February, 2009

Merry Meet and Welcome

February, 2009

Welcome to the February Issue of PaganPages! As always, we have an amazing issue for our readers. Some highlights:

We have some new columns starting this month!!

Shadows from the Past by our new columnist Nicholas Haney explores our history as Witches and teaches us about its modern ways.

Paranormal Investigations by Professional Ghost Hunter Tammy Wilson.

Herbal Creations with the Crafty Amy Jung who will show us great witchy ways to incorporate herbs into crafts we can use.

Animal Wisdom with Psychic Beckah Boyd will teach us how to bring our familiars and pets into our practice.

Callie’s Cavern will explore a gemstone a month and show us its history and magickal and physical uses.

Also we have for you…

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An interview with Author Orion Foxwood author of “The Tree of Enchantment”

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An interview with Author Kristin Madden

and…

sellars-004-by-anne-davis-of-gossamer-girls1An interveiw with Author M.R. Sellars

We would like to thank you for your continued support and love. Without our loyal readers, PaganPages would cease to exist.

We appreciate all donations and remember you can donate by purchasing something from our PaganPages Shop on Etsy. Some of our products are below and our stock is always changing.

HAPPY READING!!

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Interview With Author Kristin Madden

February, 2009

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Earlier in the month of January I was honored to speak with author Kristen Madden regarding her experiences, writing talent, her teachings, and where her path leading her in the months ahead.  Kristin Madden is a leader in the Shaman community not only as an author of several books, but also as the Dean of Ardantane’s School of Shamanic Studies, and a Master of the Avatar and a Druid, a tutor in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, and a member of the Druid College of Healing.  I found her to be a very remarkable and rememberable person who brought a spark into my life and while reading her books, I can tell you she left a piece of herself with me that will always be with me.  I hope you enjoy getting to know Kristin as much as I did.  Kristin will for sure become a regular visitor to Pagan Pages as our years grow.  Now on to the Interview.

Pagan Pages  (PP) I have to ask you this only because it affected me so much while reading “The Book of Shamanic Healing”.  While I was reading the book I found myself actually gong through a major transition in my life and it took me through some life changes that I was definitely surprised by.  While I wanted to call you to get advice and “Hey what is happening here LOL, I didn’t I just kept trekking on.  I am wondering, do you get a lot of emails from readers asking your advice when they are reading this particular book?

Kristin Madden (KM) I do get a few emails asking for advice and I try to respond to all of them as quickly as I can.  I have been surprised at how many emails I have received requesting healing since that book came out.  But to be honest, “Shamanic Guide to Death and Dying” is by far the winner when it comes to eliciting reader emails.

(PP) I know you were raised by a deathwalker and that you are the Dean of the Ardantane’s School of Shamanic Studies.  Was the book an inspiration from the school or before the school?   Can you also tell us a little about the school i.e. are their classes online, strictly in person only etc.

(KM) The idea for “The Book of Shamanic Healing” began well before the School of Shamanic Studies.  It was something I worked on for 5-6 years before it was published. Some of the foundations of our classes are based in that book.

The Ardantane School of Shamanic Studies is based at the Ardantane campus in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.  Most of our classes are held either there or in Albuquerque but we do travel fairly frequently to teach when someone sponsors a class.  I will be co-teaching Ardantane’s first online class this year with the Dean of Healing Arts. This one is a Celtic mysticism class and it will lead to additional offerings in future years.  For the certificate programs, up to 25% of the requirements may be “transferred” classes from other approved schools or teachers.

The School of Shamanic Studies does not offer instruction in any specific cultural shamanic path.  However, the backgrounds of our instructors color their teaching and provide a unique addition to core shamanic methods.  Our faculty includes authors, biologists, nurses, psychotherapists, professors, engineers and more.  Their training ranges from indigenous shamanism to psychology, wilderness survival skills, Western and alternative medicine, various Pagan paths, and New Age technologies.

We offer five levels of shamanic certificates:  Shamanic Divination, Shamanic Practitioner, Shamanic Healer, Earthcrafting, Death and Dying Specialist, and Master of Shamanic Studies.

(PP) When does the online course start and how can our readers find it for those that are interested, like myself?

(KM) I expect that online course to start in mid-February.  Readers can find more information by clicking the Calendar link at (www.ardantane.org)

(PP) I have worked with my Shaman Guide in Houston several times and I found that difficult even in person, I have to hand you Kudos for being able to write this book with the details and in depth detail that you were able to give.  How long did it take to write and did you have any problems writing it?  Any shadows bothering you or your psychic abilities playing games or your spirit guides not cooperating?  I know I had problems while reading the book hence the questions.

(KM) It took nearly 6 years to complete it. As you said, it is a complex and challenging subject, to say the least.  I put myself through everything I suggest the book and my family became test subjects as well!  Each chapter presented its own unique lessons for me but the Shadow chapter was the most surprising.  I share a bit about that in the opening of that chapter.  Let’s just say that when I journeyed to finish up the chapter, I found some surprising aspects of Self that really needed healing – ones that I had been previously “unaware” of.  It’s so easy to kid ourselves, isn’t it?

(PP) When writing, “Dancing the Goddess Incarnate”, how did you pick those 9 Goddesses?

(KM) That book was so much fun to write.  It was also very therapeutic for me during some extremely difficult years.  Dorothy and I each had an idea for a Maiden-Mother-Crone/Goddess book that we have been kicking around for a couple of years.  When we decided to combine our ideas, we had a list of goddesses that we planned to include.  Of course, our plans are not always what needs to be.  We quickly discovered that some of our planned goddesses weren’t really interested but others that we had not considered had strong ideas about the chapters that became theirs.  So I would have to say that we didn’t really pick the 9 goddesses, they told us who should be in the book.

(PP) How did this book come about?  Will there be a sequel?  I see several questions asked all over the Internet from readers asking you this question so now is the time for an answer LOL.  The readers want to know.

(KM) It all started when I was flipping through some old ideas I had for a Maiden-Mother-Crone book.  At the time, I was firmly entrenched in the Mother stage of life and Dorothy had already written “In Praise of the Crone”.  I gave her a call and asked if she had any interest in such a book.  She told me about her old, filed-away idea and this book just flowed magically from that point.

As for whether or not there will be a sequel, I doubt it but one never knows.  I’ve said “no” several times only to have that book I said “no” to pester me until I finally wrote it.

(PP) Well, for the sake of your fans everywhere I have to join in and say that I hope your “no” someday soon turns into a yes.  I have never had so much fun reading a book and getting to know 9 Goddess as I did reading, “Dancing the Goddess Incarnate”.

(PP) I noticed that you are also a home schooling mom and have a book out about that, as well as, a cookbook.  Would you like to tell us about those?

(KM) “Pagan Home schooling” came directly out of our home schooling experience.  When I started home schooling, there was so much that I had to search and explore and figure out for myself.  I didn’t want other parents to have to “reinvent the wheel” so I put it all into a book.  The other thing that I love about that book is that I was able to include many of the exercises and games that I couldn’t fit in “Pagan Parenting”.

“Festival Feasts” is my new cookbook.  My family and I love to eat great food so learning to cook it was a fun and natural progression.  That book contains a full 5-course menu, plus a special beverage, for each of the eight Pagan holidays and the New, Full, and Dark Moon phases.  It also goes into food selection, preparation, feast planning, and ways to make the recipes your own.  My husband and I gained 15 pounds while I was writing this book and it was all worth it! My son keeps asking when I‘ll do another one.

(PP) Kristin, As I said before you were raised by a deathwalker can you tell our readers a little about what a deathwalker is and a little bit about your life and your family.

(KM) A deathwalker fulfills many roles in his or her family and community.  First and foremost, this is the person that guides the dead into the next world and passes on messages between the living and the departed. Deathwalkers may also perform rites of passage, act as grief counselors, work toward a conscious death for the dying, and more. I teach a deathwalking class at Ardantane every other year but there are some serious pre-requisites because this is an experience that can drop you right in the middle of all your fears, beliefs, and shadows. It is incredibly humbling.

