Interview with Annwyn Avalon: Water Witch

June, 2019

Dancer, artist, author, witch, priestess; with this many titles and roles, it’s clear that Annwyn Avalon is kept busy. Fresh from a workshop at Pantheacon, Annwyn was kind enough to talk to Mabh here at PaganPagesOrg about her new book, Water Witchcraft, and other aspects of her work.

Mabh Savage: How would you describe the concept of water witchcraft to a complete novice?

Annwyn Avalon: Water Witchcraft, simply put, is Witchcraft that uses water as the main modality for their magic and/or they may use water related items, work with water spirits and deities and perform many of their spells or rituals with, on, or near water. A Sea Witch is a very popular example, but it goes beyond just the ocean. It is a draw to the natural watery world, the subaqueous realms and all the water on the surface of the planet. Many of us have our own favourite body of water and they range from small springs and creeks to lakes, rivers and oceans. A Water Witch will often choose to cleanse with water rather than smoke, and may choose a cauldron, cup or bowl over a candle or ritual knife. They may work with gem elixirs, teas, sacred baths and many, many other types of watery magic!

MS: What first inspired you to write the book, Water Witchcraft?

AA: This is a long and complicated answer so I will try to keep it short. It was a combination of being drawn to the water, loving water, an obsession with folklore surrounding water and the major lack of information there is out there. There are so very few books that focus on Water Magic and some of them are very well done while others feel very rushed, but there remains only a small number of books on the subject. They also seemed to only focus on one body of water, the ocean or sacred wells. Water is so diverse and there are so many types that I wanted to put something together that would not only cover all types of water, but that was full of information that would be useful to everyone. This actually ended up starting as a 9-month course on water magic and by the time the book was in full swing it was being narrowed down to focus specifically on Brythonic magic.

MS: And what initially drew you to the magic of water and watery beings?

AA: I have always been a very watery person. I was born under Cancer with a Pisces moon, I grew up in Florida and spent many days in the fresh water springs, swamps and along the sea shore. Water has always been a strong presence in my life. Later, I was intensely drawn to Pre-Raphaelite paintings and literature many of which feature watery women and faery women. I realized later that it was the strong draw to the water, the water nymphs, mermaids and other watery creatures that was part of the draw. The other was the feminine form, a call to remember the Goddess.

MS: Is there a water spirit, being or deity you feel closest to?

AA: Yes, I think the most prominent spirit in my life at the moment is Sulis, the Thermal Springs Solar Goddess whose temple is found in Bath, UK. However, I work with other Goddesses and Watery Faery Women such as the Gwragedd Annwn, Morganna, Melsine, and Aphrodite. I also honor the masculine in the forms often found near sacred springs such as Belenos, and Gwyn ap Nudd, who is honoured at the White Spring in Glastonbury. Sulis and the Gwragedd Annwn have been with me since I was a child. I have always been deeply connected with Springs and the spirits that dwell within.

MS: What are the benefits of deepening our connection to water?

AA: Right now, our waters are in so much danger. Each day it is polluted and contaminated, and more atrocities are done by oil companies, over-farming, and the dolphin slaughter. When we deepen our connection, we wake up to these horrible things that are happening, and we are called to take action; to help form a better, cleaner, more awake world that understands how precious these natural wonders are. We are 70% water, which means that we must protect the water of this planet or we ourselves will become endangered and poisoned, much of which we are already beginning to see. Beyond that, water is the element of emotion and it urges us to connect deeply with our emotions and often works as a mirror showing us how to refine and conquer our shadow. It also lends wisdom, and the power of immense change.

MS: Who is the book aimed at? Who will get the most out of it?

AA: There are many people that are watery natured, drawn to the water or are called by water spirits, mer-folk and deity to connect with the water. This book is for them, but also any witch or magical practitioner that may wish to connect with water, wish to use water in their practice or has a mission to protect and get closer to the natural world. If your practice involves activism, and a deep connection to the Genius Loci, then there will be much value in this book for you!

MS: You do several courses as well as mentoring. What’s your favourite course that you teach and why?

AA: I offer several classes on my Water Witchcraft website, as well as through my tradition Triskele Rose and I am currently working on 2 more that will release in 2019-2020 on the Water Witchcraft website. However, if I had to choose a favourite it would be the 9-month Water Magic course. I think this course offers a good introduction to my own personal practice and really offers so much to the student that everyone regardless of path, location or ability gets a really good heaping handful of information. Everyone walks away from the course with so much knowledge and experience; it really bursts my heart open to see people work so hard and become so passionate about water and the magical practices that surround it.

MS: When did you discover that you had a passion for teaching? How did this come about?

AA: I think I have always been a natural teacher. As a teen, I was always teaching younger children. I spent several years in my late teens and early twenties learning to belly dance, and after I became proficient I had an opportunity to start teaching it to others. This is where I truly began to blossom as being able to provide a space for my students to explore and learn was so fulfilling for me. In my own experience I have learned that when I teach something, I become so familiar with it that while I significantly deepen my own connection with the material. I have also discovered that working with students one on one provides me with options and experiences from other perspectives that I learn to deepen my own knowledge, experience and mental reach on the subject. Not only that, not everything works for everyone and so I am able to work with students to adapt things to help make it work for them and future students. There is so much joy in this for me, making these practices accessible to those that may have never had the experiences before, watching the insecure witchling blossom into a powerful, confident witch; there is nothing better than that!

MS: You’re also an oracle- tell us a little bit about what this means.

AA: I was given my first tarot deck when I was 19, it didn’t take me long to learn how to read them and to find out I was quite good at it. Over the years I practiced and read for friends, then I began to branch out and read for everyone I could. While living in Arizona, I worked for a party planner and was able to do large gigs for corporate events. They were quite fun actually and I read for many, many people in one night. I don’t do this anymore, but I still love to read. Currently I run a monthly special, and have several types of readings available on my website. I also do Live Stream Water Witch Wednesday which happens every Wednesday 11:00 am PST on Instagram Live (@annwynavalon). I am on for about an hour, we talk about Water Magic, have Q and A time and then I take small prayer/spell requests as well as pull oracle or tarot cards to deliver messages from the water spirits to those that tune in and ask. I really enjoy this because I get to interact with many people and offer free readings for those that usually couldn’t afford to have a private appointment or take classes. While my time is important to me, I really value getting the messages that the water spirits want out into the world for those that need it regardless of transaction.

MS: Where is your most sacred place, or the place that means the most to you in terms of your magic?

AA: This is hard. If I am speaking locally then it would be the little space in my yard that I have set aside for a water temple. I am lucky enough to have a creek that runs through my property and there is a little waterfall, hawthorn and hazel trees, and a little secluded place where I have my outdoor altar. However, if you are asking about worldwide then it would be Scotland or England especially around Glastonbury, Cornwall, and Sulis’s temple at Bath as they have all had profound impacts on me and where I feel most connected to the land, spirits and the cultural practices. England has always held a piece of my heart and soul and I try to make it back as much as I can to visit.

MS: You’re also an accomplished artist. What is your favourite piece that you’ve created to date?

AA: Oh, this is hard because I really like all the art I release to the world! However, there are two paintings, one of my best friends and one of Sulis that I made for her, she owns both the original pieces, but they are my favourite because they were done with love and passion. Of the paintings I still have in my inventory I recently did a painting of Thalassa that I really like as well as a painting of a Water Priestess that I believe was channelled from an ancient past life. While it is not the most technically correct piece, there is something about it that makes my heart sing.

MS: And what’s your favourite piece of art by another artist, and why?

AA: The Lady of Shalott by J.W. Waterhouse remains by far my favourite painting of all time. Though there are many more by him and other Pre-Raphaelites that also capture my heart. The Lady of Shalott has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a very young girl, through the various paintings by Waterhouse and others to the poem by Tennyson as well as sung by Loreena McKennitt. La Bell de Sans Merci is a close second as well, in both painting by Waterhouse and poem by Keats.

MS: Do you have a favourite season or festival?

AA: Yes! The fall by far is my favourite, especially that period right between Samhain and Yule when it’s getting darker and colder. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spring as well, but if I had to pick between the two, the cooler darker days, the fall leaves and all the festivals and celebrations really make me happy, especially after all the heat of the summer. This dark mysterious time is most welcome. I am obsessed with flowers though and so spring time comes in so very, very close; it is hard to choose!

MS: How was Pantheacon this year? What did you enjoy most about it?

AA: Pantheacon this year was great! I love this event and look forward to it each year. I think my favourite part was reading in the Weiser Suite. It was a bit surreal to be there next to people whose work I have admired for such a long time. I was also blessed to have presented several times this year and was able to share information I am very passionate about as well as promote the call to action to pay attention and to sacredly attend our waters. I am looking forward to next year!

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2019?

