1. A Witch’s Notebook appears to be a very compact book when compared to your previous book, Solitary Witch . Yet upon reading it I found it jam-packed with historical references, intermediate to complex ritual, spell, and mindwork techniques, and plenty of frank philosophical and scientific commentary pertaining to the Craft and the active journey toward enlightenment. How would you describe this book and what was your intent in writing it?
A Witch’s Notebook was solution-oriented in several respects. When you have written over eighteen titles on similar subjects, you are faced with two distinct reader categories that present a unique challenge: those that have read many of your books, and those who are picking up a book on magick for the first time (or a book by you for the first time). The goal of A Witch’s Notebook was to provide a companion to some of my larger bodies of work; information and exercises that would be helpful, impactful but not overwhelming, yet could stand alone for any student of esoteric studies, whether they be Wiccan , Druid , Voudon , Santerian , Spiritualist , New Age, etc. To accomplish this goal I incorporated standard techniques in new ways, including traditional magickal symbolism coupled with research on quantum physics, the Golden Proportion, the Emerald Tablet, and Sacred Geometry. It is a book where you can come home from work, read a bit of a chapter, perhaps find impetus to use what you’ve read or at least think about how you can use the information as it pertains to your own life path. It can also be employed as a companion to a formal teaching environment and will fit well with your personal training goals, allowing you to work at your own pace. It is also a representation of the work I was doing at the time and is related to some of the spiritual goals I was trying to accomplish as an individual who has been on a magickal life path for many years. It represents an effort to reach beyond what we already know or can read and find refreshing ways to incorporate the wisdom of the ages through one’s own creativity.
2. Although the techniques, rituals, and spellwork found in this book represent only a small proportion of the actual materials you had within reach to glean information from, would you say that what appears in A Witch’s Notebook is akin to a collection of your favorite magickal recipes?
The main focus of A Witch’s Notebook is the attempt by a modern person to cultivate spirituality and find the wisdom, patience and depth of thought necessary to deal with modern life. The focus of each chapter was carefully chosen in an effort to enhance the life path, regardless of one’s religious fabric, and design new ways of looking at and using traditional concepts, particularly in the areas of self-healing, personal accomplishment and overcoming some of the more difficult circumstances we, as humans, tend to face along the way. When looking into the dark abyss of events—to what do you turn? How do you rise above the fear of the unknown poised on the sharp sword of defeat? For many of us, the last few years have been filled with world events that have deeply affected us and opened our eyes to the fact that we do not live in a perfect word—how then are we to obtain a state of spiritual comfort when the imperfect keeps hammering at our door? This book stresses that world spirituality begins with the individual—it starts with you and me. How you grab onto that spiritual goal, how tightly you hold onto it and how hard you strive for growth directly affects your environment. If the single individual rises to a further enlightened state, then we all rise.
3. Silver, you draw upon so many different spiritual legacies throughout your writing—from folk magick to Zen Buddhism, from herbalism to Reiki . Why do you think it is important that we incorporate other cultures’ belief systems into our own spiritual journeys?
If you just keep eating cake with pink frosting you are going to get sick.
4. Deep in the middle of A Witch’s Notebook you make remarkable comparisons and even allude to inherent links between spellcrafting and quantum physics, and I want to ask two things regarding this. First off, how did you first become interested in this science? And secondly, do you think the pagan community is prepared, or trending toward, a philosophy that unites the two—science and spellwork?
I have always been interested in science, because it is through knowing how things work that we can repeat our successes and learn from our failures, thereby elevating the human condition. Once one realizes that magick works, and that it works based on scientific factors, the next step is to hone one’s skill to reach repetitive success. What makes magick so interesting is that because we are individuals, the combination that unlocks the door to success will vary from person to person, yet the main thrust of the work operates on a specific set of scientific formulas that our scientists are only now beginning to fathom. The mystery, then, lies within each of us. Magick is an internal process that can ultimately affect our universe in an external way—but, because our thoughts are private, not flashed on a television screen for the world to see, the mechanics of success are many times hidden, even from ourselves. If you love a good mystery, you’ll adore working magick. As to the question “is the Pagan community prepared to embrace science?” I think most of us have been doing that for a very long time—working with science as we have understood it through the ages coupled with the “unknown,” which is the esoteric.
5. As a coven leader to so many people, not to mention being a wife and mother (and perhaps someone who likes to have a free moment to visit your local book or coffee shop), how difficult has it been over the years to incorporate “learning time” into your busy day-to-day schedule?
Okay, so I laughed at this question. Rather than incorporating study into life, I’ve done the opposite. I’ve turned life into study. Where events take me? That’s what I dive in to learn.
6. Many of us enjoy finding out little things about the writers we love—things like “what’s your favorite color?” help us to connect on a very human level with them and put a more personal meaning into the books we’re holding. In that vein, if you could, please give us a brief description of what a typical “Silver RavenWolf day” is like.
This is a very hard question to answer, because nothing in my life seems to be typical. Actually, I think we could do a sitcom with various magickal elements, it is so bizarre sometimes. I mean, where in the world do you walk into your teenager’s friend’s home and find the mother brewing candles, blending oils and chanting on a regular basis because she runs a magickal internet business? His big sister ironing her Army clothes with starch (they still use that stuff?) in the middle of it and the topic of conversation revolving around the best ingredients for Twisted Sister magickal powder? At the same time is a phone call from a student who wants to know if the mother has ever worked with dysfunctional hermaphrodite energy and what herbs and stones should they use to cleanse a house where the boyfriend held a knife to his girlfriend’s throat? In the meantime, the other sister hauls in a magickal slot machine from a Japanese casino close-out sale that she bought to give to her boyfriend for his birthday, and your friend’s brother, who is stationed overseas, calls on your friend’s cell phone because he can’t get through to the mother because she’s on the phone with the house cleansing problem. Just to get in the door you may trip over seven kinds of fresh, smelly incense, and for humor the woman talks like a toad? Have you ever gone out to dinner with these people? Yet … strangers who do come into the house say this: “I wish my family was more like this.” Who knows.
7. Spellworking and ritual aside, stands out to me as a fascinating, rare, and candid glimpse into your personal thoughts and interests—your commentary throughout hints at what books you’re reading, your family life, what topics interest you at the moment, even your opinion on plastic gnomes. Do you ever see yourself writing about similar, more personal things that may affect Wiccans on a more societal level—topics like current politics, raising a non-Christian family, the role of religion in American society and how it perhaps shapes peoples’ perceptions of the world?
I don’t see myself having that kind of impact. Who the heck am I, really? I just live, write, and make stuff. I wear blue jeans, desert boots, and floppy shirts. To me, the practical is philosophical—most of us just don’t realize it, thinking it should be different. Good question, but I’m not politically minded.