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Astrea Taylor

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Air Magic:
TWPT Talks with Astrea Taylor

TWPT-2021


TWPT: Tell me about how you came to be a Witch and about the experiences you had as a child that seemed to confirm your path even before you came to consciously identify it as Witchcraft.

AT:  I love this question. Like a lot of witches, I had a deep love for fictional witches like Baba Yaga and the Wicked Witch of the West. I knew I was supposed to be afraid of them, but I loved them more than the other characters. Maybe because of this love, the otherworld really came for me. As a child, I had premonitions, and a few times, when people didn't tell me the truth, I could see the truth of what really happened. 

I had a few spooky experiences that would turn some people away from the otherworld forever, but I wasn't afraid. I leaned into them. Really, I just felt that the world had more meaning to it than the people around me were letting on. I began experimenting with changing things in my world and seeing the results of those changes, which is basically witchcraft! It really came naturally to me. 

TWPT:   What was it about the other religions you looked into as a teen that brought you to the conclusion that they weren't a good fit for you?

AT:  The modern religions I studied as a teenager didn't fit my worldview--many of them weren't "big enough" to hold the truth of my spooky experiences, or their history was too conflicted, or they only viewed the divine as masculine, and I always knew from my core that I worked with the divine feminine, and I preferred it when divinity wasn't gendered. 

When I was about 7, my family started going to a new-age church, and it was a good fit. It taught me about the power of words and thoughts, meditation, and unconditional love, especially for one's self. However, it all ended once I graduated from the youth group because the main church was more conservative. The new minister even referred to god as masculine only, which was a big difference from the old minister, who was a lovely crone who referred to deity as genderless or as feminine and masculine. And so, I had to leave the new age nest and find my way.

TWPT:  When it came down to new age paganism and eclectic witchcraft what was it about those paths in particular that meshed with who you were/are spiritually speaking?

AT:  When I was about 16, paganism and witchcraft became a bigger part of my life. I had friends who were reading those books, and we talked about things like auras and the psychic arts. I started to feel more at home in my body and spirit. When I was 18, I started attending events, and something deep within me finally felt as if it were being strengthened. I particularly liked the diversity of beliefs there. It was exactly what I was looking for.

TWPT:   As you were starting out on this spiritual path did you have anyone who helped or guided along the way that you could ask questions of or advice? Or were you alone in your explorations? Internet connections count in this question as well.

AT:  My mother encouraged my spiritual explorations, so I feel very fortunate in that regard. She was the one I went to when I had my first out-of-body experience, and she knew what happened. She gave me a tarot deck a little later, when I was 13, and an astrological natal chart reading for my 16th birthday, which must have been a stretch financially for our family, but she knew what I was all about. I also have a faery godmother, Penny Goody, who was at the local gatherings and who encouraged me to go to larger pagan gatherings. They really accelerated my growth, and I appreciated them so much. 

TWPT:  Have you always wanted to be a writer?

AT:  Yes, always. Stories make me feel so alive. I was absolutely devastated when my parents told me I couldn't be a writer because "writers didn't make any money." I studied earth science, and I managed to become a scientific researcher and writer. It worked out well because science informs a lot of my magical work and spiritual insights. 

TWPT:  Do you view your writing about Witchcraft as a spiritual practice in and of itself?

AT:  For me, writing is related to spirituality. It's most similar when I get into the writing flow state, and spiritual wisdom rolls out of me. There's an intense feeling when I'm in that state and the words hit the page--the guidance is so tangible. It moves through me. I love those times the most because I know it's good material. 

TWPT:  What did you learn about yourself and the publishing process after you published your two fiction books and poetry zine?

AT:  Good question. Through writing my fiction books and poetry, I learned I really enjoyed writing stories and sharing them with others. I adore words and phrases too, and creating them is so epic. I also learned that I didn't need big audiences--it was satisfying enough to write something for myself and my friends. Lastly, I learned to put myself out there and grow thicker skin. 

TWPT:  What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

AT:  There's a huge learning curve with writing. The hardest part of writing, for me, was finishing a piece, putting it down for a month or two, and then becoming a better writer and having the urge to revise it. That's an endless task, though, because writers who write are always getting better. The trick is to get your writing to a place where it's "good enough." It may never be perfect, and that's okay.

TWPT:   Intuitive Witchcraft has been out since April of 2020. How did the publication of this book change you in regards to your process of writing?

AT:  Intuitive Witchcraft was my first witchcraft/pagan book. It taught me that there are still parts of the witching world that are innovative and revolutionary, and there's an audience who is hungry for these new ideas and concepts. So, every day, I experiment with new magical applications. I take notes about my results and listen to my spirits about what to try next. I'm writing two books with Llewellyn at the moment, and a third is in the wings. These note-taking processes let me build my experiences up for years before I start writing, so I have a wealth of information to draw from. 

