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The Author's Corner

 

Lilith McLelland
Photo
 Bruce Laing

 

 

 
Out of the Shadows: Myths and Truths of Modern Wicca

 




Salem Witches' Book
of Love Spells


Spellcraft:
A Primer for the Young Magician

 

 

 

Out of the Shadows:

TWPT Talks to Lilith McLelland
2002-2003TWPT


TWPT:  Tell me about your first encounter with Wicca and what was it that convinced you that this path might be the one for you?

LM:  I was living in Texas, working in the woman's movement in the 1970's, when a friend and fellow feminist, Morgan McFarland, formed the American Dianic trad (now the McFarland Dianics). I was fascinated, and learned from her, but I wasn't ready to make that committment. However, the exposure to Wicca stayed in the back of my mind for years. The whole idea of women's spirituality and a female deity in equal power to a male deity appealed to me. The McFarlands were very grounded in that female-male equality, Morgan having worked in the women's movement.

TWPT:  Did you have a spiritual background prior to your encounter with Wicca and if so how did that help or hinder you when it came time to set foot on this new path?

LM:  I was a member of the Anglican Community in the U.S., the American Church of England. At one time I was considering Holy Orders into an Anglican convent. And to top that off, one of my ancestors married into the family of Sir Thomas More, now a Catholic saint. As to how it influenced my approach to Wicca... well, I was used to a very structured, very formal way of worship. You'd think that would have made me gravitate to the Gardnerians, wouldn't you? But when I became a Wiccan, all past religious associations became irrelevant. I had outgrown all that long before.

When I decided to be initiated into Wicca, I formally dissolved the covenants I'd made with the Christian god and spirits, thanking them for the years of help, but telling them that I was freeing myself to move in another direction. It was kinda like getting a divorce so I could remarry.

TWPT:  Did you have any trouble finding others of like mind in your community and making contact with them? Were these contacts what you  had in mind when you set out to make them?

LM:  It's funny, but I've never had any trouble finding other Wiccans. I think I can sniff us out -- must be the incense. And you know how it is: if you can find one Wiccan, you'll find lots more.

TWPT:  Has your practice been mainly in covens or as a solitary? Did you find that there were advantages to going one way or the other?

LM:  I was a solitary for a while. At the time, there weren't a lot of Wiccan books, but Morgan had recommended The Golden Bough and -- Goddess help us! -- The White Goddess. I never finished the Graves. But the Frazer led to other anthropological source material. It proved to be valuable as I went on.

About 1986 I was living in Boston and visited Salem, where I found out about Laurie Cabot's classes in magic. I took both of  her "Witchcraft as a Science" classes, which were very interesting: she incorporated a little of everything: Hermetic magic, Silva Mind Control methods, self-hypnosis, ceremonial magic, guided meditations, shamanism.  I didn't go on to take her "Religion" class, which was probably a good thing, because instead of being spoon-fed someone else's version of Wicca, I did a lot of studying on my own. Later, I met other Wiccans from other Trads, which gave me a wider viewpoint than some of my friends who stayed in Salem. Salem is very insular in its religious practices.

I founded my first teaching coven in 1990 with Willow de la Mer, a high priest. We were so nervy that we advertised in the Classifieds that we were teaching classes in Witchcraft -- and gave my phone number! (You'll notice that Willow didn't give his -- he and his wife were no fools!) We had a lot fewer nutcases call than you'd think, but the couple who did call were sensationally crazed, so we got a few laughs. Mostly, the people who signed up were very sincere. They sort of had to be: we were putting them through five weeks of intensive training. We ended up with a class of twenty-two, out of which we formed a coven of thirteen. It was a lot of responsibility, but was worth it. They were a great group.

I moved back to Salem in 1994 and I've been a solitary ever since. I can't make any value judgements on the solitary-vs-coven questions, because each has its advantages, but I'd definitely recommend that beginners not be too hasty to join a coven. You're likely to learn one philosophy and neglect to look beyond it. Even if your first Trad is perfect for you, you should know about the rest of Wicca.

