by Michael Night Sky
From Australia, Ly de Angeles is High Priestess of the Coven of the Wildwood Gate (which includes members worldwide) and is also a legendary Tarot reader known for her amazing accuracy in her readings. Being a Sagittarius, Ly is also known for being an outspoken and challenging teacher in regards to her Circle (Coven of the WildWood Gate) and her Tarot Workshops. Having run "Tarot Collectives" (as she describes it) for years, Ly was eventually led to write one of her most recent book releases: Tarot Theory and Practice. Ly is very influential, with many people, LA Witch author Fiona Horne among them, crediting her for bringing them into the Craft.
1. Is it your belief that a Witch is born a Witch?
It’s not so much a belief as an opinion. I'm quite certain others will debate this. My opinion is personal. I've always known I was a witch and I can pretty much “smell" another one a mile away. Something in the aura, perhaps? But, there’s also the matter of a dog knowing itself in difference to being a cow.
2. Can you explain a little about your beliefs and the development of a Witch? Or how it takes a Witch to make a Witch?
I don't have beliefs. I have understandings or I know stuff for sure or else I'll go looking. A witch is an individual and the individual develops by learning and experiencing as much as is within their destined possibility. Many witches I've met over the years don't know they are witches because, (a) they've been taught that witches are something they usually are not (like hags with warts that bake children in ovens) or, (b) they don't see the word the same way as I do.
When I saw the movie Powder years ago I was overjoyed that someone could pinpoint the concept that, to me, represents Witchcraft: when asked how he could do the stuff he did and know the stuff he knew, the boy called Powder pointed to his head and said most people had a “blind spot” and saw themselves as separate to everything going on around them.
Witches don't have that. Neither do many pagans I've met over the years.
Other than the understandings that I've written about in the books there’s also the challenges set by each other to allow us to come to terms with how much illusion we live with, with the intention of removing it from the way we live. It’s like getting beneath the surface of society to seek out and love the true gods.
3. Is there a difference between a Witch, a Wiccan, and a Pagan? What do you feel are some of the major differences?
Witchcraft isn't a religion whereas Wicca is, and can be traced back to Gerald Gardner (and probably way beyond that, evolving from a mix of other occult traditions). Wicca tends towards hierarchy and dualism, but today there are so many variations of Wicca that it is like some wonderful forest.
Paganism is a generic term for those with awareness and a reverence for life and an understanding that each of us is responsible for how we co-existence.
Most witches are Pagans as are most Wiccans and most Druids.
4. When did you first realize you were a Witch?
I became enamored of all things mystical, haunted, and occult from the age of 11. I also knew at that age that I would be a writer and that I was a witch.
5. What significant events happened to you at this time for you to realize you would become a Witch and a writer?
There were a number of things:
- I had two near death experiences: one through electric shock, the other, drowning
- I had a ghostly visitation that was explained to me as “The Man” by my grandmother. Even though we are not blood relatives, she had had the same visitation when a girl.
- The above-mentioned grandmother moved in with my family, and introduced me to Tarot
- I'd been writing since a very young age, but at 11 I wrote an essay for Book Week (Australia) and won first prize
- I discovered that my ability to communicate with dogs was unusual. Until then I had thought everyone did it.
- I had what I can only call a ‘spiritual epiphany’ that was, in some way, all bound up with my developing sexuality. The two become irrevocably linked.
The word “Witch” is simply how I knew myself.
6. Is it important for a Witch to have a Code of Honor (for example, the Wiccan Rede)?
Not at all. I think the integrity of each individual is their own business. What’s with the idea that everyone should behave in a particular manner? I don't like the idea of an across the board set of rules. The Wiccan Rede has many variations from what I can glean but it seems to postulate that one can do what one wants as long as there is no harm involved. “Harm” has no blanket definitions. What would you do to someone who tortured or mutilated someone you love? There has been much debate over this thing called a Rede and it is some vague concept of anarchy with a clause. Debate, please?
7. What is Ly de Angeles most passionate about, in a manner of speaking?
I'm really turned on by current and historic events. That’s everything from politics and the chess-games that they play to world religions and the chess-games they play. I love debating history, ethics, and media.
It’s kinda funny. I don't introduce myself to people as a witch, I introduce myself as Ly. When people ask what I do, I usually ask what they mean. I'm a bit of an eccentric pain in the arse that way because it still annoys me that people are defined by what they do in life rather than who they are.
