The Author's Corner
Witch in the Boardroom:
Witch in the Boardroom:
TWPT: To start off let's explore your past a bit. How was it that you first came to hear about Witchcraft and what were your first impressions of this spiritual path?
SD: I believe that the things that we are born to do pretty much run as themes through our lives. Hints to what is important, if you like. I think there was a hint of what I would eventually become through what I loved as a child. I loved nature, animals, the sky, storms and was very, very inquisitive.I loved to write and draw. My parents were lapsed Christians but sent me for a Catholic education simply because the schools were better here in Australia. It was fairly early in the peace that I began to argue with nuns over issues such as whether dogs and cats went to heaven (Apparently they don't, so I answered why would it be heaven without dogs and cats? Detention.)It was as a late teen that I began to think about what it was spiritually that I was missing.I knew that I wasn't Christian. I knew there was something out there, but didn't know what. I began to look at lots of different spiritual practises, but it was The Witches Way that felt like home. It empowered me, particularly as a woman, and it deeply honoured nature and the connectedness of all things. I just felt excited and almost chosen. I still feel very grateful that I have found the Goddess and the kind of co-creative relationship I have with Her.
TWPT: Was it something that immediately appealed to you as a potential path or was it something that you had to grow into over time?
SD: Its appeal was immediate, but I realised I had to find the 'right path for me'. There was so much variety, so many options. Will I join a coven? Will I be a solitary? Do I prefer one tradition over another?
What about deities...how do I feel about them?
I definitely honed my practise and learnt as much as I could so I could make decisions about my belief that was good for me and that enabled me to be of service to others.
TWPT: It has gotten easier for seekers to find information since the advent of the internet and a plentiful supply of books covering a wide range of topics about Witchcraft but what were some of the resources you found helpful during your own initial pursuit of Witchcraft?
SD: Oh how I love the way the net links us now! Our online presence is astounding! And yes, even back then there were plenty of early adopters spreading the word. Other than the net, I read voraciously. all the usual Wiccan/Pagan authors plus I did a lot of research on ancient history, anthropology and comparative religion so I could have a broad understanding of the history and mysteries of what I was interested in. I also found speaking to other witches invaluable.
TWPT: What were your impressions of the online Wiccan/Pagan community as you started to explore the many facets to this path and did you ever do any face to face exploring during your "getting to know the path" years? Any thoughts on the folks that you met during these explorations?
SD: I found most people very helpful, but there were quite a few really 'out there' people that were not offering anything but their own egos. I think it's really important to reject any one who sets themselves up as a guru or says that there way is the only way. Yes, I did do some face to face exploring, but normally through more formal workshops or through invitations from people I got to know. I was very wary always of putting myself in situations that were murky or potentially dangerous. I think its important that the more experienced member of the Witch community help establish ethical standards so that young people coming into the Craft are protected.
TWPT: Your book is about a blending of your career and your spiritual path so tell me about your educational background in regards to business and getting started in the business world after graduation from college.
SD: I got a Communications Degree and really haven't stopped learning since then. I have qualifications in Public Relations, journalism, marketing, sales training and now I'm a specialist in Customer and Competitive Intelligence. I am a big advocate of learning on the job so I even though I do have a number of formal qualifications I tend to favour on the job experience. The real world has taught me far more than any school could.
TWPT: Getting in the door at a company does not always assure someone of success as far as a career goes. Tell me about the challenges you faced in regards to moving up the corporate ladder from your perspective as a woman and a witch and whether these challenges were what you expected to face when you entered the business world.
SD: Oh boy...do you want this in alphabetical order? :) Firstly, I didn't come out of the broom closet corporately until the launch of my book a year ago in Australia. (But more of that next question)As a woman though, I do think things seem better, but the issues have just become more covert. As a feisty ambitious girl entering the working world, I thought I would change everything simply by being amazingly good. I remember my first job in an ad agency. I thought my Christmases had come at once when my boss asked me to go to lunch with him and a client 6 months after I started. At last...Ill meet the client that I have been producing great work for, so my boss must really appreciate me. Day before the meeting my boss popped his head into my office and reminded me of the lunch and the fact that it would be great if I wore a short skirt. I was mortified back then, but as a young woman didn't have the know how to deal with it.
