They all revolve around the human relationship with deity, whether in daily spiritual practice, or in the process of healing, or even (in my novel) in the adventures that occur when we are thrown into new and unknown situations.
MS: Tell us a bit about Jaguar Sky, your first fiction book.
LP: Jaguar Sky is a mystical adventure novel that focuses on the spiritual awakening of a young woman as she shifts from a college campus in Florida to an archaeological dig at an ancient Maya sacred site. I was inspired to write the book after travelling to Belize and visiting the temples and other places my main character journeys to in her fictional life. I felt that the Maya temples – Xunantunich, Lamanai, Cerros and others – were still very much alive and that their energies could be accessed by anyone who had Maya ancestry and was willing to open themselves to that path.
MS: In the opening pages of The Wiccan Wellness Book, you are forced to give a disclaimer, commenting that as a modern society, we consider healing and medicine to be two different things. In the past ten years since this book was published, do you think people in general are moving towards a more holistic view of their health and wellbeing?
LP: I think the section of the general public that is interested in the holistic health model has expanded, but I feel there is still a resistance to it, or discomfort with it, on a broad basis. In spite of all the information available these days about the various complementary and natural healthcare methods, many people still feel uncomfortable stepping outside the bounds of the conventional medical system they grew up with. I think over time the holistic view will continue to grow; it’s just a matter of whether it does so slowly or quickly.
MS: Even though it is called Wiccan Wellness, are there healing techniques in here that will work for everyone?
LP: The title unfortunately paints an inaccurate picture of the contents of that book. As you may know, the publisher has the final say regarding many aspects of a book during production. The publisher of this particular book (or more specifically, the publisher’s marketing department) insisted on using the term Wiccan in the title because they felt that would help the book sell. I would have preferred a more broad-based title such as The Holistic Healing Book but I was overruled. With the exception of the loosely-Wiccan-style ritual at the end of the book, there is nothing particularly Wiccan about any of the contents. The focus is on the integration of body, mind and spirit for a holistic improvement in not just health but also quality of life in general.
MS: Ariadne’s Thread explores Minoan faith. Jaguar Sky speaks of Mayan Shamanism and of course you touch on many traditions in Ancient Spellcraft; do you feel drawn to ancient cultures, and are you closer to any one in particular?
LP: I have often joked that I was born in the wrong century (or millennium). Since childhood I have felt drawn to a number of ancient cultures. My personal spiritual practice focuses on the pre-Indo-European (pre-Celtic) peoples of the British Isles – my ancestors. I am strongly drawn to several different ancient cultures that are widely spaced geographically but that have spiritual connections with each other in various ways. The Minoans are among these, as are the Britons and the Norse. My connection with the Maya came about through the trip to Belize that I mentioned earlier.
MS: As a family woman, do you have time put aside specifically for writing or do you simply grab what you can, when you can?
LP: I have had to learn (the hard way!) to be organized in order to meet deadlines for my editing clients as well as for my publishers. I home-school my daughter and I work from home, so I’m pretty busy. In order to get my writing accomplished in time, I do set time aside for it, but I don’t have a fixed schedule (writing at 1 p.m., doing the next task at 1:45, that sort of thing). Instead, I set daily goals based on a to-do list. I prioritize what needs to be done on any given day and start with the top priority. Some days I get farther down that list than other days, but I generally manage to get everything done without too much of a hassle. It helps that my daughter is older now and doesn’t need constant supervision. And I’m very thankful that my husband is supportive of my work.
MS: What’s your next project?
LP: I am currently constructing a Minoan-style Tarot deck as an accompaniment to Ariadne’s Thread. Given the huge market for Tarot and oracle cards, I was surprised there wasn’t already such a deck available. The artwork is in the style of the Minoan frescoes with their deep, rich colors and naturalistic poses. It’s a huge task, designing a full deck of cards from scratch and writing the explanatory book to accompany it, but I’m enjoying the process. I hope to have the artwork finished by next spring, at which point I’ll begin seeking a publisher.
MS: And how will you be celebrating Yule or the Winter Solstice this year?
LP: We have a small group of close friends with whom we celebrate the various turning points of the year. We will gather on the Solstice for a ritual with a party afterward, including a gift exchange and a sing-along of our favorite carols.
You can find Ariadne’s Thread (published by Moon Books) through Amazon and other good book retailers.