The deathwalker is tuned into the departed.  We know when someone passes because they often show up at our house, frequently before we get a phone call informing us of their passing.  They don’t need to knock on the front door, call you before showing up, and they seem to forget about personal privacy.  Everyone that lives in the home of a deathwalker, learns to recognize the signs of uninvited, non-corporeal guests. To be honest, in spite of the occasional craziness, growing up that way made Death a very natural and normal part of life for me and my son.  We don’t fear death because we know what lies beyond this life and we know that our loves ones are never truly gone.

(PP) I know you have a busy schedule starting for 2009, would you like to discuss your speaking appearances?

(KM) I cut back on my teaching at Ardantane a bit this year so, at this point, I only have three classes at Ardantane: Path of the Shaman (Shamanism 101) on Feb 28-Mar 1, Plants, Bones, Spirits, and Stones on August 22-23, and Deathwalking on Nov. 21-22.

I’ll be speaking at 4 festivals (so far) this year: Pagan Unity Festival in Tennessee in May (www.paganunityfestival.org), Sacred Well Interfaith Celebration in south Texas in early October (www.sacredwell.org), Celebrating the Goddess Rising in New Orleans in mid-October (www.nolapaganpride.org), and GreenSong Grove’s Samhain Celebration, also in mid-October (www.greensonggrove.org).

(PP) Where can our Readers purchase your books?

(KM) They are available at any of the online booksellers and directly through the publishers. Many local bookstores also carry them but that seems to depend on the area and the store owner. You can always ask your local bookstore to order them for you.

(PP) I know right now you have a new book out called “Magick, Mystery, and Medicine: Advanced Shamanic Healing”, which I will be reviewing in our March 2009 issue.  Would you like to give our readers a little insight what to expect?

(KM) This is the follow-up to “The Book of Shamanic Healing”.  It includes topics I wasn’t able to delve into in that first book and contains material that has not been well covered in the shamanic literature to date.  It also includes more first-hand case studies and stories.  I would say that this book is a more advanced book than the first healing book.

(PP) Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Kristin Madden?

(KM) Only that I appreciate every reader, every person that has attended one of my workshops, and everyone that is working toward their own healing more than I can say.  Healing begins with each of us. When we can begin to live our lives from a place of integrity and wholeness, our actions radiate out to help create a better world.

(PP) Kristin, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Pagan Pages.  I know this is a very busy hectic time with the 2009 starting, your school, your traveling schedule, and most importantly your family time.  I appreciate it very much.  Spending time with you and reading your books is a very enlighten  and soul awaking  experience.   I am currently reading your new book as I spoke about and can’t wait to see where it takes me.   I am confident that I am about to find out more about myself that I either (a) didn’t know or (b) where hidden deep and was afraid to let come forward and let go of and be free of.  I look forward to the journey ahead.

(KM) Thank you so much for speaking with me and for all the work that you do!

It is always a pleasure spending time with you, and your work and energy you give to the Pagan Community goes without speaking.  I have to say I am enjoying your new book very much and can’t wait to get with you once I have finished it.  With that, Pagan Pages looks forward to talking to you in a few months.

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Interview with M.R. Sellars

February, 2009

I was fortunate enough to catch up with M.R. Sellars between book signing events, etc. to learn more about his latest release, Blood Moon, as well as where he’s headed with the Rowan Gant Investigation series as a whole.  Known by some as the “Pagan Stephen King,” his novels are filled with paranormal horror coupled with suspenseful storylines centering around his Pagan protagonist, Rowan Gant.  So, it should come as no surprise that Sellars is a member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association) and is himself a Kitchen Witch.  When not touring, Sellars spends family time with his wife, daughter and rescued felines.

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PaganPages (PP): I started with the sixth book, Love Is The Bond, in your RGI (Rowan Gant Investigation) Series, yet I had no problem following the storyline.  Is that because I started with your Miranda Trilogy Arc? Or did you intend for each of your now nine books in the RGI Series to be easily a stand-alone read as well?

M.R. Sellars (MRS):
It might just be that you’re quick on the uptake (LOL).

Actually, there is a good possibility that starting with the first book in the Miranda Trilogy had something to do with it. That said, however, I endeavored to make the books stand-alone reads in the very beginning, so you could actually read Perfect Trust (3rd book) or Never Burn A Witch (2nd book) before reading Harm None (1st book) and still follow the storyline. Truth is, you could probably read any one of them out of sequence – except the three books in the Miranda Trilogy – and follow along just fine. Still, after Perfect Trust I started realizing that trying to make them “too self-contained” was going to be impossible without an enormous amount of rehashing – which tends to get boring. Any time you write a series, it is imperative that you re-introduce the characters in each book for those who may be starting out of sequence, as well as to refresh the memories of regular readers. And, you can’t deny the things that have happened in previous novels, as these are the things that have shaped the characters and made them grow into who they are in each installment. Therefore, you end up in a bit of a quandary… If you try to make them too self-contained, you are left with no choice but to explain “why” the character is like s/he is. This leads to quite a bit of drudgery in the prose, which takes the reader right out of the story and deposits them back at the bookstore/library looking for a more enjoyable read; and that is the kiss of death to an author.

So, while for the most part I make a concerted effort to make the storyline somewhat self-contained, I try to avoid any long-winded flashbacks unless they are actually going to move the story forward in an entertaining and engaging fashion… And, of course, I used the word “somewhat” in the previous sentence because, as my long-time readers are aware, I am fairly well known for the “cliffhanger ending” that sets the future stage and drives you into the next novel. Therefore, they are never “really” self-contained. J

PP: You’ve mentioned that your main character Rowan started off as a character named Wendy (from another manuscript you were writing).  I’ve told my friends when describing Love Is The Bond, All Acts Of Pleasure and The End Of Desire that your character Miranda doesn’t believe in giving her victims any rights, so their deaths are like her twisted versions of Miranda Rights (at least in my take on your writing).  How did you really come up with her character and name?

MRS: Wendy was a case of inexperience, hormones, and living vicariously through the character herself. While the story itself was okay, I readily admit that I was far too young at that point to have had enough life experience, which is how we create believable characters. And, like I said, there were these hormones and I could make Wendy be whoever and whatever I wanted her to be…But, that’s better reserved for a letter to Penthouse or some such J

Now, as to Miranda…

“Mistress Miranda” was a different case entirely… Well, maybe not entirely, as I am sure some hormones still played a part in her creation (LOL)… In any event, she actually started out as nothing more than a germ of an idea. Back when I was writing Perfect Trust, I was already thinking about three books ahead – and I still do that. However, the thinking ahead often just encompasses a basic idea that starts getting fleshed out the closer I get to putting it on paper. The original concept for the “Killer Dominatrix” was actually based on the following idea:

Rowan’s wife, Felicity, gets together with her old college roommate who comes into town on business. It just happens that said business revolves around the fact that she makes her living as a Pro Domme, and she is there to see a high profile client. Ben Storm, (Rowan’s cop friend) who by that time is divorced, takes a strong liking to Felicity’s friend – even to the point of taking her on a date – but he has no idea what her occupation is. Anyway, when the high profile client turns up dead, Felicity’s friend is implicated, Ben is forced to arrest her, and our intrepid, witchy duo set out to clear her of the impending charges.

It was intended as a self-contained story. As you, and other readers know, that is a far cry from what actually ended up happening, and I’m not just talking about the trilogy aspect. By the time I reached the point where I was literally writing the story, the characters had grown and been through some events that I hadn’t foreseen. Characters tend to do that – they come to life. In a sense, they are almost like thought forms. We breathe life into them and they develop minds of their own. I know that sounds a bit insane, but honestly, I think most of us who write are just a little touched in the brainpan to begin with.