TWPT:  When was it that you first started to get involved as an activist for the Wiccan religion and what was it that motivated you to step up to this heightened level of involvement with the community?

LM:  My former high priest,Willow, was a Wiccan activist. He'd been Connecticut Director of W.A.R.D. And I've always been involved in activism for various minority groups, since my days in the women's movement. I was part of a group of Wiccans and Spiritualists who persuaded the State of Connecticut to repeal a 1915 fortunetelling law that was definitely an abridgement of Wiccans' rights to free religious practice. That was definitely not fun, but it was successful.

TWPT:  When was it that Alliance for Earth Religions came into the picture? Was this something that you founded or an existing group that you became involved with? Give me a little background on the goals of Alliance for Earth Religions and what it would like to see accomplished?

LM:  We say that the first rule of the Alliance is that you don't talk about the Alliance! We're an extremely boring group, is why. It was first formed in 1996 with four or five friends in order to do what needs to be done, quietly and on our own initiatives, with no undue fanfare. We don't have any stated goals except to advance the religion in whatever ways we can. When we formed, we were tired of activist groups who make a lot of fuss, call a lot of press conferences, jump into situations without knowing enough about the cases or the people involved, and generally riding the publicity bandwagon without actually doing much except calling attention to themselves. We have no officers, no formal structure, no "mission statements," no rules or goals other than to strengthen the religion by whatever means we can, through individual or group action. Although some of us are public Wiccans, we recognize the fact that some Wiccans want to work for the religion but can't go public, and they shouldn't be made to feel that they can't contribute. We have only one book recommendation: 50 Things You Can Do to Advance Pagan Religion, by Cassius Julianus of the Julian Society.

One of the things we're working for now is a professional lobbyist in Washington to represent the interests of Wicca. If the Religious Right can do it, so can we. I wouldn't mind buying a few Congressmen, preferably cute ones.

TWPT:  Tell me about your desire to write (when were you bitten by the writing bug) and what you hoped you could accomplish with your books?

LM:  I've been writing on one subject or another since grade school. It's always nice to finally get paid for it. My books on Wicca and magic are intended to be instructional. And entertaining. Too many Wiccan books are so stuffy that they might as well have been written by the Pope. Plenty of reverence, but very little mirth.

One of the most important books I've written -- important to me, anyway -- is a book for older children and teens, Spellcraft: A Primer for the Young Magician. It's a book of magical empowerment for kids, teaching them that they have power inside them and all they need is to learn how to tap into it and use it ethically. It's magic and not Wicca, because I didn't want to teach religion to other people's children, but I did want kids to know that they're not powerless or "just kids," that they can feel more in control over their own situations.

TWPT:  How did writing fit into your schedule with your activist work and being a High Priestess? When did you find the time to sit down and plan out your books, novels and scripts?

LM:  When you really want to do something, you'll make the time. I was unemployed for a while, too, which is when I wrote my first book. I don't recommend unemployment as a stimulus for writing.

TWPT:  When was it that you decided to take your writings to the next level and find a publisher for your material? Tell us about the process that you had to go through in searching for and securing a deal with a publisher for your first book?

LM:  My first Wiccan book was the kid's book, Spellcraft. I'd been published before, but it was for fiction unconnected with Wicca or Paganism. Spellcraft was very difficult to sell, because in 1996, no publisher wanted to touch a book that linked children with Wicca or magic, even though many of them said they liked the book. Such was Wicca's reputation as a corrupter of children! Now, thanks to Harry Potter, I'd have a much easier time of it. But the book was published by a small press and has done very well, although I don't make much money from it. I get a lot of mail about it, even though it has the wrong author's address listed in it. I really like that book because so many kids and parents have told me that they feel so comfortable with the way it presents the subject.

I wrote in Out of the Shadows that one of the reasons kids are good with magic is that they understand magical ethics right away, whereas adults are always trying to find a loophole around them.

TWPT:  What other forms of writing do you do (besides spiritual books) and why the diversification?

