1. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I am a professional editor and writer. I have a master’s degree in education and have been a teacher, both professionally and privately, for more than two decades. A practicing Wiccan since her teens, I first started teaching Wicca—very, very badly and long before I was ready—in college. I wrote Teaching Wicca and Paganism in the hope that it would help other teachers get a better start than I did. I have also taught classes in writing, editing, gardening, cooking, crafts, and astrology. My first book was Wicca for Beginners.
2. When did you first discover your interest in magick & witchcraft and how/when did you decide to start sharing your knowledge through writing?
I’m not sure when I first discovered it. I think it has always been with me. I loved the natural world as a child and was fascinated by anything supernatural. My grandmother was an astrologer, and she used to tell me stories about the fairies that she said lived in her garden, so I suppose you could say I was encouraged early on. I decided to start writing about it when I was working for a Pagan newspaper. Not long afterward, my publisher approached me about writing a beginner book that became Wicca for Beginners, and I followed up with Teaching Wicca and Paganism a few years after that.
3. How exactly would you define magick?
Working with the rhythms of nature to affect change.
4. What do you hope that readers take way with them after reading your books?
That Wicca is a path of empowerment as well as communion with nature and the divine.
5. I find it interesting to know what environment authors find most productive… Do you use a pen and paper or laptop? Quiet room at home or bustling café? Basically, what gets your creative juices flowing?
Good question. I write the book mostly in my head—deciding how I’ll organize it and how I’ll say what—before I ever start typing. Then I sit down with my laptop in my office, lock the cats out, and type like a madwoman. It’s kind of like downloading my brain. It looks like I write quickly because people only see the typing part, not the thinking part. I also really need music to write, and have found that Mozart is great for writers’ block, at least for me. Otherwise I usually listen to blues.
6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
A guy who writes an atheist blog tore Wicca for Beginners apart because it didn’t meet his standards of logic. You can’t win when you’re playing by somebody else’s rules, so I didn’t respond. I think the best compliments have been from folks who read the books and say they’ve helped them. The starred review in Publisher’s Weekly for Wicca for Beginners made me pretty happy too! I worked in publishing for a long time, so for me that was the gold standard, even if the comments from readers were ultimately more personal and important to me.
7. What book is currently on your nightstand? And who are some of your favorite authors?
Sex at Dawn is on my nightstand. Fascinating stuff. Too many favorite authors to name, but here are a few: China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, David Sedaris, Laurie Notaro, Dorothy Parker, Tolkein, J.K. Rowling, Oscar Wilde, Jeanette Winterson, Barbara Hambly, Jim Butcher, Poe, the Beat poets, Shakespeare.
8. Now to get more specific: What are some of your favorite Witchy reads?
I love T. Thorn Coyle’s books. They’re very positive, thoughtful, and empowering. I think it’s good to read Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today and Meaning of Witchcraft if you’re interested in Wicca, if only for the “historical” perspective. I also like Vivienne Crowley, Ronald Hutton, and Philip Heselton.
9. Do you have any favorite Witchy Movies?
Interesting that you ask…I’m writing a book about this! I love Bell, Book, and Candle, although I find the ending regrettable. What self-respecting Witch would give up her magic, even for Jimmy Stewart? Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester, and Jack Lemmon are hilarious in it though. I like the Roman Polanski version of Macbeth, although it’s quite gory. The Wicker Man is an absolute personal favorite—and I mean the original from the ‘70s, not the Nicolas Cage/Neil LaButte atrocity. I love I Walked with a Zombie, a Val Lewton retelling of Jane Eyre with a twist of Voodoo. One of my favorite movies of all time is Like Water for Chocolate, which is magical realism as opposed to witchcraft, but wonderful just the same. And although it’s kind of a cliché, I have to mention the Wizard of Oz. It is a witchy film not because there are witches in it, but because Dorothy undertakes a shamanic journey. (When Glinda asks Dorothy if she’s a good witch or a bad witch, she’s right on track—Dorothy is the most powerful Witch in the movie.)
10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Well, as you might guess, I love movies. I like to get outside, hang out with my friends and my beloved parrot, and do tai chi and art.
|Wicca for Beginners
Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice
|Pub Date:||April 2006|
Embracing both the spiritual and the practical, Wicca for Beginners is a primer on the philosophies, culture, and beliefs behind the religion, without losing the mystery that draws many students to want to learn. Detailing practices such as grounding, raising energy, visualization, and meditation, this book offers exercises for core techniques before launching into more complicated rituals and spellwork.
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