Nikki Starcat Shields: Centered in Reverence and Joy
Starcat is a Pagan based in Maine, and the author of numerous books, including Starcat’s Corner: Essays on Pagan Living. She’s the co-creator of the 30-Day Core Belief Kit and a personal spiritual coach. Despite her busy life, Starcat took the time to talk to Mabh at Pagan Pages about her world and her inspiration.
Mabh Savage: Where does the beautiful name Starcat come from?
Starcat: When I was choosing my Pagan name, more than 20 years ago now, I was inspired by Starhawk’s writings and her name. I too resonate strongly with the stars, and I have had a lifelong love of all things feline. So I decided to choose the name Starcat. Years later, when I attended a Reclaiming Witch Camp, I was worried that some of the people there who knew Starhawk might think my name was a bit of a rip-off of hers, but actually when I chatted with them about it, they thought it was a lovely tribute.
MS: When did you start documenting your experiences as a Pagan? What inspired you to do this?
NSS: I began in the early 1990s, when I discovered that there were others who had beliefs similar to mine. I found a local newsletter that was published by the EarthTides Pagan Network, a group of Pagans in Maine who had formed in order to network with other Pagans in those pre-Internet times. I wrote a letter in response to one of the articles in the newsletter, and the editor wrote back and encouraged me to share my own thoughts by writing regularly for their publication.
MS: When did you realise you could make the transition from blogging to a book?
NSS: Well, first came the transition from writing for the EarthTides newsletter into starting a blog, which happened in 2006. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but was discouraged from it by family and teachers who felt that I should focus my efforts on a career that would earn me a living. When I began to revive my dream, it occurred to me that I had been writing for a while, and could share those thoughts and ideas with readers in the form of a book.
MS: Were there any challenges putting the book together? What did you enjoy most about it?
NSS: I loved putting the book together, because I could really see my evolution as a writer and a Pagan, and I figured that my journey might help to inspire others on their own path. One challenge was making sure that readers understood that the writing was done over the course of more than a decade, so the writing “voice” wouldn’t be exactly the same throughout the book. I think we accomplished that through the way the book is organized and the explanation given in the introduction.
MS: Are you planning any more books? If so, would they follow the same format or something new?
NSS: I have actually since written and self-published a couple of books, which are intended for a wider audience interested in personal spirituality, not just for Pagans. As for more Pagan books, I’ve been branching out into writing fiction. It is urban fantasy, and the main characters are Pagan. I’m still in the early stages, but I look forward to sharing this new endeavor in the next year or two. Also, a long-time Pagan friend of mine asked me when I was going to stop writing introductory-type books and start branching out into sharing more intermediate ideas and practices. So that’s a new and intriguing idea.
MS: Who do you think will get the most out of your book [Starcat’s Corner: Essays on Pagan Living]?
NSS: I think that it’s targeted to those who are either new to Paganism, or have practiced for a while but are looking for some inspiration. It’s for those who want to bring their Pagan beliefs and practices more fully into their everyday lives. That’s the main focus of the book.
MS: Tell us a bit about the EarthTides Pagan Network.
NSS: The EarthTides Pagan Network was formed in 1989 in order to help Maine Pagans find each other in those years before the Internet. Maine has a small population, but is spread out over a fairly large geographical area. The Network helped us to find one another and stay in touch when Paganism was still fairly obscure in the area and there weren’t easy ways to stay in touch. These days, the Network hosts the annual Beltane on the Beach celebration each May, which is well attended, and offers a booth at an autumn organic-living fair.
MS: How do you keep a connection to nature in our modern and ever changing world?
NSS: I am blessed to live in a beautiful rural area where I am surrounded by natural landscapes. So, simply spending plenty of time outdoors, especially barefoot, helps me stay connected. I also honor the passing of the seasons and the phases of the moon, which helps me to stay in tune. Daily meditation is my favorite spiritual practice; I do at least 20 minutes of silent meditation each morning.
MS: What is your favourite spiritual place?
NSS: My favorite spiritual place is Acadia National Park, located in Down East Maine. The energies there are incredible. It’s very fae. You can hike through the forest, emerging onto a pink-granite hilltop, where the view is the ocean all around you, sparkling and gorgeous. I love it there.
MS: What music are you listening to at the moment? Do you have a favourite piece that is magical for you?
NSS: I like all kinds of different music. I really love Michael Franti and Spearhead, and their latest song, Once a Day, is very uplifting and magickal for me. I’ve also been enjoying Anoushka Shankar’s album Traces of You. It’s excellent.
MS: Do you have a favourite season or time of the year?
NSS: Late summer into early autumn is my favorite. It’s still warm enough to spend time outdoors, and that vibrant harvest energy of fall is in full swing. My birthday is in mid-September, so it feels like a special time of year for me.
MS: What inspires you on a day to day basis?
NSS: Meditation, my dreams, reading lots of books of various genres. I love stories, and they always inspire me. Actually, the Doctor Who TV series is very inspiring, because it makes me think about alien life and other planes of existence and all kinds of magickal philosophies.
MS: If you could give one piece of advice to someone venturing onto a Pagan path, what would it be?
NSS: I would encourage them to listen to their inner wisdom. It can take some practice to tune into your inner voice, because we’re not encouraged to do so in modern society. But with time and attention, you’ll discover a rich inner well of inspiration and connection. Your intuition can lead you to more joy, love, creativity, and magick.
MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in the coming months?
NSS: My partner and I have a business called Feline Dreamers, and we help people connect with their own inner wisdom with a variety of tools, including guided meditations, Reiki, and spiritual mentoring. I was inspired to create a new program called The Heart of the Goddess, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with our clients this year, and helping more people to get in tune with the Divine Feminine that resides within each of us. I believe that’s what our planet needs, the expansion of human consciousness, so that we’ll begin to live more in harmony with nature and the cosmos. We’re all contributing to this evolution in our own ways.
Starcat can be found on her website, and you can purchase Starcat’s Corner at Amazon and other reputable bookstores. Follow her blog at http://www.starcatscorner.com
Mabh Savage is a Pagan writer and journalist, and the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. You can follow Mabh at soundsoftime.wordpress.com.