 

You can Find Laura Perry on Facebook

Ariadne’s Thread by Laura Perry

AriadnesThread

The myths of ancient Crete, her people, and their gods twine through our minds like the snakes around the priestess’s arms in those ancient temples. They call to us across the millennia, asking us to remember. In answer to that call, Ariadne’s Thread provides a window into the spirituality, culture and daily life of the Minoan people, and commemorates the richness of a world in which women and men worked and worshiped as equals. In these pages, the glory of Crete once again springs to life; the history, the culture, and most of all, the intense spirituality of these fascinating people and their gods can inspire and transform our modern ways of thinking, worshiping and being. The ruined temples and mansions of ancient Crete may crumble along the coastline of this tiny island, but Ariadne’s thread still leads us into the labyrinth and safely back out again.”

The tagline on the Moon Books site is The Minoan world comes alive through seasonal rituals and rites of passage, honoring Ariadne and her Labyrinth.” This immediately resonates with me as (as you may know) I am fascinated with the impact ancient culture has on modern people, in ways both large and small.

From the outset I am thrilled by the passion Laura shows for her subject. Clearly the Minoans have inspired her from an early age, and it’s wonderful to see that fascination nurtured and blooming into the magical relationship she describes.

Crete comes alive for me; Laura’s description of the island belies the fact that all this information comes from research rather than first-hand experience. Laura covers all the pertinent studies relating to the Minoans and while presenting all the possible facts, is keen to stress the most likely ones as her picture of how the Minoans lived and the key points in their society. This is an intelligent and open minded approach which sits well with me. As does the focus on the everyday Minoan and not just the priest/priestess; after all, ultimately we are the ‘common folk’, so reaching back through time we may find more links to our ancestors by focusing on everyday life: the mundane as well as the magical.

The magical though does play a huge part in this book. We hear about the Minoan pantheon; some are familiar but certainly for me, there is a great deal to learn and Laura keeps me turning the pages to do just that. I was astonished at the range of gods and goddesses included here! There are also the meanings of symbols, animals and how Minoan ceremony works within the Wheel of the Year. In the ritual work section, she is careful to explain the whys and wherefores of using certain symbols or not; the approach is inclusive with a hefty dose of common sense.

Rarely have I read a book that goes into so much detail about the spirituality and mythology surrounding one particular culture. The explanations of the symbolism of the Labyrinth are surprising and enlightening. Laura also looks at the similarities and differences between Ariadne and her ‘equivalents’ in other cultures, including mainstream religion. This book is truly comprehensive but what is more impressive is that it’s also fascinating and entertaining. If you are interested in ancient culture at all, you will adore this. If not, you would still get a kick out of the beautiful descriptive paragraphs and analytical style.

Ariadne’s Thread is a permanent addition to my ‘regular reads’ library and a triumph in what I consider the most necessary task of Pagan books: making it relevant. The thread Laura spins weaves all the way through time and is never broken. We can follow it either way, each page a new spool to turn.

*****/5

 

A Book Review

Sigil Witchery

(An
interview with Tempest follows this review.)

It
was very serendipitous that as this book was coming up for review, I
had just registered to take a workshop with Tempest based on this
very book.

The
word “sigil” means “seal” or an action/word of a
spiritual nature. I would hazard a guess that most of us have seen
sigils that mean specific things, written and drawn by others.

Tempest
brings sigils to us in a more personal way, with the sigils drawn by
us, to have meaning to us, specifically. She simplifies it for us,
while never detracting from their power.

Before
doing this, she gives us a brief history of what she calls “making
marks”, discussing the paintings, symbolism and markings of
previous civilizations, which are still so important to us today.
Tempest does on to explain the differences between sigils and signs,
seals, designs, etc.

There
are sections on the basic shapes used in sigils and their meanings,
adding directions, letters and numbers, how to use the elements in
our sigils and how they work.

There
is space for us to create our own symbols for specific words that Ms.
Zakroff has listed for us, thus building our own library to make our
own custom sigils. She gives guidance on designing our own, what
tools we can use, why we should craft our own sigils. She offers us
suggestion sigils and a gallery of her own custom sigils.

We
don’t have to be “high magicians” to utilize the power of
sigils and the how-to’s are all right here, in an informative,
friendly, easy-to-read-and-relate-to manner.

As
one who has never given much thought to sigils, on their own, this
book has tempted me to not only think about it, but do it.

Interview
With Laura Tempest Zakroff

Susan
Morgaine (SM):
Hi Tempest – it was so nice to see you while you were on tour.

So,
belly dancer/performer, event producer, artist, witch, author and
teacher. That is quite impressive. I knew you primarily as a dancer
and performer when we met many years ago, and it wasn’t until I saw
the logo for Waking Persephone that I realized you were an artist, as
well

SM:
How did you start and what did you start with, realizing it was most
probably a circuitous journey? Please only respond with what you
are comfortable with sharing.

