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Yasmine Galenorn

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Dancing with the Sun:
TWPT Talks with Yasmine Galenorn

TWPT-1999-2006


TWPT: If someone were to ask you what it is that you believe, spiritually speaking, and what path it is that you follow, how would you answer them?

YG: This is a far more complex question than it seems at first. For me, spirituality is the core issue; what path I follow refers to how I express my spirituality. So I suppose I should address the former first.

For me, my spirituality is not so much of a belief, as a way of perceiving the universe, of living my life. At the core of the universe, I see unlimited energy, but I would never place human attributes or gender upon that energy. I do not refer to it as "god" or as "goddess"...simply as that which makes up everything in existence. I usually call it, simply, "the universe"...or "the One". The core of the universe is both everything and nothing. I see a web extending from that core (which is everywhere) to link all that has ever been and will ever be.

After the One, I view existence in a series of paradoxes/complements/contradictions. Much in a Taoist tradition, I see rising out of that universal energy, opposites...male/female, yang/yin, light/shadow, active/receptive. These diametrical energies struggle and do battle, even as they are necessary for one another's existence. I view them as both antagonistic to the other, and yet as attracted to the other. Magnets, in a sense--repel/attract.

Creation is born out of these energies and their battle. Life emerges out of their action and reaction. They are the Mother/Father energies all godforms eventually emerge from. They are fire and water, desert and forest, destruction and creation. Here we find the great polarity of Shiva and Shakti, dancing through the universe, creating and destroying through their passion and will. Chaos is born within their wake, and so life emerges and mutates and returns to the slime to be born again.

When we bring this down to human terms, to our mortal eyes, I view our existence as being both within and without this cycle. We are truly starstuff, but we are also temporal. I believe that we have taken human form to learn lessons for our souls, but after a cycle of lives, we move on to other realms. What other realms? I don't know.

In terms of evolution & planetary phenomena, I am a strong proponent of scientific thought and analysis, but I also choose the path that all we know is but a single grain in the desert, so our logical and analytical perceptions are blinded by our inability to comprehend the magnitude of the universe. I accept evolution as fact, even as I accept magick that changes our reality as fact. I do not see a great conflict here, unless one chooses to create one.

As far as the Gods go, yes, I believe in them. Not as infinite, omnipotent, omniscient beings--never. I would never assign a *conscious* entity such power in my spirituality. I do, however, believe that the Gods are avatars, so to speak, of the energies which they represent. I believe Ares is a being of war, (we assigned him his name, but he existed before us as an offshoot of the fiery/aggressive force in the universe). So too, I see my own Goddess, Mielikki, as an avatar of the Hunt, she embodies the spirit of the chase and the moon--she existed long before we gave her a name. I do believe that the Gods interact with us on a human scale, but they are not our saviors, they are not our benefactors unless they choose to be.

As far as how I integrate my spirituality into my life re: pathworking...I am a pledged Priestess, by life, soul and blood, to Mielikki and Tapio, Finnish forest deities. I am, in essence, pledged to the spirit of the Hunt, to the spirit of the Wood, to the spirit of Fey. I follow their bidding, I listen and they guide my actions and life. When I go astray, I find myself out of connection, out of the flow of the Universe and that is when things tend to go wrong.

However, I do not follow a "Finnish" path. I do not believe we can reconstruct our past religions, but only reinvent them, re-create them anew. There are far too many pieces missing and we live in a far different world than the ones our ancestors inhabited. And so, we construct our spiritual paths new and fresh.

I am a strong advocate, in all my books and my personal life, of finding what works for you on a personal level and following. It creates an eclectic tradition, to say the least, but the more personal the path, the more meaningful it will be to our individual lives. My personal tradition, I call DarkMoon Rising, and it combines my work with Mielikki & Tapio, my approach to magick (which is not dependent upon these particular deities), my work with Pele, and my Irish and Cherokee ancestry. I do not randomly blend traditions, but only that which seems to work together as a whole without disrupting the other parts of my path.

TWPT: Could you explain your ideas on who and what are the God and the Goddess, Lord and Lady? Are they beings that we can know or are they very aloof and unreachable by human standards except in the most general of ways? Or are they simply energies without a tangible personality at all?

YG: I believe the Gods exist, they are real, and it's high time that we who are the magick workers accepted this. Mysticism and magick are alive and well, don't let your fear of being labeled as a nut case dissuade you from actively reaching out to the true powers and natures of the Divine.

With modern psychology and our modern take on mythology, there is the tendency for people to want to categorize Paganism and Witchcraft as religions of the mind. But we are grounded in the Earth. She exists, the Horned God exists, and together They mate and from Their loins, life springs forth. The fact that we can explain this process in a scientific way in no manner negates, nor conflicts with, the magickal side of things.

As far as I see it, the main problem with looking upon the Gods as archetypes comes with the lack of respect and the casual attitude adopted in circles and rituals. "Oh, since they're archetypes, let's invoke Freya and Loki and the Corn Maiden and Ares in the same circle."

Well, let me guarantee you, keep doing that and you are going to rip your life apart. Freya, in a thousands-year old tradition, hates Loki. The Corn Mother has nothing to do with the others, and Ares is a warmonger.

What do you expect is going to happen when you invoke such a blend into your ritual and magick? You must think before you randomly start invoking the Gods.

Please pay attention to history and tradition.

The Gods do interact on our level, when we invite them in and at times, when we don't. I am a Priestess of Mielikki and Tapio, I receive guidance from them, I listen, ask questions and generally find that when I pay attention to what they say, my life goes much smoother. Are they a part of me?