LM:  I like writing fiction, and started out writing horror. My first three books became what are now called "cult classics" and are being re-issued, and I had good reviews and some nice publicity for them. I couldn't possibly mix Wicca with this kind of writing, and I wouldn't want to, so I write fiction under my maiden name.

The Wiccan books are written as Lilith McLelland, Lilith being my patron goddess (as a long-time feminist), and McLelland being the surname of my fourth-great grandmother. It's the Wiccan name that I took at my initiation. I wanted to honor my gods and my family.

TWPT:  What are your rewards as a writer for all the time and effort poured into the creation of each one of these books? (beyond the money element that is)

LM:  The reader feedback, and the feeling that I'm helping the religion in some way. Or at least doing what I can to support those who are working so hard to establish Wicca as a valid, living religion.

There's supposed to be money?

TWPT:  Let's talk about your new book Out of the Shadows: Myths and Truths of Modern Wicca. With a first chapter entitled What your Mama didn't Tell you about Wicca I knew that this was not going to be your typical approach to Wicca, tell me about the premise of this book and how you set out to create it.

LM:  You know, I'm not sure this book has much of a cohesive premise, because it rambles on so. But the thought behind it was that Wiccans, and especially prospective Wiccans, are being cheated. We're being cheated because so many people are coming into Wicca with no thought of religion and no real respect for the gods. They want to work what they call "magick" or they want to wear the regalia and collect high-sounding titles and be called "Lady Whatever" or -- and this is sad -- they're just looking for a place and a group to fit into. But they're not interested in religion. They're buying into a Wicca that doesn't exist, then they try to make it exist.

I think that people who actually *are* looking for religion may be reluctant to explore Wicca, even though the goddess-centered beliefs may be perfect for them, simply because we've created and perpetuated a very flaky reputation.

This book was a bitch to write because I had to read tons of books on Wicca, many of them repetitive and inaccurate. Apparently, there's a Wiccan Author's Phrase Generator out there that I'm unaware of. And after I did the reading, I set out to discover where some of this stuff came from. Fortunately, Ronald Hutton had done a lot of this work, letting me off the hook. So I thought that the best way to write about Wicca was to talk to Wiccans, especially those who had been practicing a while. I wanted to hear what they thought, how they were practicing, and what changes they'd gone through from the time they'd started practicing until now. I even sent out questionnaires to people -- the answers pointed me in unexpected directions.

TWPT:  It was obvious that your book was permeated with a desire to show Wicca as it really is and not give it any candy coating at all, do you  find that the myths of Wicca have outweighed the truths of Wicca in the years leading up to 2003?

LM:  It's not that the myths outweigh the truth, it's that no one wants to look at the truth very closely. Like Fox Mulder used to say, the truth is out there: there's a rich library of anthropological and historical works.

I think that many Wiccans are afraid that if they start questioning, the whole shebang will fall apart. Which is ridiculous. Even if we were to find out that Gerald Gardner made up everything as a cosmic hoax, Wicca wouldn't die. It might change. But if you're basing your religion on a sincere belief in the gods and a desire to strengthen the ties between gods and people, then nothing can change that. What *would * happen is that many of the people who came into Wicca for reasons other than a love of the gods would find some other group with nice costumes to join.

Wicca is stuffed with hordes who've read a lot of Tolkien, seen every episode of Star Trek, attend every Renn Faire, and who believe The Mists of Avalon is actual history. The problem comes when they think that all this is relevant in any way to Wicca.

TWPT:  What would your message be for those who approach Wicca simply as a means to get a quick fix in their lives by using the magical aspects of the path to acquire what they want?  Do you think that this is a trend that plays out in other religions as well, i.e. joining up to get something for an immediate problem but not delving deeper into the spiritual aspects of the path, or is this a unique problem because of the hype and misconceptions that color the perception of Wicca in modern society?

