The Author's Corner
Out of the Broom Closet: 50 True Stories of Witches Who Found and Embraced the Craft
The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for
The Way of the Green Witch
Solitary Wicca for Life:
Power Spellcraft for Life
Solitary Wicca For Life:
TWPT: I was just reading through your bio on your website and it talked about a creative writing project that you were working on a decade ago that led you to discover alternative spiritual paths. Tell me about the theme of this writing project and what it was about the research that you did that was so compelling to you that led you further in?
AMH: I was researching the background of a character for a
cooperative oral storytelling project with friends. In this case, the occult
and the supernatural figured largely in the plot proposed by the person who
initiated the project. Once Iíd decided that my character was going to be a
witch, I went out to do my research in order to write a full profile on her in
order to help me get a handle on who she was, and develop her fully. For any
creative writing project I like to get lots of material down in black and white
to help me get to know my characters really well: I write up background, life
story to date, life philosophy, biography, and so forth. Because the story was
set in the modern everyday world, I looked into modern witchcraft.
On my first visit to the local occult bookstore I stayed for
over three hours exploring what was on the shelves. I chose three books: Lid Off the Cauldron by Patricia
Crowther, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary
Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, and Everyday
Magic by Dorothy Morrison. Looking back, I find it interesting that I chose
three books that each address a very different aspect of neo-Paganism: Crowther
focuses on the
When I become interested in something, I read as much as I
can about it. I love to research! I went back to that occult bookstore and kept
buying books, this time for myself. The cooperative storytelling project went
on for about a year, four or five of us meeting once or twice a month, and
while my original research had allowed me to create a believable character, it
wasnít long before my continuing research showed me just how much deeper real
witchcraft was. It is a way of life; it is a spiritual path.
TWPT: Did you have any
predominant spiritual or religious views that had to be rethought as a
consequence of what you found during your research and if so how difficult was
it to begin to change those ideas and bring them into line with these newfound
AMH: Not really. I was raised Anglican, but not in a strict sort
of way. My parents taught me to respect and honour the people around me, as
well as nature. I was a church goer until my and active in the church community
for years until in my late teens I was pressed to donate even more of my time
and energy. Iím a shy person, and trust has always been a big issue with me. In
this case what I finally realised was happening was that the community was
drawing an incredible amount of energy from me, but I wasnít receiving an equal
amount of support and nourishment in return, on either a personal level or a
spiritual level. In fact, church had become simply a secular and mechanical
entity that ate up time: flower guild, altar guild, nursery duty, youth groupÖ and
what had happened was that there no longer existed a spiritual element to any
of these things. I understand that every institution needs to be run by people,
but I felt that I was valued only for my time and skills in these areas, not as
a child of God with a soul and spirit.
I never officially left Christianity; I just did what so many volunteers do when they burn out. I faded from the scene. I never rejected God, either. I still talked to the Divine, and felt joy when the spirit of the universe moved in such a way as to touch my life and remind me that moments of beauty and happiness are gifts from the Divine Spirit. Neo-Paganism was more of an ďAhĒ moment for me; it gave a name to many of the beliefs I already held, such as animism, immanent Deity, and pantheism. Iíd say my spirituality evolved over time, not that it changed as a result of any one event.
TWPT: Once you had worked
through many of the issues brought up as a result of a change in spiritual
paths did you have anything in mind as to how you should go about putting this
new path into motion in your life and what were some of those beginning steps
in your case?
