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Faery Healing:
The Lore and the Legacy

 

WiccaCraft for Families

 

Wisdom of the Elements: The Sacred Wheel of Earth, Air,
Fire and Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faery Healing: The Lore and the Legacy:
TWPT Talks to Margie McArthur

©2005TWPT


TWPT:  What was it that drew you to this path and when was it that you knew this path was the one for you?

MM:  From the time I was very little I was always interested in witches. I’m not sure exactly why, and of course, as a child I never particularly analyzed this. But witches were utter fascination to me. The figure of the witch was compelling, powerful, mysterious, magical. I wanted to be a witch, and was forever pretending to be one. Stirring up potions and casting spells occupied much of my playtime, and Halloween was glorious because then I actually got to dress the part. In between times I read everything I could get my hands on about witchcraft and witches, along with fairytales, mythology, and astronomy. I realize now that all of this provided a very rich diet for my imagination, as did all the hours I spent with eyes closed, imagining myself flying from place to place on my broomstick – or with eyes opened, gazing at clouds, making shapes out of them, and imagining myself up there, floating and flying among them. 

For some reason, the part about witches being devil-worshippers never really “clicked” with me. I read it, yes, but it never really rang true. Though he could take on a beguiling appearance, the devil was evil and scary, or so I’d been told. But to me, witches weren’t—no matter their appearance. They might arouse fear but that was because they were so powerful with their charms and spells, not because they were evil. Or so it seemed to me. So I didn’t waste a lot of worry on it 

In my early 20’s I found a book in the library called “The Complete Art of Witchcraft,” by Sybil Leek. I checked it out, and was astounded and delighted to find that witches really DID exist, even in this modern age, and that the devil held no part in what they did. I was quite intrigued to find out that they worshipped a Goddess as well as a God. This seemed so much more sensible and realistic to me than the Christian male triple-form deity I’d been raised to honor. But most intoxicating was the fact that REAL witches existed, and that there might even be some not far from where I lived! 

From that moment on I knew I must find some of these people, and begin to learn about REAL witchcraft. I knew I had found my path. 

TWPT:  Before the path that you are currently on were you a spiritual person and how did you feel about leaving that path and stepping onto the Wiccan path? 

MM:  I was raised Catholic. My mother was a very devout Catholic mother, and my father a non-church-going, non-denominational Christian who always said his cathedral was the Great Outdoors. I was very spiritually-minded, and quite devout. I enjoyed the majesty, pageantry, and ritual of the Church—the chanting, music, candles, incense, colorful vestments, novenas, processions, and the liturgical calendar of feast days. The mystical aspect of the Church fed my soul. I was devoted to the Virgin Mary. I gave thought to becoming a nun so that I could in some measure be a bigger part of all this, and also because I desperately wanted to serve God and make the world a better place. 

After the Second Vatican Council the Church began to change in ways I didn’t care for. As I analyze it now I would say that it lost power, though at the time my complaint was that it felt like the Catholic Church was trying to become more Protestant, so it would have more appeal to Protestants. The Virgin Mary was downplayed, the music became mundane and boring, and the mystery and magic went out the window. While I understood that the Church was trying to make the liturgy more accessible and relevant to ordinary folks and their daily lives, the newly remodeled Church felt bland, prosaic, and lacking in power—as if someone had pulled the plug. 

By the time I found that Sybil Leek book I was already feeling like the current church was not the one I’d been raised in. It was failing to satisfy my spiritual needs, and the separation process had already begun for me. When I first began reading about witchcraft, magic, and the Goddess, my heart and my instincts told me that I’d found that magic and mysticism once again—the path of the mysteries that leads to the Divine, within and without. 

It was not hard to take that first step…It was hard to keep from leaping!. 

TWPT:  Were there any books that acted as guides for you as you started to walk along this path?

MM:  As I mentioned previously, my first book was The Complete Art of Witchcraft by Sybil Leek. After that, I read the rest of the books on contemporary witchcraft that my library possessed—mostly works by Hans Holzer. Later, after I’d made contact with a “real witch,” she told me to read The White Goddess by Robert Graves, and What Witches Do by Stewart and Janet Farrar.

TWPT:  Was writing something that was always an attraction for you?

MM:  Yes. From the time I first learned to read and write I was always writing something – and usually something imaginative (and being highly embarrassed when my proud mother excitedly shared it with her friends). Often, I wrote stories about witches. I also wrote occasional pieces of music. The fact that I couldn’t actually read musical notation bothered me only slightly. I simply made up my own way to write down the melodies that were dancing in my head. 

