Dancer, artist, author, witch, priestess; with this many titles and roles, it’s clear that Annwyn Avalon is kept busy. Fresh from a workshop at Pantheacon, Annwyn was kind enough to talk to Mabh here at PaganPagesOrg about her new book, Water Witchcraft, and other aspects of her work.
Mabh Savage: How would you describe the concept of water witchcraft to a complete novice?
Annwyn Avalon: Water Witchcraft, simply put, is Witchcraft that uses water as the main modality for their magic and/or they may use water related items, work with water spirits and deities and perform many of their spells or rituals with, on, or near water. A Sea Witch is a very popular example, but it goes beyond just the ocean. It is a draw to the natural watery world, the subaqueous realms and all the water on the surface of the planet. Many of us have our own favourite body of water and they range from small springs and creeks to lakes, rivers and oceans. A Water Witch will often choose to cleanse with water rather than smoke, and may choose a cauldron, cup or bowl over a candle or ritual knife. They may work with gem elixirs, teas, sacred baths and many, many other types of watery magic!
MS: What first inspired you to write the book, Water Witchcraft?
AA: This is a long and complicated answer so I will try to keep it short. It was a combination of being drawn to the water, loving water, an obsession with folklore surrounding water and the major lack of information there is out there. There are so very few books that focus on Water Magic and some of them are very well done while others feel very rushed, but there remains only a small number of books on the subject. They also seemed to only focus on one body of water, the ocean or sacred wells. Water is so diverse and there are so many types that I wanted to put something together that would not only cover all types of water, but that was full of information that would be useful to everyone. This actually ended up starting as a 9-month course on water magic and by the time the book was in full swing it was being narrowed down to focus specifically on Brythonic magic.
MS: And what initially drew you to the magic of water and watery beings?
AA: I have always been a very watery person. I was born under Cancer with a Pisces moon, I grew up in Florida and spent many days in the fresh water springs, swamps and along the sea shore. Water has always been a strong presence in my life. Later, I was intensely drawn to Pre-Raphaelite paintings and literature many of which feature watery women and faery women. I realized later that it was the strong draw to the water, the water nymphs, mermaids and other watery creatures that was part of the draw. The other was the feminine form, a call to remember the Goddess.
MS: Is there a water spirit, being or deity you feel closest to?
AA: Yes, I think the most prominent spirit in my life at the moment is Sulis, the Thermal Springs Solar Goddess whose temple is found in Bath, UK. However, I work with other Goddesses and Watery Faery Women such as the Gwragedd Annwn, Morganna, Melsine, and Aphrodite. I also honor the masculine in the forms often found near sacred springs such as Belenos, and Gwyn ap Nudd, who is honoured at the White Spring in Glastonbury. Sulis and the Gwragedd Annwn have been with me since I was a child. I have always been deeply connected with Springs and the spirits that dwell within.
MS: What are the benefits of deepening our connection to water?
AA: Right now, our waters are in so much danger. Each day it is polluted and contaminated, and more atrocities are done by oil companies, over-farming, and the dolphin slaughter. When we deepen our connection, we wake up to these horrible things that are happening, and we are called to take action; to help form a better, cleaner, more awake world that understands how precious these natural wonders are. We are 70% water, which means that we must protect the water of this planet or we ourselves will become endangered and poisoned, much of which we are already beginning to see. Beyond that, water is the element of emotion and it urges us to connect deeply with our emotions and often works as a mirror showing us how to refine and conquer our shadow. It also lends wisdom, and the power of immense change.
MS: Who is the book aimed at? Who will get the most out of it?
AA: There are many people that are watery natured, drawn to the water or are called by water spirits, mer-folk and deity to connect with the water. This book is for them, but also any witch or magical practitioner that may wish to connect with water, wish to use water in their practice or has a mission to protect and get closer to the natural world. If your practice involves activism, and a deep connection to the Genius Loci, then there will be much value in this book for you!
MS: You do several courses as well as mentoring. What’s your favourite course that you teach and why?
AA: I offer several classes on my Water Witchcraft website, as well as through my tradition Triskele Rose and I am currently working on 2 more that will release in 2019-2020 on the Water Witchcraft website. However, if I had to choose a favourite it would be the 9-month Water Magic course. I think this course offers a good introduction to my own personal practice and really offers so much to the student that everyone regardless of path, location or ability gets a really good heaping handful of information. Everyone walks away from the course with so much knowledge and experience; it really bursts my heart open to see people work so hard and become so passionate about water and the magical practices that surround it.
MS: When did you discover that you had a passion for teaching? How did this come about?