AMH: As I wasnít an active adherent to an organized faith at the
time, there really werenít many issues to work through; it was really a very
smooth transition. It didnít entail a huge deliberate adjustment at all. Neo-Paganism
very easily and gently just began to entwine through my life. Entwine is a good
verb, actually, because it moved like roots and shoots and tendrils. It really
wasnít much of a stretch when I discovered neo-Paganism; in fact, once I
understood what neo-Paganism was, the rest of my life filled out and felt much
What did present a challenge was the actual physical
performance of ritual. I adore doing ritual now, but after the first couple of
months of reading everything I could get my hands on and internalizing it, I
understood that in order to actually practice
this spirituality meant that I had to physically do something. Looking at a calendar and knowing that itís a Sabbat
or a moment in a particular moon phase is one thing. And certainly, the root of
any ritual you do lies in your thoughts and emotions. But in order to avoid the
ďarmchair WiccanĒ syndrome, you have to get your nose out of a book and
actually stand up and do something. One of the aspects of Wicca that Iím
particularly thankful for is the focus on the experiential acquisition of
knowledge. You can read and talk until the cows come home, but if you never try
to connect personally with whatís out there Ė God, Goddess, the energy flowing
through the world Ė the base and heart of your spiritual practice is going to
Knowing this, it took me a good long while before I could
get over the odd stage fright that held me back. Intellectually I knew that neo-Paganism
was my thing. On paper, it answered so many of my needs. The idea of actually
casting a circle and meeting my gods spirit to spirit scared the heck out of
me, though. Was I ready for that sort of thing? It was a huge commitment, and
was very important to me, so I thought about it for a long time.
It took me months from the time I began reading to the moment when I finally did my first ritual at Imbolc. And I know that I must have waited for the right time, because it was a positive experience. I was filled with such a sense of joy and gladness and ďthis is rightĒ. It was quiet, but wonderful.
TWPT: Tell me about
writing in your life. Did you always want to be a writer and when was it that
you remember starting to write material on a regular basis?
AMH: Well, my high school graduate blurb in my yearbook says that
my ideal future career was a novelist! Actually, it goes a lot further back
than that. I was writing stories at the beginning of grade school. I was an
early reader, and something about the written word has always fascinated me. And
Iíve always had a facility with words, so the fact that itís not hard for me to
write helps a lot as well. I wrote my first official novella at the age of
twelve. I wrote cooperative stories throughout high school with a group of
friends, as well as more novels that helped me develop as a writer.
Iíve always been a creative writer first and foremost, so the fact that my third non-fiction book is about to be published in spring 2006 amuses me as well as being somewhat ironic. I still write fiction, too. And before I was a writer, I was a reader. I fully believe that the amount of writing Iíve been exposed to since birth has helped confirm me as an author.
TWPT: How is it
that your educational background prepared you to be able to open up to what you
found along your current path? Do you think that those who are predisposed to
seeking knowledge through universities are just as open to alternative
spiritual paths regardless of whether they represent a majority view or not?
AMH: Wow, what an interesting question.
First of all, I donít think someoneís level of education
limits their spiritual potential at all, no matter what religious path they
choose to follow. The neo-Pagans I know are a well-educated lot, but that may be
a reflection of my circle of friends being both neo-Pagan and
university-educated. I do believe that the more you learn, the more open-minded
you have to become in order to absorb and hold various (and sometimes less-popular
or minority) points of view.
That being said, the ten years I spent in university doing literature analysis and criticism taught me an awful lot about different points of view, and I can appreciate them without agreeing with them. I think I would have been just as open to neo-Paganism even if I hadnít already completed a university degree, simply because of the kind of person I am and because the time was right. I do know that my academic background provides me with the ability to start reading something and know almost right away if itís crap or not! It also gives me the ability to read weaker stuff and pull out the bits of valuable information. And I certainly do my part to search out more academic and fact-based books for local neo-Pagans to read and include in their material for study. Thatís one of the aspects of being a teacher that I love: introducing students to new authors, new ideas, and material that they can really use as a good solid base for further research as their spirituality develops.
TWPT: How is it that you
came to be involved in the
AMH: Through a small series of coincidences I ended up working at
the occult bookstore through which Iíd made my original discovery of neo-Paganism.
For the shopís tenth anniversary, we brought in a series of authors for
lectures, workshops, and signings. Silver RavenWolf was one of those authors, and
I had the opportunity to sit down and have dinner with her. I discovered that
her personal views on spirituality and occult practice were much more complex
and challenging than her new generation witchcraft series of books presented
for the general public, and after a few months of thinking and meditating, I
accepted her offer to join the Black Forest Clan to explore the body of
knowledge and practice they offered.