Anyway, back to Miranda. By this point I had spent an enormous number of hours researching sexual predators and serial offenders. Not as a hobby, although I DO find it fascinating, but for the express purpose of being able to write my antagonists in an accurate light. As it turns out, while there are plenty of female serial offenders worldwide, the classification of sexual predator is almost non-existent where they are concerned. One theory is that because of societal expectations, female sexual predators are overlooked, and that they actually exist is numbers rivaling males. Another is that females are simply better at not getting caught, again, because of what society has taught us to expect from the gender roles.

My twisted brain – much like some of the psychologist who wrote the papers I was studying – wanted to know what might happen if those female sexual predators started coming out of the woodwork in as blatant a sense as their male counterparts, and so, Miranda was born – a female sociopath. One who is wholly self-centered and has a skewed view of compassion and emotional attachment. And, since the RGI series deals with occult overtones to the cases, Voodoo/Hoodoo/Vodoun was a perfect fit since spirit possession is an accepted event within the practice, therefore allowing for a different sort of depth to the character. I don’t want to say any more than that since some readers of this interview might not have read the books just yet.

In order to make Miranda herself convincing in her role as a Dominatrix, I did countless hours of research into the BDSM sub-culture. I actually have a close friend who is a Domme, so she was invaluable to me where the research was concerned. This information, I am sure, begs the question, “just how experiential was your research?”… Well, I’ll leave that to everyone’s imagination, but I will say this much. I have a safe word. (LOL).

As to Miranda’s name, that was actually simple. It harkens from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and it means, “to be admired, and/or extraordinary.” That just seemed to fit the character, as she sees herself as one to be admired. And, yes, I do have to admit the Miranda Warning did cross my mind when I was coming up with the name, as evidenced by Ben Storm’s reference to it late in Love Is The Bond, so you get bonus points for picking up on that. J

PP: When can Miranda fans expect Miranda, forthcoming in your RGI series, to be released?

MRS: Miranda: A Rowan Gant Investigation, is slated for release in October of 2009, and will be the tenth book in the series. I’m not allowed to say much about it at the moment – although that will change in the months to come when the publicists start doing their thing. But, for now here is the “blurb” being used in the catalog:

Picking up where Blood Moon leaves off, Rowan Gant finds that not only are his fears realized, they are worse than he had imagined, as sadistic, serial-killing dominatrix, Miranda, (The Miranda Trilogy—Love is the Bond, All Acts of Pleasure, and The End of Desire) has him on the end of her metaphorical—but no less terrifyingly real—leash.

PP: In your latest release, Blood Moon, you included the real-life human sanguine vamps in your storyline.  I think it greatly added to the willing suspension of disbelief element.  What kind of research did you do on sanguine vamps to come up with their presence in your novel?

MRS: Much like I did with the research into the BDSM community. I did quite a bit of reading and interviewing, for the most part. While I don’t rely entirely on the Internet, I do some of my research there as well. But, I don’t take anything I find on the World Wide Web at face value. I always make sure I can corroborate Internet info with sources outside the web, such as books or multiple interviews.

I also do quite a bit of “people watching” to develop characters, and that can be done at various distances. In this particular case, I spent time lurking on forums dedicated to the vampire sub-culture and gleaning information there. I also talked to a self-proclaimed sanguine vamp that was a friend of a friend.

This one, however, I won’t leave up to anyone’s imagination… No, I did not partake nor did I provide. While I can certainly be adventurous and open to new ideas, as far as I was concerned, that particular experience simply didn’t fall into my “need to know” purview.

PP: Part of being a successful novelist, you attribute to touring.  Did you tour alone at first?  When did you start touring with Dorothy Morrison?  And, how much has that turned up the Fun Meter?

MRS: Touring is key. Especially when you are first starting out. Look at it this way – nobody has any clue who you are or that you have written a book. Getting in front of people, introducing yourself, and above all, being entertaining, is what gets the books into the hands of the readers. Once you accomplish that, word of mouth kicks in.

Initially, when I was completely unknown – unlike now, when a there are maybe a dozen folks across the US who recognize my name (LOL) – I begged and borrowed my way into events. I jumped through every hoop put before me, packed my family into a beat up VW microbus…well, actually it was a Honda Odyssey, but a VW microbus sounds so much more “sexy” and adventurous in a late 60’s early 70’s kind of way…and hit the road. If my family couldn’t come with me, I tossed my overnight bag and a couple of cases of books into my truck, and away I went. Back in those days – all of 9 years ago – I was still working a full time job, so all of my “touring” had to be done during my vacation time and/or days I would take off without pay. I have to admit that looking back on it now, I have no clue how I managed it. I was working a 50-hour per week job, my wife and I had finally managed to have a child after untold years of trying, I was writing, and on top of that I was trying to tour.  I suppose it was a good thing I was younger back then J

At any rate, my initial touring was solo, or with my family on weekend gigs.

Now, on to the “Morrison Factor”…One of my first major events was something called the Real Witches Ball in Columbus, Ohio. I had been there as an attendee in the past, but I managed to wrangle my way in as a speaker – again, footing my own bill for transportation, lodging, meals, etc… The organizer guaranteed me nothing more than the fact that I could present a couple a workshops, and if it went over okay, I could do another one. On top of that, I had to bring my own copies of  “Harm None”, for sale (the only book I had out at the time) because he refused to order and stock them – why? Because I was an unknown, and because it was fictional story. There was a pervasive idea in the ranks of metaphysical storeowners back then that “pagan fiction” doesn’t sell. Unfortunately, that sentiment still exists today among many, which sometimes makes it hard to find my books – and other pagan fiction – in the independent pagan stores.

Anyhow, I got myself to this event, and just to initiate me as the new kid on the block the organizer had set me up to do the first workshop of the weekend – that being the 5PM Friday slot – the slot where you are lucky to get three people showing up. Well, knowing I had to pay my dues I sucked it up and headed to the venue where I was to give the workshop. My family had pretty much just dropped me off there and headed out to get checked into our motel on the outskirts of town, because we had been driving all day and arrived with only 30 or so minutes to spare. At this particular juncture, the RWB was a “street fair” and therefore my venue was one of the vacant storefronts that the organizer had rented for the weekend, a block or so away from the store proper.

Now… Dorothy Morrison happened to be headlining this event, and I was already a fan of her work. In fact, I was so nervous that when I saw her in the store upon first arriving, I was unable to muster the courage to even walk up and say hello. So, anyway, here I am at the venue going over my notes, and people start coming in. I actually started to feel a bit better about things because I had more than three folks, and there were still people coming in. Since I had plenty of experience with public speaking there wasn’t a nerve issue there at all, so it was all good. I returned to going over my notes and when I looked up again a few minutes later as I was about to start the workshop, I couldn’t help but notice that Dorothy Morrison was now sitting in the front row.

At THAT point, I became nervous… (LOL)

As an aside, the story goes that the organizer had sent her down to see my workshop in order to keep me from feeling like the odd man out. I still maintain that she was sent there to spy on me and see if I was a f*ckup. (Grin)

I knew I still had to do the workshop, so I tried to pretend she wasn’t there and launched into my spiel. I was presenting on “Paganism and its Treatment in Modern Fiction”. Luckily, it ended up being fantastic – to the point of me having standing room only, receiving an ovation at the end, and getting handshakes and hugs from several of the attendees. After folks cleared out, Morrison walks up to me and says, “Mister Sellars, when you’re finished here come see me at my table back at the store.”

Nervous now gave way to abject fear. I was firmly convinced – of my own accord, I must admit – that I had said or done something during my workshop that was A) completely stupid, B) embarrassed the pagan community, or C) all of the above. And, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dorothy Morrison herself was about to dress me down for doing it.

So, I finished gathering my things and started trudging back to the store. Now, remember, this is Columbus, Ohio at the end of October, and my family and friends had more or less just dumped me out on the street in front of the store because they had plenty to deal with – getting checked in to the motel, seeing to our daughter who had just turned 1 a few days prior, getting something to eat, etc. Therefore, I had no coat and on top of that I was in fear for my metaphorical life since I was on my way to see the evil Dorothy Monster. It was dark, the temperature had dropped below freezing, and it was spitting snow. How much more depressing could it possibly become?