With regard to all this writing and music, I’m sure it helped that I come from a rather bardic family. My mother wrote stories, poetry and songs (she couldn’t read music either). Her sister wrote poetry and stories - fabulous fantasies and very heart-touching non-fiction as well. Their father – my grandfather - wrote songs and poetry. My sister dashed off hilarious bits of poetry from time to time. It was all around me; I could hardly fail to be affected. 

TWPT:  When was it that you decided to give writing a try as a profession and what were some of the first steps you took to make this a reality? 

MM:  It came about rather gradually. For years I’d kept notes of celebrations and ceremonies we’d done with the kids. These notes, as well as research notes for the ceremonies, were all kept in a binder, along with notes on seasonal lore, recipes, activities, and the like. I’d been accumulating this information for twelve years. One morning I woke up with the “knowing” that it would make a good book, one that could be helpful to other pagan parents. So I decided to write the book I’d always wished I’d had when I began on the path of pagan parenting.

I began work on it best I could with four children to care for—the youngest being an extremely active two year old toddler who was probably Houdini in his last life since locked doors and secured car seats never presented any impediment to him. For the next eight months, as soon as I’d packed the older kids off to school, done up the dishes, fed the pets, started the laundry, and found something to keep the toddler occupied for a while, I sat down at the computer and entered the data from the binder. When that part was done I began arranging the data into sections, and deciding what else was needed to make it more complete. But with one thing and another it was six years before the book was ready for publication. Phoenix Publications accepted it, and a year after that—in 1994—WiccaCraft for Families hit the shelves. 

Yes, I was terribly excited to see my work in print. It felt like a victory for my whole family—all those bardic relatives whose work had never seen publication or print. 

At that point I didn’t see writing so much as my profession, but rather, as something I fit in around my REAL profession, which was full-time motherhood. But I do love writing, and before long was working on something else; then a few years later, on something else. Now that the kids are mostly out of the nest, I do consider writing my profession, and am glad I’m able to spend more time working at it. 

TWPT:  Tell me about some of your initial contacts with the Wiccan community. Were the folks you met what you expected? 

MM:  Actually, I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to meet Real Witches, and start learning! And I was quite lucky, really….

The way it happened was this. I’d read the Sybil Leek book, and several of Hans Holzer’s books, and I KNEW beyond a doubt that this was where I wanted to go. But I didn’t now how to get there!  One evening I came to the end of my stack of witchcraft books. The library had no more. I turned the last page of the last Hans Holzer book, read it, and closed the book. I sat there in my rocker, eyes closed, for about five minutes, during which time my desire to find real witches grew exceedingly strong. I was so overcome by this feeling that for a few minutes I simply couldn’t move or open my eyes. I
didn’t know how to make this contact happen; I had no idea where to start looking. But I just sat there in the rocker, eyes closed, filled with the urgent necessity to find witches, and that feeling getting stronger by the second. 

Then I found myself arising from the chair and walking toward where my year-old daughter was playing in her playpen. I found myself leaning over, picking her up, and buttoning her into her jacket. I put on my own jacket and picked up my bag and my keys.  It was at this point that I became conscious of what I was doing. “What am I doing?” I thought. I walked out the door and to my car. I put my daughter into her car-seat, and then got into the car myself. As I started up the car I thought, “I wonder where I am going?”   

I felt odd—semi-conscious but very capable of driving—as I pulled away from the curb and headed down the street. I had no idea where I was going. I turned here and there as I felt the instinct to do so, and in 15 minutes time found myself approaching the area’s one and only shopping mall. “Oh,” I thought, “we’re going shopping. I wonder why?” I pulled into the parking lot and found myself driving through it slowly, and finally, pulling into a parking slot. Directly in front of me was a bookstore. 

By this point in time I realized that I was being—as they say—“guided.” I’d never had this experience before and found it quite interesting. I felt safe, taken care of, but it was quite an odd feeling to just get in the car and go somewhere, and not know where I was going or why! Normally such a thing would have been alarming. But things did not feel normal at all! 

I got out of the car and stood looking at the store for a moment. Then I got my daughter and went into the store. As if someone were pulling me on a string I found myself walking directly to a shelf at the very back of the store, turning to the left, and staring at a shelf full of books. With interest, I noted a small sign on the shelf that said “Occult.” As I raised my eyes to the shelf just above, my glance fell instantly on a small purple book. The white lettering on the spine jumped out at me—The Directory of the Occult, by Hans Holzer. 