I and four others ended up training long-distance, with one
or two long visits to
TWPT: Ultimately you
became a 3rd degree Wiccan High Priestess within this group. What
was it that this initiation brought to your spiritual path and how did this fit
in with your solitary practice?
AMH: My third degree initiation served two purposes. First, because
itís a tradition initiation, itís awoken and solidified certain
tradition-specific things inside me. Being oathbound I canít go into detail, of
course, but ultimately while the experience of the initiation itself was
incredible and opened my eyes to a few different things, it hasnít impacted my existing
spirituality in any sort of headline-making way that I can see right now. I
think itís going to take a few more years before Iím in a position to look back
and focus on the tiny ripples the elevation made throughout my life, both
spiritual and mundane, and what sort of changes those ripples made.
Second, the third degree elevation introduced me to a new
experience: teaching others privately within a coven environment. In the new
coven my husband and I formed for this purpose, we discovered that itís a lot
more difficult to train someone personally than to teach a course once a week
through a structured program where you know whatís coming next. Itís also hard
when someone comes to you for answers, and all you can do is facilitate their
own search for the answer thatís correct for them. Thatís another aspect of
what my third degree elevation is teaching me: when to be hands-on, and when to
be hands-off. I have a tendency to encourage everyone to find their own truth,
but at times thatís not the type of help people approach me for.
Everyone gets something different from an initiation or elevation, and to be honest, my third degree elevation is teaching me more about administration, training others, community, and handling interpersonal issues as regarding spirituality and religion. And that affects my whole life, not just my work within my tradition.
TWPT: Tell me about your
first book Power Spellcraft for Life. When and why did you decide to write the
book and how was it that you ended up at Provenance Press?
AMH: I was working with Provenance Press as a consultant when the
editor suggested that I write one of the books in the For Life series. She
proposed the spellcraft title, and as Iíd been teaching a two-part course in
spellcraft for a while and had material that I could use as a basis for the
book, I agreed. It was the first book I wrote for publication, and it taught me
a lot of important things about the process.
So I didnít set out to write a book on spellcraft. A book
for people whoíd worked through a couple of Wicca 101 books and who needed
something intermediate to expand the basics had always been the book I thought
needed to be written. (I never thought Iíd actually do it, though, and I donít
flatter myself that Iíve written the be-all-end-all of intermediate Wicca books
in Solitary Wicca for Life, but when
the publisher asked if I could do it in an emergency, I did.) So Power Spellcraft for Life was one of
those mysterious domino-like effects in a string of pleasant coincidences. Iím
very pleased with the book, though. It was certainly a different experience
than writing the Wicca book. I found the spellcraft book easier to write
because it was about mechanics, whereas the Wicca book is about spirituality.
Itís a lot easier to talk about nuts and bolts than about an
individual-specific eclectic mystery religion!
TWPT: One of my first
questions about your new book, Solitary Wicca for Life,
AMH: Absolutely, and I cannot stress this enough. Different
personalities require different structures within which to work, and as a
result a practitioner may gain more from one or the other based on their
temperament, but you canít point to one environment and say, ďThis is the best
way for everyone to practice.Ē
The experience will be different, not better or worse. Itís
like comparing apples and pears. You may have a preference, but there isnít
more intrinsic value in one over the other. There are certain formal traditions
where you have to operate within a coven environment in order to receive the
information and knowledge being communicated to you, of course, but thatís not generally
true of eclectic Wicca, and obviously not of solitary eclectic Wicca!
TWPT: Your book jacket
says that you spent 5 years of your 10 on this path as a solitary practitioner.
Does that mean you've spent some of your time in a coven environment? For
you personally what did coven life/practice offer you that solitary practice
AMH: Working within a coven offered me reinforcement, community,
feedback, and the ability to learn how to work with others. Like most solitary
practitioners, I doubted my own knowledge base and intuition. Once Iíd taken
the step to go out and take a public class, I realized that I was more than
fine on both those counts. I would have been content to going back to being
exclusively solitary, but I was coaxed into teaching what I knew, and that was
the end of that! It was through teaching, working in the local occult
bookstore, and doing Pagan community
work that I met the people who eventually formed the first coven I worked with.