Yes in the sense that I belong to them, I have given myself to them. They, for me, exist above all else and have precedence in my life, even over my life. I bound myself with an oath to serve them. I consider this oath sacred and above every other oath I have ever made.

When we take oaths, when we pledge or dedicate ourselves to serving the gods, the Goddess, the Earth, we forge a sacred connection and I think it's time that we started taking our vows seriously. I seldom make promises, because I believe in keeping those I make.

Remember, you are not here to negate or control Nature, the Gods, and the powers around us. You're here to discover your niche within the Earth Mother's home, and if you're Pagan, you're here as a steward and celebrant of Her powers, Her strength, and Her awesome and sometimes destructive, beauty.

TWPT: Is it getting more difficult to explain to other's what you believe in these days of eclectic paths that draw from everywhere? Should we still be concerned about the labels that once were used to describe to other groups what it is that we stand for?

YG: Well, as you can see by my answer above, I think it takes a bit longer time, but I also think that we are forced to truly examine our beliefs more rather than being able to just spout off "I'm a (fill-in-the-blank)." Now, I think that as more and more eclecticism evolves, the less antipathy we will encounter. I am a Witch...I am Pagan but I am *not* Wiccan, I do not follow all of the Wiccan redes, etc. I like the freedom that gives me, and the responsibility it also brings. When you have A-Group and B-Group and E-Group and L-Group, it's much easier to follow pack mentality when you come across something different than you are used to. I'm rather glad to see some break-down in the hierarchical structure of religion. At the same time, I see the value in retaining cultural and religious traditions....it's a hard call. I think we have to walk a fine line.

TWPT: For those standing at a crossroads in their lives considering this path what advice would you offer them?

YG: First, be sure that you are willing to assume responsibility for your life. I detest the tendency to assign blame for actions to deities/anti-deities and I firmly believe that what we do in life, we accept the consequences for. In my personal world view, you don't get your *sins* wiped clean with an "I'm sorry"...you pay for what you do. So there is that thought.

I also find that this path requires thought and that you must be willing to put time in thinking, philosophizing, figuring out your ethics and values, analyzing why you believe what you do, studying the history that we do know (Pagans were notoriously bloodthirsty & often JUST as bad as the Inquisition turned out to be--humans will be humans no matter what religion they are).

Third, ours is an experiential religion...you think, then you experience. You must act on what you believe. If you choose to be a Witch, you have to practice magick. If you choose to worship Nature, you should find a way to show your reverence in both spirit and in action. If you truly revel in the body and find no shame in your corporeal being, then you should learn to enjoy yourself on a physical level.

You must also be willing to shoulder negative reactions, to not give into martyr syndrome (ohhhh, I'm soooo persecuted because I'm Pagan), to stand up and be different than the majority and be happy with yourself as such. You must also, in my opinion, learn tolerance. I have friends from all faiths, I may not approve of some of their beliefs, or I may find them odd or quirky, but I do not let that interfere with our friendships as long as their actions do not go against what I can accept into my life. For example, I would not accept a child molester as a friend. Nor would I accept someone spouting racial hatred. Those actions/beliefs are anathema to me, and I will not condone it by my silence or my acceptance.

TWPT: Many of us have read your Midsummer ritual here on TWPT and enjoyed it very much, tell me about a ritual that was very meaningful to you, what made it meaningful and what it is that one should achieve when they construct and perform a ritual.

YG: Oh, there have been so many....but truly, for me, more than any ritual, my time spent out in nature, out in the elements, has been the most intense, the most meaningful. Ritual, in my opinion, is more than a set play, I see ritual as interacting with the forces around us in a deliberate manner.

One of the most meaningful times I've recounted in several of my books, in one manner or another--once as a meditation (in Tarot Journeys) and another time as a brief mention. My girlfriend at the time and I were running intense magick, we would get up, go to work, get off work, grab some traveling food, toss it in the back of the car and take off for the woods.

Night after night we did this, and we would creep through the woods, communing with the forest until early light, then back home for a couple hours of sleep before we started the cycle again.

Now, one night, the night after Beltane, 1991, I believe, we headed out for a state park near here. It's a lovely place, lots of magickal energy, beautiful. It was unusually warm that year and we parked the car at the top of the hill (you couldn't drive down to the water's edge after dark) and sneaked in past the locked gate. The hill was steep, we crept down, and then out on the boardwalk that overlooks the bay. The stars were shining so bright and reflected in the water so that it was a dazzling display.

There are no true words for the link that forms when you connect your energy with that of the elements around you, that's why our religion is so experiential and difficult to convey to others.

After we stood there, just "being" for awhile, we began our journey along the trail that leads to a sand beach a ways along the bay. It was so dark we could scarce see our hands in front of our faces, and we held hands as we walked along, step by step, feeling out the energy rather than the path itself--it would have been easy to trip and go tumbling down the small ravine to one side, but by blending our essence with that of the path, the forest around us, we navigated without a problem.

At one point, we looked to the hillside to our left, and two glowing red eyes were staring at us out of the hill. It was the Hunter himself and within seconds, we were down on our knees, just staring at the eyes in rapture and fear and awe. They faded after a few moments, and we continued our journey, feeling propelled forward with a purpose that we did not understand but must obey.

Now, the path is not that long, but that night it seemed to stretch forever.

We made it down to the bay again, and found that the phosphorescence had come in on the tide. Every step we took kicked up sparks of light, and when we waded into the bay, we were covered with the shimmering flecks. We danced in the stars that night, unable to speak--we were actually reduced to tears and laughter for our communication, moving beyond words because words were too confining and limiting for the experience.

