The Author's Corner
Shadow Magick Compendium: Exploring Darker Aspects of
TWPT: What was it that drew you spiritually to Witchcraft as opposed to any of the other spiritual paths that you might have chosen?
RD: Well, a friend of mine introduced me to the Craft in my freshman year of high school. And by "The Craft" I am referring *both* to Witchcraft itself, and the movie of the same title! Yeah, I know, it's 60% inaccurate, but it's an entertaining film! Anyway, I had been researching Christianity and some other paths before finding Paganism and Wicca, and realized how much emphasis on self-empowerment and attunement to the natural world that Witchcraft offered, which is why it appealed to me as such a profound spiritual path, and one that I will walk for life. It's just natural.
TWPT: Was being involved with the Goth subculture something that occurred about the same time in your life as your interest in Witchcraft or were these two separate events in your life? Could you elaborate?
RD: Yep, these two lifestyles blended for me from the start. Now that I think of it, I suppose I was wearing black before getting involved in Paganism, but it wasn't until roughly that time that I actually started listening to Gothic music and following that particular lifestyle in depth. Both lifestyles have always gone together swimmingly for me; I feel that they are energetically related, even though most members of each culture don't feel a strong overlap with the other. Still, the overlap between the two spheres is significant, which is how my book "Goth Craft" came into manifestation.
TWPT: I found it very interesting that you have a degree in anthropology. What is it about anthropology that you enjoy?
RD: There are four types of anthropological study: Cultural, Forensic, Linguistic, and Biological/Physical. I am especially interested in Cultural anthropology, because I love studying other cultures, other mentalities, and other ways of life. Most significantly, I like studying ritual, magick, and religious practices and perceptions crossculturally, because I really think they help enrich our own spirituality!
TWPT: How has this knowledge impacted how you perceive and approach the Witchcraft/Paganism movement in our day and age? Does it give you more of a perspective of how they (Witchcraft/Paganism) fit into the broader scheme of things in a spiritually pluralistic society?
RD: Sure; the perception of magick is absolutely crosscultural. Magick is seen, defined, and utilized differently by every culture, but in the end, it's still there; it still exists and is acknowledged. Knowing this, and seeing other peoples' perceptions of magick, help give a wider definition to my own understanding of the magickal arts. Not to mention, anthropologically studying indigenous religions adds a whole dimension to my perceptions of shamanism and "natural" Craft, from which modern Paganism is strongly influenced.
TWPT: Why is it that people in general are drawn to the Goth lifestyle in the first place? What are they seeking to express about themselves that can't be expressed in other ways?
RD: Goth celebrates darkness in a creative, artistic, and harmless way. To expound on shamanism, it's a crosscultural shamanic ideology that one must face the shadow of the self, society, etc., in order to truly see and embrace the "light," if you will. Coming to terms with one's own darker nature (which does *not* just mean one's evil or sinister nature) is essential for cultivating awareness. This is why I think dark culture is inherently spiritual; it's embracing and expressing--through art, music, fashion, literature, etc.--darkness, which can provide much healing and spiritual growth.
TWPT: So what was it that made you decide to write Goth Craft?
RD: There is such a convergence between magickal spirituality and dark culture--Goth in particular--that the book was just waiting to be written. I'm happy that I can be the one to deliver it! I originally got the idea on a vision quest of sorts, and went with it, and brought the vision to life!
TWPT: Do you think that there are just as many misconceptions about the Goth lifestyle as there are about being a Witch?
RD: Oh yes, most definitely. Both lifestyles are a bit "shrouded" and misunderstood; it's easy for people to assume things based on fear; it gives the illusion of in-the-know-ness. When a person accurately researches these two lifestyles, their intentions can become much more clear. When one puts their prejudices aside, they can see that both Goth and Craft are genuine and self-empowering paths.
TWPT: So when someone asks you for a definition of what it means to be Goth what do you say to them especially if they don't seem to understand the attraction or the concept?
RD: Well, I begin by explaining that Goth is a subculture that was originally a spliter of the Punk subculture, and that it arose in late 70s England. I explain that Goth is about music, art, and creativity, and that the culture allows one to immerse themselves in their own darker, more sorrowful nature. From there, I usually get into spiritual concepts, and discuss what Goth means to me as an esotericist.
TWPT: What do you get when you combine Witchcraft and a Goth lifestyle? Is it simply an outward expression or is there a deeper internal component that is present but not as easy to see?
RD: I tend to think that the two lifestyles intertwine on the bases of emotional expression and healing. I think both paths are very much internal, in that magickal, mystical, esoteric paths seek self-transformation, and dark culture brings internal darkness into awareness, which is itself transformative. Certainly, there are a number of "darker" aspects of the magickal arts that Goths and dark culturists find appealing, many of which are discussed in "Goth Craft" as well as my forthcoming "Shadow Magick Compendium," the latter of which actually does away with the "Gothic" element and brings to the forefront the "shadow."
TWPT: Do you find that Witchcraft/Paganism is a good match when it comes to combining them with or into the Goth lifestyle?