Taking the book from the shelf, I began looking through it. My excitement grew as I saw that it contained names, addresses, and in some cases, phone numbers of people involved in “the occult” – parapsychologists, mediums, psychics, astrologers, and…witches! With hands trembling and heart pounding I scooped up my daughter, walked straight to the cash register, purchased the book, and drove home. 

Once I’d settled my daughter for the night I flipped through the book and read all the entries forCalifornia. My eye was immediately drawn to an entry for Fred and Martha Adler ofHawthorne,California, and I realized excitedly thatHawthorne was only about a 40 minute drive from my house. There was an address but no phone number listed. I thought about writing a letter, then decided I would probably expire of impatience or excitement while awaiting an answer, so I called Directory Assistance and obtained a phone number. 

I was very nervous indeed, but pushed myself through it, knowing I was doing something that I had to do. 

Martha answered the phone, and I explained who I was and how I’d gotten her name and phone number. She was so very nice to me! She told me to locate two books and study—not read, but study—them quite thoroughly. The White Goddess by Robert Graves, and What Witches Do, by Stewart and Janet Farrar.  She told me to study and really think about these books, and if I was still interested in witchcraft after I’d done that, to give her a call back. 

Those two books were not easy to obtain in my area, but I finally managed to locate them. For the next three months I studied them (though I will confess to not really understanding The White Goddess terribly well!), and finally, felt it was time to give Martha a call. 

I was happy that she actually remembered me. She quizzed me a bit about the books then told me that the person I really needed to meet was a man named Ed Fitch, as he had a training group going at the moment and she did not. She gave me his phone number, I thanked her, and we said goodbye. 

Because my heart was beating so wildly, I spent a few minutes composing myself before I dialed the number. A young woman answered and identified herself as Ed’s wife, Janine. As we talked a picture formed in my head of a very beautiful young woman with alabaster skin, long red hair, and blue eyes. She told me that she and Ed would be on vacation for a couple weeks, but I was quite welcome to come to the next scheduled training group meeting three weeks later. I told her I would be there. I wrote down the date, the address and directions, and we hung up. 

When my husband and I showed up at the Fitch residence three weeks later I was amazed to find Janine very much as I had pictured her. And she seemed familiar, very familiar… 

We soon grew to love both Ed and Janine dearly, and a friendship was born that has lasted, to date, 30 years. And through them in those early days, we met many other good pagan folk, many of them still quite active in the pagan community today. 

TWPT:  Tell me about your first published book and what it felt like to see your words in print. Was it easier than you thought it would be to get your book in print or harder? 

MM:  My first published book was WiccaCraft for Families. And while it was wonderful to see my words in print, more exciting to me was the feeling that I’d made a contribution to the Pagan Renaissance. I knew there were other pagan parents out there, trying to impart their spirituality to their children, and I felt that my book might help them and inspire their own creativity in this undertaking. It has been nearly eleven years since the book came out, but I am still delighted when I receive a letter from someone telling me how useful the book has been to them. 

And while I’d heard stories of authors spending ages sending their book around to many publishers, for me, the third time was the charm. I felt quite lucky. 

TWPT:  What were some of the lessons that you learned with that first book about getting your book published and about the writing process as a whole? 

MM:  I learned that with regard to getting a book written and through the publication process, patience, persistence, thoroughness, good manners, and good business sense are all very necessary qualities. 

Regarding the writing process, I think I learned more about my own personal writing process than I learned about the writing process as a whole. The most important thing I learned was not to measure myself by the standards of others (especially other writers of my acquaintance), but to recognize and honor my own process. 

TWPT:  Is being an author different from what you had hoped for when you first considered the idea of writing as a career or has it turned out pretty much as you expected? 

MM:  I did not start out considering writing as a career. I started out simply wanting to share what I’d learned about raising a pagan family. There were certainly no books out on the subject at that time (1987), and since I’d been raising my children as pagan for twelve years, I thought my experiences and the resources I’d gathered might be of use to other pagan parents.

After that book, WiccaCraft for Families, came out, I wondered if I had anything else that might be worthwhile to share with the community. Instantly I realized I had folders full of material from the Wicca 101 classes I’d taught. These became the source material for my second book, Wisdom of the Elements: the Sacred Wheel of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

It was only after the second book came out that I began to think of myself as a professional writer. I realized I had notebooks and discs full of things I’d been researching and writing about for my own personal use, and that perhaps some of that material might be interesting or useful to others.