Tempest:
I definitely started with art, going back as early as age 3. By
first grade I was taking formal art classes on a regular basis – all
the way through high school. Then for college, I graduated from the
Rhode Island School of Design. I discovered modern Witchcraft and
Paganism in my teens, and got into dance in my college years. When I
moved to California in 2001, dance and Pagan stuff pretty much took
over my life. I didn’t have much room or resources to make the kind
of art I had been doing in school, so art took a bit of a backseat.
It manifested through my costume designs and creations, graphic
design, and some small drawings and paintings. When I moved back to
the East Coast in 2007, I started working as a fashion jewelry
designer. I did that until mid-2012, when it was time for drastic
life shift. In that process I moved to Seattle and began working for
myself full-time in all the things I do (dance, design, art).
Sometimes I feel frustrated that I didn’t just keep going with the
fine art out of school, but I realize I wouldn’t be where I am now,
on this path – if I had.

SM:
What was the impetus behind the idea of Waking Persephone. I know
there were several years here on the East Coast; are you continuing
it on the West Coast?

Tempest:
I co-produced Gothla US from 2008-2010 – which took place in
California. It was supposed to switch coasts, but that didn’t
happen. Which was frustrating because most of my east coast,
home-base students couldn’t afford to attend it. So much work and
the people I worked the closest with couldn’t participate. I also
had a vision for something that encompassed more, without stylistic
labels – to bring in more ritual/sacred dance, more artistry, more
diversity. That became a reality first in Tapestry Dance Retreat
(2011) and then Waking Persephone the following Spring. We did 2
years in Providence, and 3 more years in Seattle. At this time, I’m
not producing any events, because I needed to focus on my art and
writing, but when the time comes, something will probably emerge
again. Producing events takes up so much time and energy. I
transformed that time and focus into something else. Since the last
WP in 2016, I’ve written 4 books, published an anthology, and pushed
my art deeper.

SM:
When did you realize your were a Witch? It’s so interesting to hear
about other’s spiritual journeys.

Tempest:
I was at odds with the Catholic Church since my youngest days. I
got sent to the principal’s office at age 6 because during a field
trip to the church, I insisted on sitting where the priests and altar
boys did (like my brothers!), and couldn’t understand while girls
weren’t allowed. So much doctrine that made no sense – I felt that
God was more present in nature and everywhere around us. I
discovered that there were other options to the Abrahamic religions
in my mid-teens – that Witchcraft and Paganism was a thing. The
realization that there were names for what I believed and felt, and
that other people saw the world similarly was a huge revelation.

SM:
What made you decide to start to write, and then to follow that with
teaching?

Tempest:
I’ve been writing for a long time – in high school I was the editor
of the literary magazine. At RISD in 1997, I got involved with
Crescent Magazine – where I became an associate editor and had
regular columns. I started up a website on Modern Traditional
Witchcraft around then as well. Around 2000, I started offering
Witchcraft classes – and kept that up until around 2005 or so. Then
I burned out on being a public Witch, and retreated to a solitary
path for almost a decade. After getting my life reset in 2012, I
ventured out of my cave a bit with renewed focus and purpose. I
started up a blog (which moved to Patheos in early 2016 I think),
began teaching again and toyed with the idea of finally writing a
book. In the Fall of 2015, I was offered the contract to write “The
Witch’s Cauldron” for Llewellyn. It was a wonderful way to just
dive right in, and was really well received. So from there, I wrote
“Sigil Witchery” – after folks taking my workshops asked
why I hadn’t written a book yet on it. And well, it’s just kept
going from then.

SM:
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to take your Sigil
Witchery workshop (which is reviewed somewhere else this month in
Pagan Pages). What did you learn from your travels and sitting
with/teaching so many Witches and Pagans around the country? I found
it fascinating to see, on Instagram, the sigils you created with
each workshop.

Tempest:
No matter where folks are located or what path/label they use –
Witches/Paganfolks have so much more in common than not. The
community (or whatever we wish to call it) is incredibly diverse, but
we share many beliefs and loves, as well as fears and concerns.
There is so much potential in recognizing our collective power and
connections.

SM:
So what is next on the agenda for you, Tempest? Any sneak peeks?

Tempest:
A. I’m finally working on an oracle deck! The tentative title is
“The Liminal Spirits Oracle” and it will be out via
Llewellyn I believe some point next year :)

You
can reach/follow Tempest at the following:

Owlkeyme arts – Design & Fine art by Laura Tempest Zakroff | Seattle, WA

www.owlkeyme.com

Mago
Djinn – Modern Folk Wear

www.magodjinn.com

Author Site – www.lauratempestzakroff.com

Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

My Name is Isis (Volume 4) on Amazon

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