After doing the “dead Murv walking” shuffle for a block – this only took about three minutes, but seemed like two hours – I arrived at the store, made my way to Morrison’s table and meekly said, “You wanted to see me?” Whereupon, Morrison invited me to sit down, have a drink, and proceeded to pick my brain about public speaking – seems she wasn’t as comfortable with it as me, and wanted some advice. Dorothy Morrison wanted advice from me… I was flabbergasted.

There’s more to the story but I don’t want to bore you… At any rate, we’ve been best friends ever since. And, touring together followed very closely behind that incident – as in just a few short months later. That first tour is yet another story in and of itself.

As to the “fun factor” – it definitely adds to it. But, even more than that it adds to the sanity factor. While Morrison and I still do events solo, or with other authors, or even together with other authors, we also have our tours with just the two of us. When we plan a tour we tend to think we are superhuman, then we end up having to do the things we have booked…What I mean is this – typically, we get on the road between 5 and 6 AM, sometimes earlier. So, this means we are up even earlier than that to get showers, pack, and throw things into the car. We drive several hours, arrive at a store, do a two or three hour meet n’ greet/signing, then get back into the car, drive a few more hours, check into our hotel, get cleaned up, drive to the evening gig which could be 10 minutes or two hours away, do a workshop, sign books, visit with folks, then drive back to the hotel. This is usually the point where we realize that it is now 11:30 PM and the last thing either of us had to eat was a stale bagel and a cup of really bad coffee at 5:30 AM on the way out of the previous town that morning. So, we grab a really awful burger at an all night dive – of course, it always tastes wonderful since we are starving – then get back to the hotel at 12:45 AM or so… Grab a few hours sleep, and then start all over again. We do this for 12 to 15 days straight. So, you see, sanity is the key. When you have a schedule like that it is imperative to have someone with you that you can trust, who you can cry with when it all gets to be just too much, and who you can laugh with when you want to cry for the second time on any given day.

Morrison and I have toured together so long we are to the point where we tend to finish one another’s sentences. When I am driving I warn her if the road is going to get rough because she is generally stapling on her face while we are in between stores. Stuff like that. We are like siblings. In fact, we are both convinced that we had to have been siblings in a former life.

Now, there is the pervasive rumor out there that we are married. Well, that’s kind of true. As in, we are both married, but to different people. Not each other. We actually find it kind of amusing.

But, getting back to the fun… Well, yeah, we tend to cut up a bit. We’ve been known to sing old commercial jingles for 50 miles, and then there is also the incident where we stole a staff member’s golf cart at an event. Well, actually we’ve done that more than once, but hey, we’ve got to entertain ourselves somehow. J

PP: Your lead character, Rowan Gant, is a modern day Witch and practicing Pagan.  Yet, his personal practices refreshingly add to the plot without overshadowing it.  Have your own Kitchen Witch practices tended to help cook up spicy story lines (couldn’t resist:-) in any way?

MRS: When I first started writing the series I wanted to create something with a pagan flavor that didn’t involve Arthurian Legend, Dragons, Flying Brooms, or a trio of hotties battling demons. I wanted it to have actual pagan dynamics and realities. However, I also knew that for fiction to be successful across the board I was going to need to take things just a bit over the top. After all, it is fiction.

So, while the magic works quite a bit easier for Rowan, and his psychic abilities are far more developed than the overwhelming majority, I definitely strive to find a balance between down to earth paganism and spirituality and the magic behind the Witchcraft. Not everyone agrees that I have accomplished this, but I’m happy with the blend I have formulated. And, in doing so, yes, I have drawn quite a bit from my own practices and experiences to create plots and subplots. As much as I hate to admit it, there is definitely a segment of my life that has been fictionalized and woven into the fabric of the stories.

PP: Wonderful that you’re an outspoken believer in Pagan Anti-Discrimination and Religious Freedom in general.  Of all your lectures on the topic, which one do you feel made the greatest impact?

MRS: That is actually a tougher question than you might imagine. But, since we are talking about the religious freedom aspect, I would have to say that it comes down to two different lectures. The first being, “Do Witches Really Ride Brooms?” That particular lecture is one that I used to do for anything from the Kiwanis club luncheons to the local library book club meetings. It was especially in demand around October as you can imagine. I haven’t presented it for a while now due to my touring schedule. But, basically, it is really a standard “what is Witchcraft and Paganism REALLY?” sort of lecture, the basic stuff. But, I have actually seen it first hand make an impact on people, and change their perceptions. Does it work for everyone? Certainly not, but hey, if I can open even one person’s eyes that’s a start.

The other is the “Paganism and its Treatment in Modern Fiction” workshop. I’ve presented that to pagans and non-pagans, as well as a mix. When you lay out the fiction for everyone to see and are able to show them what really and truly is fiction, and what is real that has simply been incorporated into the fiction, it tends to open a few eyes too.

PP: I know your sales have been phenomenal, and you now have a worldwide English-speaking audience.  Have your books been translated into other languages yet?  If so, which ones?  And, would you consider touring abroad in the future?

MRS: I don’t know if phenomenal is completely accurate, but I definitely thank you for thinking so. (Grin). I admit I have enjoyed a bit of success, and that for the past few years the Rowan Gant Series has been making a splash on things such as the Amazon Horror/Occult bestseller list. But, I am a far cry from pulling in the kind of cash a King or a Grisham does – a far, far cry. Like, see that mountain range over there? Well, on the other side of it, all the way to the ocean, and then some kind of far cry. But, I digress…

However, yes, according to my fan mail I have readers in Germany, the UK, and Malta just to name a few. As yet, none of my titles have been translated. There was a deal going a few years back where an Italian publisher was looking at picking up the foreign rights to the series, but nothing ever came of it. Not sure why. Maybe Rowan needed to eat more spaghetti.

Touring abroad? Well, I already tour with Morrison (Badump-bump! Did I mention we pick at each other constantly? Another sign that we have to have been siblings.) But, seriously, sure, I actually wouldn’t be opposed to touring outside the US at some point. Although, my wife has already informed me that there are certain places I am not allowed to visit without her.

PP: How can you be contacted for speaking engagements, etc.?

MRS: Homing pigeon works. As do smoke signals. But both of those take a bit too much time. Really, the best way to contact me is through my website, www.mrsellars.com. Now, I am not going to blow smoke here (pun not intended) – if the email has to do with booking me, I tend to forward it to one of my publicists, quite honestly because most of the time they know far better where I am supposed to be and when I am supposed to be there than I do. On top of that, I don’t always know what they have cooking that I haven’t been told about yet – and, I have made the mistake of double booking myself so they don’t let me play with the schedule that much anymore. (LOL)…Especially Wendy. She’s mean like that. So, you can either go by the website and email me directly at [email protected], or you can email one of my publicists directly. They would be:

Scott McCoy with Firestorm Publicity Services – [email protected]
Wendy O’Brien with WillowTree Press – [email protected]
Just be aware – Wendy is the pretty one, Scott is the funny one


PP:
Where can your books be purchased?

MRS: Well, as I mentioned earlier, even after all these years there is still some resistance by independent pagan stores where fiction is concerned, although there are several throughout the US that carry the RGI series. Chain bookstores carry them as well, but on a limited basis – since I am with a smaller press they don’t automatically stock my books in every Barnes & Noble, or Borders. They leave it up to the managers, so I have been in chain stores where my books are prominently displayed, and then gone across town to another where they’ve never heard of me. It’s sort of hit and miss where they are concerned, unfortunately.