AA: There are several things I am looking forward to in 2019. I will be lecturing at Mystic South followed by a trip back to North Carolina to dance, teach and make magic! I am also working on a few secret watery projects that I am really looking forward to spending in creation mode getting them ready for release. I also find myself in a place of having more time on my hands and so I am looking forward to having time to spend painting and playing in my garden.

You can find out more about Annwyn and her work on her YouTube channel, her website, and via FaceBook. Her book, Water Witchcraft, is available now.

Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition on Amazon


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 & Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Tarot Talk

November, 2018

Four of Coins

(The Four of Coins card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Pentacles, and remind ourselves of what happens when we have begun to find success within the physical world.

The Four of Pentacles is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Pentacles. As we have already discovered, these two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation. We have other useful things to consider, too, such as symbolism, astrology, and more.

The traditional image of the Four of Pentacles is of a well-dressed person wearing a crown and sitting on a throne, with a pentacle under each foot, a pentacle above the crown, and a pentacle held firmly with both arms. Behind the seated person is the skyline of what appears to be a well-organized and prosperous city; above is a blue and cloud-free sky. Most versions of the Four of Pentacles are similar: four Pentacles being guarded, although there is no indication exactly what they are being guarded from.

The suit of Pentacles (or Coins, Stones or Disks) corresponds with the element of Earth, and of the physical body, physical manifestation, and wealth. Many Tarot decks use images of pentagrams or coins or disks on their Minor Arcana Pentacles cards as well as trees, flowers and green, verdant growth, all of which will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit. A nice place to begin is with the element of Earth itself.

In its natural state, Earth is cool and dry, and it binds or shapes the other elements. Earth is of the physical or physically formed or manifested world, and of nurturing, health, finances and security, and the wisdom associated with living simply and being well-grounded. Earth is the element of form and substance; it is connected to material world security (and even wealth), and to our physical bodies and physical senses, and the pleasures and pains they bring. Earth represents the nurturing and serene side of Nature, and it represents the tangible end result of our labors. Earth is about security and stillness, and knowing what to expect; it is about strength, discipline, and physical manifestation of all kinds, and about enjoying the fruits of our labors. Earthy energies are fertile, practical, and slow to change.

You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Earth to our daily lives, our physical bodies, our careers and our finances, our families, and the natural world around us. These things are all the main correspondences of the element of Earth, the suit of Pentacles, and of course, our Four of Pentacles.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, or suspicious of or averse to change.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience abundance, good luck and comfort (the Ace of Pentacles), the power to deal with change in a balanced and beneficial manner (the Two of Pentacles), and the ability to practice our skills with talent, dedication and a focus on details (the Three of Pentacles). The Four of Pentacles offers a glimpse of the success that comes with a long-term application of luck, skill and dedication, and an awareness of just how much we have to lose once that success begins to manifest.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Pentacles offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Pentacles represents our Sun when it is in the astrological sign of Capricorn.

In astrology, The Sun corresponds with our sun, the star at the center of our solar system around which the planets revolve. The sun provides our Earth with the heat and light necessary for life as we know it. The arc that the sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is a reflection of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which is particularly applicable with our Four of Pentacles and the astrological sign of Capricorn (an Earth sign). The sun is thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, or simply the “life force.” In Chinese astrology, the sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle. In Indian astrology, the sun is called Surya and represents the soul, ego, vitality kingship, highly placed persons, government and the archetype of The Father.

Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac, is a Cardinal Earth sign ruled by Saturn. Capricorn people are stable, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals. The Capricorn personality is one that is firmly grounded in reality, the voice of reason in a chaotic world. A Capricorn person may seem unfriendly, but remember the image of this astrological sign has a fish’s tail. The emotions are there, just hidden within that inhibited exterior. As far as material wealth is concerned, Capricorn approaches finances with prudence, planning, and discipline, and thus, there are not many Capricorns who are lacking in physical-world resources.

If the Sun is about the Self, and Capricorn, an Earth sign ruled by Saturn, is about resources and reality, then when our Sun is in Capricorn, there can be a strong focus to deal with and master the more tangible aspects of life and living. We are talking about ambition here, but also responsibility. These energies are not about going forth into the unknown, but rather they are about working hard and making the most out of the resources at hand, solving challenges through focus and endurance. The Sun in Capricorn is about being admired for accomplishments, as well as dependability, creativity, discipline and a sense of humor.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

In The Naked Tarot (the awesome book I reviewed this month; check it out!), the Four of Coins is described as someone who is poor-minded rather than someone who is actually deprived, a perfect description of the personality of this card. Janet Boyer’s description of the Four of Coins as actually about withholding and stockpiling to the point of being paralyzed by what we have accumulated, is spot-on. The personifications of King Midas and Ebenezer Scrooge fit well with the message of the Four of Coins, as does the health issue of constipation.

The Wild Unknown Four of Pentacles shows four Pentacles, each connected to the others by belts or straps. We can almost hear the hum of those belts as they turn, creating lots of energy but only allowing each Pentacle to turn in one direction, in only certain ways. The image shows the benefits of the energy of this card, as well as the restrictive nature of the devices which not allow things to grow or evolve in new ways. This card is about valuing the things we have right now and protecting them to the point that they are stifled. Keeping things as they are, holding tightly to those possessions we value, prevents us from using them to create new things. But the support offered by structure and a strong foundation can just as easily grow into a prison.

The image on the Thoth Tarot Four of Disks, called “Power,” looks like a fortress with four square watchtowers, surrounded by a moat that can only be crossed at one place. The Four of Disks represents assured material gain in the form of dominion, rank, and earthly power that have been obtained but are leading to no further growth. After all, a fortress offers useful protection but if our enemies surround us with strength and focus of their own, a siege becomes a long and painful process.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Pentacles shows the traditional image for this card, and tells of a need to focus on growth opportunities closer to home, and of acquiring new possessions and guarding them, maybe to the point of over identifying with them. The card hints at a tendency to parade our wealth in front of others and warns of the danger of ostentation.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Coins shows a man dressed in a manner that indicates material wealth and success achieved through effort. Despite his outward appearance of power and security, the man grasps four golden coins to his chest in a very insecure way, and looks at us out of the side of his eyes as if saying “these are not the Coins you are looking for; move on!” Saving for a rainy day is a prudent thing to do, however the fear of losing our physical possessions can easily overcome our ability to enjoy them.

The message here is pretty clear: yes, managing our resources in order to make certain that our physical-world needs are seen to is smart. The ability to provide for oneself takes training, effort and perseverance, but constantly questioning ourselves as to whether or not we have enough ends up blinding us to the true pleasure of personal satisfaction and comfort, and the joy of sharing our own bounty with our loved-ones. These kinds of connections are valuable too, and they are also necessary for our sense of worth and our joy of living.

This process of holding tightly is well and good for a little bit; it allows us to gather ourselves in order to take the next leap. However, realizing that eventually the process of holding tightly will begin to prevent the very leap for which we are preparing is a necessary realization for that leap to actually happen.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at

The Gilded Tarot Deck on Amazon


About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog,, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon

The Bad Witch Reviews: The Magick of Master Lilly by Tobsha Learner

July, 2018

The Bad Witch Reviews:

The Magick of Master Lilly

by Tobsha Learner


This book feels timely. Set before and during the English civil war from the point of view of an astrologer and magician it might seem odd for me to say that but it is. There are, of course, more than two factions but you have really two opposing forces. One cultured, connected to Europe, artist, intellectually explorative and another towards nationalism, religious hatred, anti-intellectualism and paranoia.

No this book feels very relevant today. It also happens to be a cracking read. The story is well paced, the characters alive and vibrant. The “sides” are full of well-meaning people communicating badly and not getting what they want. The villains are ordinary people given the liberty to act in monstrous ways by the conflict around them.

The occult elements are interesting and a good blend of fanciful and real. The terminology doesn’t distract or bog down those whom might have no knowledge of Craft, astrology or
Cunning Folk ways. Yet it doesn’t become historical techno-babble.
The victims to the folly of war are many, and always the innocent are punished first. The farmers looted, the
Cunning Folks tortured and killed, the “traitors” real or imagined hung without rule of law, the women and children raped and left half mad: this was English violence unleashed.

The one we pretend isn’t there. The one we hide behind sports and stiff upper lips and so on. The one that simmers and you sometimes see in football hooliganism, drunken fights, blood sports and riots.

I feel like a learned a lot reading this book (the research is excellent) about how history repeats itself. Yet it wasn’t a sour book it is full of hope, love and good intentions. I devoured it wholly, reading it near constantly from the moment I got it until I was done. I can see this would be a great holiday read, especially if you were
traveling in the UK.

I can imagine this would be a great read if you had the opportunity to read it in London. There is a great affection for London in this book and visiting landmarks from the book from pubs to palaces would be both entertaining and interesting. Maybe you could watch Mother Thames and dream how different our lives would all be if the stars had aligned differently and great and terrible men had listened to angels instead of stubborn hate.