On the way back, we were exhausted, wondering how we would climb the steep road to the car...and then a sweep of energy came behind us and we felt the Hunter again, racing towards us and we caught up the energy and actually ran up the road (I couldn't do it today, I'll tell you that). At the top of the hill, we turned around....looking back down the road. And there he was....horned and rising up through the forest. We both spoke at once, the "Do you see what I see?" that one thinks only happens in the movies.

And we started describing him, and matched point for point. And then, as quickly as the image appeared, he faded....and the night marked a turning point for both of us.

So that, that sort of experience for me, is far more profound than a ritual set in advance. Now, the Litha ritual, I led a couple years ago, and it was wonderful and fun and sparkling......but nothing I've ever "created" has marked the impact that my spontaneous experiences with the Divine and spirit have brought about.

My advice, when creating ritual: do not hedge in your bets, make sure there's leeway for spontaneity. Make sure that you do not cut off the energy with the desire to stick to the script. If you use a script, MEMORIZE it...nothing detracts from energy more than fumbling with a sheath of papers.

As to what one should achieve, or what goals one should work towards: that all depends upon what you wish to focus. A Samhain ritual will have a different goal than one for Beltane. A ritual to cut cords with the dead will have a far different energy than one which welcomes in a marriage. There is no set pattern. You find what works for you and then refine it, hone it. You alter as is necessary. There are no rights and wrongs in the pathworking we do, only that which advances our spirit or which detracts from it and in every case, the individual will determine which polarity to which an action leads.

TWPT: Do you find that those who are opting to follow this path today are as eager to learn as those of the previous generation were? Is there an "instant gratification" mentality attached to achieving success on your chosen spiritual path?

YG: I think what I see, at least in American paganism, is a triple-forked trend emerging. There are those who are coming in as rebels, the Craft-crowd of teens who are looking for a good way to freak out their folks, who are looking for a way to claim some power in their lives where they feel they have no rights or no control over what goes on. The teen years are truly a troubling and confusing time for everyone, but each youth tends to feel isolated, as if they were the only ones who has gone through this process. A natural state of affairs, and magick tends to offer them some belief or feeling that maybe yes, they too, can have some control over their situation.

The second trend I see is the new-age watered down versions of Witchcraft and Wicca that attempt to make our beliefs palatable to the masses. I find myself at odds most with this group, because by prettying up the picture, by painting daisy chains on the God's head instead of antlers, by turning Shakti/Kali-Ma into ~mother nature, who loves all her children and would never harm anything/anyone~ the true strength and nature of this world, of the universal concepts of creation and destruction are nullified.

Unfortunately, this trend tends to be, I believe, the most popular right now and magick/Paganism/Witchcraft has become a fad for those who latch onto the latest *spiritual/getchyer fix right here, lady* crowd. So here, yes, I do see the instant gratification mindset coming into play and a great deal of revisionist history which has no grounded basis in true anthropology/archaeology creeps in as well.

The third trend that I see coming, and that I am most happy about, are those who are fierce individualists, who want to return the concept of power to magick, who are not afraid of the word Witch and yet understand the need for grounding our beliefs in today's society and world. We do not live in the past, we are not reenacting the religion of our ancestors and we need to accept the fact that no matter what we do or think or feel, we cannot turn back the clock. These people tend to work long and hard at the Craft, they understand that there is a great deal of energy here and that we are responsible for it's use/misuse. I also am pleased to see a resurgence of the grounding of polarities, the goddess and the god, both sides of the coin, yin/yang being accepted as a balancing act rather than either masculine or feminine focus ruling.

TWPT: Do you feel that those who are coming onto this path today have an adequate foundation from which to launch out into the wilds of eclectic approaches to Witchcraft? Isn't there a certain amount of "basics" required before a person can move beyond those boundaries and grow in new and exciting ways?

YG: Yes, I believe that today, more than at any other time, there is a wealth of information available which allows the individual to design their own spiritual path and make it work for them. That's what my own writing is focused on, I've begun to notice similar trends among a few other authors.

And while there is a need for discipline and commitment to these ends, I believe that the experimentation with various paths can only enhance one's experience as they go along. Basics: visualization, feeling the energy and learning to work with it, personal discipline, a grounding in one's own ethics....yes, these are vital. But if by basics you mean: learn the sabbats, color charts, memorize the Charge of the Goddess....no, I don't think that everyone needs to do this. I have never memorized the Charge of the Goddess. It's lovely poetry, but when I've been the receptacle for my Lady, she had her own agenda, her own words to say. I was merely her instrument.

TWPT: Do you feel that coven training is something that should be sought by solitaries at some point or another? What is gained by the interaction with a group or a coven?

YG: Not necessarily. I worked first as a solitary for over seven years, before I began working with other people. I learned my own strength, I developed the path as it suited my nature, my temperament, my energy. When I did turn to working with others, I found that the merging of energies was both a blessing and curse. Blessing because I found the strength which comes in numbers. Curse, because I realized just how quickly one can lose their individual focus in group work, and how easily the energy can twist when interpersonal relationships interfere.

I enjoy celebrating the sabbats with others, each year I host a Samhain dumbfeast for my friends and other sabbats are hosted by other friends. However, for regular workings, I'm on far too eclectic a path to connect regularly with other Witches. And so are most of those I know and love.

This particularly comes to a zenith when you pledge yourself to a specific deity/deities. For example, I am a Priestess of Mielikki and Tapio...one of my closest friends is a Priestess of Frejya...while we occasionally work together on a project, there's no way we could meet regularly and hold circle. The energies of our Gods are different, the way we approach our ritual is different, the compromise would detract from the power and strength of our practice.

I think that working with others is good experience, but that as you grow further along your individual path, it becomes more difficult in eclectic Witchcraft to maintain that connection and still be true to your own communion with the universe.