Still, any, and I mean ANY bookstore can order the RGI novels as they are distributed nationally. I stress that because I have heard from fans that have told me that their local B&N, often in these cases staffed by highly religious folks, has told them that they couldn’t order the books. Well, it wasn’t that they couldn’t, it was that they wouldn’t. I don’t know how to fix that, other than to say, yes, Virginia, they CAN ordered. (If you are dealing with a pagan bookstore and they tell you they don’t know where to get them – tell them to contact Abyss or New Leaf.)

But, if you can’t find them locally, and your store gives you too much lip, there is always Amazon.com, and B&N.com… They definitely sell them and they will be more than happy to take your money.

And, finally, if you go to my website you can order them directly and get them autographed.

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New to the Craft

February, 2009

The Wheel of the Year

One of the goals of any earth-centered spirituality is to attune oneself with the cycles of nature.  Before modern times this was in a sense automatic, as most folks worked directly with the earth for their basic sustenance.  The practice of agriculture demanded an intimate knowledge of the seasons and weather patterns.  To be out of touch with these cycles could mean disaster by way of starvation.  In today’s world most of us are not farmers.  Our food comes pre-packaged or processed in supermarket stores.  Those of us in urban centers are even more disconnected from natural surroundings, with little space set aside for gardens or parks.  But though awareness of the cycles of nature is not as common as it once was, many still choose to observe and learn as they can.  We may not all study ecology, yet we do all have access to two of the most basic observable patterns – those of the sun and the moon.

In this article I will focus on the solar cycle, which is the basis of the calendar we use today.  Each year is of course one full revolution of the earth around the sun.  Our planet experiences what we know as seasons because of this cycle combined with the factor of the earth’s tilt.  We experience winter when the strength of the sunlight we receive is weakest, not from any change in the sun but rather due to the indirect angle at which it is hitting the surface of the earth.  Summer is likewise the opposite point in the year when the light is most direct.  Observing seasonal changes is something anyone no matter where they live can do.  Allergy sufferers are often keenly aware of these changes!

To truly attune with seasonal cycles though, takes a step beyond simple observation.  Attunement is more than intellectual knowledge; it is a celebration of these processes of nature and an awareness of them in everyday life.  Many religions and cultures mark seasonal holidays for just such a reason.  In modern Wicca these are known as the eight sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year.  Each sabbat celebrates either the beginning or midpoint of a given season and has its own set of traditions that have built up over the years.  A brief overview of each follows*:

Samhain (sow-in) is the Wiccan New Year. It falls around the same day of the calendar as secular Halloween and marks the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.  It is a time of traditions that honor loved ones who have passed on, and many believe that at this time the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead is blurred or thin.  Many practice divination around Samhain.

Yule is the winter solstice. It is the shortest day of the year, with all the days following it bringing a bit more daylight going towards summer.  For this reason Yule marks the celebration of the rebirth of the God, metaphorically represented by the sun.  Celebrations of this type are ancient and cross-cultural.  Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ is one such version of the Sun-God’s rebirth, bringing the hope of new life that is to come while at the darkest point of the year.

Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Lights, follows Yule.
It is the midpoint of winter and is traditionally a time of inspiration and the seeds of the life that will emerge with spring.  One goddess especially associated with Imbolc is the Celtic Brigid.

Ostara is the beginning of spring and marks the spring equinox. Day and night are even at this point of the year.  Themes of fertility and sprouting life dominate this holiday.  The Christian Easter is around the same time and symbols such as the egg and rabbit actually reflect older pagan observances.

Beltane falls opposite Samhain and is the height of spring. It was one of the greatest festivals for the ancient Celts and was celebrated with large bonfires.  In secular terms we know it as May Day.  Beltane marks the sacred marriage of the God and the Goddess from which all life and fertility flow.  Their union leads to the future miracle of rebirth, as the child she conceives is to become the new God born at Yule.  Practices such as the dancing of the May Pole are folk traditions symbolic of fertility rights and sexuality.

Midsummer or Litha is the summer solstice. As the longest day of the year it is a celebration of the light and warmth of the sun.  Life is at its peak, and fruits of the earth abound.  Many Wiccans choose to focus on spells and magic of all kinds at this time.

Lughnasadh (loo-nus-uh) or Lammas is the first of the festivals celebrating the harvest of the coming autumn months. Lugh is a god of the Celts, honored as a sacrificial king whose death mirrors the harvest of the grain.  Bread and corn are symbols of this sabbat, and the baking of all types of loaves is the primary activity.

Mabon is second harvest festival and the autumn equinox.
It is the final stretch of the year leading up to Samhain as the days begin to wane.  As at Ostara day and night are even at Mabon, and many use it as a time for reflection on balancing aspects in their lives.  As a harvest festival it is also a celebration of abundance and family with whom we give thanks for our many blessings.

The descriptions above are the barest of outlines for the sabbats and I heartily recommend Eight Sabbats for Witches by Janet and Stewart Farrar for more information.  The four sabbats falling on solstices or equinoxes (Yule, Ostara, Midsummer, Mabon) are referred to as quarter days, and the others (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh) are termed cross-quarter days.  The latter are modern adaptations of ancient Celtic fire festivals, hence their names and associations with the Celtic gods.  The quarter day holidays may not have been observed all at once in particular cultures, but grew out of folk customs that held over time and were later adapted by Wicca.  By celebrating each of these sabbats as a solitary or with others it is easier to stay in tune with the passing seasons and remember the cycles of planting and harvest that are the ultimate source of our food.  The sun is of course the original source, whose light is converted by agricultural plants into energy we can consume to live.  Our reverence for the sun by commemorating sabbats is really our reverence for sustenance, and our thanks for the miracle of life and rebirth.

* I have composed the knowledge of these sabbats from my own readings and do not claim in any way that these are their only meanings or correspondences.  Different paths will have their own traditions and may or may not attribute the same meanings.

Journal for the Month of January:

Attunement as a solitary is for me the primary part of my practice right after reading as much as I possibly can.  When I don’t remember to mark the sabbats and the cycles of the moon I lose touch with my spiritual practice.  I get sucked right back into daily life, with little appreciation for where my food comes from or what is in season.  It is very easy to get distracted from what is important, and I have to constantly make the effort to immerse myself in nature, because the world I live in isn’t going to do it for me.

Now I’m not someone who romanticizes going back to nature in the sense of separating from the modern world.  I’m a rare camper, and while I thoroughly enjoy outdoor activities I’d say I’m probably still guilty of seeing the outdoors as more of a temporary destination than a home.  I love my air conditioning in the summer.  I burn to a crisp without buckets of sunscreen, attract poison ivy like a magnet, and seem to taste quite yummy to a variety of insects.  In the winter I’m buried under layers of coats and sweaters and feel cold no matter the temperature.  And yet despite all the discomfort I could very well ease by choosing not to go out, I find myself wanting to stand out under the stars and just gaze.  Since choosing this path I see the moon in the sky at night and smile with true happiness.  I want to know what foods are grown locally and what is in season.  I look upon nature with a new appreciation through the metaphor of the God and Goddess.  In short I feel I am beginning to see what is around me and perhaps I’m starting to reconnect.  I take small steps, but a whole new curiosity exists in me that was absent, or maybe just silent, before.

I’m looking forward to Imbolc this year.  Though I started this column late last year my first steps into Wicca were shortly after last year’s Imbolc, and in a sense I consider it my New Years.  It is the time when Persephone emerges from the underworld as the maiden Kore, bringing life and hope once more to a barren world.  New beginnings and renewal are my themes, and I wish a blessed year to all in whatever new endeavors you are pursuing.  May we all reach the heights to which we aim!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(

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Arise From the Past: How Cannibalism, Sacrifice, and Burial Affected Vampire Folklore

February, 2009

Belief in vampires or some form of the dark bloodsucking creature existed long before written record.  These creatures formed in each culture and each era as a result of religion and lack of scientific education.  Additionally, many practices of long ago fascinate us today because of the gory and vampiric nature involved.  Such practices include cannibalism, sacrifice, and how the dead were buried before modern advances.  Hence, one can safely gather that vampirism or vampires are a direct result of culture and scientific misunderstanding.

