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Interview With Author Kristin Madden

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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.