This all still happens today, although much more subtly. Let me give you an example: we have sexual discrimination laws in Australia and I'm imagining in the U.S. as well which make it against the law to pay women less than men for the same job. Yet why is it in both our countries that women still earn less than men in the same jobs? There are now more women passing the bar in law than men, but within 5 years of passing, they are earning an average of 15% less than the men. If this is the case in 'educated professions' imagine what it's like out there in factories or on the shop floor. I also didn't think I would ever have to face bullies, the peaks and troughs of recessions and the horrors of office politics.
TWPT: Did the fact that you were a witch ever become an issue for you in the workplace? Or was it even known among your co-workers that you were a witch?
SD: I didn't believe my spiritual practise had any relevance in the workplace. I felt that people on average didn't understand what I was in to, and thus really it was none of their business. The bad PR about Witchcraft was still so strong that I thought it may damage any chance of a successful career particularly if I had a strongly Christian boss.
I think there was perhaps one or two people that I had grown close to over time and developed a friendship socially that knew a little of what I did. Of course they were curious but it didn't bother them. However, I came to realise that it was disruptive and inauthentic to hide a big part of myself.
TWPT: You say that you came to realize that it was "disruptive and inauthentic" to hide this big part of yourself, what did this realization mean to you insofar as your chosen path was concerned?
SD: Well I guess it did two things. It made me seriously look at how committed I really was and also that it was time that I extended my chosen spirituality into every corner of my life. This was fairly confronting and frightening actually. This would mean revealing a lot of who I am to the world.But it was surprisingly easy once I began. People really don't care that much if they know you for a bit before you 'come out' in a business situation. I just made sure it was an appropriate setting and didn't make a big deal of it.
TWPT: When did you start to develop the idea of using magic to obtain your business goals? Was this something brand new to you or had you been using it all along during your business career?
SD: I was using it all along, although I certainly got better at it and began to pass on my techniques to others. Seeing the old ways applied to the modern workplace and work was really wonderous. It really changed lives.
TWPT: Would it be a true statement that many spiritual people like to view their careers and their spiritual activities as separate and distinct pursuits within their lives never realizing the resources they could bring to bear on their careers from a spiritual power base? Why is this and what created this mindset in people?
SD: Absolutely. We have learnt to compartmentalise our spiritual and working lives. I think there are a couple of reasons for this, and just two of the biggies are that we believe we can't be materially AND spiritually rich; and the second is that money and work are things we shouldn't pray for. I believe that we are all born with a Goddess given purpose...we get lots of hints as I've said, but we have to get out of our own way to reveal them. Work is a key part of what we are here for. Wicca, Witchcraft and most pagan religions have at their centre a huge creative force. It doesn't matter what you do with this as long as you 'Harm None'. To not ask for the Goddess to provide you with prosperity or to refuse an opportunity sent, is simply like saying to Her "Talk to the hand!" It is in the workplace that we most often feel confronted, challenged or even disrespected...and isn't this a place where you could do with a Witchcraft led solid personal foundation so that you can not only weather these storms, but triumphantly transform them?
TWPT: Tell me about an instance where you were able to use your "business magic" to bring about a desirable outcome for a business situation you were facing at the time that would not have turned out otherwise without your intervention.
SD: I think some of the most powerful 'interventions' are those that I have used to boost my self esteem, self knowledge, self trust and self care.
Without these elements it is difficult to establish a good solid personal foundation which channels power from the inside out rather than relying on other people to give you those things from the outside in.
Being able to negotiate a tough deal or diffuse a situation where someone who is more senior is behaving badly are good examples.
TWPT: Do you have to be careful that while you are crafting your spells that you don't tread on someone else's free will in the process? Can you ever be absolutely sure of how circumstances might change for someone else before you work your magic?