Vampires are immortal creatures who feed off the blood of the living, and blood is the key factor in all origins of vampire folklore.  Some argue that the soul lives within the blood or more simply put, it is the source of all life.  Also, if one can die when one loses blood, one could logically think that drinking blood would bring about life.  Due to such ideas, many ancient cultures implemented sacrifices, rituals, and sometimes entire lives around the substance (Masters 4).

When someone hears the word cannibalism, most societies see horrific images of individuals ripping at human flesh.  What could be considered even more disturbing is the fact that people have been eating each other for centuries.  After all, man is a carnivorous animal, and unless you are a sworn vegetarian, people hunger for meat (Masters 5).  Ancient societies viewed other humans as foodstuffs, and the aversion to such a taboo today is no different than Semitic people thinking pig and dog are unclean to eat (6).  However, the eating of flesh is comparatively irrelevant to vampirism except for one common theme.  The transfer of a life source from the dead to the living was essential.  Blood was licked from spears, and hands went unwashed just so the blood could be licked off later.  Thus, one can see how cannibalism could have morphed into a blood fetish (7).

Sacrifice and ritual are common practices in most religions.  Appeasing the spirits and gods are one reason such practices are performed.  The completion of magical workings could be considered another.  So, it is no surprise that ancient cultures used the same concepts in their daily lives.  Those who were responsible for starting vampire folklore were those involving the sacrificing of a victim.  This victim was a trade-off for a favor from a god or used to make peace with a deity.  The victim could be an animal, or the devotee could quite literally offer a part of himself in the form of a severed finger or hair.  Blood began to replace such measures, and only a couple of drops of blood from a worshipper would suffice.  On the other hand, the sacrifice of others was more common. Individuals in high standing would permit criminals to be presented as offerings to the gods, or they would use sacrifice as a means of substituting someone else to take the place of their plights.  One of the best examples of such sacrifice is when the Aztecs chose to pour the blood of their victims into their idols’ mouths (Masters 11).  In all manners of sacrificial victims, then, life force was essential in completion of the task, and blood became the center of this life force.

Along with cultural influences, lack of scientific knowledge helped to form the vampire lore understood now.  One of the greatest influences on this lore is how the dead were prepared for burial long before embalming became commonplace.  When a body decays without any preservation or embalmment, the following will occur:

* The body will turn different colors depending upon the gases and infections involved.  Blues, reds, and dark greens will be prevalent (Barber 105).

* The body will swell up to possible massive proportions and one of the most noticeable areas will be the abdomen.  The swelling is a result of the gases expelled from the decaying process.

* Blood or blood stained fluid escape the mouth and nostrils (106).

* The body may decay at any rate depending upon the environment it is placed in at the time.  Environmental factors include presence of air, moisture, microorganisms, temperatures, and insects (107).

* Hair will slip away from the scalp, and the skin will begin to slough away.  These consequences of decay make the body appear to have grown new hair or new nails (109).

While there are other visual effects seen as a result of decay, one can quickly understand just how the listed characteristics alone could cause alarm to someone who would stumble upon such a body.  Furthermore, it was not unusual for people to be buried alive because comas and other medical conditions were not understood (99).  Scavengers, either animal or human, were also known to disturb gravesites, and any movement would appear suspicious to the uneducated and superstitious (125).  Consequently, as a result of all this simple scientific misunderstanding, people were once quick to point to the presence of vampires.

Vampire folklore is a direct result of ancient and past cultures trying to survive according to their standards or due to their misunderstanding of scientific processes.  Cannibalism and sacrifice exposed people to the concept of life force transfer from the dead to the living.  The handling of a human body after death before modern techniques were established added to the vampire idea.  Hence, because of ancient societies’ lack of scientific knowledge and sophistication, vampire folklore was fostered and began to grow into the cult phenomenon we know today.

Works Cited

Barber, Paul.  Vampires, Burial, and Death:  Folklore and Reality.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1988.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

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Door to the Beyond

February, 2009

Getting CHEESy

…and written over the Door are the words:  Choice.  Hope.  Empowerment.  Environment.  Spirituality. This is the door we walk through together this month.

I spent two weeks in school this month (January 2009).  The class was called Peer Employment Training, and the end result was to be a certificate as a Peer Support Specialist, making the twenty of us in the class eligible for employment in the fields of mental health and substance abuse.

The twenty of us walked in with our Superman capes and bulletproof Spandex, waiting to be empowered to lift and carry all our charges into a new world.  We were very disappointed, but in a joyful way.

In just the first hour of the class, we were taught how to take off our capes and fit them for each and every person we were (will be) assigned to, and teach them how to learn to use it themselves.  Instead of Advocacy, we were trained in how to make each person we serve into their own expert, empowering them to take control of their own case and not live down to their labels.

You know how psychiatry has been these past 40 years.  You walk into the doctor’s office, you tell him what’s wrong, and he doesn’t hear but a few key words of what you tell him.  He then uses those key words to decide upon a diagnosis, and that diagnosis tells him what drugs to prescribe you.  There is little or no talk therapy, and after being given a label, you are never treated as a full human being again.  They can take you to court and force you to take the medications, or force you to receive electro-convulsive therapy, or force you to go to and stay in a “hospital”, all in the name of Your Own Good, to keep you from Doing Harm To Yourself Or Others.

Voila, you are no longer a person.  You are a label, a diagnosis, a stigma.

I’ve been beating my own head against that barrier for most of my life.  I knew I was still a person.  I knew the drugs were hurting me.  Over five years ago, I told the doctors where to go, and they didn’t have enough on me to commit me somewhere.  In those five years (and in the two prior years), I learned how to take care of myself, how to get well, how to recover.  My recovery is not complete, but I am at least 80% better than I was under their “care”.

I walked into this class expecting to get more bruises on my head from beating against the same old wall… and they moved the wall!  They had even begun to dismantle it!  I grabbed my sledgehammer and did my own best Berlin imitation.

From the first, the word “recovery” was used.  We were told that we were people, not labels, and were not to be defined as less than human ever again.  We were told about our choices, and we learned that this new paradigm has already been in use in a few areas.  There is a new hospital about 40 miles west of Asheville which mimics another hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where there are no physical restraints, there are no labels, and there are more peer support specialists than doctors.  The treatment area is called the “Living Room” and is furnished accordingly.  People are recovering, and are welcome to come and go as they choose, and are never ignored.

Wow.  Add another wow to that.  We learned about the CHEES Priniciple, which is:

CHOICE:
One choice is no choice.  Mental health can be achieved through the use of drugs, supplements, talk therapy, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, and many other routes, and withholding information on any of these is dishonoring the individual.

HOPE: You are never hopeless.  Sometimes you can feel so far down that you need someone to hold your hope for you until you can hold it yourself.  The twenty of us were trained to do just that.

EMPOWERMENT: You are the expert on your problems and your solutions.  We will help you find those sources, but you will lead us through that process.  We can give suggestions, but only with your permission and only after trying to get you to see what is already inside you.  We will listen to you; we will do our best to empower you to get your “treatment team” to listen to you.

ENVIRONMENT:
You need to be in a place that suits you, not a “treatment center” and not on the streets.  You know what is best for you.  We will help you discover the options and find ways to get into what you need.

SPIRITUALITY: This was the big one. We are using the S-word again, and even the L-word (LOVE).  No more impersonal decisions made on your behalf.  Each of us has our own spirituality, and we peer support specialists are being trained to honor that.

Peer Support Specialists are experts, but it’s a different kind of expert:  We are experts in not being experts (and that takes a LOT of expertise!).  We are learning how to listen to you, how to lead you to listen to yourself.  We do not know what is Right For You – only you know that.

Are you beginning to see why I am so excited about this?  Are you beginning to have hope that the System will die and leave something better behind?  If not, I would be happy to hold that hope for you until you are ready.