TWPT: Do you distinguish between the terms Wiccan and Witch? If so then why have the become more or less interchangeable over the years?

YG: Oh, most definitely. As I stated, I am a Witch. I am Pagan. I am *not* Wiccan. Wicca, in my opinion, has for the most part become a very organized and specific tradition, much like the Gardnarian or Alexandrian traditions.

Wicca follows several basic structures and rules, where as a Witch can be from many different traditions. Wiccans tend to follow the "rule of three"--I don't always believe in this concept. I do occasionally practice hex work, I will take matters into my own hands when necessary. I work heavily with Dark Mother energy and many Wiccans tend to shy away from that.

I think a lot of eclectics are more along the Pagan/Witch side of things than the Wiccans, and that's fine. Either is acceptable, but one must find out which feels more comfortable. I an not comfortable or easy about calling myself Wiccan, the term doesn't fit me. Therefore, I do not use it in relation to myself.

I believe that the overlapping of words has occurred because of several reasons. Many people are now familiar with the term Wicca, and it's easy to liken oneself to that when one's beliefs are similar. Just as it used to be easier to say, "Oh, my beliefs are somewhat like Native American beliefs," and have people understand. Now the same is true of the term Wiccan. Pagan still has a ways to go and Witch still throws a lot of people for a loop. I use both, and if they want to ask intelligent questions, I answer. If they get hung up on the terms, or start spouting rhetoric, I simply ignore them and walk away. I have no time to waste on those who are not willing to listen with an open mind.

I think another reason this interchange of words keeps happening is because a number of people are afraid of the reaction they get when they use the term Witch. I find that sad. The word is so accurate for some of us, and to fear using it in relationship to oneself (if that is what one would choose to do), is rather like using a euphemism for saying "I'm gay" or "I'm bi". I find that directness often brings with it far less negative reaction than most people might think. I've seldom been hassled about my religion, and the more open I am, the less trouble I've had.

TWPT: Tell me about your writing. How did it start for you and how did you finally end up at Llewellyn?

YG: My magickal writing is simply an offshoot of my writing as a whole. Ever since I was old enough to understand that stories came from these objects called books, that those funny shapes on the page would reveal a tale, I wanted to "make books". I always have known that I would end up as a writer. There has simply never been a choice. I started writing when I could hold a pencil, wrote poetry from the time I was ten, wrote short stories as far back as I remember, started working on novels in my mid-late 20's. I sold my first poem when I was fifteen and as I held the magazine in my hand, I knew there was no turning back. The feeling of seeing my words in print was greater than anything else I've ever felt in my life.

During my twenties, I went on to have more poetry published, and a few short stories and articles. However, what I really wanted to be was a novelist.

Now, I had this vision of myself as a writer: I would be thin, lovely and graceful, wearing a beautiful dress, keeping a spotless house, gardening, canning my own food, writing in delicate journals, and writing full time.

All my problems would fade and the words would always flow. HA! Talk about blocking oneself with delusions and unrealistic views. So I wrote around and around my subjects and themes, and my work was banal and superficial. I had a wonderful grasp over language, however, except for my poetry, I couldn't reach into the depths of the book and yank the heart out for my readers to see.

It did not help that at this time I was in a bad relationship and that I was too afraid to face that truth, let alone the truths I hid about my own nature. So I went round and round. Well, at one point, I threw out two complete manuscripts and a bunch of other work. That was the worst day of my life. I knew that I'd never recover what I lost, and that when my ex told me, "If you're successful, I'll have to leave you," he was in essence trying to destroy my innermost self out of his own insecurity. All this time, I was Pagan, working on my magick, helping others, not seeing that I needed to help myself.

Then, one day the world snapped. He hit me, bruised me up. I knew it had to end. After nine years I gave up and I was terrified that I'd lose everything, my man, my writing, my freedom (after all, who would *take care* of me if I was alone). But the bruises went far deeper than the skin, and I knew that I had to leave. We separated, I continued to work and didn't write much except poetry. A year later, I knew that I had to get back to my words, I had to recover my sense of self as a writer or I'd go nuts. I quit my job, sold and gave away almost everything I owned, moved into a converted school bus and began reading Tarot on a professional basis. This was in 1991 (I had been reading the cards for 10 years by then). I also began to write again.

Then I moved in with a friend, met my husband (his room mate) and told Samwise that if he wanted to be with me, he had to know and accept several things: a) Mielikki and Tapio come above all others in my life, including my own life. b) I gave up myself once for someone; I'd never do it again. c) I freed myself from the work-a-day world to write, I'd never go back...ie: I was a writer, and a writer I would stay...and d) I was who I was and would only change for myself. If he could live with that, yes, I'd marry him. He decided that was fine by him. ~smiles~

So, I stayed home and wrote while he worked. I sold my bus. And I still was having trouble getting into my characters on a deep enough level. But I persevered.

Then, In 1993, I had a near death experience. Down with a bad case of pneumonia, I made the mistake of trying to eat popcorn while I was sick.

Samwise was at work, and there was no one else there that evening. I started to cough, inhaled a breath of air like you reflexively do right before you cough, and a kernel from the corn stuck in my windpipe. I couldn't breathe...couldn't dislodge it, couldn't scream. I remember standing up, then the next thing I knew, I was drifting in a dark brown space. I didn't know who I was, didn't know where I was, but I knew I existed. Then I found myself on the floor. I had fainted and the fall dislodged the popcorn. Though terrifying, that experience taught me something vital. I learned that "someday" may never come. "Someday" might just be a figment of your imagination and all we ever really have is now. I examined my life, asked myself, "If I had died tonight, what would I most regret?"