The Magick of Master Lilly

Interview with Author & Artist Lupa

March, 2018

Lupa is an author, artist, ecopsychologist, and naturalist in the Pacific Northwest.  She creates ritual tools and other sacred art from hides and bones, and is a prolific author of pagan nonfiction books.

The Tarot of Bones is a tarot deck that is inspired by natural history, and combines Lupa’s art and writing skills with her knowledge and appreciation of the natural world, adding the traits and habits of animals to the symbolism of the tarot.  

After reviewing Tarot of Bones last month, I was excited to catch up with Lupa and find out a bit more about this tarot deck and its companion book.


Raushanna: I know the natural world and the life and death of the creatures living within it have been a large focus for you for many years.   Your creative connection to the natural world has evolved in wonderful ways.  I admit to reading your Therioshamanism blog years ago, and was amazed at that time at the depth and breadth of your focus on the natural world, and your creativity within your field has blossomed since then. What circumstance made you first aware of this visceral connection between yourself and the natural world and its inhabitants?

Lupa: Honestly, it was early childhood when I first started exploring our yard and the various tiny beings in it. My love affair with nature has been a lifelong pursuit, and has taken many forms over the years. I discovered paganism in my teens, and the idea that there were other people who saw nature as sacred had me hooked from the start. Over the past two decades I’ve been a Wicca-flavored neopagan, a Chaos magician, and a neoshaman, though these days I refer to myself as a naturalist pagan. I don’t believe in supernatural things any more, and my path is firmly rooted in the physical world and ecology. I find my inspiration in the wonder and awe I feel at being privileged enough to be a part of this amazing universe for a few short years.


Raushanna: Tarot of Bones is a unique deck.  What were you hoping to offer to those using your deck for personal exploration?  What message or method were you trying to bring to a reader? 

Lupa: Honestly, I wanted to help people get out of the very human-centered approach we have to the tarot. Most decks, including the Rider-Waite-Smith, are almost entirely made of human figures and pursuits. Any animals, plants and other beings are there primarily as symbols for human meanings. The Tarot of Bones, on the other hand, has no humans whatsoever. The Major Arcana and Court cards all have very specific animal species associated with them, and while these have meaning to us, they are based on the animals’ behavior, not the values we associate with them as “good” or “bad”. It is especially important for those who claim to follow nature-based pagan paths to get their heads out of the human sphere and away from human priorities, and to see ourselves as just one of many equal species on a complex, life-supporting planet. The Tarot of Bones is one gentle nudge in that direction.


Raushanna: As a follow-up to the previous question, I would like to share how your Tarot of Bones affected my own Tarot practice.  These days, I tend to use the Tarot only for my own personal growth, and I only do readings through word-of-mouth requests.  I usually work with the Tree of Life, astrology and elemental dignities when working with the Tarot and its messages to me.  You have opened a new awareness within me of energy flows and entanglements occurring all around me that I knew existed, but never included in my divination interpretations before reading your companion book.  Because of your deck and book, I’m looking around at my surroundings and my Tarot cards with a new awareness, an awareness that is based on a combination of pure intuition and of “listening” to the plants, animals, people, and non-physical entities around me.  Thank you for that!

Lupa: That’s really cool—thank you for sharing your story! I hope you are able to continue deepening those relationships and understandings.


Raushanna: Your deck approaches the Tarot in a non-traditional way, particularly in the card images, and the companion book includes lots of useful information not usually found in a “LWB,” including your lists of inspirations for the assemblages.  The deck and the companion book in many ways reveal your inner self to the public (you state, rightly so, in the Introduction that this is a very personal deck) perhaps in some ways more so than your art because you explain to us all in writing why you chose the items in the images of the cards.  You created and self-published all this in a little over two years, not long at all!  Did you ever feel overwhelmed during the process of creating this unique deck and the companion book?  What kept you motivated to continue?

Lupa: Oh, so many times I asked myself “What have I gotten myself into?” It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I’m grateful that so many people hung in there with me, both in person and online. Being able to post the assemblages the deck was based on as I completed them helped me to stay connected with everyone, and motivated to keep going. Sometimes it seems absolutely unreal that I did all that, but I can look at the pieces hanging up in my home, and the boxes of decks and books, and think “Wow, I really did do all that!”

I have always been good at keeping myself on a task, even if things don’t always go according to schedule, and I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Now instead of one single project that I struggle to complete, I have a huge list of books and other projects I want to work on, and it’s just a matter of pacing myself as I work through each one.


Raushanna: You shared which card was created first, the card that led you into the process of creating and self-publishing the Tarot of Bones deck and its companion book.  Which card image was the easiest to create?  Which was the most challenging to get right?

Lupa: Honestly, they were all easy to some extent, because I was deeply in a creative flow for that year of 2015 when I actually made all the assemblages. The ones that were the most challenging were those that required more structural creativity; for example, trying to attach a full-sized bison skull to a small wooden door as its backboard took some manual labor that I wasn’t expecting. But in working with the spirits of the skulls and bones, and the tarot itself, I found it surprisingly easy to weave those threads of spirit and my own creativity together.


Raushanna: You have mentioned you worked with the Tarot before.  You offer some detailed card meanings in the companion book.  Has the process of creating the card image and/or writing the entry in the companion book that describes the meaning of the assemblage and the card itself caused you to re-write your own understanding of a particular card?

Lupa: Absolutely. My understanding of the tarot when I first started using it in the 90s was very much “by the book”. I revisited all that when I began the Tarot of Bones, combining traditional tarot meanings with more nature-based interpretations of the archetypes and concepts in the cards. So really I had to re-learn each card individually, especially as I hadn’t used a proper tarot deck in over a decade when I started the project. But that’s also why I wrote each card’s book entry as soon as I completed its assemblage, because the meaning was still fresh and raw in my mind.


Raushanna: Creating a Tarot deck is, I am sure, a transformative process.  What unexpected and surprising result(s) did you experience as you worked with both the natural world and the symbolism attached to the Tarot?

Lupa: I think I was surprised at how much of myself was still in the deck as I created it. I wanted to allow nature to speak for itself as much as possible, but it’s necessarily biased because I am the person communicating those messages. We all have to experience the world through a human filter because each of us is working in a brain formed by millions of years of primate evolution, and a mind that is influenced by the society and culture each of us comes from. So there’s probably a lot that gets lost in the translation when I try to speak what I learned from nature, and that’s why it’s so important to experience nature firsthand, without an agenda, for yourself. Don’t go into the woods expecting to find fairies and spirits or to have a vision quest or other journey. Instead, just quiet your mind and open yourself to the land itself, without overlaying it with human meaning. It will tell you what’s most important.


Raushanna: What role, if any, does this deck play in your life now that it is completed?  Do you have any other favorite decks?  Are there other divination tools or systems that resonate for you?

Lupa: Well, it’s the deck I do daily one-card draws for the public with, as well as one of my main decks for professional readings. The only other one I use on a regular basis is the Ted Andrews Animal-Wise deck, which I got when it first came out in 1999 and which I’ve been using for totem readings ever since then. I, also, like bone-casting, and there’s a simple set I’m working on getting ready for release, hopefully this spring. Really, any divination system is just a tool to help me focus my thoughts and intuition, and since I created the Tarot of Bones it’s a pretty tight fit.


Raushanna: You have a recommended reading list in the Tarot of Bones companion book that is Tarot-focused, and you mentioned that, at least in part, through your creation process for this deck you have reinitiated your connection to Tarot as a divination tool.  What processes and/or exercises do you recommend for a novice reader who is drawn to your deck?

Lupa: I like the idea of working with each card individually to really get to understand your relationship to it and understanding of it. That’s basically what I did as I created each assemblage. Study each card, both my version of it and other artists’; read the book, and other tarot books; study the animals that I profile in each of the cards, and the meanings and roles of each bone I use for the Minor Arcana suits; and create your own meaning and understanding of each card based on those things.


Raushanna: Your website,, lists your own books; which of your book(s) would you recommend to a Tarot enthusiast who has become enamored with your natural world inspirations shared in the Tarot of Bones companion book, and who wishes to learn more about combining divination and nature?

Lupa: Well, right now the only other book I have specifically on divination is Skull Scrying: Animal Skulls in Divinatory Trance, which is a booklet on using a real animal skull for scrying. Beyond that, I recommend my book Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems in Your Ecosystem as a book for helping you deepen your connection with nature itself. I really feel that a lot of people are lacking in their nature literacy, even those who know a lot about tarot and other divination, and so boosting your experiences and knowledge of nature is important. And I don’t just mean things like “I know the four Wiccan elements”. I’m talking about knowing your bioregion in detail, where your watershed is, where your drinking water comes from, what sorts of fungi are in mycorrhizal relationships with the trees in your area, etc. Take away the supernatural and symbolic, and just get your nose in the dirt.