To me, the things I learned in this class were more miraculous than if we ever were to elect a black President… oh, wait, we just did, didn’t we?  Damn.  Am I still in the same world I was last year?

I sure hope not.  I like the world I’m in now.  And if we work together, praise Goddess, we will all have something good to think back on.  Why wait for 2012?  The old world is ending now.  We can, we will create the new one together, in peace, love, and all those old sixties things (minus the drug busts).  Remember CHEES and all those bad memories will start to fade.

Let’s walk through another Door together… next month.

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Let’s Spell it Out

February, 2009

Rebirth Through Oya Spell: Yoruba/Santeria Feast Day of Oya-2/2

Oya is the Orisha of death and rebirth and spring is the season of moving from the death of winter to rebirth.  She is the Keeper of the Cemetery, her home is the graveyard and the spirits of the dead are her subjects.  Oya has a relationship with Iku; the Spirit of Death whom she precedes, accompanies and carries with her on occasion.  When death strikes, Oya is the last breath taken along with the spirit Iku.

On a much lighter note, Oya is also the river goddess of Yoruba as well as the deity in charge of wind, lightening, storms and thunder.  As Guardian of the River Niger, her river symbolism is polished stones.  Lightening came from her consort Shango.

Shango took Oya from Ogun. She was originally Ogun’s wife and she stole his tools which were weapons of war from him.  The tools became part of her altar and when Ogun confronted her, she replaced the tools with farm implements.  Shango had a gourd of medicine which enabled him to split lightening and one day Oya dipped her finger in it and after tasting the medicine she shot fire out of her mouth when she spoke.  From then on she used her forked lightening to help Shango fight his battles.

Oya is seen as a strong woman who because of the war became fearless and courageous in the face of danger.  She is a proud, self-willed woman whose wrath is so terrible that it must be avoided at all costs.  Oya is represented by two swords that reflect her fighting ability.

Another symbol of Oya is horns.  Her sacred animal is the wild buffalo which she turns herself into.  Her color in the New World is purple but reddish-brown in Yoruba.  She is also known as the “Mother of Nine” as she had nine children.

The Spell

SUPPLIES: Purple candle, offering of shell corn, sword (or Athame)

Light the purple candle and call to Oya:

“I call to Oya

Of death, rivers and storm;

And on Your Feast Day

I ask to be reborn.”

Place the offering upon the altar and calls to the Buffalo totem:

“Sacred Buffalo Woman

Chief of the animals upon Earth

I give to you this offering

And ask for my rebirth.

Grant to me survival skills,

Prosperity and courage,

Fertility and abundance

And fill me now with knowledge.”

Holds the sword up high and say:

“Oya, I ask for the death

Of my old life.

Please cut away what holds me back

And free me now from strife.

I wish today to be reborn

And ride upon Your wind.

Oya, grant to me the change

Let my new life begin.”

Take a moment to visualize the negatives being cut away and the void being filled by the positives that you yearn for.  When the visualization is complete, say:

“So mote it be!”

Make sure to place the offering outside for the animals and nature spirits!

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It’s In The Cards

February, 2009

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘It’s In the Cards’ for www.PaganPages.org. At one time this column appeared in Finer Things Magazine in New Haven, CT, and I am very pleased to be writing my column again; this time for the Pagan Community.

Every month, I will do a tarot reading for one person whose question I choose for this column. Also, by writing me, you will have a chance for a free tarot 10 minute reading on the phone. If you would like to contact me about purchasing a reading, please visit my web site at www.SubRosaMagick.com or write me at [email protected]

Since I first began reading for the public 13 years ago, I found that I fell in love with being able to help people in their personal lives and on their path as a spiritual counselor. The cards, I have found, often tell us what we need to know, and not necessarily what we want to know. They provide a way for me to see deeper into the heart of an issue and often what magickal advice I also need to give to bring about change.

Even if you aren’t familiar with tarot cards as a form of divination, they also work in the same way other forms do, be it the Runes, I-Ching, oracles or Ogam. The symbols of the tarot speak on many levels, and allow a connection to be created with spirit; opening a doorway for the universe to communicate on a personal level. As an artist as well as a priestess, I acknowledge the power of these symbols, but as a psychic, I use them to “see” more clearly.

Mediumship isn’t something I intentionally practice, but sometimes I do receive messages from spirit or departed loved ones, and if I receive messages I will relay these to you as part of the reading.

This following is the question chosen for this month.

Dear Alicia,

Do you think our new president is competent enough for the job? He hasn’t had much senatorial experience. Do you think he will get us out of this economic decline?

Thanks, Mary

Dear Mary,

I, like so many people, am hoping that this man can do what may be the impossible, and I found your question very intriguing. President Obama’s birthdate is August 4, 1961, with both his Sun and Mercury in Leo. I have also read that his personality type is ENFP, which would make him perhaps the second ‘Idealist’ (NF) personality type ever to have been president of the United States. The first potentially being Lincoln. Idealist personality types don’t often take the lead, but when they do they often make great changes around them, and leave their mark on the world. Mars is in Virgo, showing that not only is he the right man for the job, but he will get it right. His chart speaks of someone who can mentally both see around corners and out of the box in the most difficult situations. He is, truly, brilliant. He combines, vision, honesty, and integrity into everything he does. He knows that the spotlight is on him and he must perform well.

Of course, even with being someone well suited to the challenge before him, comes the issue of what is to come. So for this reading I am going to do a simple version of the Celtic Cross layout as an overview, just as if he was coming to see me for a reading. I use this as my ‘foundation’ reading for my clients before I answer other questions, so that I can see the ‘big picture’ surrounding them.

I envisioned his face, and blew his fate into my cards. As I laid them out cards, what I see is very deep. I am sure that those of you who also read may come up with your own interpretations, and will be moved as well. I only laid the cards out once, and I am reading them exactly as I have drawn them.

The first card representing President Obama is the Wheel of Fortune. Fate is fickle, and sticky. This card symbolizes the cyclical states of man: “I will reign, I reign, I have reigned, I am without.” The deck I am using is Llewellyn, and its imagery is from Welsh Mythology. The Wheel of Fortune is Arianrhod’s Silver Wheel, and as Arianrhod placed destinies upon Llew, so perhaps have unpleasant destinies and challenges been placed upon this man who we see as a ‘shining one,’ which is also echoed in the final result card, the Sun inversed, which is represented by Llew in this deck.

The second card, his crossing card, is the Ace of Swords, which is upright (thank the stars!). This challenge to overcome all obstacles and achieve victory of course, is at hand. The sword holds up a crown, and it shows me he has taken up this mantle with much determination and with everything he has. If Obama was in front of me, I would remind him that the sword is double edged, and I would caution that those who live by it, also die by it. It is said that the “The Brave die only once, the Meek, a thousand times.” Truly, he is committed in his new role as a leader, as if he were a newly appointed king, with a strong leonine fearless streak.

Fate is the third card drawn, the Fool inversed, as is symbolized by Peredur. In Welsh tradition, Peredur was the original hero of the grail quest who failed in his first attempt, but spent most of his life searching for the Grail castle a second time. He alone is the keeper of the secrets of the sorceress, the Grail royalty. There is a theme here in this reading of something reenacting, of something from our ancestral memories being replayed out in the here and now. This will not be an easy path for him, but the rewards may be great. Perhaps his second term will be the place where he truly makes his mark.

The fourth card is the past, the Lovers. Obviously, his partnership is integral to who he has become, and it is still his root – his greatest source of strength. I think we all can see by now the love he has for his family exceeds all else. When a Leo’s family – his ‘pride’ and joy – believes in him he feels he can do anything.