LM:  I think the magical aspect is unique to Wicca. Nobody becomes a Baptist to acquire magic powers. But if you're looking to learn magic you don't have to become a Wiccan to do it: become a ceremonial magician. Become a Witch. Join the Masonic Order or the Rosicrucians. None of that has to be a religion.

Of course many other religions have members who join to get that "quick fix." These are the people that you see on TV, weeping and wailing that they messed up their entire lives with drugs or alcohol or abusing their families, but everything's going to be just peachy now because they've handed their lives over to Jesus. They have that brief euphoria, but it doesn't last. That's why they keep having to stage "revivals" to re-create that experience.

Almost nobody bothers to delve into the deeper meanings of the religion they're born into. How many Catholics can actually explain transubstantiation? But if you're choosing a religion, you should be able to get accurate information. All this traditional stuff about Revealing the True Mysteries only to the Initiated is bullshit: it's a control device, designed to set up the same kind of hierarchies present in mainstream religions. "We, the great High Priest and Priestess and our Initiated Ones, are more Enlightened than you newbie rabble. You cannot handle the Great Secrets that we know." Straight out of the dark ages when only the priests could read. Pure ego.

Frankly, I think this stuff should be the first thing we toss overboard. We no longer need it, if we ever did. Yes, you need to give people some religious instruction, but let them know what it is they're working toward and what you believe and why. Why is Wicca hiding the supposed core of our religion from the very people who are looking for it? Is it because there are no Real True Secrets? Dangling this carrot of True Enlightenment is what enables so many incompetent "elders" to get away with some really unconscionable behavior.

TWPT:  In the chapter entitled The Image of Wicca you take aim at those who seem oblivious of the image that they are projecting to those outside of Wicca, what are some of the consequences of not taking the time to understand how you as an individual can affect perceptions well beyond your immediate circle of influence?

LM:  I don't think they're oblivious. In most cases I think they project those images deliberately, to provoke a reaction of some kind. Or they're operating on false beliefs. For example, I mentioned in the book that I had done a TV interview that I wish I could do over. At the time, I thought that dressing in black robes and wearing a big pentacle was striking a blow for religious freedom, making us more visible, an idea that I'd picked up in Salem. I didn't realize that all I was doing was looking like the typical Halloween Witch. Any message about religion was lost in the sensationalism.

When you talk to people about Wicca, it's better if they listen to what you're saying, not that they focus on what you're wearing. Unless, of course, the fashion statement is your objective, and it is for many who call themselves Wiccans.

TWPT:  Do you see this issue of image being a community wide problem or is it confined to a certain sub group within Wicca?  Do you think that for the most part it is a sincere effort on the part of these individuals to live a unique lifestyle or is it more an attempt for these persons to thrust themselves into the spotlight?

LM:  Every Wiccan community has at least one Disney Witch who needs so badly to be in the spotlight, for whatever reason. I don't think it's an effort to live a unique lifestyle because its so ubiquitous. What's "unique" about a whole bunch of people dressing in black and prattering about magic and their psychic powers and awesome lineages? They all look alike, they all sound alike. Unfortunately, we don't even have the consolation that they'll get bored and quickly move on to something else, not as long as their needs are being fed.

The only hope we have is that the people who are serious about the religion will grow out of this. All of us went through the stage of buying every Wiccan book we could find, loading up on crystals and herbs and jewelry, pontificating on every magical subject, and making unfortunate wardrobe choices. Goddess help us, we even bought Yanni music. That part goes away eventually. Our job, if we're real Wiccan elders or just teachers, is to help people get past this and into the really good stuff: the communion with the gods.

Some of us never get over the pontificating. Obviously. We start writing books.

TWPT:  Tell me about the unique focal point that Salem has in the current Wicca/Witchcraft movement. What have been some of the good and the bad points about being a Wiccan and living in Salem?