The answer was: "That I've not published a book, that I've not used my talents to their fullest." And that spurred me on. I've never forgotten that lesson, it taught me discipline and it taught me the value of time and the value of action. So I continued to write.

Finally, one day in a fit of frustration, I jotted off a quick letter to Llewellyn, telling them I had a book of guided meditations for Pagans and would they like to see it. I expected that it would take them weeks to respond and by then, I'd be partway through the manuscript. The next week they wrote back saying they wanted to see it.

Talk about scramble! I wrote 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. After two weeks, I wrote back, lied through my teeth and told them I'd been on vacation and that my printer was in the shop, they'd get a copy of the manuscript as soon as I had my printer back. Then I went back to writing. Five weeks later, I turned in Trancing The Witch's Wheel. The rest....is history.

Something I find amusing is to look at my vision of myself as a professional author from years ago, and to look at the reality of the situation. I am not thin. I don't wear white. I write 10-12 hours a day during my working periods, sometimes more. I don't garden but would love to be able to afford a gardener (if I had a house). I don't want to can my own food anymore.

The housecleaning? Samwise does a lot of it when I'm working. And as for no more problems: what a laugh! Everyone has problems, including me. I have my share of sorrow, insecurity, uncertainty. However, I know that I'm good at what I do and this inner knowledge allows me to face those problems and work through them.

As far as what I want to accomplish with my writing in the future: I would like to see my fiction published (working on that now); I would like to move into narrative nonfiction on a mainstream level (also working on this one).

I'd LOVE to write something akin to Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard or Watership Down by Richard Adams. I am not a "pagan author"....I am an author who happens to be pagan and who, among her other works, writes about her spirituality.

I am enthralled with language, possessed with graphomania--the maniacal urge to write. I can imagine no greater joy for a career than the one I have now.

TWPT: Do you think that there is value in the idea of having the elders in any given path pass on their wisdom to the young through their books or through conferences or perhaps one on one apprenticing? Is the idea of wise elders who train initiates still a valid idea for an eclectic Witch?

YG: I think that on occasion, training-in-person can really work well. I have taught magickal classes before, as well as trained apprentices. I think that this is a valid path IF the student and teacher share certain beliefs and inclinations. I would not be an effective teacher for someone who wanted to become a Gardnarian Witch. I think the greatest joys I receive as a teacher were seeing the student grow and overcome their inner fears.

However, the work is labor intensive. And since I put so much energy into my writing, the best way to reach the greatest number of people, is through my books. So I gave up teaching on an individual level, for the most part, and incorporated my spirituality into my career.

I think that the growing number of books on the subject only shows the increasing interest our society has developed with alternative forms of spirituality, and the burgeoning needs for more individualized pathworking.

This, in my opinion, is a good thing. Though I must admit to being tired of seeing rehashings of the same thing over and over. I would like to see more individualized slants on the subject.

For many, the old hierarchical religions simply do not work any longer, and I think that the fact that we are deeply into the information technology age, allows people to catch a glimpse of other world cultures, religions and beliefs. This, in turn, leads to an inner comprehension, an understanding, that what the westernized countries tend to believe is NOT the only path, that a good share of the world is NOT involved in the Judeo-Christian religion. And in turn, this promotes curiosity towards what is out there.

TWPT: As a writer what kinds of responsibilities do you perceive yourself as having towards those who read your books?

YG: In regards with my magickal writing: I have the responsibility to tell the truth of my experience, to explain clearly and without apology why I do what I do. I also have the responsibility to make certain that my readers don't perceive my books as a "holy grail" of sorts, and to encourage them to try out other forms of spiritual disciplines so they can best ascertain what works in their lives. It is my duty to present this information in as entertaining and yet serious a manner as possible. It is NOT my responsibility what the reader chooses to do with this information. I am not of the school of thought that believes a certain movie or song or book will trigger off an act of violence or anger or whatever and I get very irritated with these ridiculous court cases involving this subject.

People need to accept responsibility for their personal actions, and a fourteen year old...a ten year old...knows right from wrong. Whether it be with a book or a gun, if you abuse your power, you must accept the consequences.

As far as my other writings: as a writer I should entertain and impart knowledge in such a way that my readers gain something from the experience of having read my books, poetry, stories. If they come away changed in some manner, then I've done my job. I have to admit, one of the most satisfying feelings I've ever experienced is when my readers write to me saying,

"Thank you for writing this book. It changed my life in X way or Z way." I LOVE hearing from my readers.

What I do NOT have a duty to do, is to answer personal questions or clean up other people's lives/messes they've gotten themselves into. I get a lot of mail asking me for help, not just in finding information, but from people seriously in need of professional therapy. I am not a psychologist, though I have a good grounding in some of the basics. I am not on an unlimited time schedule. When I get letters from people who have gotten themselves pregnant and don't know what to do, or who sound like they are one step away from suicide, there is nothing I can do for them.

One of my on-going rants tends to be that some people (not the majority) assume, once they buy your book, that they own a piece of you and that you owe them unlimited information and attention. Well, folks, it just ain't so. I have a life, I have a career. I offer what I can offer through my books and web site. I don't have any problems with dropping a note to say "thank you" or "lilac oil is better than lavender for that"....but that's become the extent of what I can do.

I used to try to answer each plea for help, but quickly realized just how draining this was becoming, and as the mail began to flow in faster and the questions for help got more complex and worrisome, I finally had to accept the fact that I'd have little or no energy for my work, my life and my own path if I tried to play therapist for every person who needed it. Not to mention the damage I could do by not knowing the full situation, or the person in question on a face-to-face level. So I developed a policy of simply responding with a letter that states I cannot help in this situation, I wish the person luck and perhaps they might wish to seek a qualified professional.