Raushanna: What is next for you?  Any plans for an Oracle of Bones as a companion to the Tarot of Bones?

Lupa: Again, I have a bone-casting set I need to put the finishing details on. I’d also love to do a Lenormand of Bones someday, maybe as a limited run since it’s not as popular as tarot. But right now my big project is Vulture Culture 101: A Book For People Who Like Dead Things. It’s a book about collecting hides, bones and other animal remains, including how-tos, advice, and other resources. I’m currently in the middle of the IndieGoGo to crowdfund printing and other costs, looking at a Summer 2018 release. That IndieGoGo can be backed at


I’d like to thank Lupa, very much, for this interview; it was nice to be able chat in more depth about her work!

For more about Lupa you can visit her site at:

For Amazon Information Click Images




About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog,, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

For Amazon Information Click Image

Interview: Artist Marcia Stewart – RocknGoddess Etsy Shop

December, 2016

Marcia Stewart – RocknGoddess Etsy Shop



Large Yule Pentacle

Gracing our cover this month is the beautiful art of Marcia Stewart, also known as, RocknGoddess on etsy.  We loved her work so much we thought we would get to know a little more about her.

Marcia Stewart:  Thank you for inquiring about my art and Etsy Shop for PaganPages.Org.
PaganPagesOrg:  Please share with us about yourself.

Marcia Stewart:  As with many other pagan/witch folk that I speak with, I was raised in a Christian home, however, it never really resonated with me. During exploration of my spiritual beliefs, in 2000, I came across Earth-based religions, paganism, and witchcraft. I consider myself “pagan” as I am eclectic in my beliefs and spirituality. I am a stone artist and I create pieces that are inspired by nature and my spirituality. I started my Etsy shop in January of 2013 and I have over 900 sales to date. Outside of my art, I work part-time at a community college assisting disabled students in the classroom. My biggest joy in the world is being a grandmother. Some of your readers may remember me from years ago when I ran a blog and Facebook page called The Simplified Witch. I changed the name to RocknGoddess since it is more representative of my art.


Yule Goddess with Poinsettia

PaganPagesOrg:  What brought you to this wonderful art form?

Marcia Stewart:  I always loved art but got away from it for a long time. In 2012, my husband and I had the opportunity to semi-retire, down-size, and move to a home right on the Delaware River. We would go down to the dock and take strolls along the shore.  I found the stones there very vibrant and energizing so I decided to bring a few home and paint them.  Then I painted more….and people liked them and asked me to paint some for them….so I did. I began to sketch and turn my sketches into paintings on stones.  The more I sketch and paint, the more detailed my art is becoming.  It is magickal.

PaganPagesOrg:  Your Process?

Marcia Stewart:  I go out and collect stones along the Delaware River. I always thank Mother Earth and her bountiful river for providing me with such a wonderful medium for my art. When I get the stones home, I sort them by size and scrub them clean with castille soap and water.

I select stones appropriate for a customer’s order or a new design I am creating for the first time.  First, I base coat with acrylic paint.  I use both craft and canvas acrylics.  Next, I sketch the design on the stone with either a graphite pencil or white colored pencil, depending on the background color.  Now I am ready for the detail painting.  Sometimes it takes many coats of a color to achieve the opaqueness I desire for my designs.  For example, gods and goddesses that are red, yellow, or gold take up to 5 coats of paint.  Sometimes I let the paint air dry between coats, and sometimes I use a hairdryer to speed up the process, depending on how busy I am.  After the all design work is painted on the front and back, I spray coat the stone with Crystal Clear Gloss Enamel for endurance.

When the stone is completely dry, it is blessed and then packed with love and care and shipped to its new owner.




Yule Holly God and Goddess Set

PaganPagesOrg:  What inspires you?

Marcia Stewart:  Unfortunately, shortly after my husband and I moved to the river, he was severely injured when a tree fell on him while walking the dog one afternoon. He survived in the intensive care unit for five months but ultimately he succumbed to his injuries. Those precious five months and the life lessons they presented to our family are a huge inspiration to me. Life is precious and it can be taken away in an instant so always live your life with love and gratitude. My husband knew how much I loved painting stones for customers and he would want me to continue doing what I love. Painting stones and the accident have transformed my life.  I have found my peace and calm.  I have found what I am supposed to be doing in this life and I love it. Unfortunately I had to move from the river home, but I am still close enough that I take weekly trips to “stone island” where I find peace and solitude and awesome stones to paint! I hope that my art brings inspiration, peace, joy and happiness to others.

PaganPagesOrg:  Our deepest sympathies on the passing of your husband.   


Yule tree ornaments

PaganPagesOrg:  Other ways people may see my work, make purchases, or contact you?

My work can be seen on the social media sites hyperlinked above.  Etsy is my main source of sales, but anyone interested in purchasing stone art from me is welcome to contact me through any of the above social media platforms, blog, or email.  I would say next to Etsy, Facebook would be the best way to contact me for an immediate response.
I am happy to make any design in a small stone with a bail on the back to hang from a Yule tree.

I will be making Yule tree ornaments for my shop very soon.

Fairy stones for winter


Warrior Women

August, 2015

Frida Kahlo


Frida Kahlo was one of my favourites – favourite painter and favourite person. Not that I knew her or even met her, but everything I’ve read about her, every photo I’ve seen and every single one of her paintings makes me think she was a strong, fascinating woman. A woman you’d like to spend time with and get lost in hours-long conversations about life and death and sadness, hope and love.

Frida Kahlo was a true free spirit, boxed in by life and circumstance. Her art became a conduit through which she was able to communicate her physical and emotional pain.

She was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, in Mexico. Her father was a German immigrant, a photographer, whose second wife was Frida’s mother, Matilde.

Frida’s life was a train-wreck of illness, accidents, broken hearts and betrayal, beginning with a bout with polio at age six. She was bedridden for nine months and had permanent damage to her right leg and foot. She limped for the rest of her life.

I think about how awful that must have been, to lay in bed for nine months when you’re six years old. No TV. No video games. No radio. Did she have picture books to look at? Were her sisters kind to her? Did her Mama cook special dishes for her? Did her Papa bring treats and surprises at the end of his work day? I hope the time passed quickly.

In 1925, when Frida was 18-yrs old, she was severely injured in a bus accident. This time she spent a year in the hospital. It was during this period that she began to paint. Her parents provided everything she needed, including a mirror with which she would paint self-portraits. In her lifetime Frida painted fifty-five self-portraits. Why? In her words: Because I am so often alone….because I am the subject I know best.

In 1928 Frida met her life-long love and future husband, Diego Rivera. He was twenty years her senior and already had an established career as an artist. She was twenty-two and had just became a member of the Mexican Communist Party. In 1929 they married. The next year they traveled to San Francisco, New York City and Detroit. Frida wanted to go home, to Mexico. She really didn’t like America. She was lonely and had little to occupy her time. Diego was busy with his shows and his work at the Detroit Institute of arts.

Between 1930 and 1934 Frida lost three pregnancies, either through miscarriage or therapeutic abortion. The bus accident had damaged her pelvic area so thoroughly that she was unable to carry a fetus for very long.

Both Frida and Diego had many affairs during their marriage, Frida with women as well as men. They seemed content with this arrangement until Diego had an affair with her sister, Cristina. Frida packed her bags and left. She took an apartment in Mexico City and stayed there for several months. By the end of 1935 Frida and Diego had reconciled. However, they lived in two separate residences that were connected by a walk-way on the second floor. Perfect.

In 1939 Diego filed for divorce. It was finalized on November 6. During this post-divorce period, Frida showed her paintings at several exhibitions and continued to suffer from various physical ailments.

On Diego’s 54th birthday, December 8, 1940, he and Frida remarried in San Francisco. He remained there while she went back to Mexico.

In 1944, and for the next ten years, Frida underwent a series of surgeries on her back and her foot, but her health continued to deteriorate.

In 1950 Frida was hospitalized for nine months and endured seven surgeries on her back during that time.

In August 1953, Frida’s right leg was amputated below the knee.

In April of 1954, Frida entered the hospital yet again – and for the last time. She died on July 13 in her childhood home.

This article about Frida Kahlo seems to be merely a compilation of her illnesses and hospital stays. It is true that the majority of her life was spent fighting illness or enduring the consequences of that horrible bus accident. However, because of her incredible strength of character and determination she lived life on her terms.