Just because I am a witch and have written about some aspects of Witchcraft doesn't mean it should be a seeming separation. No disrespect intended. When an event comes to my attention and it’s abhorrent, then I'm going to do whatever I can to participate in harmonizing the dysfunction. It’s just that in many instances I'll use magic. I guess, at the end of the day, one of the main questions we can ask ourselves here is to “define magic”? Or is that another subject?
I'm also turned on by good food, my friends, playing with dogs, writing, making exciting things happen that otherwise would not and dragging my associates, friends and, often, large percentages of my local community with me, yelling at lousy drivers from within the privacy of my own car, and laughing at funny things.
8. When did you first start reading Tarot?
Major change of subject here, Michael!
I don't quite remember. When did I begin reading Tarot as an occupation? That would have been about 28 or 30 years ago. I remember, though, when I bought my first deck of Tarot (though not the year). I got them from Adyar Bookshop in Sydney. Back in those days they kept them under the counter as they were still considered a bit suspicious. Hehe. (Laughs)
9. Has working with the Tarot changed your life in any significant way?
A thousand times a thousand times a thousand-fold. I was only able to get such a small amount of information into Tarot Theory and Practice. I've had several lifetimes learning in this seeming one: from Tarot Itself, from Qabbalah, from the people who've come back and told me of the events that were predicted. So much joy! So many questions!! It’s the questions that were raised that have caused me to delve into realms I could never have dreamed even existed when I was young.
10. You had been reading Tarot for many years before you finally decided to write a book about it. Why didn't you write one about it sooner?
(Laughs) Ha! Destiny.
11. What are some important issues with which you feel that Witches and Pagans should be involved? What things need our immediate attention in our day and age?
Community. Sustainable alternatives to commodification. Cuba has done it with its exciting organic gardening incentive. They were forced to. We're close to that, ecologically. People need to pull their heads out of the sand. Things that are taken for granted like electricity, Internet, and pre-packaged food are only common in certain areas of the world. Things could change drastically while we sleep. I don't think ‘eyes-wide-open’ is simply for pagans and witches. That’s crazy talk.
12. How did you get involved with the making of the book> Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future, seeing as you are both an editor and a contributor to the project?
We chose the book as a diving-board forum that wasn't intrinsically supposed to involve talking about ourselves or justifying ourselves because there’s been too much of that and it’s annoying. Paganism isn't a new thing for goodness sake; it’s simply that for the first time in centuries we won't be killed for speaking out.
Firstly we needed to express different understandings or aspects of paganism because the term is, ultimately, a generic one. Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the WWF, for example, don't bother expressing their spiritualities to the public at large and neither, in the long run, does it matter. The book was an ice-breaker. What we DO matters.
I don't think the book went far enough. Either that or there could be more. Hanging out with like-minded others should, I think have been the aim. Stimulating multiple forums aimed at concerted agreement on what can be done in response to environmental and social imbalances and ills would have been an excellent outcome to the books impact.
13. In the Llewellyn Journal you have an article titled “Proactivate;” in it you mention "the Pagan community in all its diversity and beauty still does not have a collective voice on the world stage." Would you care to expand your thoughts on this subject, and maybe share how we can work together to change this, and why you feel it is important to do?
I can’t really. I just want people to look more deeply into anything of consequence. Humans are making a mess.
14. Anything you would care to leave us with in parting?
People don’t listen enough. It’s surprising what we really hear if we really listen.
Ly de Angeles was first published in 1987, and she has had six books released worldwide to date. She has an international reputation as a psychic, teaches and lectures on many associated subjects, is an exponent of several martial arts and, currently, is an accredited Sensei in the art of Iaido - the Japanese art of the sword.
Ly’s main area of study over the past twenty years has been the history of the usurpation of indigenous people through invasion and subsequent colonization (mainly since the Roman Empire) and the history and mythology of Ireland and Britain in particular. She is known to be very outspoken on matters pertaining to the sustainability and guardianship of Earth and the rights of all species to self-determination.
Ly has three adult children and a strong magical clan. She has lived in Byron Bay, Australia for the past 14 years. An initiated witch for over thirty years, she is High Priestess of the Coven of WildWood Gate.
Michael Night Sky is a student of Magick and is currently a Witch in training (Red Priest) with the Circle of the Heartbeat's Drum in North County San Diego, California .