TWPT: Do you feel that tools (athame,wand,etc.) are needed for effective ritual work or are they more like a set of training wheels on a bike that once you gain experience they are no longer needed? I have heard several ideas on this subject and I was interested in yours.

YG: No tool is ever un-expendable. All power ultimately resides within. Having said that, I find that my tools add to my ritual work with their own energy (I use a lot of bones, feathers, etc.) and that by using them over and over again in magickal work, they tend to develop a "charge" by themselves.

So no, they aren't necessary, but I like to use them whenever possible and I've become fond of them almost as I would a friend, because they take on an energy and, perhaps not a consciousness, but something damn close to it. I also think we are a tactile race/species, and the feeling of having something firmly "in-hand" is settling and comforting.

TWPT: There is an idea that floats around in various spiritual traditions that says that money or wealth is detrimental to a person seeking true enlightenment on their spiritual path. First off is this familiar to you and if so what are your feelings on it?

YG: Oh I detest this attitude and yes, it is very familiar to me. First off: if you are don't have enough to eat, if you are constantly worrying about where the rent's coming from, if your teeth ache and you have no health insurance, then how the hell are you supposed to focus on more esoteric subjects?

You must attend to practical needs first, get grounded in body before you attempt to work with such strong magickal forces as Witchcraft can conjure up. Now, if you are a monk in Tibet, this is a different matter. Some of the eastern traditions preach asceticism and have a long standing tradition of reaching Nirvana through detachment from worldly things. However, they also have intensive training for years and years to learn how to cope with that attitude.

There is nothing wrong with having money, a nice home. A new car is better on the environment than an old, fuel-inefficient clunker. A computer saves a writer much paper (and hence the environment). I love gadgets, I love pretty things, I'm quite happy with the concept of being able to prepare gourmet meals because I can afford to. The problem with wealth comes in when we focus on the money as being of sole importance, when we quit giving back even as we receive, when we don't offer a fair trade. Life is a continual exchange. If my books sell thousands and thousands of copies, then I've touched thousands of lives in exchange for the money I recoup from them. I think that the attitude, as I've seen it among some of the people I've met, tends to stem more from envy or from fear of failure. After all, if you espouse a disdain for success, then you don't have to try, do you?

TWPT: Is there an overall pattern that you are working towards in the types of books that you write or is it simply what strikes you as interesting at the time you start a project?

YG: I am not going to be one of the authors who leaps from tradition to tradition (on a magickal level) and writes about first Celtic paganism and then Norse and then Haitian Voudoun. I write what I know, what I experience, what I've taught and what I've lived. And as I said earlier, I am aiming to move away from the magickal market once I've said what I needed to say in it, and expand my horizons with my writing. I simply refuse to rehash the same old subjects over and over again. I'm currently working on the proposal for a sex magick book that covers mysticism and sex/bdsm/body modification/movement, etc. I'm also working on another NF book proposal for a non-magickal work, and I'm revising a novel.

In a sense, if I would categorize my magickal writing, I have to say that I'm aiming towards more of a "global ritualism". I offer my experience as a guidepost in helping others form their own paths. DarkMoon Rising, my tradition, is all about this concept: you can form your own path, you can take what works for you from this place and from that source and pull together an eclectic spiritual tradition that has a powerful and transformative effect on your life. You can read my work (and Laurie Cabot's, and Ann Moura's) and sift out what appeals to you in all of them, and create a personal journey.

When I approach a new project, I try to write what calls to me, what I'm excited about or what I feel I can offer a new slant on. My newest book, Tarot Journeys, will be out by November, and offers the reader a guide to using the Major Arcana of the tarot as a guide to self-transformation, as well as a way to understand the MA on an in-depth level. I'm very pleased with this book, and feel it will offer my readers another leap in their personal growth.

If I could offer people who are reading this interview one piece of advice, it would be thus: ask yourself, does this work? Does this religion, this approach to spirituality, have meaning and depth for me? Do I feel at home here? Am I challenged by my spiritual practices or have I grown complacent?

Do I truly believe in what I espouse, or am I mouthing rhetoric because (it's trendy, my mother said I should, it's politically correct, this will bug my folks, I'm looking for something different because I'm bored, fill in the blank)?

Once you answer these questions, you should know if your tradition or path is right for you. Never accept anything as gospel, always examine and explore for yourself. Words are not set in stone, every religion must evolve if it is to thrive. Cultures die when they've grown stagnant or corrupt. The world is ever-changing and we must adapt with it.

TWPT: Obviously you are a person who has embraced not only the Moon but technology as well. How has technology and the computer to be specific changed some of the rules as they apply to learning the Craft and finding others of like mind?

YG: A mixed blessing, as are all things, technology has led to breaking the sense of isolation a lot of pagans have, especially those who are stuck in small, conservative areas where they do not feel free or safe to express their spirituality. The internet is a form of magick, in my mind, it links like-minded people, offers tremendous amounts of information (both good and bad) and gives us a chance to meet on a world wide basis. We can so easily get a glimpse of other cultures and other perceptions this way.

The thing I do notice, that I am leery of, is the tendency for people to automatically assume that the person on the other end of the line is telling the truth. This is a real danger that has led to rape, murder and other forms of violence and violation. Please, I ask of you, do NOT assume because someone claims to be Pagan (whether on line or in *real life*) that they are a good person. Perhaps they are but you can't truly know until you meet them. I've met several folks in real life who I first encountered on line. None of the meetings were bad, but it is fascinating how one forms an opinion of someone only to later find it dashed or askew.

TWPT: As a follow up to the previous question what are the dangers, if any, that lurk for those who are seeking teachers on-line through the various areas of chat and contact?

