Lady Passion and *Diuvei answer questions asked by Bold Life Magazine writer Tom Kerr in this unabridged interview:
I am excited that your book is still going strong after all these years. Did you expect it to be so popular? What was your original motivation for publishing it?
Thank you so much. Its popularity has exceeded our wildest dreams. Even as we wrote the first edition people were claiming that printed books were obsolete, digital books a superior inevitability. But many treasure printed books’ look, scent, and tactile feel, and want to hold one in their hands while working spells.
We’ve watched fascinated as the book accrued critical acclaim, was printed in multiple hardcover and paperback editions and Nook e-book format, was internationally distributed by Barnes and Noble, and was translated into Italian in Milan. Now even WalMart’s selling it! We’re proof that living according to your beliefs attracts delightful opportunities.
Sterling Publishing in New York City contacted us to write a spellbook that would be a “perennial seller”. They had heard about the public rites we do and our successful spiritual activism in the Bible Belt.
We agreed because too many magic books are phony or shallow, and we knew that we had many true stories to reveal about how spells really work. As experienced Wiccan clergy, we’d long wanted to write the kind of spellbook we wished we’d had access to when we were first drawn to the Mysteries, to what we call “applied spirituality”.
People often look to structured rituals and ceremonies to invite certain outcomes into their lives. But can even our daily mundane routines or social habits yield magical results?
Absolutely! Everything that isn’t done intentionally magically can needlessly sabotage your efforts, so stir clockwise to avert food poisoning, clean dishes better by washing them counter-clockwise, and sweep toward yourself to attract good luck.
Learning how to work with
Nature rather than against it can save your life. For example, an olde Russian spell in our new edition protects travelers in both magical and mundane ways: Right before you leave home, sit silently for up to three minutes near the exit. Although you may feel too rushed to take the time, do it anyway: At the very least, it will prevent you from forgetting things you’ll need, and help avert accidents and setbacks by steeling you against the violent world outside your sanctuary.
As experts on practices that date back centuries, can you clarify a question I have? Is all human activity casting spells of some sort or another but mostly in an unconscious or unintentional way? And manifesting outcomes in our lives whether we like it or not or are mindful about it or not? (Versus being more mindful and deliberately intentional with the use of ritual as those who practice authentic Wiccan craft do?)
Magic is based on the “art of correspondences” — learning to recognize and use the patterns of connections that link everything together: stones and stars, plants and people, etc. It’s the mother of religion and of science, and continues to embrace them both even while narrow-minded fundamentalists and skeptics attack magic as vehemently as rebellious children.
Ritual ceremonies such as weddings, graduations, and funerals are chock-full of little “superstitions” that are actually spells for fertility, success, or transition to the afterlife. Like anything else, they’re much more effective if you know their true purpose and what you’re doing, and put some intention into them.
Omens and portents happen all the time too, but because we’re nowadays supposed to pretend that everything is either meaninglessly random or else a mindless mechanism of our own making, most of us only allow ourselves to recognize them as “foreshadowing” in fictional novels or movies while blithely ignoring them in real life.
Do you happen to know the origins of the popular superstitious rituals of crossing fingers or knocking on wood?
Crossing your fingers can avert the Evil Eye that causes ill luck. But since crossing forks or knives while eating creates discord, the finger-crossing superstition smacks of Christians’ influence based on their cross icon. This probably explains why Witches make a “V” sign instead — to lure luck to us like sweet wine filling a cup.
There are more theories about the origin of “touch wood” than you can shake a stick at. What matters is its magical function: It’s a pragmatic disclaimer to ward off the Fates from punishing over-optimistic hubris, like saying “if the Gods will it”. Whatever its historical origin, the practice acknowledges the innate sacredness of trees.
Pagans are animists: We know that nature is not inanimate “resources”, but lively and holy. Spirits and deities inhabit trees, mountains, rivers, stars, etc., just as souls inhabit bodies. Wiccan priestesses wear necklaces of amber and jet, gems made of ancient trees, and the “World Tree” or “Tree of Life” is a worldwide symbol of the essential nature of our cosmos.
What do you think it will take for Witchcraft to be not longer persecuted and marginalized, but accepted and respected? Is it mostly a religious bias, or just as lack of genuine understanding?