SD: Yes you must always be mindful of this. I like to always add the old Wiccan insurance policy of : If it be for the good of all" to all my spells. This gives the Goddess a chance to co-create something even better for me if I haven't come up with it. (Which I'm sure is often!).
No, you cant be sure of anything especially when it comes to constant change, but you can ask for what is best or ideal for you. This is where faith comes in.
TWPT: So when was it that you decided that the wisdom you were gaining in your magical approach to the office, firstly might be something that others would be very interested in finding out about and secondly that this sharing would be best suited to be shared in the from of a book?
SD: Probably 4 years ago the thought occurred to me that it may be a good idea to share some of what I knew was working with more people. I felt there wasn't a lot of information of this kind out there, nor was it written by someone who was living and breathing a high stress corporate life. At this time also, I was asking the Goddess to steer me towards starting a Great Work...something that I could dedicate to the community (not just the Pagan one) in her name. I have always been a writer, so a book seemed a good idea, although frankly, I didn't at first believe it could happen!
TWPT: What arrangement did you decide upon for the layout of the information in your book Witch in the Boardroom and why did you feel that this would be an effective way of communicating these ideas?
SD: I wanted to write it in such a way that it wouldn't be seen as just another spellbook. I wanted to prove that magic worked and worked effectively, efficiently and to do that I needed to try these techniques on Wiccans and non Wiccans. So case studies became a big part of the book. Ordinary people getting extraordinary results. I also wanted to link it with business world and I guess I did that well as the book has been reviewed extremely favourably by mainstream financial press.
TWPT: Is your book aimed at a particular skill level when it comes to who will benefit most from what's between the covers? Can a novice to the path pick it up and use it just as effectively as someone who has been on the path for 20 years?
SD: I have tried to write something that will be of benefit whether you are a complete novice or very experienced. I emphasise the need for participation and to write your own stuff against a good solid framework which I provide...and every level can benefit from that. I do try and give a good grounding in the history of the Craft through a non pagan viewpoint so that people really get that this isn't a new philosophy nor a weird new agey one.
TWPT: Business can be filled with cutthroat attitudes and with those folks who have no qualms about advancing their career through sticking the knife in your back. How is it that you create magickal workings that don't violate the idea that you shouldn't do harm with your magic but keeps you in the game? In other words how is it that you compete on level ground but don't lower yourself to the level of those who would do anything to anyone to succeed?
SD: I guess the easy answer id that you stick with the Witches redes or guidelines and don't sink to their level. I kind of like to think anyone reading the techniques in my book can be a Trojan horse if you like inside their company...changing things through a more ethical, yet covert way. Instead of attacking someone back, shielding yourself or being so solid that it just rolls off like water off a ducks back is far more effective than bullying back. It's a choice. A conscious choice. I think we can be incredibly effective in business by knowing our strengths and converting our shadows so that we are really competitive.
For example have you ever met someone in business or in a service who is amazingly passionate and really good at what they do? They are always busy with clients or customers and they rarely need to do much promotion because its all word of mouth. That's the Witches Way..attraction rather than pushing for business.
TWPT: During the course of any given business day do you ever feel the need to connect with deity to strengthen yourself against a particularly brutal day in the office and how do you allow yourself a few moments to "recharge"?
SD: Absolutely. Almost every day! I had a really bad day recently where someone gave me some really negative feedback that wasn't true. It was purley something out of spite and something that they believed was true as they didn't have the full story. Although it was pretty much sorted out by being calm and actively listening, I was really shocked by this discussion. So much so that I began to question myself, which of course starts a downward cycle of low self esteem, lack of self trust etc.
However I cut these feelings off by connecting with one of my patron deities Artemis, who for me is the Goddess of Selfhood holding me to who I am and an independent path, and also to Durga for some help with boundaries. I then called up my Power Circle for a boost to my personal foundation. Power Circles are a technique in my book, very simple, that you can learn to boost your levels of self care, self esteem, self trust and self knowledge.
