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Interview & Review – Laura Tempest Zakroff: Sigil Witchery

February, 2019

A Book Review

Sigil Witchery

(An
interview with Tempest follows this review.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview
With Laura Tempest Zakroff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You
can reach/follow Tempest at the following:

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

www.owlkeyme.com

Mago
Djinn – Modern Folk Wear

www.magodjinn.com

Author Site – www.lauratempestzakroff.com

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

***

About
the Author:

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

My Name is Isis (Volume 4) on Amazon

Magical Items Can be Found at Fairy Behind the Door An Interview with Artist Jassmond Masters-Bell

July, 2018

 

Fairies. Gnomes. Greenman. The moon. And lots and lots of doors. Hundreds of original, intricately designed and brightly painted items are for sale at Fairy Behind the Door on Etsy.

It all happened by accident,” Jassmond Masters-Bell

said. “I just happened to see a small fairy door mold 10 years ago, and I bought it for myself just to have a little door in my garden I was establishing at the time. I love creating gardens and I was just looking for accessories to go into the garden. This was when the fairy garden explosion happened

When I molded it and it came out beautifully, I showed my first molded fairy door to my husband and he said. ‘Why don’t you make more and see if you can sell them?’”


She did and got rave reviews at a Ren Faire. She made more and put them on eBay.

They just went.”

Although Jassmond comes from an artistic family, working long days in broadcasting – sometimes 100-hour weeks – left her no time for artistic endeavors, but the doors continued to captivate her and so she began making them at home between shifts of her daily job.

It was a very messy procedure,” she said of working with concrete and having dust all around the house all the time.

When the broadcasting company employing Jassmond folded in 2010, she wanted to continue working in the magical fairy world. Moving from Maryland to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains allowed her to have a workshop where she could fully concentrate on more of her own designs and whimsical ideas, finding a pathway to a new career.


When I am in my workshop, I can get locked away down there for hours on end in my own little area … and hope my brain will create something wonderful,” Jassmond said, adding only her cats are allowed in.

Through the years she tried various compounds until recently finding PermaStone.

It’s a beautiful thing to work with. It’s crack and frost resistant. It lasts. It’s soft and light,” she said.

The process is involved. She sculpts an item from clay that must be dried slowly over several days. Layers of latex are applied to make the mold that is then filled with a concrete mix or stone compound, painted in vibrant detail and sealed to withstand the elements.

Each product has a little story that gives it some fantasy as well as a personality.

I’m very fussy about my work. It doesn’t go out unless I’m absolutely positively sure this is what I want to represent me.”


The description for one weathered blue door reads, “This Fairy door belongs to Mrs Odina. She owns a Nights Fairy dormitory where she allows the traveling fairy to stop by and sleepover before they continue on their journey. She runs a tight tree house, her fees are fair but you have to bring your own berries and goats milk for breakfast. It says on the Door ‘Fairies Sleeping’ so be quiet when you pass by.”

Not all doors open to fairy abodes. Take the purple Wibble door. It belongs “to the tiny Wibble people that live among the fae. They are very strange, cute but rarely seen. They usually are the ones that go hunting for ‘Ambergris’ mushrooms so that they can cultivate them and sell their perfume to the Fairies.”

Jassmond said, “I love writing. I want to put what each symbol actually means. I want it to be very earth-like.”

Accessories she has designed allow customers to create their own magical spaces with a selection of windows, flower pots, trellises, mailboxes, lanterns, trees, mushrooms, watering cans, bird baths, pathways and fences.

From fairy doors, she moved onto other beloved objects such as dragon eggs and Buddha cats, which soon found themselves in saturated markets.

I don’t want my shop to look like somebody else’s. I want to be original, so that’s what I’m aiming for – to open up a range of things other people will not have. You get them by designing them yourself.

I look for things that people love all the time … like cats and dogs. People always want cats and dogs because cats and dogs are always part of the family. So I’m expanding my cat range at the moment,” she said of avoiding current fads.

She does commission work as well, such as creating an animal in remembrance of a beloved pet that died. While she likes dogs, she loves cats, and painting them is one of the tasks she most likes.

A commissioned piece Jassmond recently began working on – a large one-of-a-kind plaque for a high priestess – is moving her more into the pagan world where she is quite comfortable.


I have a lot of ideas and I really want to get those going” she said of making more pagan symbols.

I would like to bring back some of the old pagan symbols … Nature is not respected, I feel, in our culture. I would like to make people more aware that these symbols do actually mean something.” Customers have also been asking her to add them to her shop.

For instance, she said, “a lot of people think the pentagram is a witchcraft symbol. It’s not. It actually is a sign of protection, but a lot of people think it’s a sign of evil. I think by doing more of these symbols I really would like to educate people about what these really are.”

Jassmond was somewhat surprised that most of her customers are adults.

That’s the kick I get out of it – that it’s not just for kids. I get more adults approaching me for advice on how to create a fairy garden for all the family if not for themselves.”

Inventory is limited.

When I’m making something I try to make two or three. The reason why I do that is one year I made a door for a customer. I was packing it up and I dropped it. …Since that accident happened I always have a backup and that backup now becomes stock. I always try to have at least one.”

Everything is infused with her own love and magic, and customer reviews bear that out.

Items range from 1-14 inches and from $9.99-$110.00. Those in stock ship sooner than those requiring casting, painting and finishing. She welcomes custom work as well.

You can visit Jassmond Masters-Bell and see her work at her Etsy shop Fairy Behind the Door on her site:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/FairybehindtheDoor?ref=si_shop

Be sure to check out Jassmond’s Facebook Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/FAIRYBEHINDTHEDOOR/

***

About the Author:

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