Some of her paintings are so raw, so personal, I am in awe of her trust in people; her trust that the emotions evoked by her work will be kept sacred. If you look at her painting entitled Henry Ford Hospital you will see, clear as day, exactly how she felt after losing her third baby. This is a very sad painting. What remains in my heart is how lonely and isolated she is. Naked, no blankets and all alone. Heartbreaking. Here is the link: ow horrible

The Broken Column is another of her paintings that has lodged itself in my heart. It depicts the physical pain she had lived with since the bus accident, daily pain, 24-hour pain, seven days a week pain. It amazes me that she accomplished so much in her life. Her focus and determination was obviously fierce. Here is the link:

I will leave you with a description of Frida I believe is perfect: : “…one of history’s grand divas…a tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, bi-sexual that hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

Here is a link to one of my favourite self-portraits:

I hope the end is joyful – and I hope never to return. ~Frido Kahlo

Interview With Artist Cristina McAllister: Beautiful Connections

August, 2015

Cristina McAllister: Beautiful Connections


There is something mesmerizing about the art of Cristina McAllister. Her amazing blend of symbolism and incredible detail combines with a flair for design and symmetry rarely found these days. It turns out that Cristina is just as interesting as her art! She was kind enough to have a chat with me about her many projects, her inspiration and her aspirations.

Mabh Savage: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

Cristina McAllister: I knew I was going to be an artist since I could hold a crayon. I’ve been compelled to create for as long as I can remember, and have always had a natural aptitude for it and a drive to get better at it. I am mainly self-taught, learning by looking at others’ work, analyzing it, experimenting, practicing. I’ve always enjoyed experiencing art, in all its many forms. It’s not just entertainment or distraction – it’s important. The stories we tell to each other and to ourselves are important, and being able to express ideas well is something I’ve always been motivated to do.

MS: What are the challenges of being a self-employed artist and jeweler? How do you keep yourself motivated?

CM: This is maybe a disappointing answer, but I actually don’t make enough money from my art to live on right now. I have had many jobs that I was able to apply my art skills to, I’ve sold my art pieces through various venues over the years, I have done a lot of freelance projects that have brought in money, but to be honest, making a consistent living making art has been very challenging for me, especially living in Los Angeles. It’s expensive to live here.

I’ve realized that for me, trying to make enough money with my art to actually live on is too much pressure. It changes my relationship to my creativity in a negative way. When I NEED to sell art to pay the bills, it becomes about the sale, not the art itself, and if people aren’t actually buying (which is often the case), it’s frustrating and stressful and I can’t appreciate people just appreciating. It becomes: “If you love my art like you say you do, then BUY something, because I have to pay my rent!!!” After struggling with that for a while, I ultimately concluded that that is NOT what I want my art to be about, and it’s not what I want to be about.

So I’ve tended to have some sort of mundane job that pays the bills, live cheaply, and work on my art in my free time. It can be tough, but for me it’s actually liberating. That way, when someone expresses appreciation but doesn’t buy anything, I can still take satisfaction from sharing my creativity and connecting through it without the desperation of needing it to be about the sale.

The art world has changed dramatically over my lifetime, with the advent of the internet. I’ve just kind of evolved with it, exploring possibilities as I go. These days it’s a DIY endeavor, and you have to develop not only your art skills, but figure out how to be a business person, a salesman, a web designer, a social media expert, etc. It would be lovely to have a business partner who is savvy about that stuff who could handle that end of things and let me focus on making art, but so far I haven’t found them. I’ve just had to figure out how to do it myself. But luckily, there are a lot of resources these days that make that possible.


I’ve also tried a LOT of different ways of making money with my art. I’ve done original paintings, art prints, a comic book, screen printed apparel, jewelry, various crafts, worked on staff as an illustrator for rpg and ccg games, done various freelance work including illustrations, tattoo commissions, pinups, graphic design, conceptual design, image licensing, etc. Every endeavor meets with some success and some failure, but I always learn something from it that I can then apply to my next enterprise.

I’ve managed, at this point in my life, to find financial stability through marriage to a man who has a good paying job, and through running a small home business that manufactures an industrial product my father invented (The Shake & Blast Canister – a sandblasting tool). So I no longer have to go to a job every day, which is awesome. I spend about a week a month assembling canisters and have the rest of my time to create, which is working out wonderfully at this point. It gives me the freedom to focus on exploring things that I want to explore and making things I want to make, and if other people like them and are willing to spend money on them – that’s a bonus!

Interestingly, I’m making more money from my art now than I ever have. Having more time to devote to it has made a big difference, and all the years I’ve spent making art and getting it out there is paying off in small chunks. I’m selling prints on Fine America, some stuff on Zazzle, I’ve got the Etsy shop that I sell my handmade items through, I vend at several events a year, I have partnered with My Wonderful Walls, which makes my work available as wall art decals, I do various freelance projects when they come up, collaborate with other artists. I just keep working. Keep creating and trying to share it with as many people as possible.

Even though I’m not making a ton of money with it, my art is essential to who I am. Making beautiful things, making people happy, putting something out there into the world that creates an uplifting experience for people…that is my notion of success as an artist, and by that standard I think I’m doing pretty well. I get a lot of feedback from people who “get” my art, and it means something to them, and that’s really the best result I can hope for.

MS: Fine America cites your work as inspiring ‘mindfulness, reverence and celebration’. What does mindfulness mean to you?

CM: Well, mindfulness is about thinking, or sometimes it’s about not thinking, and just being. I tend to think a LOT. Ha! Sometimes too much! But for me, exploring the world and trying to understand it is one of the most marvelous things about being a human being. We live in this incredibly complex universe, full of amazing things, and all of it is connected. We have the ability to explore and try to understand that.


Seeing those connections, placing those puzzle pieces, watching as things unfold and reveal and open up new mysteries…that’s very exciting and blissful and awesome (in the literal sense!) to me. Those moments of clarity when the pieces lock into place and I can see the pattern in the chaos.

I had an actual, straight-up sober “mystical experience” a few years ago, and what it showed me was Connection. Everything linking to everything else. Everyone linking to everyone else. We tend to go through our days narrowed in on our own little spheres and challenges, which is often necessary to function. I think mindfulness is being able to engage in your experience in a conscious way that can be integrated into a greater understating and connection with the Bigger Picture.

MS: Do you start a piece of art with the intention of inspiring a particular emotion/state of mind or do you simply let the inspiration flow?

CM: It depends. Sometimes it’s an image that just comes to me. Sometimes I’m exploring an idea and want to express that. A lot of my art is the result of me processing ideas. I soak up information and filter it through my inner world and then use my art skills to visualize the results.

I’ve come to recognize that I am cyclic in my creativity and productivity. I have periods where I am super inspired and motivated to make stuff…I call it the Muse Bomb. I suspect I have a bit of bi-polar going on, and my manic phases manifest as these bursts of creative activity. I’ll stay up all night making sketch after sketch after sketch, and then I’ll take those rough ideas and refine and work them into finished work. Sometimes they flow easily and almost effortlessly. Sometimes I really have to wrestle with them to get them to work right. Sometimes I give up and move on to something else. Often, I find myself revisiting those ones I struggled with at a later time, and by then I’ve figured out what to do with them.

Then I go through periods of varying degrees of depression and have zero motivation to do anything productive. I get overwhelmed and have to curl up and go into Absorption Mode, which usually involves watching a lot of shows, movies and documentaries, reading, exploring ideas or playing video games. I used to beat myself up about these phases, because they seem to be a lot of time wasting activities, but I’ve come to accept that this is just how I work. I think I need the downtime to process and get re-grounded. I used to get afraid that I would get stuck in that mode and just end up wasting away, but I inevitably get bored with being inactive and bounce back up, and the stuff I soak up during the down phases are what end up fueling the next creative burst.


My father struggled with manic depression (what they used to call bi-polar), and unfortunately, it really broke him down. I’ve been pretty terrified to notice it manifesting in me as well, but I think my art gives me something to channel it into, so I’m not as “crazy” as I could be! Or perhaps it’s just a more socially acceptable kind of crazy. Lately I’m coming around to the notion that it’s not crazy. It’s just how my mind works. And so far, it’s allowed me to do some pretty cool things. So I’m working on accepting that and learning how to surf it with grace. I try to make sure I’m not hurting anyone, shirking my responsibilities or being a nuisance, and I’m usually successful at that. Having an amazing husband who accepts my quirks and gently nudges me when I need a nudge is a huge help.

Maybe that’s the difference between this kind of thing being positive or negative. Maybe it comes back to mindfulness. I’m old enough now that I’m seeing the patterns and cycles in my own life and starting to understand it from a more meta-perspective. And realizing that it’s okay to be different from the “norm”. I think the “norm” is actually a false construct anyway. We all have things in common, things we hold sacred as a society, but we are all very different as well. I’m a big fan of diversity – it’s the engine of evolution. I think there are different levels of conformity, some healthy, some less so. Sometimes not conforming in order to be true to yourself is the right thing to do. I think the main thing is to contribute something positive to the world, and there are as many ways to do that as there are people.