The fifth card is the King of Pentacles inversed, which is the situation he must address. Obviously, the economy has turned upside down. But since this is a positive card normally, I feel that there is a chance to turn things around if the right decisions are made. Since the card is inversed, the apples are now on the ground, wasted, and the poppies are in the air, suspended. I can’t help but wonder if those poppies are also Afghanistan and the Middle East…

The sixth card signifying the near future is the King of Swords, again, I believe, this is the role he is stepping into. Swords cards are of course, also cards of war. I am relieved that there are no other sword cards in the rest of the reading, but I feel he is preparing for something that may not come right away – a readiness and an awareness to be on guard.

The Page of Pentacles is the current situation as the seventh card, outside of his influence. Although things may not be good now, the Page foretells that it will get better – help and hope is on the way. The winds of change are favorable, if not strong.

The eighth card is the Seven of Cups is the advice of the reading. To see things as they truly are is imperative. The illusion of the past is over – that spell has been broken, and castles that have been built in the air have been laid low.

The ninth card, the Six of Wands is in the Hopes and Fears position, and obviously this is a hope. This will not come to pass right away, this ‘dream’ of good news, of victory, of success and honors.

The tenth card, the final outcome is the Sun inversed, or Llew inversed. There will be limited progress although there will be success. I feel the first term in office will feel very much like a battle even through we are dismantling a war. There will be no miracles, just hard work and the results of that labor.

The last card, is what is hidden, and that is the Universe (the World). Perhaps there is something here very mystical, and hopes yet unrealized and unseen. This card in my deck is Cadair Idris – a mountain with connections to the Otherworld. There is still more to be revealed, but in its own time.

I hope you enjoyed the reading, Mary, as much as I did.

Blessed be!
Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth

WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR READING TO APPEAR?

If you would like me to do a reading for you in the next issue of Pagan Pages, please send me your:
1. Name you would like me to use in the article (it doesn’t have to be your given name)
2. Full birth date
3. Your question. Feel free to ask anything!
4. Send it to: [email protected]

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Ancient Echos, Sacred Sites and Windswept Landscapes- Ireland Tour

February, 2009

Join our small group as we travel from Shannon to Dublin through the mystical heart of Ireland. Meet local Pagans/Wiccans and join in the Celtic Festival of Beltaine. Visit The Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Brigid’s Well. Tour the Ring of Kerry and visit ancient ruins. Spend Beltaine at Charleville Castle with a maypole dance and ritual. Spend time in Historic Dublin and enjoy a Traditional Irish House Party with dinner and a show. Step back in time as we visit the neolitic sites of Newgrange and Knowth. Then join our local guide Gemma McGowan as she takes us on a tour of Loughcrew and other historical sites where they celebrate the Ancient Celtic Festivals of Lughnassa and Samhain.

Contact Rebecca at (877) 234-7578 or visit www.kindredspiritstours.com

Itinerary for Ireland – April 27th – May 6th

Monday, April 27th – Depart Chicago O’Hare (ORD) International Terminal, US for Shannon Ireland (EI), passport required. Overnight Flight.

Tuesday, April 28th– Arrive Shannon, Collect our transportation and head towards County Clare to Brigids Well and the Cliffs of Moher. Spend the night in Doolin and listen to a live Trad Irish music session at McDermott’s.

Overnight stay at Doolin Lodge – Includes Breakfast

Wednesday, April 29th– Take a cruise and view the Cliffs of Moher from where the Cliffs meet the sea. Visit the Burren and Aillwee Cave for the Bird of Prey show. Head towards Killarney to meet our local Guide Jackie Corcoran.

Overnight at the Lake Hotel, Killarney – Includes Breakfast

Thursday, April 30th- Jackie Corcoran takes us on a day tour of the Ring of Kerry. Finish the day with a sunset ceremony on Inch Beach.

Overnight at the Lake Hotel, Killarney – Includes Breakfast

Friday, May 1st – Following a Trad Irish Breakfast from 8am – 11:00am Depart Killarney for Tour of Charleville Castle where we will celebrate the ancient Celtic Festival of Beltaine at the Castle.

Overnight at Grennan’s Country House – County Offaly – Includes Breakfast

Saturday, May 2nd – Head for Dublin, but first a stop at Brigids Well in Kildare. Arrive for our Historical Walking tour and finish the evening with a Traditional Irish House Party – Dinner and Show.

Overnight at the Trinity Capital Hotel, Dublin – Includes Breakfast

Sunday May 3rd – Take the Dublin Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. It stops at over 15 sites of interest in the city. Visit St. Michen’s Church for an unusual tour.

Overnight at the Trinity Capital Hotel, Dublin – Includes Breakfast

Monday, May 4th– Start the day with a full Irish Breakfast and then head to the hills north of Dublin near Drogheda for a tour of Newgrange and Knowth, a neolithic passage tomb dating from 3000 BC. Time permitting we will visit Monasterboice and The Hill of Tara. Meet our Host Gemma McGowan for dinner and Trad music.

Overnight at the White Gables Bed & Breakfast, Kells, Co Meath

Tuesday, May 5th – Our Local Guide Gemma McGowan takes us on a tour of Loughcrew and other historical sites where they celebrate the Ancient Celtic Festivals of Lughnassa and Samhain.

Overnight at the White Gables Bed & Breakfast, Kells, Co Meath

Wednesday, May 6th – Depart Dublin for US.

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Faeries, Elves, and Other Kin

February, 2009

Faery Spells and Verse

titania_queen_of_faieries

Tatiana Queen of the Faeries Artist: Howard David Johnson Copyright 1993-2008


Tatiana

In Forest pines, and Oak tree hollows

Amidst the acorns and the leaves

Blossoms adorn her crown

Gossamer threads form her regal attire

Illuminating the air with a majestic glow

Tatiana our Queen fill our hearts with ethereal delight

~ Michele Burke (2009)

Faerie Magick

Fairies and Pixies, elves and gnomes.

Spinning some magic, spells for our homes.

Their wishes are happy, of joys to share.

Join in their revelry, if only you dare.

Carefree of spirit, their happiness impart

Sending you Magick, to store in your heart.

~ Unknown

Faery Spells

Fairy Summoning Spell

The best times to do this is on the Sabbats of Beltane, Midsummer, or Halloween, but you can use it anytime you would like. (best done outside in the yard at night)

~You will need powdered ginger and a small spoon. Set out candles at the compass directions: yellow in the east, red in the south, blue in the west, green in the north. Place a crystal or other stone beside each candle. Stand in the center of the room and send out thoughts of welcome to the little ones.

~Chant: “O spirits of plants and earth and trees, o little ones of every form, show yourselves to me, I ask. From me shall come no harm. Join me in friendship and in love.”

“Rejoice with me in this magick old, for together with the ancient gods we can re-create all things in gold. Guardian spirits, watchers fair, our lives are joined. All things we share.”

~ Go to the east. Light the candle. Sprinkle a little ginger by the candle, and say: “All you Nature spirits and faeries, Hear my call. Enter this magick circle. Welcome All.”

~ Go to the south. Light the candle. Sprinkle ginger, and say: ” All you little ones of the sunbeams, Hear my call. Enter this magick circle. Welcome All.”

~ Go to the west. Light the candle. Sprinkle ginger, and say: “All you nymphs and water sprites, Hear my call. Enter this magick circle. Welcome All.”

~ Finish by going to the north. Light the candle. Sprinkle ginger and say: ” All you little ones of the moonbeams, Hear my call. Enter this magick circle. Welcome All.”

*Sit quietly for a time, thinking about the little ones, be aware of their feather light touches your body. Listen for their musical voices in your mind. Talk to them if you wish. When communication is finished, stand in the center of the circle. Raise your arms high, saying: ” All thanks and blessings be, To those of air, earth, sky, and sea.”

*Blow out the candles starting in the south and go counter clock-wise.

~ Anon

In Closing

May the Fae be with you and their blessings always be upon you. And remember that if you keep your mind and your eyes open and your heart pure and one day you too may see the Fae. After all they are all around us.

Bibliography and Works Cited:

Faery Spells,(2007), Faery Summoning Spell. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from http://www.freespellsonline.com/spell-423/fairy-summoning-spell.html

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