I began as a solitary, but I certainly didnít stop working
on my own once I began working in a coven. In practicing alone I can work with
concepts that I want to explore, which the group as a whole may not be
interested in doing. For me, the two environments supplement one another.
Some people have told me that I canít be both a covener and
a solitary, and Iíve never understood the either-or mentality. If you believe
that you can only practice in a circle environment with others, then I think youíre
missing one of the points of Wicca, which is to make it a way of life. In my coven,
I work with others within the structure of a tradition; alone, I work in a much
more free-form fashion, but I still work within the Wiccan configuration. I
celebrate sabbats and moons both alone and with my group. I find I get
different things out of each method. In the end, it all comes down to you and
the gods, after all.
TWPT: What were some of
the goals that you wanted to accomplish with this book
AMH: The market is absolutely flooded with 101 books, and thereís
a dearth of 200-level texts. Thereís a reason for this: itís very easy to
address the basics for someone whoís starting from scratch, but in a personal
experiential mystery religion like Wicca, itís hard to know what different people
will require as the next step to further clarify what theyíve encountered in
introductory books. The biggest problem with a concept like ďintermediateĒ is
that everyone defines it differently, based on their own needs or experience. I
thought about the questions lots of people have asked me over the years after
theyíve worked through a few 101 books on their own, the common obstacles that people
encounter, and went from there. I really didnít want to repeat the very basics
that are easily found in other books, so apart from doing a review of what
Wicca is, and a necessary brief restatement of the basics in a couple of places
before further developing the topic, I looked at things not usually addressed:
how to write your own invocations, how to break down a published ritual into
different sections, how to aspect, how to enrich ritual, and so forth.
In addition, I wanted to create a book that explored the
ďwhyĒ we do certain things. So often a 101 book tells the reader ďwe do this
step in ritualĒ but rarely does it add the second half of the thought, ďbecause
it serves this purposeĒ. I also wanted
to suggest a couple of techniques or slightly different methods that people may
not have come up with on their own. A solitary path is about developing what
works best for you, and a lot of people feel awkward about coming up with their
own versions of different things. A solitary practitioner often needs the
encouragement to develop their own liturgy, their own style. I wanted to
encourage them to try a couple of techniques that they may not have felt they
could do, to get them to write their own invocations instead of using ones
found online or in books, to get them to really feel out their position in
relation to their gods. And in a sense, a lot of that has grown out of the
classes I teach. Sure, there are times when I lecture, but more often than not
Iíll give a bit of information and then encourage those present to get going on
a project or assignment that explores how they feel or actively puts into
practice a theoretical technique theyíve been given. We learn by doing in Wicca,
and thatís why throughout the book I suggest trying this, trying that. Itís about practical spirituality.
TWPT: Are there other
books out there that take this approach to practicing the Wiccan path as a
solitary? How is your approach to this topic unique when compared to others who
have written about this subject matter?
AMH: If you practice as a solitary, your approach to Wicca is going
to be unique as a result, because you donít have to subscribe to someone elseís
details beyond the basic Wiccan structure. Youíre creating your own path within
the larger Wiccan borders. So in a way, every
authorís approach is unique, as is every readerís. This is one of the reasons
why itís interesting to read various 101 texts: you can see how each author
takes a different view of a certain aspect of practice.
But in general, I think the focus of most books is on the
Wicca part as opposed to the solitary part. It can be frustrating to pick up a
book as a solo Wiccan and come up against rituals written for more than one person.
My solution for that has always been to simplify the ritual so that you can do
it alone (providing you donít lose the thrust of the ritual, that is), but
then, Iím a big fan of kitbashing, and I have no reluctance in taking a bunch
of speaking parts myself! Solitary eclectic Wiccans get so much of their source
material from books that I wanted there to be a book that said, ďItís not all
about the books, itís about you.Ē Iíve encountered people who say ďI canít do
thatĒ when they read a ritual or a technique in a book, for whatever reason:
too many people, too complex, too challenging. If you really think you canít,
then youíre right Ė you canít. But what
if? What if you tried? Or what if you wrote something else that you could do? Eclectic Wiccaís not about the
rituals in books, itís about you and your relationship with the gods as you practice
the Wiccan way. Discovering what your own personal way is can be so wonderful.