YG: Oh....this is an interesting question and I think I began my answer in the one above. First, you must discern whether the *teacher* truly has the knowledge they claim. Then you have to figure out whether or not you are compatible for working together. Most of my on line chat time has been spent in writer's chatrooms. I never really go to Pagan chats, because I don't feel the need. I know several pagans on line from my writer's chat, and I don't feel a lack in my personal life of people to discuss spirituality with.

Another thing to remember, is if you give someone your credit card number over the Net, you're giving them free access to your account and if they are a scam artist, they can oh-so-easily wipe you out. There are con men/women a plenty, and as PT Barnum so aptly said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

For example, I read Tarot on a professional level. I charge a tidy sum for my readings, but not more than the going rate and I am accurate. Over the Net, how do you know if the person advertising their skills has ever touched a deck of cards?

You shouldn't be too paranoid, but caution is always advised, especially when it comes to seeking out someone who can help you along your spiritual path. Do your research. Do your reading. Know what you are talking about to some degree so you can know what the potential teacher is talking about.

I get letters from teens giving me their phone numbers, for gods' sakes. I write back to them scolding them, telling them "that was STUPID...I could be a psycho, even though I am a published author."

TWPT: Do you feel that we constitute a community of Wiccans/Pagans/Witches even though we are not as visible as,say, the gay community?

YG: Yes, I do. I believe that the subculture as a whole constitutes a community and consider myself a member of it. We who run on the fringes of society, whether it be through sexuality, religion, or some other form of behavior/belief, need to pull together and stand up for our rights so that individuality, so that personal choice is not limited. I am a staunch advocate of the voting process, I believe that we can make a difference and if someone complains but doesn't bother to vote, I tell them I do not want to hear it. I do, however, feel that we need to present our cases in a professional manner.

Standing on the steps of the capitol building in ritual robes, chanting and waving peace signs are just going to get us labeled as goofy hippie types.

Going into the legislature with massive petitions, dressed as though we are taking an issue seriously (whether we're tattooed, pierced, or not), presenting precedents and gathering representatives to our side, well...that is the beginning of power. I will never *pass* for "average"...I have far too many tattoos and wear my energy like a cloak itself. However, I am well-aware of how to capture attention, I am quite confident and well-versed in language, and I know how to present myself with strength and an air of authority.

My biggest complaint about the Pagan community, so to speak, is the preponderance of apathy and the "I'm Pagan so this/that doesn't matter to me" attitude I sometimes see. We are ALL humans, first....be we Pagan, Christian, Buddhist. We all have a responsibility to this world and to future generations of all species.

TWPT: Socially what challenges do you see that lie just ahead of us as a community dealing with those who still cling to stereotypes instead of trying to understand what we are really about? Do we need to work on building a community or will that take care of itself over time?

YG: Unfortunately, I believe that humans will always be humans. There will always be fear of the unknown, of that which is different and this fear will cause hate crimes, gay-bashing, witch-burning, domestic abuse, etc. I think that we need to work on global understanding, on global acceptance. Again, this is difficult because there are some religions and cultures in which human rights take second place. And frankly, I put human rights above religious freedom. Society, without world government, will never be free of cliques and groups, and to some extent, this is normal. Why would I choose to hang out with a group of fundamentalist Baptists? They would be uncomfortable. I would be out of place. However, when that choice to avoid becomes a reason to hate, then we are in trouble. And this world is in such deep trouble that, truthfully, I don't know if we can recover. I'd like to be optimistic, but I'm not, if you want an honest answer.

TWPT: As an author and reader of books yourself what are some essential titles that someone should be reading to give themselves a broad view of this path that we follow. Classic, current or even out of print titles can be offered.

YG: Ah, yes. ~smiles~ Anything by Scott Cunningham. Oh, how I wish I could have met that man before he died. Laurie Cabot--The Power of the Witch.

Ann Moura--Green Witchcraft. Sybil Leek--Diary of a Witch. Janet & Stewart Farrar--The Witches' Goddess, The Witches' God. Global Ritualism by Denny Sargent. A Practical Guide To The Runes--Lisa Peschel. John Lust--The Herb Book.

TWPT: In many ways we as Wiccans/Pagans and Witches try to make the practice of our faith as simple and safe as possible so we try not to think about the mystical side of what we believe. Tell me about your feelings in regards to the mystical side of our faith?

YG: To tell you the truth, I feel that Witchcraft and Paganism without the mystical side is nothing more than a fluffy "feel-good" self-help meeting.

When we divorce ourselves from the mystical roots from where our beliefs spring, we in essence disempower our faith and our work. I'd much rather meet someone who calls himself an agnostic but is a strong environmentalist, than someone who claims to be Pagan but goes through the rote motions she learned in Wicca 101 without having a deep understanding for why she is following this path. Mysticism doesn't require a firm belief in the Gods, but tends, I believe, in Paganism, to ground itself into an emotional and spiritual connection with the living world around us. We have a responsibility to this world, first and foremost, and to the species that inhabit it. We broke it, now it's our responsibility to try and fix it.

TWPT: Do you think that people avoid the idea of mysticism because they fear the unknown or unexplored parts of their own beings?

YG: I think people avoid the idea of mysticism, and the search for it, because of a multifold reason. I think that yes, people fear to delve too deeply within themselves.....but more than that, I think that in today's society, it's looked askance if one claims to have true mystical experiences (unless, of course, they are in an established religion...that still tends to be accepted to a degree). What with all our psychological and scientific knowledge, we seem to feel that the mystical side will make us look like uneducated, gullible people.

Now, I firmly believe we must ask ourselves, "Is there something else that could have caused this particular phenomenon?" but when we have discarded the logical explanations, when we have worked our way through the possibilities and are still confronting what seems a magickal experience, then I think we owe it to ourselves to accept it for what it is and not to discard the event/feeling out of fear that we won't be believed.