I’ve also been more open about this stuff recently, and it’s been quite amazing. Everyone I talk to about it can relate on some level. Everyone. A lot of us are ashamed to admit that we aren’t the perfect, rational, steady, strong, happy, successful, together people we think we should be, that we want people to think we are. But we’re human beings. We’re complicated. The world is complicated, often overwhelming if you’re paying attention. Most of the media that we try to compare ourselves to is a distorted picture of reality. Reality is a lot messier than we like to believe. I think a lot of my art, as well as my personal journey, is about finding the beauty in that mess.

I don’t want to give the impression that depression or other mental issues should just be accepted and untreated.  I have found both talk therapy and anti-depressant medication helpful in understanding and managing my mental health, as well as getting exercise, fresh air and sunshine.

MS: Tell us about Calliope. What inspired this project, and what is its purpose?

CM: Calliope is a gypsy-style camper trailer that my husband, Dore, and I built several years ago. He’s an intuitive and skilled Builder/Maker/Fixer. When a friend sold us her old 70’s-era Coleman pop-up camper for super cheap, we began to ponder how to fix it up. I started thinking about decorating the interior and thought it would be cool to do it in this colourful, exotic gypsy-style. I did some research on the internet and found all these amazing photos of Vardos and emailed them to Dore at work as inspiration for the interior. He emailed me back, saying: “Why don’t I just demolish the thing and build a whole gypsy wagon on the trailer from scratch?” And I was like: “Can you DO that???”, and he said: “Yeah, no problem!”, and I was like: “OMG YES!!! We are doing that!!!”

CalliopeThen it was about 9 months of blood, sweat, tears, paint and sawdust and Calliope the old camper was reborn as Calliope the Wonder Wagon. We do a lot of camping events, so we basically built our own custom camper with a bed, sink, stove, pee pee toilet, closet and cabinets. It’s pretty awesome!

Dore did the building and I set about working on designing the exterior and decor. I didn’t want to go full-on traditional. I wanted to do something unique, and beautiful and inspiring. I began working on these decorative motifs and found myself sort of blending a lot of my artistic influences into this new style – art nouveau, Celtic knot work, tribal design, organic shapes, bright colors…it just started coming together in this harmonious way.

And the more we invested in the project, the more I wanted the artwork to be meaningful, not just decorative. That’s when I really started delving into visual symbolism from around the world, which profoundly affected my art. Calliope kind of coalesced and kicked off this major creative period for me.

She’s really something special, more than we ever could have imagined. On a practical level, she’s made travelling and camping easier and more comfortable and more fun. But beyond that, she’s kind of her own Force of Good. People love her. We’ve met so many awesome folks who come over to find out what she’s about. I’ve seen people spend an hour exploring the artwork, and it sparks interesting discussions about the symbols and how people relate to them. She inspires other people to build their own gypsy wagons. She’s just this incredible Joy Generator!

MS: Your work contains symbols and signs from many different cultures. Which culture’s symbolism resonates with you most?

CM: Oh gosh. I’m really loving Indian and Islamic art right now. But I really can’t pick one. I think for me it’s all about the diversity. I’m fascinated by how other people see the world and express themselves. How humans have translated our experiences into art and culture and ideas. How we share those things. I think it’s essential to our evolution to be able to look at all these different ways of thinking and respect them and appreciate them and learn from them. To understand and accept that there is no “One Right Way” to do things, but a billion ways to explore what it means to be human, what it means to be alive. All of these different stories are actually All One Big Story with a LOT of plotlines going on; comedy and tragedy, heroes and villains, battles and alliances, horror and beauty, love and death. We are all a part of this incredible, ongoing Story.

MS: Has exploring these symbols influenced your own spirituality in any way?

CM: Absolutely. I’m not religious, but I am fascinated by what people hold sacred and how they relate to the Divine. I see more commonalities than differences, so it helps me to unravel what’s important and what’s limiting. My own spirituality is in constant flux, ever evolving. I’m pretty practical about it. I feel like it’s about finding ideas that improve our lives, ourselves, the world around us. I feel very fortunate to live in a time and place where I can explore spirituality on a global level. I have the freedom to explore many different perspectives and practices. I don’t really want to codify my concept of it into a particular dogma or system. I want it to remain flexible and open and ever-evolving and unfolding. By studying all these different ways that art expresses these things, I am collecting pieces of the Great Mystery, following the trails others have blazed; slowly building up my own way to make sense of it, connect to it and create meaning.

MS: You’ve moved from illustration to symbolic study and decoration to jewelry making; do you find you are constantly driven to expand your skills and knowledge?

CM: Definitely. I tend to get bored after a while and want to do something new. I had been doing the digital illustrations for years, and that was a great medium for exploring the symbolic ideas. Then I watched a documentary about artisans and craftsmen; people making pottery, metalwork, woodwork, textile art, etc. I realized I hadn’t made anything physical with my hands for a while. The notion of making things you could actually hold, as opposed to just an image sounded like something exciting to explore.

I’d also learned through the years that people are more likely to buy adornments than “wall art”. Unfortunately for visual artists, images come cheap these days on the internet; there’s not as much motivation to purchase an image. Adornments are easier to sell. They are physical art that you can actually wear on your body; that become a part of your own self-expression. I really like that idea. Creating things that people can wear, that make them feel beautiful and expressive, that can become a part of who THEY are, as well as an expression of my own imagination.

cristinacopperSo I taught myself to etch my designs into copper and make some basic copper jewelry. I really love how a lot of those pieces turned out. Ultimately, I ended up disappointed with copper as a medium when I failed to be able to prevent tarnishing and oxidation. It was also a pretty time-consuming process, and I began to get restless.

MS: What inspired the idea for Dreamcuffs? Who do these appeal to most?

CM: I was a bit lost for a while in Absorption Mode at that point, wondering what my next Thing would be. At the time, Game of Thrones was really popular, and I was revisiting a lot of fantasy and sci-fi films and comics and stuff that I’d been into as a kid, that initially fired my artistic imagination. I started exploring the whole cosplay phenomenon and began researching cosplay materials and techniques.

It was exciting to see people wearing such unique and interesting clothing. Most “acceptable fashion” is pretty dull. I love the aesthetics and costumes of imaginative fiction and wondered why most people wore such boring stuff most of the time. Why NOT wear something fantastic? Why should only fictional characters get to wear these amazing things? I began to think of applying a production design perspective to making adornments. Combining the kind of character-based costume design you see in movies and shows like GoT with every day fashion.

One night I thought; “If I were a fashion designer in the Faerie Realm, what would I design for my clients?” And I had this vision of a pair of elegant bracers that looked like they were made from fairy wings, with these graceful, ornate, organic shapes and iridescent colors. I’d never seen anything like that in real life and started to wonder how to make them. That kicked off a whole new exploration of various material and techniques and experimentation until I figured out how to make these things a reality and DreamCuffs were born. Since then, I’ve been having a blast playing with these materials and techniques to design fantastical adornments.


I’ve been focusing on the bracers because I like the idea of creating accessories that people can integrate into whatever they’re wearing. Bracers are unusual as a fashion accessory, but not so strange that you couldn’t get away with wearing them in normal situations. You can put on a tank top or T and jeans and add some DreamCuffs and suddenly you have this cool outfit! They are also appropriate for both men and women, and they work for every body type, not just the fashion runway model types. And there’s something powerful about wearing bracers, which were originally used as armor. When I showed some DreamCuffs prototypes to a friend, she put them on and her eyes got wide and she grinned and said: “These are empowering as f*ck!” Haha! Perhaps not a slogan I can use in my advertising, but I thought that was a pretty enthusiastic endorsement!

There are more and more people who aren’t afraid to wear interesting things. There are a lot of subcultures these days that value interesting fashion; cosplayers, Burners, LARPers, Goths and Lolitas and whatnot. It’s fun to play dress-up! It’s fun to wear things that make us feel otherworldly or bad-ass or heroic. I’d like to see more people integrating those kinds of playful and expressive ideas into what they wear every day, or when they get all dolled up to go out. Maybe if I make these things available, they will.

MS: What do you hope to expand into next, now that your jewelry and dream cuffs are becoming popular?

CM: Who knows? I feel like I’ve got a lot of ideas right now to explore with the DreamCuffs techniques. I’ve got countless sketches of different things I could do beyond just the bracers: headpieces and arm bands and chokers and hatbands. I’m loving playing with the iridescent effects. I think I’ll be busy with this for a while, especially since people are responding to them so well. That feedback helps to sustain my inspiration.

MS: What’s your most popular item with customers?

cristina5CM: Hm. I’ve probably sold more Shakti postcard sets than anything, I suspect because they are some of my cheaper items. People frame them up and they look great, so it’s a nice affordable option for displaying some of my digital works. I always try to keep my prices reasonable, and to try to offer stuff at a variety of price points. I feel strongly that art should be accessible to all people, not just the rich folks.