Sometimes persecution of Pagans is based on bigotry; sometimes, willful ignorance. People are caught in the crossfire of a world war between two extreme ideologies — fundamentalist monotheism, which insists its wrathful God is the only truth and anyone who believes otherwise is evil, versus reductionist materialism, which insists that humans are just soulless machines and anyone who thinks otherwise is irrational.
Compassionate, wise folk feel dissatisfied with both and are becoming more open to a polytheistic, animist Witchy worldview that accepts the reality and benevolence of diverse Gods and Goddesses without boxing Them into oppositional monotheistic categories of “good” and “evil”. And it recognizes that the universe is an organism that’s far more vast and paradoxical than simplistic cause-and-effect materialism will ever comprehend.
Witchcraft has always provided people a means to get the fair justice they’re often denied by an arbitrary judicial system or wealthy elite. Overlords always try to dismiss, persecute, and demonize groups renowned for being able to best them.
But tolerance and appreciation of diversity is growing. The past several decades have seen a flood of real information about us in the marketplace, in the media, and online, enabling many to learn that Pagan religions like Wicca are legal and life-affirming — so much so, that now using “evil Witches” as a serious plot device is perceived as bullying and demeaning, and depicting Witches as strong and dignified is increasingly becoming the norm.
Can you share a story about a really strange or humorous request you have received from one of your readers or fans regarding advice on how to cast a particular spell for a particular reason?
Sure! Once a local couple experienced neighbor backlash in opposition to their now-popular business. I encouraged them to make a binding poppet. They later confessed that they’d worried the spell wasn’t working, until they realized that they’d substituted a plastic Barbie doll for the recommended wax doll.
Another time, one of hundreds of Pagan/Wiccan inmates I help nationwide each year had been denied altar accoutrements by a bigoted prison chaplain. The prisoner asked me if he could mix the dust of toilet paper rolls, soap, and paper with water to make papier-mach magical tools and God/dess statues. I was touched by his use of everyday materials behind bars, and assured him that that the Gods would appreciate his creativity.
This was not exactly a request, but it was
strange and humorous!
Anybody who lived in or visited the Asheville area in the summer of 2008 heard about the Witches who were sitting round-the-clock under the magnolia trees in front of City Hall to save them from destruction by a millionaire condo developer: That was us, and the campaign not only succeeded, but fundamentally improved the city’s political landscape.
Afterward, the developer, the late Stewart Coleman, showed us a spell someone had given him to curse us during the height of the controversy: It was a wood box that held a bottle of mysterious dark liquid, a scroll to be read aloud, and a black candle. Stewart swore he’d never actually used it, but the candle had clearly been burned. He donated the spell as an exhibit for Joshua P. Warren’s Asheville Mystery Museum
, where you can see it to this day.
How have the spells in your book evolved over time?
For example, some of the ingredients or items used may no longer be readily available to the average person. Even a city-dweller might be challenged trying to acquire something as basic as alfalfa.
So do you have tips or insights for ways to improvise or otherwise “make-do” when the original spell calls for an item you don’t have around?
Some spells have rightly passed out of favor. For instance, if an olde recipe for strength calls for killing an eagle, these days you’d obviously use a picture of one instead.
Our book devotes a chapter to proving that spell ingredients are everywhere. Many are natural things like you’d find on a spice rack, others are as utilitarian as a spark plug. Magical components can be hand-made; grown from seed or cuttings; harvested, collected, or gifted; bought from markets, health food and arts-and-crafts stores; or home-delivered by ordering them online from an occult supplier.
We maximize readers’ options by providing easy spell substitutions and alternative versions of each recipe, and explaining how they can use common sense and correspondences to deduce apt replacements.
Speaking of evolution, we dropped a spell to prevent your telephone from being tapped from the new edition since the NSA’s eavesdropping technology has made its method obsolete. But I’m sure that a knowledgeable computer geek who read and absorbed the section of our book on magical skills could devise a new spell for that if they wanted.
What’s the ultimate message of your book?
That magic is everywhere around you and within you, no matter who or where you are. The more you learn to recognize, understand, and use it, the more you can improve your life and others’ lives, and make the world a better place.
We’re born with the right and instinct to live magically. Working magic is a proud tradition granted to us by our ancestors whose wisdom is responsible for our very existence. Anyone can use olde ways to succeed, and imbue their life with beauty, confidence, and pleasure.
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