RD: Absolutely! No spiritual path goes better with dark culture!
TWPT: What is the purpose that you had in mind when you wrote Goth Craft?
RD: Basically, I wanted to provide a guide for people who are either involved in both lifestyles, or for those who are involved in one or the other and are curious about the other and how it might correlate.
At the same time, I structured the book in such a way that a person who is completely unfamiliar, yet interested, in both lifestyles can pick up the book and learn about each independently. Hence the breakdown of "Goth" types and magickal paths in the first two chapters.
TWPT: Are there going to be those who take one look at the cover/title and make a snap judgement about whether they should read the book or not? And what would you say to those who might brush off the book as a less than serious title that is not worth the effort to read?
RD: Yep, I've actually gotten that already: a white-lighter saw the cover of the book and got a "bad feeling" about it. I'm so sure. Seriously, folks! The book is actually lighthearted in most parts, and even the sections on necromancy, body modification, blood magick, and spiritual drug use are approached without utmost seriousness. Snap judgements are silly and unrealistic, but that's the American way. As for those that don't think it's a serious effort, or feel that it's a book for beginners, I say "crack it open and read a bit, and then let me know if you feel the same way!"
TWPT: The term dark is used quite often to refer to many things Goth. Why is that and what does it really mean when applied to the Goth subculture?
RD: Well, "dark" means something different for everybody. In terms of Goth, I feel that it represents the current of the subculture. The darkness is internal, is external, is everywhere. There are many layers and many interepretations when it comes to "darkness" or the "shadow." Darkness within Goth is expressed through music, fashion, literature, and other forms of art. Most often, this is the internal darkness--sorrow, predominently--that is artistically expressed.
TWPT: Does Goth Craft go into many details when it comes to the actual practice of Wichcraft? And if so does it lean towards any particular tradition?
RD: "Goth Craft" examines many different magickal paths and doesn't lean towards any particular tradition. Its overarching focus is on Witchcraft and Neopaganism, but the book also delves into additional occult ideas and even looks at Buddhist thought.
TWPT: What kind of topics are covered in Goth Craft and do you have to have any previous knowledge about Witchcraft/Paganism to be able to understand it?
RD: The book is accessible to a wide audience. I think that no matter where a person is in their spiritual studies, they will be able to take something from the tome. I like to think of the book as "intermediate" as opposed to simply "beginners" or "advanced." It's my style to cover a wide range of subjects!
TWPT: What is it that makes Witchcraft Goth Craft and not just Witchcraft with some dark clothes and dark eyeliner? Is there something definitive that tells you that someone is committed to the Goth subculture or that they are just looking the part but don't really follow it?
RD: I think it boils down to one's outlook on life. It's psychological. If a person finds beauty in darkness and the Gothic expression--especially music--it shows that they are "truly" Gothic.
Goth is much more than a fashion statement. "Goth Craft" is not a particular tradition, which is something I emphasize in my book. The levels on which these two cultures correspond are different for everyone. I don't think there is such a thing as "Gothic magick," and instead feel that there are certain aspects of magickal spirituality that is appealing to those involved in dark culture.
TWPT: Are you happy with what you were able to cover in the book?
RD: I'm more satisfied with the book than I can even begin to say! The editors, artworkers, and numerous people who lent their energy to the project have made it a better work of art than I ever could have asked for.
TWPT: Who is Goth Craft aimed at? In other words who might benefit from reading this book?
RD: The book is accessable to people who are interested either in Gothic culture, magickal spirituality, or both, regardless of where they stand personally. I think that anyone wanting to know more about either will benefit from the text.
TWPT: You've been busy. You have another book due out next year. Is it going to have any relation to Goth Craft as far as who the book is aimed at or the content?
RD: Oh yes! Very busy. Always busy! The second book, "Shadow Magick Compendium" does away with the Gothic element. Readers of the first book will enjoy the second, but the second is not Goth-specific, which will make it appealing to an even wider audience. "Shadow Magick Compendium" explores the many levels of the "shadow," including the internal shadow, the external shadow, the astral shadow, the shadow of nature, and the shadow of society. Fun!
TWPT: Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers about your new book Goth Craft or about the Goth subculture in general?
RD: Sure: as a Pagan, if you are interested in Gothic culture or "darker" aspects of magickal spirituality, you may like my book. More specific information can be found on the Amazon.com, Llewellyn.com, and Witchvox.com listings for the book. My website is www.ravendigitalis.com, which also lists book information and tour dates. I hope the book benefits you on your spiritual path! I'm so happy to be writing about the darker spiritual current and delivering information that can help and benefit fellow spiritual seekers.
Thanks, TWPT, for the interview, and for having such an awesome webpage! Blessed be.
TWPT: Glad you like TWPT and we are always happy to talk to authors both new and established to see just what is on their minds when they release a new book. Thanks for stopping by and talking with me about Goth Craft and I wish you success with this book and the Shadow Magick Compendium when it comes out.