TWPT:  Tell me about Intuitive Witchcraft and what it was that you were hoping to communicate with others through the publication of this book?

AT:  With Intuitive Witchcraft, I really wanted to encourage people to have the confidence to use their intuition and create their own spiritual practices. I also wanted to show people how they could see magic and rituals from an energetic point of view. 

TWPT:  What was one of the most surprising things you learned in regards to creating your books?


AT:  I'm mostly spirit-taught, and of course, I research and practice a lot. There are a few people who don't approve of this way of practicing, and they let me know about it. That was surprising. However, far more people encourage freedom of choice. They want others to do what feels right for them, which I also support. 

TWPT:  Is there a particular time of day that your thoughts come easier in regards to you being able to write?

AT:  I love writing at night. The creative part of me can breathe easier at that time and really open up. 

TWPT:  Your new book arrives April 8, 2021, and it's called Air Magic. Tell me about the premise for Air Magic and how you approached the subject so as to bring some new ideas about it to light.

AT:  That's a very insightful question--I did want to bring new ideas to light. I had a prescribed book format from my editor, but I developed the concept of the magical realm of air. It was something mentioned in passing by a pagan author, but I couldn't find any other mention of it anywhere. 

So I connected the magical realm of air with the qualities of the element of air, and it all came together. I see the magical realm of air as a vast web of invisible, energetic connections, like wifi. It's the energy that connects us to the otherworld and to everything else on earth. These connective lines are the cords we can cut or strengthen. It's my favorite thing about Air Magic. 

TWPT:  What were some of the key challenges you faced while writing Air Magic?

AT:  I wanted to do justice to pagan and witchcraft history, but I don't have a lot of traditional witchcraft books. Mine are more contemporary or they're semi-related to witchcraft, like the psychic arts or psychology. So, I did a TON of research. It was a lot of work, but it was wonderful, and I managed to write a book with a lot of backbone and new insights too. 

TWPT:  When you are writing a book like Air Magic what kind of research do you do and how much time do you spend researching before you begin a title like Air Magic?

AT:  I read everything I can when I'm researching. I devour books, journal papers, interviews, and articles. I exhaust my library, then my area's libraries, and also the internet. I ask friends if they have book recommendations, and I read everything they tell me to. I take notes as I research and add words around them. It takes a lot of time, but I love it. 

TWPT:  What kind of readers will enjoy Air Magic the most?

AT:  Anyone inclined to elevate and expand into the element of air will be able to take flight. Air Magic isn't just a collection of correspondence lists. It's a comprehensive guide to understanding air. The re-envisioning of history is especially insightful. I also include deeper meanings because I always want to know why something is the way it is. For example, why do some plants correspond with air? It's because of their aromas and/or their shape (tall and dainty). Knowledge like that is hard to find, but it's so valuable, so I include it whenever I can.


TWPT:  Does writing energize you or exhaust you? Why?

AT:  Definitely both. I feel energized when the flow is moving through me, but after a while, I need a break. 

TWPT:   You have a lot of pictures on your website of fire dancing. Tell me about how that fits into your life and what kind of enjoyment you receive from an activity like that.

AT:  I love putting on a good show, planning choreography, and wearing dramatic costumes. And fire is so exciting--it lights up the primal parts of our brains. My style of fire dance is very outside the norm from what other people do--I combine ballet, belly dance, and modern dance and I work with deities and energies when I dance. I choose songs that brought out the drama, and I use costumes and homemade fire props too. Over the years, it helped me really express my artistic side.  



Astrea Taylor on the left with her fire dancing
partner Scarlett Kristl on the right


TWPT
:  You also blog on Patheos too. Do you see all of your writings connected (books/blogs) so as to present a unified look at who Astrea Taylor is and what she believes?

AT:  For the most part, my writings express who I am, but there's so much more that I haven't expressed yet. Part of that is because I'm writing more books, but it's also because there are restrictions about what I can say and what I can't say due to an employment contract. But that just means that I have a lot more to share over the coming years after I'm through with that position.

TWPT:   As a last question I was wondering about how the isolation that has come through the pandemic has affected your writing, Have you been writing more since this all began or less and have the ideas come quicker since you have more time to focus on them?

AT:  When the pandemic started, it was problematic for me as a writer. I wrote much less. Instead, I got into some intense shadow work and ancestral healing. It was a shift that needed to happen in order for me to go deeper, so it's all good. We all need to go into the dark forest and walk around from time to time. Recently, I did some air magic to call my focus back to me, and I'm back to my regular writing pace. I'm currently working on a book about witchcraft and the Greek Gods with Jason Mankey--it feels amazing to delve deeply into those myths and that culture. I'm so grateful that I get to share my insights through my writing. 

TWPT:  Thanks so much Astrea for taking the time out to speak to us here at TWPT. May 2021 be a better year for all of us as continue our journey through this pandemic. Take care and wishing you much success with your writing.