TWPT: You are also the founder and facilitator of the International Online Career Coven. First off tell me about the circumstances that inspired you to found this group and what it is that you hoped to accomplish by bringing it to life.
SD: I needed some help! I was over being an Alone Ranger trying to do everything myself. I realised that to keep me on the path and to my goals I needed some like minds to support me. I thought it was also important that I could help them too. I originally got together with two girlfriends and we tried to work out collaboratively what we needed to do to make things happen career wise to be satisfied but also within the Witches Principals. We met once a week and provided help online or with calls in between. I found early on that even if sometimes we are tired or lazy or scared to do something, that we will do it for the others in the group! It was like having a cheer squad and a bunch of wise women to coach me every day!
I began to open the online covens to some contacts overseas and soon I had online Career Covens with up to 8 or 9 nationalities on them, all discussing business and careers with each other. The cross pollination of ideas was incredible and many friends were made. The bonds in these CCs are really strong, because people feel they are getting success and helping others too. It's having a bit of skin in the game! I think the fact that its free and confidential is also a big drawcard. The next project will be to extend the concept for relationships. My next book is called Witch in the Bedroom and I am trialing Sensual Circles under a similar concept at present.
TWPT: Are the Career Covens strictly for Witches/Wiccans etc or can folks who walk other spiritual paths find support here too?
SD: No, you don't have to be Wiccan or a Witch to participate, but you do have to be open to the Principals outlined in my book.
TWPT: Do you ever see this online association crossing over to the brick and mortar world and having some face to face meetings to further offer support to the members?
SD: Yes we already do more face to face covens than online, but Im nort aware of every coven of course. There must be many that run without me knowing about them which is the right way!
TWPT: Is Witch in the Boardroom only going to be of benefit if someone works in an office setting in a big company or can it be adapted to other business settings outside of a large formal office as well?
SD: No..its very broad in its application. The case studies feature many people outside formal offices. People with their own businesses, educators, consultants and creative people have given me great feedback.
Its particularly relevant for those who are transitioning between one job/career to another.
TWPT: Your book has been out in Australia a little longer than it has in the states but how has it been received by the community in the time it has been available? Any different kinds of reactions from your home turf as opposed to the reaction it has gotten when it became available in the states?
SD: I had an amazing response in Australia especially from women in business. I also had a lot of Pagans who would have never come out of the broom closet previously say that I have modelled a new way for them that enables them to be more visible. I'm very grateful for that. I also did get a few Pagan people who had the opposite view who thought that marrying the commercial with the spiritual was a bad idea. I think Australians on the whole are a little more relaxed and willing to live and let live. In the States, the reaction has been slower, almost like people are taking time to digest things. I think that outside the community Witchcraft is still seen as either Satanist or a gimmick. Some of the articles in the press about me were kind of painting me as a novelty which of course I have taken great pains to avoid. I think the U.S. has a much stricter Christian Right than we do here so interviewing a Witch as a normal person is less likely to happen.
TWPT: When everything is said and done what kind of impact would you like your book to have on those who pick it up and read it? What would you like to see the reader take back into the workplace with them as far as the concepts and ideas that you present in your book?
SD: I passionately want them to see that there is a different way to being successful than some of them believe. You don't have to crush, kill and destroy :) to get where you want to go. The ancient ways are just as valuable and relevant as they have always been. I would also like people to see that the Witches Way is something that isn't related to Satanism or weird cults. I want them to begin to see that it's a rich and powerful spiritual tradition that is completely empowering, and as such, gives them a roadmap to greater personal satisfaction, not just in the workplace, but in life generally.
TWPT: In closing what words of wisdom would you like to leave our readers with in regards to what you have found to be truisms when it comes to being a Witch in the workplace whether that workplace is a large one or a small one?
SD: Develop your power from the inside out, not the outside in. Develop yourself first and then everything gets easier. Be yourself. Don't flaunt your spiritual practise, but demonstrate the change you want to see.
TWPT: Thanks for taking the time to give us some insights into your new book and about you as a person. Good luck with your future efforts in business and writing.