Interview with Ellen Dugan
An Interview with Ellen Dugan
1. How did you become involved with and active in the Craft ? Where did you start your path?
As a girl I was fascinated with folklore, faery tales, and mythology. I loved the garden, the woods and all of nature. I had a connection to the cycles and seasons of the natural world—they simply seemed sacred to me. I always felt at home in a garden or forest, but out of step everywhere else. As a teenager, my psychic abilities developed, and so did my interest in magick , and the Craft. Back then, my clairvoyance and psychometry were really causing problems for me, and I needed to learn how to control them, or at least to understand what was happening. As a young woman, I was often overwhelmed by the images and impressions that I received and I was very tired of being afraid, so I determinedly began to search for answers. I taught myself the Tarot and used my clairvoyance to do readings at the local psychic fairs in order to test myself. That was a wonderful learning experience for me. A typical Virgo, I had studied pretty much everything metaphysical that I could get my hands on, and discovered natural magick and Wicca along the way. I was pretty surprised, all those years ago, to discover that what I had believed in my heart all along had a name. For me, it just fit. I was home.
2. Why did you decide to become a writer and how did you settle on writing about Wicca and magick? Who has influenced your work, not only as a writer, but as a Witch?
It wasn’t so much a decision as something I’ve always done. I carried around three-ring binders filled with my own stories and ideas. As I grew older, it was just a matter of finding my niche. I started out writing contemporary romance—no kidding—and I became frustrated with that right away; it’s a tough market to break into. My goal was to get something in print before I turned 40. Finally, I decided if I was ever going to succeed then I should write about what I knew and loved—the Craft and the natural world. I started out writing articles for the Llewellyn annuals and had so much fun and positive feedback with those that I dove into writing my first book, Garden Witchery. The writers who have influenced me the most as a Witch are Scott Cunningham, Claire Nahmad, and Doreen Valiente. People may find it surprising that the late Erma Bombeck has influenced me as a writer. Erma was honest and hilarious. When I read her stuff, I just shriek with laughter.
3. Society’s perception of Witches generally tends to be negative. How do you feel about this and what do you think can be done to change it?
This past fall, my hometown newspaper did an interview on me a week before Halloween to promote a book signing for a new title of mine. It included a photo of me in my gardens, and was a very positive article. It was Wicca-friendly, informative, and upbeat. The headline was “Local woman is just your normal, everyday witch.” For a few days, I held my breath waiting to see what Midwestern folks’ reactions would be. To my surprise, the reaction was very positive and friendly. Many people commented that they had heard of Wicca, and had a friend or a relative who was into it. It seems to me that the general public is a bit more educated on Wicca these days. If you quietly go about your life, working your job, raising your kids, contributing to your community and just being a “normal” person, it goes a long way towards squashing down stereotypes. Let people get to know you. Don’t cram your religious beliefs down their throat, just be yourself and set a great example. Dare to “stand up” and quietly make a difference, just because you can.
4. In your books, you talk a lot about natural magick. Is this the environmentally-friendly form of Witchcraft? Can you briefly explain natural magick and how you got involved with it? Can anyone perform natural magick?
Natural magick is primarily worked with the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water . These energies are directed into magick that works in harmony with natural supplies, the earth and its cycles and seasons. I became interested in natural magick because this made the most sense to me. If Wicca is a nature religion, then why not work with as many natural items as I could get my hands on, or grow in my own gardens? Natural magick is traditional and a much more practical and cost-effective use of spell casting. Yes, anyone can perform natural magick. It only takes creativity, a sense of wonder and reverence for nature, an open mind and a loving heart.
5. You had a lot of success with your first book, Garden Witchery. How does your new title, Cottage Witchery , complement Garden Witchery ?
Cottage Witchery is my fourth book, and it is a companion piece to Garden Witchery. With Garden Witchery , I encouraged the reader to put the nature back into their earth religion. I took the reader outside into the garden and backyard to focus on the natural world and how it affects spell casting and magick. With Cottage Witchery , I am shifting the focus indoors, on their hearths and homes. This new book encourages the reader to look at the natural world and use practical and natural magick supplies. It then tell how to use techniques to create an enchanting and wonderful environment for loved ones and themselves. By enhancing and charming the atmosphere where we live, we actually strengthen the aura and energy of our magick, our home, and ourselves.
6. What exactly is cottage witchery?
Cottage witchery is a style of natural magick that revolves around the hearth and home. It is an uncomplicated Craft that is worked with down-to-earth supplies found around the house. Examples include garden flowers, the trees in the backyard, and cooking herbs and spices from the kitchen cabinet. This approach to magick is both practical and hands-on. The idea behind cottage witchery is to persuade folks to look at their homes in a new magickal way. It encourages them to reconnect with the energies of the natural world—to appreciate, celebrate and then to direct these positive magickal forces into their homes and everyday lives.
7. What makes a magickal home?
Intention. It’s not about how much you spend, or how big of a place you call home, it’s what you do with what you have, and how you direct the elemental energies and magickal vibes that are naturally there. Perhaps you’ll choose a paint color for a room with magickal intention, such as soft blue to create a calming atmosphere for a baby’s room or a sunny yellow for a home office to promote creativity and knowledge. Perhaps you’ll perform an elemental spell to encourage prosperity, protection or happiness for your home. Again, it’s intention. Because, when you purposefully “bump up” the magickal atmosphere of your abode, and transform it into a sacred space with natural accessories, you are creating a magickal home.
8. What are your favorite magickal objects in your home and what significance do they hold?
My favorite objects would be the items from nature that are arranged and scattered around my home: a few worn sea shells and water-smoothed pebbles I found on a beach in Cape Cod, a fallen blue jay feather from the backyard and some magickal herbs and flowers from the gardens, arranged in an old canning jar. Yes, these are simple items, but they are magickal things nonetheless. There is a big, old-cast iron cauldron on my brick hearth that I’m fond of (I rescued it from an antique shop). I found it rusted and sitting neglected in a corner. A little steel wool, elbow grease, and black rust-proof paint and it’s an old item made new for magickal purposes. The wood-burning stove not only helps us stay warm in the winter, it adds something extra to the ambience of our house. Plus, the old picket-fence gate that hangs on my living room wall. You’ll have to read Cottage Witchery to get the whole story on that antique gate. I charmed it for protection and to “shut out” negativity.
9. Your home sounds like a pretty magickal space! Why is it so important to have a special sacred place to perform magick?
Working in a sacred space is a way of honoring your connection to deity and to the elements. Taking the time to formally set up or to create a permanent sacred space in your home speaks of your will and intention.
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
Oh, I’m always working on something—sometimes two different manuscripts at once! I manage to crank out a new manuscript about every six months or so. As to the specifics, my fifth book comes out this July. It’s the newest book in Llewellyn’s Sabbat Series and is titled Autumn Equinox. My sixth book for Llewellyn is scheduled for a Spring 2006 release, and the working title is The Enchanted Cat: Feline Fascinations, Spells and Magick. In fact, I had so much fun with The Enchanted Cat, it only took me about three and a half months to write. Currently, I am working on a new book in Llewellyn’s For Beginners series, dabbling with a little fiction and I want to start putting together a down-to-earth book on the topic of Wicca. Actually, this last book idea is getting pretty darn demanding, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. But, I’ll be sure and let you all know.
Trade Paperback | $18.99 US, $21.95 CAN | 9780738706252 | March 2005
Ellen Dugan, the author of Garden Witchery, is the ideal guide to show us how to bring the beauty of nature and its magickal energies indoors. Using common household and outdoor items-such as herbs,... Read more