And that discovery never ends, because we grow and change and our practice must
evolve with us to continue meeting our needs.
TWPT: Tell me about how
Solitary Wicca for Life is laid out and was there a reason for covering
certain ideas in a certain order?
AMH: A lot of it was intuitive. It just made sense to begin with
a review of what Wicca is, where it came from, and what the underlying
philosophies are. From there the next step was sacred space, working with
circles, then energy work that goes on inside a circle. Then I turned to the
various parts of a basic Wiccan ritual, writing ritual, working with deity, and
so forth. I like to go from the general subject down to the more specific
topics within that subject area, and in as linear a fashion as possible.
When I write a book the chapter order that gets published is
never what Iíd originally planned, though; things get moved around as I write
in order to present the smoothest and most logical flow. My outlines and
proposals usually have fewer chapters, too. Some chapters tend to split early
on into two or three very distinctly different ideas as I begin to write them,
which have to be separated in order to address them correctly. In fact, most of
the chapters in this book could be books themselves!
TWPT: Is your book aimed
at a certain skill level for the reader to be able to
AMH: The book is written with certain assumptions in mind, namely
that youíve at least read a couple of beginner texts and tried your hand at
some rituals. While I do mention basics in passing to make sure every readerís
on the same page before we go on to focus on something specific, I donít belabour
Actually, Iím regularly surprised at how many people have
practiced for years but have never truly grounded, or attempted to connect
directly to the Divine by aspecting in ritual, or have written an original
ritual. To seasoned practitioners these things may seem basic, but thereís a
lot of people out there who havenít gone beyond a very basic circle-cast and seasonal
observation for various reasons. I wrote Solitary
Wicca for Life (and Power Spellcraft
for Life too) for those people who have gone through the 101 books, and
feel that they need something to help them get a handle on how to truly make their
solitary practice their own.
TWPT: When you practice as a solitary you have to depend on yourself to figure things out. When someone runs up against a wall and has questions they can't find an answer to what advice do you have for them?
AMH: Meditate; perform divination; ask the Divine. Read, read,
read about whatever youíre blocked on! And in the end, trust your gut and create
your own answer based on your meditation and your research. Developing your own
solution is how new techniques are forged and new discoveries are made.
Trusting yourself is a huge thing as a solitary. We worry
about doing things incorrectly, offending the gods, hurting ourselves somehow.
Weíre stronger than we think, and we know more than we think we do. Iím not
advocating slapdash ritual or energy work Ė far from it! Ė but when you canít
find an answer to something, necessity requires your creativity to rise to the
TWPT: Does the information contained in Solitary Wicca for Life have any particular leanings as far as traditions goes? Or is it more neutral so that it would blend with any person's path that picks up your book?
AMH: I purposely wrote a book based in eclectic Wicca because
thatís what most solitaries practice. If someone is studying within an
established tradition, then theyíll have material to work with already, and
likely some sort of mentor with whom they can communicate. Which is not to say
this book canít offer another way of looking at an element of their formal and
tradition-specific practice; I hope it does. Iím a fierce advocate of keeping
an open mind and learning whatever you can from wherever and whoever you can,
and not making blanket judgments based on what you believe or how you practice
personally. If you ignore material for whatever reason, then youíre cutting
yourself off from any potential idea you may discover as a result of interacting
with that material. Thereís always something of value that can be taken away
with you, even if itís just a glimmer of a new idea formed in response to disagreeing
with the material.
What it comes down to is that by writing my books, I want to make people think about what theyíre doing and how they approach it instead of doing it ďjust becauseĒ. Iím not interested in telling people what to do; Iím interested in helping them see what theyíre already doing in a different light. And if even only a handful of people read one of my books and discover something new, or think about a single aspect of their practice in a slightly another light to get a different view of it, then Iíve accomplished something.