AA: I think I have always been a natural teacher. As a teen, I was always teaching younger children. I spent several years in my late teens and early twenties learning to belly dance, and after I became proficient I had an opportunity to start teaching it to others. This is where I truly began to blossom as being able to provide a space for my students to explore and learn was so fulfilling for me. In my own experience I have learned that when I teach something, I become so familiar with it that while I significantly deepen my own connection with the material. I have also discovered that working with students one on one provides me with options and experiences from other perspectives that I learn to deepen my own knowledge, experience and mental reach on the subject. Not only that, not everything works for everyone and so I am able to work with students to adapt things to help make it work for them and future students. There is so much joy in this for me, making these practices accessible to those that may have never had the experiences before, watching the insecure witchling blossom into a powerful, confident witch; there is nothing better than that!
MS: You’re also an oracle- tell us a little bit about what this means.
AA: I was given my first tarot deck when I was 19, it didn’t take me long to learn how to read them and to find out I was quite good at it. Over the years I practiced and read for friends, then I began to branch out and read for everyone I could. While living in Arizona, I worked for a party planner and was able to do large gigs for corporate events. They were quite fun actually and I read for many, many people in one night. I don’t do this anymore, but I still love to read. Currently I run a monthly special, and have several types of readings available on my website. I also do Live Stream Water Witch Wednesday which happens every Wednesday 11:00 am PST on Instagram Live (@annwynavalon). I am on for about an hour, we talk about Water Magic, have Q and A time and then I take small prayer/spell requests as well as pull oracle or tarot cards to deliver messages from the water spirits to those that tune in and ask. I really enjoy this because I get to interact with many people and offer free readings for those that usually couldn’t afford to have a private appointment or take classes. While my time is important to me, I really value getting the messages that the water spirits want out into the world for those that need it regardless of transaction.
MS: Where is your most sacred place, or the place that means the most to you in terms of your magic?
AA: This is hard. If I am speaking locally then it would be the little space in my yard that I have set aside for a water temple. I am lucky enough to have a creek that runs through my property and there is a little waterfall, hawthorn and hazel trees, and a little secluded place where I have my outdoor altar. However, if you are asking about worldwide then it would be Scotland or England especially around Glastonbury, Cornwall, and Sulis’s temple at Bath as they have all had profound impacts on me and where I feel most connected to the land, spirits and the cultural practices. England has always held a piece of my heart and soul and I try to make it back as much as I can to visit.
MS: You’re also an accomplished artist. What is your favourite piece that you’ve created to date?
AA: Oh, this is hard because I really like all the art I release to the world! However, there are two paintings, one of my best friends and one of Sulis that I made for her, she owns both the original pieces, but they are my favourite because they were done with love and passion. Of the paintings I still have in my inventory I recently did a painting of Thalassa that I really like as well as a painting of a Water Priestess that I believe was channelled from an ancient past life. While it is not the most technically correct piece, there is something about it that makes my heart sing.
MS: And what’s your favourite piece of art by another artist, and why?
AA: The Lady of Shalott by J.W. Waterhouse remains by far my favourite painting of all time. Though there are many more by him and other Pre-Raphaelites that also capture my heart. The Lady of Shalott has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a very young girl, through the various paintings by Waterhouse and others to the poem by Tennyson as well as sung by Loreena McKennitt. La Bell de Sans Merci is a close second as well, in both painting by Waterhouse and poem by Keats.
MS: Do you have a favourite season or festival?
AA: Yes! The fall by far is my favourite, especially that period right between Samhain and Yule when it’s getting darker and colder. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spring as well, but if I had to pick between the two, the cooler darker days, the fall leaves and all the festivals and celebrations really make me happy, especially after all the heat of the summer. This dark mysterious time is most welcome. I am obsessed with flowers though and so spring time comes in so very, very close; it is hard to choose!
MS: How was Pantheacon this year? What did you enjoy most about it?
AA: Pantheacon this year was great! I love this event and look forward to it each year. I think my favourite part was reading in the Weiser Suite. It was a bit surreal to be there next to people whose work I have admired for such a long time. I was also blessed to have presented several times this year and was able to share information I am very passionate about as well as promote the call to action to pay attention and to sacredly attend our waters. I am looking forward to next year!
MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2019?
AA: There are several things I am looking forward to in 2019. I will be lecturing at Mystic South followed by a trip back to North Carolina to dance, teach and make magic! I am also working on a few secret watery projects that I am really looking forward to spending in creation mode getting them ready for release. I also find myself in a place of having more time on my hands and so I am looking forward to having time to spend painting and playing in my garden.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.