The Author's Corner
Magick for the
Magick for the Kitchen Witch
TWPT: Tell me about your introduction to Pagan spirituality.
DA: It was in college. As a child, church was not a very big deal in my house and I had not regularly attended church after the age of 10. The services I did go to with friends never “fit right” with me. Things just didn’t mesh or answer my questions. I always had a fascination with the gods of mythology but didn’t know that there were still people around that honored them. Paganism and Wicca were unheard of where I was raised; you were either a Christian or an Atheist. And I knew I wasn’t atheist because I did believe in a higher power, I just didn’t know what it was. In college I learned that there were alternative religions and eventually my circle of friends included Wiccans, Voodoo practitioners, and eclectic pagans.
TWPT: What did you find compelling about this pagan spiritual path in comparison to other spiritual paths that you had been exposed to during your lifetime?
DA: Flexibility. I love being able to adapt other cultures and beliefs into what I practice and believe. I am a big advocate of combining cultural heritage and cultural surroundings, sort of a “when in Rome, do as the Romans” sort of philosophy. I guess one would say I am a polytheistic eclectic pagan, but I am going more for the Nature Witch title, or even green, kitchen or hedge witch (of which I feel are all combined with saying ‘nature witch’).
TWPT: Did you jump right into this path or did you do a little research first to get an idea of what you were getting yourself into?
DA: I definitely did not jump right into it. I did maybe two spells in college, one backfired and the other just didn’t work. I sort of “gave up” and didn’t practice or do anything with it for years. I still knew I was pagan in my beliefs but I was not practicing anything. I had a few books on hand but didn’t read them, and had a few Tarot readings done that I was not impressed with. Maybe six years ago it hit me that I wanted some sort of spirituality and wanted a sense of belonging to a community (we had moved to South Carolina from New Mexico two years earlier, and I was still trying to find myself in the community). As a family, my husband and I went to a few church services but it just verified that it was not right for us. About four years ago I decided to explore paganism further, and started by reading the books I had on hand.
TWPT: Did you find any groups to interact with in your area or were you predominantly a solitary in your practice? Have you developed any preferences as to how you would rather practice your path in terms of group or solitary? Why?
DA: For years I was solitaire, but then a store opened up in town that sold pagan and metaphysical supplies. I started shopping there, talking to people and even went to a few events at the store. In April 2009 a couple that I had met through the store sent me an invite to a coven (Gaia’s Wisdom) they were forming. I jumped right in and am now 3rd degree and hold a council seat of Family counsel. In that year we have gained 30 members and are now a licensed business with the full support of the state behind us, which is a great accomplishment here in the south.
I really enjoy the group rituals we have done. I think for Sabbats a group is very beneficial and it’s great to learn from others, but I still practice on my own as well. My husband and I and our two daughters also did our first family ritual for Earth Day (April 22nd) and it was great to work just with my family.
TWPT: What did you find helpful in terms of books to lay the foundations of your pagan beliefs?
DA: Books by Scott Cunningham were very helpful, as is the annual Llewellyn’s Magickal Almanac. Also, such authors as Ellen Dugan and Patricia Telesco because they write on topics that I enjoy and work a lot with nature.
TWPT: Were you always interested in writing? When did you start writing and what did you enjoy writing the most? (fiction, non fiction, poetry etc.)
DA: Ever since I was eight years old I knew I wanted to be an author. I wrote my first story when I was eight because I had read everything on my bookshelf. I wanted to write horror stories; never did I imagine I would finally make it, but as a New Age/Pagan author. I love writing short stories, and still dabble with some from time to time.
TWPT: When did you first start to think about writing as a career? What were some of your first pieces that you had published?
DA: As far back as I can remember. Even as a teenager I thought “what if” and my main goal was to write a horror novel and have Stephen King write a blurb like “scariest novel I’ve ever read” or something to that effect. In high school I started submitting pieces to magazines and entering contests, so the career desire has always been there but I just didn’t think it would happen.
My writing credentials prior to Magick for the Kitchen Witch are small. I had a non-fiction piece titled “To Mom, with Love” (an article about the advice she has given me over the years) in a small-press magazine titled “Domestique” and a children’s fantasy book titled Imagica: the boy who had no imagination by Publish America in 2006.
TWPT: Tell me about Magick for the Kitchen Witch. What inspired you to write this book and who is it written for?
DA: It is written for anyone who believes that the kitchen is the heart of their home. In the “old days” the fireplace is where people hung around because it was their source of warmth and cooking, and was the central location of the house. Today, that location has been transferred to the kitchen.
I wrote this book more as a learning experience for me, it was a way to organize my thoughts and beliefs and to discover what path or paths interested me. I also love the old wives tales, folklore and superstitions of older times, and I got to research a lot of those and fit them in to the book.
TWPT: How has your training helped you to write Magick for the Kitchen Witch? Tell me a little about Gaia’s Wisdom Coven and what it means to you.
DA: Prior to Magick for the Kitchen Witch I did not have any pagan training that was not self-taught. But my training in writing helped a lot. I was taking correspondent courses through Penn Foster (www.pennfoster.edu) in Freelance Writing. It seems like things were coming in a timely manner. As I was working on the Bibliography, the material from Penn Foster that was sent happened to be about copyright and crediting information. My book was already in the publishing phase when I joined Gaia’s Wisdom Coven (www.gaiaswisdom.com) in April 2009 but training through that just gave me greater confirmation that what I was saying and believing was accurate.
