Melusine Draco: Author, Teacher and Witch
Melusine Draco is a very prolific author, with titles ranging from Pagan Portals: Pan to Starchild I: The rediscovery of stellar wisdom. Melusine talked to Mabh at Pagan Pages about her writing, her teaching and other mysteries.
Mabh Savage: Why are some of your books under the name Suzanne Ruthven and some under Melusine Draco?
Melusine Draco: For many years the ‘day job’ was working as a creative writing tutor, author and editor of a creative writing magazine. In order to keep the persona different from my esoteric writing there had to be a different name for readers to identify with. I’ve written fact and fiction under both names, and the lines get blurred sometimes but there’s no real problem anymore as I do very little tutoring work outside my own personal writing interests. Nowadays I use my real name for the non-magical novel series, i.e. The Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries (set in the antiques trade) and The Vampyre’s Tale series, although my first magical novel, Whittlewood, was published under that name. Melusine Draco writes all the magical stuff including the novels in the Temple House Archive series.
MS: What is the book you are proudest of, if you have one?
MD: Actually there are three and for completely different reasons. The Dictionary of Magic and Mystery was never intended for publication having been compiled for my own personal use. John Hunt thought it might make a good addition to Moon Books since it has more entries than anything similar in publication. Wearing my writing tutor’s hat, I can honestly say it is a really useful book for esoteric writers.
Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones reflects the essence of the magic taught by Coven of the Scales in that we draw our energy from what’s beneath our feet. One of my tutors had a doctorate in geology and so I had a thorough grounding in the subject and this was my offering of thanks in recognition of the knowledge that had been passed on.
Root and Branch: British Magical Tree Lore has just been re-released and gives a glimpse into the world I grew up in – a countryside unspoiled by urban development. Again there is another aspect of CoS teaching encapsulated in its pages.
MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
MD: I enjoy writing novels because there are no limits to where the imagination can take you. With non-fiction you are confined by the factual brief of the subject matter – although one reviewer commented that one of my non-fiction titles ‘feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet’. I was very moved by that comment because I felt as though I’d reached out and touched him.
MS: Can you tell us a bit about Coven of the Scales? How did it start, and how many students do you have?
MD: The Coven is traditional British Old Craft and was founded by Meriem and Bob Clay-Egerton from a lineage that can trace its roots back to the mid-1880s in Cheshire. I’ve been acting as caretaker for the past ten years since their deaths, and officially retired as of 1st January, because I have a wonderful husband and wife team to take over as Magister and Dame – although I remain Head of the Order to help with any magical queries. Students have to complete a year’s probationary course before they are accepted as full members; and since we are an Initiatory Order, this is the next step on their magical journey. We currently have a dozen full members and some twenty students at varying stages of study.
MS: How do you balance the needs of your students with being such a prolific writer?
MD: Ten years’ experience as a conference organiser means you can balance anything! I have set days for dealing with specific jobs
MS: You are also involved with the Temple of Khem. Do the two groups have any cross over, or are they completely separate?
MD: I am Principal of the Temple of Khem and the Egyptian Mystery Tradition has always been my first love. Now that I’ve discharged my obligation to CoS I have returned full-time to ToK. They are completely separate organisations and do not interact with each other since the magico-mystical methods and techniques are not compatible. The existing ToK members have been with me for a long time
MS: Do you find one aspect of the Craft appeals to you more than the others? Or are they all equally fascinating?
MD: Back to those natural earth energies and tides, I suppose. It never ceases to amaze me just how simple it is to harmonise with them and utilise them for magical purposes.
MS: In several places, your teaching methods are described as ‘Highly individualistic.’ What is it that makes your mentoring style so unique?
MD: The wording isn’t mine, by the way, it came from a student who was asked how it was for him, and it stuck! The simple answer is because I don’t teach from books or any provide set answers – and it’s possibly very much a case of ‘you have to have been there’ to fully appreciate the technique. Each student is catered for according to their needs and strengths and each one is completely different; therefore, the teaching comes from the student’s answers to a question, and my response in order to open up a dialogue about magical applications – and not just a straightforward Q&A session.
MS: Your latest book, Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root, is already receiving some great previews ahead of its February release. What inspired you to write this volume?
MD: Yes, people are saying some very positive things about the book and it gives a nice warm feeling inside to read them. The inspiration came from research I was doing for one of my novels and, like Topsy, it just grewed!
MS: Do you have your own garden of poisonous or unusual plants?
MD: No, but I have an acre of uncultivated land surrounding the cottage and many of these plants grow quite naturally without any help from me. In the summer and autumn my woody nightshade is a joy to behold.
MS: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? And what was the best thing about the process?
MD: At the risk of sounding flippant, there was little challenge as it wrote itself. The most interesting thing about the process was the direction it took in making the point that the poisoning Olympians of history weren’t witches at all.
MS: Another popular series you have written is the Traditional Witchcraft series, of which there are six volumes currently. Are you planning to add to this series?
MD: No. I’ve said all I have to say on that particular subject since the series takes the reader on a journey from beginner to initiate without giving any ‘secrets’ away. Book learning is always only an introduction to any esoteric system – it’s the personal journey that provides the answers. We can, however, arrive at Initiate level and still come to realise that we know nothing!
MS: What other books do you have planned for the future? Are you working on anything currently?
MD: The second book in the Hugo Braithwaite series is at the proofing stage and the third in the series of The Temple House Archive is almost finished. Then it’s back to The Vampyre’s Tale … there are a few non-fiction ideas moving around in there but nothing concrete yet.
MS: Do you have a favourite sacred or spiritual place that you like to retreat to?
MD: I’m in the throes of creating an authentic Japanese Garden in a private corner that will be my own private space for musing and meditation.
MS: How do you relax when taking a break from teaching or writing?
MD: I’m (un)lucky that writing is my work and my hobby, so I find fiction writing to be my relaxation. Now that I’m officially retired from Coven of the Scales I hope to find the time to create a new vegetable garden complete with greenhouse. So that should keep me busy for the summer.
MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?
MD: Nothing for the moment but I dare say I will soon have my lot quaking in their boots when they hear those dreaded words: “I’ve had an idea!”
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Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com