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Book Spotlight

 

Maxine Sanders

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Fire Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Child
by Maxine Sanders


TWPT:   With the upcoming publication of Fire Child readers will finally get to hear your perspective on your life with Alex Sanders and your life since those times. What was it that motivated you to finally sit down and write this account of your life?

MS:  America.  Last year I met American witches from different traditions of modern Craft who asked good questions and were not afraid to ask the sensitive ones.  They made me see the impact Alex and I have had on the Craft. They had the right to ask and I felt obliged to answer. Writing ‘Fire Child’ was the perfect opportunity.

TWPT:  When you began work on Fire Child did you have in mind how you wanted to organize the story of your life and present it to your readers? Were you able to stick to this plan as you started to put thoughts to paper?

MS:  It was in 1994 that I first thought of writing the autobiography. Emotional turmoil and soul misery were the inspiration. When it was finished, the manuscript was put aside and practically forgotten. Several years later, I read it and found it badly written, self indulgent and absolute rubbish.

TWPT:  As you worked on Fire Child were there times when some details of your life that had been forgotten consciously but began to surface nonetheless? How often did this happen and were you surprised at what was coming to the surface?

MS:  When I did start work on ‘Fire Child’ there were details that were not recorded in my magical diary and should have been. However, magical life is often repetitive and would have proved boring to the reader. On reflection, the differences between memory and diary entries made fascinating personal analysis.

TWPT:  Is this your first book length writing project? If so what are your thoughts on the process of getting a book out of your thoughts and onto paper and then published?

MS:  When I started writing in May 2006, much of the groundwork was covered. The mistakes in the first manuscript were glaring and so became an excellent guideline for the serious book writing project. The writing of ‘Fire Child’ was a surprisingly easy exercise.

TWPT:  You occupy a special place in the history of Witchcraft and will always be remembered alongside the likes of Raymond Buckland, Stewart Farrar, Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner and many others who began walking this path while the foundation was being laid for what it would become today. When you look in the mirror or as you were writing this book did you view yourself with that kind of perspective? If not how is it that you see yourself in the scheme of things when it comes to Witchcraft and Wicca?

MS:  A personal vocation led me to ask for Initiation into the Craft. I wanted to be a priestess and practice the mysteries, work the magic and worship the Old Ones in the privacy of a Witchcraft circle. There was no desire to become a teacher or acquire the recognition that seems to be. Today I practice the ways of the Craft in safety and love within the Circle of Witchcraft.

TWPT:  Did looking at your life from where you are presently in the context of writing this book give you a better appreciation of the experiences you’ve had? Did this writing process give you a sense of satisfaction about what you have been able to accomplish up to this point in your life?

MS:  Appreciation of life and its fabulous adventure has been a constant companion especially when life was going well although when experiencing the dark nights of the soul the appreciative sense became rather clouded. Since the age of 20 after the birth of my first child Maya, the sense of satisfaction regarding personal achievements has been part of my daily meditations.

TWPT:  As you mull over your past and present it within the pages of this book it must have brought to mind what lies ahead for you and the Craft. Do you think of this book as a way of letting those who will be taking up the mantle of leadership in the coming years know what it means to be a leader in the Craft community? Do you think that there are leaders who are stepping up to take up this challenge emerging in the present day and what would your message to them be?

MS:  The mantle of true leadership is almost always thrust upon those who are capable of bringing about change when it is needed. Today, in most places we are free to practice the Craft. I hope the Craft priests and priestesses will use that freedom to maintain the sacredness of the Craft rituals, beliefs, and evolution. ‘Fire Child’ is not a teaching book although some readers may learn from my mistakes.

TWPT:  Tell me about something in your book that surprised you once you had written it.

MS:  The naivety that had once protected me from knowledge that could have stopped my walking the path of the Initiate is now a cultivated strength that enables inner acceptance.

TWPT:  Fire Child is an interesting title. What does it signify about the life and times of Maxine Sanders?

MS:  Originally, the book was to be called ‘Dancing with Destiny’. After Mogg read a few chapters, he came up with the ‘Fire Child’ title. I did not like it; however, it made sense as one of the first adventures into other worlds was via the element of fire. The salamanders have been a constant challenge throughout life and whilst causing much pain, they have proved to be worthwhile lessons through the course of life and initiation.