TWPT: Having spent time in both the coven environment and as a solitary practitioner, what advice would you give to a person who is looking to become involved with a coven, and secondly, what advice would you give to a person who wants to reinvigorate their practice on a solitary path?
AMH: Iím a believer in the whole ďthe opportunity arises when you
are readyĒ phenomenon.
AMH: Iím a believer in the whole ďthe opportunity arises when you are readyĒ phenomenon.
If youíre looking to work within a coven, thereís the whole
mess of locating an open group and so forth, or of starting one yourself with
people you know; both avenues have their difficulties. But when joining a
working group, an important thing to focus on is the group dynamic, both on an
interpersonal level and the energy dynamic. Does it feel comfortable? Is it
nourishing? Is it supportive while being challenging, so that you can grow?
Trust your instincts in the initial evaluation of the group; if anything at all
gives you pause, think long and hard about working with them. The experience of
working with a group isnít worth going against your instinct. In the end, if
youíre willing to give it a go, working in a group is a trial and error sort of
thing. Iíve had the honour of working with individuals who are marvelous
people, and with whom I work well on a one-on-one basis, but who just didnít
fit into the energy of the working group as a whole. And you just donít know
until you try.
If youíre a solitary looking to revitalize your practice, my
suggestions are simple. My first is to take a class of some sort. It doesnít
have to be on your actual path; in fact, those can be hard to find. Instead,
take a class on mythology, literature, or a religion of a culture that
interests you. Let it raise associations in your mind about your own spiritual
path. My second suggestion is to go back to the basics. What was the first
thing you did as a Wiccan or Neo-pagan? Go back and do it again. Take note of
how you feel, what you do differently. Hopefully you took notes or journaled
your experience the first time around, so compare and contrast. Continue
retracing your first steps. Meditate on how your views and approaches have changed
since then. And third, take a good long look at yourself and your path, and
honestly re-evaluate your needs and what your path provides for you. We donít
do this often enough, and as a result we often become mired in the same old
same old. We change, after all; our practice should evolve with us. Think about
what drew you to the system and path originally, and how you see the path now.
Sometimes we forget about the simple heart and soul of our spirituality.
TWPT: Readers tend to learn something new when they pick up a book with an open mind but did you as an author learn during the writing of Solitary Wicca for Life?
AMH: Thereís nothing like writing something thatís going to be published to really force you to define what you believe in. I deliberately donít try to push my own beliefs on others, but in order to talk about Wicca in any way you have to think through how you see the path, and then try to put it into words. One of the things I strive to do is to get people to readdress their foundations instead of charging onward, so in essence this was a re-evaluation of how I perceive the foundations of my own practice.
TWPT: Tell me about your involvement with Crescent Moon Spiritual Learning Centre. What is it that you are hoping to achieve with this Centre and how successful have you been so far?
AMH:CMS was founded by my colleague Scarlet Cougar, and itís her baby. Her ultimate goal is to get it to the level of a Pagan collegium, but for now itís a structured four-level program studying various aspects of religion and spirituality such as mythology, cultural methods of worship and magic, crafts, leadership, and all sorts of things, some of which are obviously connected with the field of alternative spirituality, some of which arenít obvious but that are important supporting material nonetheless. Itís full of practice and theory, and it really turns out some solid, grounded, well-educated individuals who then go on to do wonderful things in our local Pagan community. Scarlet invited me to be a core teacher in 2000, and since then Iíve managed to teach every level at some point (most of them concurrently, at one point!) as well as functioning as the assistant co-ordinator for a while. I had to take a sabbatical last spring because of writing both Solitary Wicca for Life and The Way of the Green Witch, and then because of the baby, but Iím back again as a teacher for the two upper levels. (More information on the CMSLC can be found at http://www.mtl-magicalcircle.ca/crescentmoon/index.html .)
TWPT: As a resident of
AMH: There are some important things that have been happening in
the past five or so years here in
Thereís currently a new Canadian pagan census being done by
Dr. SŪ‚n Reid of the
New age shops have opened up all over Canada over the past
five or so years, something I saw happen while working in the local
metaphysical shop that supplied wholesale products across North America.