Gaia’s Wisdom is a non-traditional and family-friendly coven that has helped my family and I because it is a local place to go where even if the beliefs are different, people understand. From a Christian standpoint I guess we’d be “non-denominational” because we don’t cater to just one spiritual path or belief. I am currently a 3rd degree and the training and friendship has been amazing. I like that it is family-friendly as well, my 11 year old is a 3rd degree and my husband and 13 year old are working towards a 2nd degree.
TWPT: How can the readers of Magick for the Kitchen Witch use it for the everyday practice of their beliefs?
DA: Readers have already been using it for everyday. I received a message board post from one woman who is diabetic and told to drink more water. She uses “Adding Magick to Water” daily, which is an idea of adding fresh mint or citrus fruits to water for flavor but also for the metaphysical and spiritual correspondents they have. A few people have used the Cup-O-Soup recipes to make a one-serving size bowl of soup to aid a sick family member (and when I was sick one day last year I had my mom and two of my friends quoting my own book back to me!) Another fan wrote to tell me that she used a divination technique to find areas in her home that needed spiritual cleansing. The book really encompasses how to add magick to the chores or tasks we do daily. A person has to mop their floors or do their laundry, so why not add a little magick while doing so?
TWPT: Was Magick for the Kitchen Witch written with any particular tradition in mind? If not how did you make sure that most of your readers would be able to use the material regardless of the path that they followed?
DA: No, it is not a specific tradition but does tend to have more Wicca influence than anything else, which is mainly because it has the greatest influence of the pagan paths, at least in my experiences, on society today. But, I try to keep my books generic so that anyone can use them by tossing in as many references as I can find. I often joke that no religion or spiritual path is safe from me, but it is actually true. There are references to Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islamic, Druidism, Celtic, Wiccan, and many more. In Magick for the Elemental Witch I think this is seen even more because I do a break down of 5 or 6 different religious/spiritual areas and their views on that element.
TWPT: As an author what is it that you want your readers to carry with them after they finish reading Magick for the Kitchen Witch?
The biggest thing I want readers to walk away from when reading Magick for the Kitchen Witch or any of my books is to use what is around you, and let your life, culture, heritage and surroundings influence your spiritual practices in a positive way.
TWPT: I see from your website that you have a new book coming out this summer sometime entitled Magick for the Elemental Witch. Could you give us a sneak peek at what the book will cover?
DA: Magick for the Elemental Witch is my pride and joy. I have not seen a book yet that goes so deeply into the elements: where they came from, what they are, why we have them. Not only do I go in detail about the metaphysical or pagan aspects but also the historical and philosophical aspects. It also encompasses spells, rituals, folklore, deities and divination that focus on a particular element.
Here is a blurb for the book:
“Water…Earth…Air…Fire…In many belief systems there is a structure known as ‘the elements’ which stems from Greek Philosophers such as Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle, who attempted to break the universe down into basic roots of life. Known in scientific and philosophic terms as the “archai” or “four classic elements” these teachings have existed for thousands of years.
‘Magick for the Elemental Witch’ is a history, study and spell book involving all of these elements. Learn rituals, divination and spells for each element; read about folklore and superstitious beliefs; understand how other cultures and belief systems view the elements; and get a better understanding of them for use in spiritual workings as well as daily life.”
TWPT: Tell me about your series of Sabbat books aimed at children. What are these all about and who should be looking to buy them?
DA: The “Children’s Sabbats” will be a text book and workbook for each of the Sabbats as based on the Wiccan Wheel of the year. Each set will be released within a month or two of that Sabbat. It is a way to teach children about paganism and parents can use it for homeschooling or independent study. Parents, or family-friendly covens should definitely look into purchasing these books, they are geared for children 8-12 years old. Tentatively, the first one will be released October 1st, just in time for Samhain (Oct. 31). Even though they are based on the Wiccan Wheel, as with all of my books there will be a wide variety of cultural references and pantheons included.
TWPT: Are there any other writing projects that you are currently involved with on a regular basis?
DA: I write for two websites that print key-word articles: Associated Content (www.associatedcontent.com) and Helium (www.helium.com). Most are non-fiction, informative or how-to subjects on a variety of topics, including paganism. But, there are a few poems and excerpts of stories on both sites.
TWPT: What kinds of plans have you made for the future of your writing? Do you have any writing goals that you want to achieve In a certain time frame?
DA: I am already taking notes for a 2nd edition of “Magick for the Kitchen Witch” even though it’s just a little over a year old. I want to polish it up, add some more information and just make it a much better book. I also hope someday I can do a boxed set of all the “Copper Cauldron” series which will be Magick for the Kitchen Witch, Magick for the Elemental Witch, and Magick for the Nature Witch (not yet published) plus at least two other titles I am still debating on. Also, a boxed set of the children’s books. I also want to write some pagan fiction, I just have not figured out in what genre (mystery, romance, etc) but when I write fiction it will definitely have pagan influence or strong, pagan main characters.
The only writing goal I have is to be able to quit my job and work full-time as a writer. I also would love to get to a point where I am traveling for more book signings, events, or lectures.
TWPT: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us and I wish you success with your writings in the years to come.