TWPT:  Tell me about your relationship with Mandrake of Oxford and how they helped make Fire Child a reality?

MS:  So many publishers, big and small, wanted me to sign up with them and for a while, it was quite flattering. It was difficult for me to enter their world of commerce; that was not the reason for writing the book. I needed a publisher who would try to understand my idiosyncrasies which includes stubbornness, which is sometimes quite incomprehensible.

Mandrake of Oxford published the book without my having to metaphorically sell my soul, sign a contract or compromise my belief in trust.

TWPT:  When someone writes an autobiography they have to decide just how personal they are going to get with the contents of the book as they write it. Were there areas of your life that you felt were too personal to share with the readers of your book and where was it that you drew the line in regards to what you would and wouldn’t share? 

MS:  Memories recorded in diaries and just remembered events that I thought would be of interest were included. I have tried to be open and honest regarding my personal feelings throughout the writing; not all of them were pleasant. There were certain living people who had hurt or abused me who I chose not to empower; I did this by omitting their name or changing it.  However, my feelings regarding ‘Fire Child’ are that it is finished. Now the chickens need feeding, the alpaca’s checking and the house prepared for the Elders who will be celebrating with me in a few days.

TWPT:  Looking back what was ahigh point in your life that will always be something that you cherish? Was there a corresponding low point that also stands out in your mind?

MS:  So many jewels, even the sad memories are treasured. I have had a most interesting life. Thehigh point was in the mid 70s when the coven of ‘The Temple of the Mother’ came into being. The magic was at its peak.

The lowest point was having to accept that it was not possible to be with Alex when he died and I was a prisoner of my own vulnerability.

TWPT:  When someone buys a copy of your book and reads through to the last page what is it that you want them to take away from having read your book about who you are and how you’d like to be remembered?

MS:  Fire Child is not a teaching book. I believe it answers a few questions and with a bit of luck will provoke debate. Most of all, I think most people will enjoy reading it and find it as interesting and exciting as it was to live.  

To be remembered, as the priestess who stayed true to herself and Witchcraft, would be a fine epitaph.

TWPT:  Now that the book is done what are your thoughts on the process as a whole of setting your life down on paper and putting it out as a book? Is it something that you would recommend to others even if it would never be published as a way of understanding who they are?

MS:  Yes, the first draft of the book written over ten years ago was a great cleansing of the soul experience. The fact that it was self-indulgent enabled me to move on. The fact that it was badly written taught me that I was still making mistakes, still learning and out of that particular learning ‘Fire Child’ has come into being.

TWPT:  Has writing Fire Child helped you to understand yourself a little better by taking a long look at where you’ve been and where you’ve come from?

MS:  No, as an Initiate it is a daily practice to write a magical diary, to analyze the wrongs, rights, failings, and achievements of each day. The book ‘Fire Child’ by its very nature and of necessity is an interesting snippet of those diaries

TWPT:  Will there be things in Fire Child that folks will be surprised to learn about you?

MS:  I am sure!

TWPT:  If Alex were still with us what would he say about your book and the topics that you decided to include and exclude? Would he have been supportive of your efforts to tell your story?

MS:  When Alex and I were together, he told me that I would write a book about my life. He was extremely honest about his failings as am I. Alex would have loved the book even though it does rather contradict and sometimes verifies some of the rumors that Alex encouraged. There was so much to write about and choices’ regarding what was in the book. I thought it better to keep it interesting rather than meander into repetition of magical delights and
dilemma’s. Alex, I am sure, would have chosen differently to me. Maybe in a couple of years a book called ‘In the Coven of the King’ may come into being. In the meantime, I am an occultist and have work to do, magical and otherwise. I endeavor to look forward with joyful anticipation to new adventures, magical, spiritual and material.

TWPT:  And finally what would you like to send forward to future generations via the life you’ve lived and to those who have yet to find this path and make it their own?

MS:  The safety and continuity of the freedom to practice the Craft depends on it rituals and practices being kept sacred.

TWPT: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me again Maxine. I wish you well on your path and I hopeyou will always find the thrill of life and the joy of living. May the Lord and Lady richly bless you. Take care.