LM:  I think that Salem doesn't have much of a focal point in dealing with Wicca as a whole, in terms of a worldwide community. Salem is too short-sighted and way too insular. There's not a lot of original thinking. I hate to say it, because I don't want to take potshots at her, but the entire Wiccan focus here is dominated by Laurie Cabot, whether she likes it or intended it or not -- which she probably didn't. But she's attracted a lot of sycophants wanting to ride the celebrity train, and they all believe exactly as she does about Wicca.  They never question her ideas or opinions: we call them the Cabot Patch Kids. When they talk, they sound exactly like her books: they parrot the same ideas and in almost the same words. The most visible covens here came out of the Cabot incubator, no matter how they practice now, and you can tell that they never got all that far from their roots. There's no real diversity or growth of Wiccan thought in Salem, but there's plenty of Wiccan Fundamentalism. For instance, they all go ballistic at the sight of green-faced Halloween decorations, but the current -- and seriously necessary -- trend of re-examining the historical origins of Wicca go right past them. They talk a lot about "correcting misinformation" while perpetuating quite a bit of it. Lineage and "Celtic heritage" means a lot to them but helping develop the next steps that the religion needs in order to survive in the larger context of world religions is not on their agendas. I guess you could say that Wicca in Salem is pretty "old skool."

It's no accident that when the media looks for the stereotypical Witch, they come here first. But I'm glad to see that, as Wiccans all over the country become more visible, that's changing. The Hometown Witches have gotten a lot more interesting and informative -- and inventive as far as the ways they approach problem-solving.

The good part about living in Salem is that Wiccans from all over the country want to visit here, so you get to meet a lot of people. But the serious Wiccans are invariably disappointed here: they're looking for the ideal community, and all they find is a shopping opportunity or tourist attractions that have only a marginal connection to Wicca, if that much. They even have to search real hard to find anything remotely accurate about the 1692 trials which, of course, have nothing to do with Wicca at all.

You also meet a bunch of loonies in Salem. Sorry...I mean, eccentrics. They come from all over! For instance, many of us befriended this shy-seeming woman who once lived here and claimed that she was a rape survivor and a Wiccan, and wanted spiritual counseling. Turned out that she was a flaming psycho who is still stalking four of us (that we know about!) and that she'd done the same thing in other communities. One of her peculiarities is impersonating all of us on Internet newsgroups and chat rooms, but none of us actually post there. Oh well, such is life in the weird wired world.

TWPT:  One of the chapters of your new book deals with discrimination as it applies to the Wiccan religion, could you give me your take on how serious the matter is, whether its getting better or worse, and what can the readers of TWPT do to make a difference in their own communities and protect their rights?

LM:  It's very serious -- when it actually happens. Lots of Wiccans see discrimination where there is none, or they create their own problems. Being a "victim of persecution" garners them attention, or an outlet for that chip on their shoulders. Which makes it more difficult for people who have genuinely been discriminated against.

Discrimination is still there, no doubt about that. Sometimes, the perpetrators don't even see it as discrimination because they have no idea that there's a religious connection: they see Wicca as some trendy fad.  But as Wicca has become more visible as a serious religion, it's easier to fight in the courts. Which is exactly where it should be fought. Each case that we win contributes a precedence to help future cases, and gains us legitimacy.

If you're going to make a difference, you have to know when your rights have been abridged and be willing and able to follow it through the courts, if that's what it takes. Take whatever advice your lawyer gives you and don't be so fast to announce your case to the world. Some of these Wiccan groups, who are after the potential publicity attached to discrimination cases, can make things worse: when a confrontation is forced, you lose your power to negotiate a compromise. And sometimes a peaceful compromise can do more to advance our cause, especially when the discriminator didn't understand that he or she was actually doing wrong. In either case, it's more important to be reasonable than hysterical.

The most important thing you can do is stop feeling ashamed of your religion. Stop feeling that you have no right to speak up just because your religion is considered flaky and others' religions are considered "real". It's amazing the abuse that Wiccans take from non-Wiccans just because they don't have the courage to say, "My religion is just as important to me as yours is to you, so I don't want to discuss it further" and walk away from the discussion. Besides, most of them have some beliefs that are just as wacky as they think ours are.