That being said, I can also say that my experiences in the world of writing have taught me a lot. Along the way I’ve realized that I did perhaps hold unconscious expectations of what writing as a career would or should be like, expectations of which I was most definitely disabused as I lived and learned. One of the things I learned early on was that the work is not over when the writing of the book is done. In a sense, it’s only beginning. I had no idea how much time and energy the publication process took, much less the time and energy was involved in the book promotion process!

TWPT:  As an author how is it that you determine what you are going to write about? Do you consider what the community needs to hear about or do you choose subjects based on what you prefer to write about?

MM:  So far, I think the subject chooses me. While I love to write to share things I’ve learned, I also tend to write about what captures and captivates me. I tend to get swept away into subjects, immerse myself in them, learn all I can, think deeply about what I’ve learned, practice it, talk about it, dream it, eat it, sleep it, and my way of processing it all is to write. Most of this “processing” still resides in files on my computer, as it was intended only for my own personal spiritual growth, but when I think it’s something the community might find interesting or beneficial, I make the effort to put it into publishable form. 

TWPT:  Your latest effort is called Faery Healing: The Lore and the Legacy. Could we start our discussion of this book with you giving us an overview of what this title is about and why you chose this particular subject to write about.

MM:  This is one of those subjects that chose me.  While immersing myself in Celtic lore and folktales several years ago, I kept finding references to people who healed with the help of the faeries. This was quite intriguing, and after a bit I began taking notes on it. After a while I realized this was similar to other forms of shamanic healing that existed in other traditional cultures. Healing with the help of various spirit allies is not an unusual thing. I realized I was looking at a form of it in these tales and folklore. Up to that point I hadn’t realized that the Celtic nations had an indigenous form of spiritual healing. Once I realized this, the bits and pieces scattered about in the lore began to make sense…and my notes grew into a book.

TWPT:  Is it difficult for the modern mind to recognize and interact with the faery realm? How is it that your book helps your readers to begin to once again connect to this forgotten knowledge?

MM:  For some of us it is harder than others, I think—largely because most children are, quite early on, conditioned out of their “imaginary beliefs;” beliefs which may include interactions with spiritual and otherworld beings. For many years in our culture imagination was routinely stifled, or shunted into acceptable channels and corridors.  For instance, it was perfectly OK to believe in a deity, angels and demons one couldn’t see, but certainly not OK to believe in the equally invisible faeries and nature spirits! 

Getting past this conditioning and mindset requires, first of all, an awareness of it—an awareness that perhaps there’s more to life than we’ve been taught, than we can perceive with our five senses; an awareness that our imaginations have been stifled—and a willingness to believe in invisible worlds. It also requires us to learn how to expand our modes of perception beyond the merely physical senses, and into those oft-ignored “subtle senses.” Since we have been so culturally conditioned to dismiss any perceptions but those of our physical senses, this takes some doing! In Faery Healing I provide some guidance and suggestions for using imagination and creative visualization, as well as for stretching and developing the subtle senses which are necessary for recognizing and interacting with the Faery Realm. 

TWPT:  Tell me about how you personally interact with the faery realm within your own spiritual path and about the impact it has had on your development over the years?

MM:  To begin with, interaction with the faery realm is an integral part of my spiritual path.  And actually, the answer to this question is to be found within the page of Faery Healing.  That is what I do.  I use imagination, visionary techniques, the subtle senses, and intention. Sometimes I sit out in nature and tune in; often I sit indoors and “reach out” to the nature outside and connect in with it. Beneath even the concrete of the sidewalk, the living earth is to be found; and plants, too, pushing their way up through the sidewalk’s cracks.

 So I consider that the faery realm is around me all the time, and every now and then, using the techniques I’ve mentioned, I step into it—sometimes for healing work, sometimes for advice, sometimes for learning, sometimes just for the joy of the visit. For me this is a richly rewarding experience. It allows me to experience more deeply my kinship with the invisible orders of life. In addition, I feel nourished and inspired, and sometimes challenged to new growth by the experience.

TWPT:  What key ideas would you like your readers to take away with them from having read your book about Faery Healing?

MM:  I would like them to take away a realization that faeries really are their kin, their family. I would like them to understand that our relationship with the faery realm takes effort and exchanges of energy—as do all good relationships. And also, I would like them to go away with the realization that establishing this relationship is going to affect their lives on an everyday basis, and to be open to the changes that might bring.