Thereís obviously the need for these shops, so someone moves to fill that need.
If the need is there, then the Neo-pagan movement is alive and well, and
tolerated well enough in the Canadian public opinion for these shops to open
and, in the majority of cases, thrive.
TWPT: Earlier we were talking about your new book Solitary Wicca for Life but you are about to have an even newer book in a few months. Would you care to share with our readers what they will find in The Way of the Green Witch?
AMH: In The Way of the Green Witch book I approached the whole
nature-honouring concept from the point of view of the people over the years
who have asked me for techniques they can use to connect with the earth when
they live in a city. Neopagan books do have a tendency to rhapsodize about
communing with nature, and the reality of it is that most people live in urban
areas these days, and donít necessarily have obvious places to go for that sort
of communion. Being a green witch in the contemporary urban world is certainly
a part of it. Itís also about how to walk a nature-honoring path outside the
standard Wiccan structure. A lot of people default to Wicca instead of resting
comfortably in the general Pagan/nature spirituality camp, and thatís not
AMH: In The Way of the Green Witch book I approached the whole nature-honouring concept from the point of view of the people over the years who have asked me for techniques they can use to connect with the earth when they live in a city. Neopagan books do have a tendency to rhapsodize about communing with nature, and the reality of it is that most people live in urban areas these days, and donít necessarily have obvious places to go for that sort of communion. Being a green witch in the contemporary urban world is certainly a part of it. Itís also about how to walk a nature-honoring path outside the standard Wiccan structure. A lot of people default to Wicca instead of resting comfortably in the general Pagan/nature spirituality camp, and thatís not necessary.
TWPT: Will you be taking a similar track in directing The Way
of the Green Witch not at the 101's but at a little more advanced
TWPT: Will you be taking a similar track in directing The Way
of the Green Witch not at the 101's but at a little more advanced
AMH: The Way of the Green Witch is an overall look at the practice, not aimed at any one level.
TWPT: You've written several books over the past few years. Are
there any lessons that you have learned that you'd like to share with
budding authors out there about how you juggle family life and writing
chores while still turning out some great books?
TWPT: You've written several books over the past few years. Are there any lessons that you have learned that you'd like to share with budding authors out there about how you juggle family life and writing chores while still turning out some great books?
AMH: I was extremely fortunate to get the bulk of my most recent
book finished before my son was born early last summer. He stayed in the
hospital for a month, and while that was stressful it was also an opportunity
to write hard in order to finish it off before he joined us full-time. Since we
brought him home, Iíve been able to write practically nothing Ė even finding
time to do interviews like this has been a challenge! When it came time to do
rewrites on the copy edited manuscript, and then again when the proofs came to
me for correction, I had good friends who took turns coming in to play with him
for a couple of hours daily while I worked in the next room. Iíd say the keys
to balancing family life and a writing career is an understanding life partner
who is able and willing to handle things like household chores and shopping and
food preparation, and having a small selection of really reliable friends who
can drop in once and a while to give you a break. I think itís also important
to understand that you canít do everything at once. As my high priestess once
said to me, if Spirit has given you the task of raising a child, then thatís
the task Spirit wants you to focus on right now. Itís a thought thatís helped
me through writing withdrawal over the past ten months. Iím looking forward to
easing back into writing when my son is a bit older.
AMH: I was extremely fortunate to get the bulk of my most recent book finished before my son was born early last summer. He stayed in the hospital for a month, and while that was stressful it was also an opportunity to write hard in order to finish it off before he joined us full-time. Since we brought him home, Iíve been able to write practically nothing Ė even finding time to do interviews like this has been a challenge! When it came time to do rewrites on the copy edited manuscript, and then again when the proofs came to me for correction, I had good friends who took turns coming in to play with him for a couple of hours daily while I worked in the next room. Iíd say the keys to balancing family life and a writing career is an understanding life partner who is able and willing to handle things like household chores and shopping and food preparation, and having a small selection of really reliable friends who can drop in once and a while to give you a break. I think itís also important to understand that you canít do everything at once. As my high priestess once said to me, if Spirit has given you the task of raising a child, then thatís the task Spirit wants you to focus on right now. Itís a thought thatís helped me through writing withdrawal over the past ten months. Iím looking forward to easing back into writing when my son is a bit older.