I think my most popular single images are “Heart of Wisdom” , “Numinosity” and “Reach”, according to sales. As for the DreamCuffs, the Butterfly Wing and Fairy Wing designs have been the most popular.

MS: Do you have a favourite medium? Something that you get lost in; can totally absorb yourself in more than any other?

CM: I think it’s whatever I’m exploring at the time. I think the learning and experimentation process is as interesting as creating things once I’ve mastered a medium. There’s a wonderful balance point during this process where it’s both challenging and satisfying at the same time, and that’s probably the most Zen place I can be.

MS: You mention on your blog your insecurity about modelling your products yourself. Has your creativity and the beautiful products that have come out of it helped boost your self-confidence?

CM: Yes. I can always fall back on my work to remind me that I am doing something worthy, so on that level I feel I’m doing okay. I’ve always struggled on some level with my body image. I’ve always been in my head and my hands, and not particularly athletic, and I love to eat and drink and enjoy those kinds of hedonistic experiences, so I’m not in the best of shape. The older I get, the more I realize this doesn’t matter nearly as much as I thought it did. The more I learn to love others in ways that are not about physical appearance, the easier it gets to accept my own body.


I’m also working on how to be true to this notion in presenting my work. On one hand, having hot models wearing your stuff is an effective marketing method. But I also kind of feel like it’s dishonest in a way. I want these things to be for everyone, not just the stereotyped “Pretty People” that we see so often in the media. My definition of beauty is a lot broader than that. That’s why I love it when the regular folks who buy my pieces send me pictures of themselves wearing them. Those people are beautiful to me, and are the perfect models as far as I’m concerned. But I still need decent photos to sell stuff online, so I’ve been working with friends and on occasion when I get too impatient, I’ll model stuff myself, if possible. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with sharing myself instead of remaining anonymous and hiding behind my work.

MS: Tell us a little about your involvement with the Burning Man community.

CM: Burning Man has been a HUGE influence on my life. I went to my first Burn at a time when I was kind of lost as far as what I wanted to do with my art skills. What I experienced at Burning Man cracked open my whole notion of what art could be, how people could be, how I could be. There’s a way of thinking and interacting that happens out there that changed everything for me. It reacquainted me with the feelings of awe and wonder and playfulness and resilience and connection. I have been able to integrate a lot of that into my everyday life. Most of the people in my social circle these days are connected to the Burning Man community, and they are truly amazing people who continue to inspire me and support my endeavours and expand my world.

MS: What advice would you give to aspiring artists, hoping to one day live off the fruits of their talent?

CM: Do what you have to do to allow yourself to grow. It’s a lot of work and you have to be driven and you have to keep trying. Keep working. Learn new things. Get better at whatever you’re doing. Learn to see failure as a valuable learning experience instead of something to fear. Seek out inspiration. Learn about the business end of art so you can sell it once you learn how to make it well. That’s been the hardest thing for me, the selling part. Find joy in the making and the sharing. Keep evolving!

Oh, and put a watermark including your name, a copyright symbol and year of creation, and your website URL on every image of your work that you put online.

MS: How do you relax and take a break from it all? Do you ever need to just get out of the studio, or is it a safe haven?

CM: My studio is my home, and it is a safe haven. I do cocoon sometimes. But then I need to get out and get into nature and hang out with my friends, dance under the stars and get silly. We’re working on being able to travel more, which is always inspiring and recharging.

MS: And finally, where do you see yourself this time next year?

CM: Hopefully continuing to do what I’m doing now. Exploring new ideas and making beautiful things and hopefully selling more of them so my husband can someday retire from the corporate world and be able to use his own creative talents to make art, too. We’d like to get out of L.A. and find a less urban place that’s cooler and greener and cheaper and less hectic. That’s the dream we’re working on, and we’re plugging away at it, while appreciating what we have.

I’d like to do some more elaborate pieces, maybe do some more custom work. I had the idea the other day of doing some bridal DreamCuffs, maybe some bracer and headpiece sets for weddings. That could be really fun!

As long as I can keep making stuff that makes people happy, I’m happy.


Cristina McAllister’s main website is: From there you can access her various online shops and blog. To keep up with her new work, join the  of Cristina McAllister Facebook Page , subscribe to her blog or follow her on Pinterest. And feel free to Comment, Share Posts or Re-Pin Pins!

Interview with Luke Eastwood: A Druid’s Journey

May, 2015

Luke Eastwood: A Druid’s Journey

thejourneycover resize


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.

Interview with Romany Rivers

January, 2015

Romany Rivers: Weaving Words

Romany Rivers

Romany Rivers is an artist, Pagan Priestess and co-founder of Moon River Wicca in England. As a Celebrant Romany uses poetry and modern interpretations of fairytales to create unique celebrations, festivals, and rituals. Aside from her work as a Priestess and artist, she is also well known for her work in the holistic health community as a Reiki Master and Tarot Reader. Romany resides in Nova Scotia, Canada, pursuing dreams of a sustainable, family focused and rural lifestyle whilst providing holistic and family support services to the community. Her upcoming book, Poison Pen Letters to Myself is described as ‘A self-effacing, insightful and wonderfully authentic document of a poet discovering her voice.’ Intrigued, I decided to ask Romany about this collection of deeply personal poetry.

Mabh: Poison Pen Letters to Myself is out this May. How are you feeling about the release of this book?

Romany: I am so proud of myself for daring to share my words with the world, and still a little disbelieving that so many people are connecting with it. It has been an exciting, but often overwhelming, process from the start, not only because publishing is a new experience for me, but because I have had to go back and face parts of my past that are still raw for me.

Mabh: C. M. Mitchell describes your book as a ‘fragmented autobiography’. Did you put the poems together with autobiographical intent, or was the writing more of a healing process?

Romany: I think it is naturally autobiographical because the poems follow my personal journey and span a two decade period, although it wasn’t written with an autobiographical intent. It has been very cathartic for me to see the shift in perspective that time has given me, and creating this book has been a part of my healing process – it has almost been a way of seeing myself through another’s eyes.

Mabh: In your introduction you state that the poems are not meant for a ‘soundtrack of clicking fingers’ (something I personally loathe), however, have you ever read any of your poems aloud to an audience or would you be tempted to?

Romany: Many of these personal poems have never seen the light of day, and until recently have never been shared with others. If I am honest I am quite uncomfortable in the spotlight, although I am not averse to singing around a campfire. Very recently, I have for the first time read aloud at a local centre for supporting women. I read a new poem about my experiences with post natal depression, which choked me up and made me cry, and followed it with one of my favourites from the book, Rose Petals. I found the experience very difficult, but also very healing – seeing other women connect to my words made me understand that my thoughts, feelings and experiences are shared with others and that sometimes I am giving a voice to others who are not ready to speak about their own experiences. The difference between the written word and the spoken word is quite profound. Reading aloud I cannot help but put my own emotions, tone and inflection into the words, but when another person reads the same words they can equate them to their own thoughts and feelings.

Mabh: What made you decide to put these deeply personal poems into a volume for public consumption?

Romany: For me, this is an act of freedom. A chance to accept and let go of the past I have kept hidden. My original intention was to self-publish as an act of release, but a friend encouraged me to contact some publishing houses. Since I have other books that I want to publish, I thought that the experience of submitting a manuscript would be beneficial. I wasn’t expecting to receive such a positive response to my work, and that incredible feedback made me look at the book in a whole new light. Instead of publishing Poison Pen Letters to Myself being a personal act of acceptance and release, it became important to raise issues and give voice to the darkness that many people experience.

Mabh: How do you think your book will affect others who have suffered through dark times or depression?

Romany: I truly hope that it eases the sense of loneliness and isolation that often comes with the dark days. Sometimes just knowing that someone understands, even if that understanding comes from the pages of a book rather than a touch of a hand, can be the one thing that gets you through a rough patch. I have turned to books all throughout my life, during good times and bad, and I often found inspiration and support in the written word, in poetry and in fiction.

Mabh: As a sufferer of anxiety and depression, I often find that these conditions are classed as the ‘common cold’ of the mental health spectrum, and often not taken seriously, even by some doctors. Have you had any experience of this, or perhaps of ignorance of mental health in other areas?

Romany: Completely. Very few people seem to actually acknowledge the truth about living with depression or anxiety, and how much it impacts all the areas of your life, all the ways you view yourself and the world around you. I have experienced the extremes of being treated as broken, damaged, or worthless, and also having my emotions discounted, brushed off and dismissed. I think those societal attitudes really impact how we as individuals perceive our own emotional states, and we are less likely to seek support when we need it for fear of a lack of understanding.

Mabh: What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is suffering depression right now?