TWPT:  How much research went into the creation of Faery Healing and do you find this kind of background work a pleasure or a chore?

MM:   Quite a lot of research went in to the creation of this book. Researching, writing, developing techniques, practicing them and sharing them were my main, although not sole, occupations for 5 years. And yes, I do find this kind of work a pleasure. I’ve always been a “bookworm,” and very much enjoy the research aspect of things.

TWPT:  What kind of feedback have you been receiving so far in regards to your book Faery Healing?

MM:  I’ve gotten very positive feedback.  People have told me they’ve been pleased with the wealth of information and the clarity with which it’s been provided. Readers have described the book as “enchanting, magical, useful,” and with many other lovely adjectives!

TWPT:  Does it encourage you as an author to hear good things being said about your book in regards to motivating you to move on to your next book?  And the reverse side to this coin is do you take it personally when someone gives you negative feedback on a book that you published?

MM:  It’s always encouraging to hear good things being said about one’s books. I am always happy to hear that something I’ve written has been helpful or useful to someone. And yes, this does motivate me to keep sharing what I write. 

But I don’t take negative feedback personally. Every reader has their own needs and tastes, and one size does not fit all – be it in clothing, books, or anything else!

TWPT:  As an author do you take your ideas on the road and bring them directly to your readers via teaching classes in person? Do you enjoy this kind of interaction with your readers and students in general?

MM:  Not really. I’ve taught a bit in the past, but I don’t have the type of personality that enjoys being in public—teaching, speaking, or otherwise. Nor do I have the kind of life that allows it. Basically, I’m a writer, not a public speaker. I enjoy people, but can only fully appreciate them in one-on-one or in small group settings. I like to fully “grok” and appreciate the people I’m with, to tune into their energy, their individuality, and see who they are. I simply can’t do this in large gatherings.

I will probably continue to do occasional small classes in my area, but don’t look for me to jump on a plane and jet around doing presentations and workshops. Not my style….:)

TWPT:  Are you always in some stage of creation for your next book or do you take time off in between projects to recharge your creative batteries?

MM:  I am always writing. It’s a process that sometimes results in a book, but sometimes not. For me, writing is a way I process life, as well as a way I share information. It’s not so much that I take time off to recharge between books as it is that some of what I write eventually shapes itself into a form that I realize can be shared with others – a book – and some of it does not.

So while I don’t really look at it as recharging “between books,” of course, a replenishment period after a long expenditure of energies (such as is involved in doing books) is always in order if life allows one the time. At such times I am often recharged simply by immersing myself in mundane house and garden type activities – sewing, cooking, canning, weeding, watering, getting my herbal remedies ready for winter- as well as, sometimes, just sitting in the sun, or walking by the sea.. These are activities which ground me and nourish my soul.

TWPT:  Do you currently have anything in the works that you would like to let your readers know about and to be watching for?

MM:  As is my way, I’m working on several things right now, but nothing is near publication yet.

TWPT:  You have been a student of metaphysics and magic for over 40 years and a priestess of the Old Religion for 28 of those years. Do you see your books as a chance to share your knowledge with a wider group of students than would be possible if you were not an author?

MM:  Most definitely. And that is very exciting to me—to be able to reach out via my books to people beyond my immediate sphere. I consider it an honor and a privilege.

TWPT:  As an author do you feel that you have any responsibilities to those readers who pick up your books and try to bring some of your knowledge into their own paths?

MM:  I feel that I have an obligation to present the most accurate information possible. I feel a responsibility to make clear to my readers the differences between what is historical /traditional and what is my own take on things. But beyond the informational aspect of things, I feel an obligation to pass on my feelings about the responsibilities and ethics involved in walking a spiritual path. Hopefully I have done this without being too preachy!

TWPT:  To close out this interview are there any tidbits of wisdom that you have acquired over your 40 years along this path that you would want to share with the readers of TWPT?

MM:  A few things, yes . . .There is no such thing as the “one-right-and-only-true way.”  Always keep an open mind. Remember there is always more to be learned, and many perspectives to examine. Be flexible. Be humble. Be reverent. Learn from your mistakes…and always keep your sense of humor intact!To Imajicka and Boudica, thank you for this opportunity to speak. And to all who read this, Blessed Be! Margie

TWPT:  And we thank you for taking the time to share some of what you believe with our readers and perhaps it will help them come to understand the author behind their books a little bit more. Best of luck with whatever coalesces into your next book.