TWPT: Do you ever go out on the road promoting your books, lecturing or just getting up in front of your readers and sharing your wisdom live? Is there any place that your readers might get a chance to see you in the flesh in 2006?
AMH: Iíve done a lot of it over the past five years locally, but
Iím taking some time off because writing three books within two years, moving,
and having a baby really drained a lot of energy and didnít leave much time for
the workshops and classes I usually teach. And now, of course, I donít have much
time or energy either! I was originally supposed to be a guest at the Canadian
National Pagan Conference in May 2006, but I recently had to cancel the
appearance for family reasons. Like the actual writing, itís going to take me a
couple of years to get back into the live appearance thing. Iíve had a few
local offers to have events and signings for The Way of the Green Witch when it
comes out at the end of May, so that will be a gentle way of easing back into
AMH: Iíve done a lot of it over the past five years locally, but Iím taking some time off because writing three books within two years, moving, and having a baby really drained a lot of energy and didnít leave much time for the workshops and classes I usually teach. And now, of course, I donít have much time or energy either! I was originally supposed to be a guest at the Canadian National Pagan Conference in May 2006, but I recently had to cancel the appearance for family reasons. Like the actual writing, itís going to take me a couple of years to get back into the live appearance thing. Iíve had a few local offers to have events and signings for The Way of the Green Witch when it comes out at the end of May, so that will be a gentle way of easing back into things!
TWPT: How would you like to see Wicca evolve over the next few
years and what are some of the main challenges that you see that need to be
overcome for that to happen?
AMH: Bearing in mind that we donít direct Wicca, it evolves as
our needs change, there are a lot of things Iíd hope to see happen worldwide in
the Wiccan community. Iíd like to see more freedom of expression, and the
freedom to practice the religious system of oneís choice. Iíd hope people
outside Wicca be more tolerant of diversity of Neo-pagan belief and practice.
Iíd hope to see more respect for personal choices within the Wiccan path, as
well. Iím continually stunned at the lack of respect shown to other people, no
matter what their religious choices. Putting people down because they practice
a different way hurts everyone involved, and itís petty. What a waste of energy
Speaking of energy, Iíd like to see people of different paths working together instead of apart, sharing knowledge and theory with one another. Iím not talking about mashing everything up in one big puddle, destroying the uniqueness of a path or system, but a respectful sharing of non-oathbound information that can enrich everyoneís path. Iíd like to see an increased awareness of the evolutionary nature of Wicca, and less of the myths that are created and perpetuated in order to lend modern religions a sense of validity. And of course, Iíd like to see an increased awareness of actual history, basis and foundation of various traditions and families within Wicca.
TWPT: Finally, are there any words of wisdom that you would
like to share with TWPT's readers and with your own readers as well?
AMH: There will be times when your spirituality seems stalled.
Youíre not alone; everyone goes through periods of retrograde, an apparent
cessation of motion or seemingly backwards movement. Itís frustrating, and it
can lead you to think that youíve gone as far as you can go on this path, but itís
part of a cycle. We need these times to chew over where weíre at, to reassess
where we want to go, and how we want to get there. Theyíre no fun to work
through Ė Iíve had my share, and will have more! -- but theyíre just as important as those times
when everythingís flowing and you feel as if youíre moving in harmony with the
universe around you.
If the books have helped you, Iím glad, but you donít need them or any other book in order to practice. Rely on yourself and your intuition. Find your own groove and believe in it. Enjoy your relationship with the gods, and know that theyíre always there for you.
TWPT: Thanks so much Arin for making time for this interview in your already crowded schedule and I want to take this opportunity to wish you much success whether you spend your energy/time on your family or on future book projects. I appreciate your participation in The Wiccan/Pagan Times as will the readers who get a chance to take in this interview. Be well.