TWPT:  Do you think that writers in general end up being a defacto voice of the community via their books and does that place a heavier responsibility on authors to be careful of what they are publishing?

LM:  True, and you do have to be careful and check your references. And make sure they're accurate references.  But readers have to stop being such sheep and believing that everything they read about Wicca is the absolute authority. I'm always amused when I read amateur reviews of Wiccan books that include "This is just the author's opinion." Duh. Anybody who writes a book or an essay is only giving their opinion. Even if you're writing a college textbook, you can be selective about the references you use and the facts you cite.

Many authors don't want to do the tedious business of digging through reference books -- it's a nightmare because you have one little sentence in your book, but you might have to go through a dozen books and two trips to the library to find the reference for it. You should have seen what I went through trying to find the sources of "Do what you will." It was driving me nuts, because I *thought* that I'd read *somewhere* that it was St. Augustine, but then it might have been Thomas Aquinas or Marcus Aurelius. Or maybe Woody Allen. One of those "A" guys, anyway.

I've published one fluff book, the Love Spells book, which was intended to be funny, and people seemed to enjoy it. But the information on magic and Wicca were serious, and any historical references were checked. The spells were all real: one woman wrote that she'd done the Jethro Bodine "I Like 'Em Big and Dumb" spell three times and it worked every time! Nobody's confessed to doing the "Boinkin' in the Back Seat" spell.

TWPT:  On to another subject that might be a sore spot for those in the community...Witch wars. After witnessing what religious factionism has done to other religious belief systems over the centuries why is it that we as a community can not live and let live when it comes to what we believe and how we practice our faith?

LM:  Wait a minute. What's so bad about religious factionalism? Without it, we'd all be Catholics. Or Jews. Or followers of Ba'al. And while these are fine religions, I'd hate to think these were the only choices. Every major religion started as a faction of some other religion. We already have Wiccan religious factionalism: look at all those eclectic Trads. What it does is give new seekers a wider choice: somewhere out there is a Trad that you can live with.

Religious factionalism is definitely not the same as a Witch war. Witch wars don't have anything to do with religion, they're about ego.

TWPT:  I grant you that diversity is a good thing and in as much as factions do indicate that there are more ways than one to move along our spiritual path then I believe that factions are good as well. Yet when these factions begin to believe that their way is the better path, or the more accurate path, or that their leader holds the true secrets or even that they are the only true path and they begin to actively oppose or belittle other approaches then what's a community to do? And  having seen and experienced persecution directed at us from outside of Wicca why do we turn around and unleash it on each other?

LM:  My answer is still pretty much the same. That's exactly what factionalism does, that's what factions are and how they work, and that's how Protestantism (to name only the biggest) got it's start. They actively opposed and belittled the Catholic church. However, the Protestants are still here and the Catholics are still here, so it obviously did them no harm in the long run. At any rate, there's nothing we can do about it, just like there's nothing we can do about Witch wars -- except not to get involved in them and certainly not to start them. It isn't "persecution" of each other -- the professional victim's favorite word -- when applied to a Witch war, it's sheer childishness and insecurity. You can't teach people to grow up; they're going to have to learn it the hard way. If not, ignore them.

It would certainly be nice if we could get rid of this "persecution" mindset.

TWPT:  On the other side of the coin what are the dangers of not having some form of standards that let folks know when they are being taken advantage of by the self proclaimed elder who wishes to teach you their secrets for a price?

LM:  First of all, you'll never get any across-the-board standards set. Second, what are you going to do if someone violates those standards? Excommunicate them? Third, the people wanting to set standards are usually the exact people who should NOT be setting them: Wiccan Fundamentalists and glory-seekers.

We need to stop impressing on new seekers that they have to have a teacher or be in a coven to be a "real Wiccan".  What makes you a real Wiccan is your connection to the gods, and the gods will lead you to what you need to know.