Romany: Depression and anxiety are like uncomfortable visitors who long outstay their welcome. Sometimes I wonder if I did something to invite them in and then must endure their unwelcome presence. Other times I feel like I can hear them knocking, and even though I have no intention of letting them in somehow they end up invading my home. I think instead of letting them make our lives and home uncomfortable for us, we need to use every trick and technique we can to make our lives and home uncomfortable for them – and every person’s technique for pushing them out the door is different. If it means getting support as soon as we hear them knocking, or learning to say no to events or activities to conserve our energy and emotions, or learning to say yes to company so that we are not alone with their presence, then that is what we need to do. I don’t have a solution for anyone going through a really dark time right now, I wish I did, I can only suggest that we try hard to discover the techniques that work for each of us and not be afraid to employ every technique possible to push those unwelcome visitors out the door. We do not need to let depression or anxiety define us, we are so much more.

Mabh: Did your spiritual learnings help you overcome your periods of depression, or is it more that the darker times led you to study more and work harder?

Romany: Good question. A little of column A and a little of column B I think. The darkness I felt, the way that I viewed the world, and the fact that I felt so disconnected from the ‘normal’ crowd encouraged me to search for meaning and understanding outside of my previous experiences – leading me into the exploration of philosophy, psychology and alternative spiritual beliefs. The sense of connection I discovered within eastern philosophies and Pagan beliefs created a desire to study more and explore more. The more I studied and explored, the more I found techniques, practices and concepts that helped me grow as a person, understand myself and my cycles of depression, and face my own shadows. Depression and anxiety pushed me into finding a balance, and spirituality showed me how to find that balance within myself.

Mabh: You’ve done a great deal of travelling; is there one particular place you resonate with more than any other? Why is it so special to you?

Romany: No one place in particular, so many places have such wonderful energy and so many incredible memories for me. I love visiting new places when I can, but if I had to choose one place to go back to it would be Ubud in Bali. I had a wonderful time there, the people are so engaging and so welcoming, I found it to be a place of creativity that was all at once uplifting, invigorating and yet very peaceful.

Mabh: And where do you go when you need to be inspired? Or does inspiration come easily?

Romany: Inspiration is random and unpredictable, so the more I look for it the less I seem to find it. Instead I try to remain open to the muses whenever they whisper to me. I try to always keep a notebook in my possession and dotted around the house so that I can quickly jot down thoughts and ideas when they arise. I do find that ‘me time’ is an important part of remaining open to inspiration though, so I do make time for myself when possible – time to dance, sing, walk in nature, sit by the river, read a book, stare at a fire, watch the moon rise, or play with paint and fabrics.

Mabh: You’ve had a great deal of differing spiritual influence in your life, including but not limited to Christianity, Buddhism and now Wicca. Why has Wicca become the main focus in your spiritual life?

Romany: Discovering Wicca and Witchcraft was the first time that I felt I had ‘come home’ with a spiritual practice. I didn’t feel like I was making myself fit a system, I felt as if the system fit me. As if the concepts, beliefs and practices I naturally connected with were reflected back to me. I find a lot of wonderful support and inspiration in many different spiritual and religious paths, but my studies in Wicca and Witchcraft made me realise that this was a spiritual path I had been walking for some time.

Mabh: Can you tell us about Moon River Wicca? How does this tradition differ from other Wiccan paths?

Romany: Moon River Wicca is an eclectic Wiccan teaching tradition that grew from the knowledge and experiences of my mentor Arietta and my own practice of Wicca. We were both teaching students, and we both had different techniques and approaches. We felt that combining our knowledge, techniques, skills and experiences would create a system of Wicca that reflected an evolving spirituality based on ancient techniques within a modern lifestyle. Although we observe a fairly traditional degree based teaching structure, MRW is less coven based and more of a community. In this way is has been a wonderful resource for those who would typically identify as solitary to work with and learn from others. We found every student brought something new to the system, students supported and taught each other, and that by teaching others we were continuing and deepening our own learning. The spiral of learning to teach and teaching to learn gives Moon River Wicca the feel of a teaching tradition, one that revolves around core principles of Wicca and Witchcraft, but remains experiential and offers a wide scope of personal spirituality and personal interpretation.

Mabh: You are based in Canada but Moon River Wicca is UK based; does this ever cause difficulties or does modern technology make this easy to deal with?

Romany: Since moving to Canada and having two little ones within two years, I have taken a step back from very active roles in Moon River Wicca and Arietta continues to offer training locally and at a distance. However, even before moving away we were both working with students based in a variety of locations. Modern technology certainly does make it easier to communicate and support others, especially those who feel isolated by environment or circumstances, but so much in Wicca and Witchcraft is experiential that it can still be challenging to explore magical concepts without physical interaction. At the end of the day, this is the time we live in, these are the technologies we have available to us, and the ability to assist others as they learn and grow spiritually is important. Difficulties arise in all methods of teaching, face to face, one on one, coven based, community based, online or distance teaching – you do your best to understand the challenges and work hard to overcome them together.

Mabh: How hard is it to balance your time between your roles as teacher, mentor, family woman and writer?

Romany: Very difficult, although I imagine many people struggle with finding a balance in their lives – after all, many of us take on a variety of roles in our lives, all of which are very important to our sense of identity. I really struggled to be anything but Mama after my firstborn, I completely lost my personal identity and I feel like I am only just rediscovering myself now. Writing has helped me to connect again with the other important roles in my life, and I am now gradually taking on more personal studies and casual mentoring. Finding balance, devoting time to each passion, is always going to be something that requires self-awareness.

Mabh: Like me, you seem to view science and magic as two sides of the same coin, or perhaps two facets of the same gem. What branch of modern science do you find most fascinating, and which do you think would have been most likely to have been viewed as magic or sorcery, say, 100 years ago?

Romany: What a great question! I am naturally more artistic than scientific, so all the branches of science intrigue and often overwhelm me. I am absorbed by Quantum Physics and I find the constantly evolving and expanding theories endlessly fascinating. I also believe that some Quantum Physics theories closely resemble magical and spiritual concepts, and I wonder if this is the field of study where science and magic will eventually meet.

I think any branch of modern science or technology would have appeared magical to the past, but I think the advances we have made in modern medicine are most likely to have been considered sorcery. I don’t always agree with the approaches of modern medicine, but I am so grateful for the techniques and treatments we have available to us today compared to life just a 100 years ago. The ability to protect against, heal and cure ailments that would have been fatal just a few generations ago would surely have been seen as magical. As hur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Mabh: Tell us about Woven Word, your book currently in production.

Romany: The Woven Word is both a compilation of invocations and inspirations for ritual use, and a closer look at the art of using language as an act of magic in itself. Although based heavily upon my own traditional training of Wiccan ritual, it breaks ritual down into component parts allowing, I hope, for many Pagan paths to find aspects that they can connect with and utilise, including prayers, blessings and meditations. I have attempted to make the book accessible for those new to Pagan paths, whilst still offering the more experienced inspiration and ideas for developing their own unique seasonal celebrations and life rites. The book has grown and developed over time, and I feel it has transformed itself into a resource that will become a much thumbed, slightly dog-eared and well-loved book on my own shelves. We don’t yet have a release date for The Woven Word, but the wonderful team at Moon Publishing are working hard on production and I am really enjoying seeing the book in its final stages.

Mabh: And do you have any other projects on the horizon?

Romany: Writing wise, I have several books in development, but I am currently unsure as to where I will be focusing my energies right now so I am reluctant to divulge any more at this stage. I am also writing for several magazines, e-zines and anthologies so you may see my name popping up throughout the year. wise, I am working on a “Rags to Enrichment” project, recycling unwanted materials into new inspiring art pieces. I hope to have a small portfolio ready for a local art show during winter, so I am working hard on that too.

Mabh: Finally, describe your perfect relaxing day for us.

Romany: My perfect relaxing day would be fairly solitary. Waking up naturally without an alarm clock or immediate demand is rare and wonderful. A hot breakfast followed by a long walk in the woods, maybe lunch with friends or family, and then an afternoon of painting or playing with fabrics. A tasty dinner, a really hot bubble bath, and an evening with a good book, a blanket and an open fire is definitely my idea of bliss. Throw in a great massage or a Reiki session somewhere in there and I would consider that a pretty perfect relaxing day.

You can pre-order Poison Pen Letters to Myself now and find out more about Romany in any of these places:


Poison Pen Letters to Myself:

    • Poetry

  • on Moon :

    Artist Erin Martinez

    April, 2010

    Painting is a passion. It is what keeps my blood flowing. I’m  full of many visions that coil around my heart. having opened my emotions in a deeper light these paintings are portraits of my inner creature. being a self taught artist for some time now, I realize that it is truly the core of creativity that binds the colors and figures used in my work and feel very proud to make my art come to life.

    Color My Eyes






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