This is radical, but I think it's time to dump the entire "secrets" idea anyway. Why do we need secrets? What is it that we're hiding? It's ridiculous. If you want to become a Methodist or a Baptist, you just go to church and find out if it's for you. They'll tell you what they believe (usually whether you want to know or not!). Catholics and Jews put you through an instruction class, but they don't tell you that it's because you have to learn any secrets -- it's because the religious beliefs are complicated. I still say that the whole "secrets" idea is outdated, and in place mainly to support the idea that Wicca is some shadowy group doing dangerous, advanced magic, that only the chosen few can join. This "secrets" deal started because Gardner was a Mason and ripped off so many of the Masonic ideas. Freemasonry isn't a religion. We're not a lodge, and we're not a secret society. Or we shouldn't be, anyway. I'm convinced that many Wiccans would be a lot happier in Skull & Bones.

The only secrets you should be keeping is the identity of your fellow coveners, because discrimination exists. That's supposedly why we take Wiccan names. This is another holdover from the Masons, in which you swore not to reveal anything that could cost a fellow Mason his life or property.

TWPT:  What would you personally like to see happen in the next few years within the Wiccan community to help it move forward in a positive direction into the future?

LM:  More political action. More voter registration. More awareness of what the candidates represent. More writing your Congresspeople and making them aware of what Wicca is.

Less ego from the so-called Elders. More help and respect for new seekers rather than snide remarks about "newbies." And MUCH less emphasis on magic and more on religion.

TWPT:  Are there any books that you could recommend to our readers that would take them below the surface and expose them to ideas and concepts that they might not get with the popular approach to Wiccan writing?

LM:  You betcha. As I mentioned in the book, Ronald Hutton's THE TRIUMPH OF THE MOON is a good starting place because of his scholarship. Read Joseph Campbell, or at least rent the videotapes. For Wiccan history, you have to read Gerald Gardner. How can you be a Wiccan if you haven't read the guy who started it?  But be sure that you read some history of the Masons for comparison. A good book for that is the last half of Robinson's BORN IN BLOOD, even though it's repetitive -- but it's interesting because Robinson is convinced (and makes a good case) that the Masons were originally the Knights Templar. But reading about Masonry really looks familiar to a Wiccan! You'll keep saying, "So THAT'S where that came from!" Wiccans like to say that Christianity ripped off most of Paganism, but they never admit the debt that Gardner owed to the Masons and Rosicrucians.

Read as much mythology from as many cultures as you can, preferably from textbooks and not from Wiccan books, which can be revisionist. I love this old 1927 textbook called MYTHS AND THEIR MEANING by Max Herzberg, but it's hard to find. If your interest is in Celtic culture, this is one area where you should really avoid most Wiccan books because they tend to lump Celts all together. There were hundreds of Celtic tribes stretching all over Europe, and all the gods were different because they were tribal. Most Wiccans say "Celtic" when they mean "Irish". You're going to have to read ancient European history and anthropology. Fortunately, lots of public libraries are open late.

Don't read the bible. I can't understand why so many Wiccans have whole bible passages memorized just so they can confront christians and quote the bible to them. Why would you want to do that? To prove their beliefs are wrong? Who are you to say their beliefs are wrong any more than they are to dispute ours? For a Wiccan, this is the most massive waste of time I can imagine.

TWPT:  Do you have anything else in the writing hopper that you'd like to make our readers aware of? (most writers do but don't always want to say anything until the project is further along <g>)

LM:  At this point, I think I've probably said it all! But you never know.

TWPT:  Lastly, are there any last words of wisdom, warnings or just humorous tidbits that you would like to share with the readers of TWPT as we finish up this interview?

LM:  Nah. I'd just get myself in trouble, and so far nobody's wanted to hear my superb collection of Jesus jokes. Except the Secret Mystical Exalted and Really Really Elevated Third-Degree-in-the-Shade Initiates of the Sisterhood of Thalia, who regard *everything* as a joke.

TWPT:  Thanks for stopping by and letting us get to know you just a little bit better. Your points are well taken and enlightening and I'm sure that they will stir the cauldron just a little bit. Good luck in whatever it is that you put your hands to in the coming years.