TWPT: How does magick figure into your faith? Is it something that you depend on all the time or is it something that pops up on special occasions?

YG: Magick is vital, but not always aimed at a *specific result*. For me, raising magickal energy in a devotional ritual and focusing it at the Gods is a valid and passionate way of expressing our love and communion with nature and with deities. I cast a lot of spells for people, but I also try to make sure they realize that magick in this sense, is an enhancement, not a replacement for action. Too many neophytes to the Craft seem to believe magick will replace the need to work out problems on your own, that it will clear away all the *bad things* and leave you happy, wealthy and wise.

The truth of the matter here is, magick can work wonders and miracles, but it can only do so if the path for it is clear, and if you have learned what you need to learn from the situation. And there is NO substitute for the practical. If you don't lock your doors, if you leave your checkbook or wallet where strangers can find it on a regular basis, no amount of protection magick will prevent someone from robbing you. Remember: the Gods help those who help themselves. We have a duty and responsibility to take care of ourselves, and if we shirk this, if we rely on luck or the Gods' goodwills, eventually the universe is going to get tired of dragging along our baggage.

For me, a magickal act/spell can be something as simple as watching a meteor shower and communing with the energy, building energy through dancing and focusing it towards a goal or image, wading in the ocean at dusk and connecting with the water spirits. I see magick as coming from nature, and when we reach out, when we touch the divine in the world around us, we acknowledge our place in the magickal act that is the creation of this universe. We can no longer, at that point, disassociate ourselves from what is going on in the environment because we *ARE* the environment.

TWPT: Are there any dangers that might be associated with the practice of magick?

YG: Of course. The main danger, I would say, is that of spells backfiring or going astray if you don't think them out. If you do a prosperity spell and you have an ailing aunt with money, it would behoove you to ask for your prosperity to come in a way that doesn't hurt others. If you cast a love spell, ask the universe to send you the right person, not the person you *think* is right for you. ~laughs~

Years ago, after I left my ex, I wanted to get married again at some point.

The first spell I cast, I focused on wanting a sapphire and diamond wedding ring set in platinum. I FORGOT to specify I wanted a husband connected with it. Soon after I cast the spell, I went to visit a friend who was getting a divorce and I happened to mention I'd always wanted a sapphire ring.

She said, "Here, you can have this one." What she gave me was her wedding ring from her marriage...sapphires and diamond set in platinum. I about died laughing when I realized I'd gotten exactly what I'd asked for....the ring, but no husband.

I also cast a love spell on my ex when we were together, with his permission, to try and help our failing relationship. Well, I started getting attention from men everywhere. Except with my ex, apparently it just wasn't meant to be that we were together and no amount of magick in the world was going to change that fact.

As I said, I do believe in hexing at times, and I won't argue the premise.

It's my personal view of the world, I protect those whom come under my wing and if someone attacks, they'd better run. However, I always caution that you have to be very careful with this type of magick and think it through first. You also have to be willing to bear the responsibility for casting such a spell. Friends and I tend to label this, karmic facilitation. I find mirror spells work best for this, reflecting the negative energy (be it emotional or physical) sent towards me (or whoever I cast the spell for) back to the originator. It simply turns their intent, energy, actions back on themselves and works wonders.

TWPT: Many of us as Wiccans/Pagans and Witches tend to be drawn towards the fanciful things of life and most of us have an enduring love of fantasy and science fiction literature. A long running staple of such books are faeries, elves, dwarfs etc., are these beings based on the active imaginations of the writers or is there something beyond fiction that inspired writers to write those wonderful stories?

YG: Almost every culture in the world has a belief/history of these type of beings. I find that our current views towards the faerie kingdom. It seems to me that, since Victorian times (and mind you, I love a lot of the Victorian motif), that the writers and artists began romanticizing nature and presenting it in images pastoral and delicate, ethereal and wispy.

The bite of the Goddess was negated, Her power and strength ignored in turn for a more serene and idealistic view of how humans wanted Her to be.

Faeries became little sprites and elves, cute and mischievous but never harmful, far from their true ancestors the Sidhe. When we look at the Black Annis, a night hag of the woods, the Kelpie, succubi of the moors, Jenny Greenteeth, a faerie vampire....we see the power inherent within these beings and see what they are capable of. I'm not suggesting that every faerie is like this, but I am saying that the very essence of the Faerie Realm is one of chaos and mayhem and magick so strong that we mortals cannot even begin to perceive the depths to which it leads, let alone control it or play with it, without at least expecting to reap potential ramifications.

When you work with Faerie Magick, you must expect a certain amount of chaotic energy to enter your world. I am pledged to a Goddess who is Queen of the Metsanhaltija, the Finnish dryads, so to speak, and I see this in my life continually.

You must also expect that not all faeries are going to be kind and helpful and cute and happy when you enter their realms and ask for their attention. You must listen to instinct and pay attention to omens and portents, because if you don't, if you rely on what our Victorian ancestors used as a template for nature, then you're in for a (potentially) nasty surprise.

TWPT: How large a part does faith play in how we live our lives and walk our spiritual paths? What can we know of the mystical side of our lives and what do we simply have to "believe" and hope for the best?

YG: I think, for myself, faith springs out of experience which springs out of experimentation. I would never ask someone else to blindly follow what I believe. The whole nature of my writing on the subject is to offer a guide to developing a spiritual path that works for the individual. We begin by delving within ourselves, we learn who we are, what we are about. We reach out with our psyches and touch other realms of existence. We follow the labyrinth inward and it leads to the core, which in turn leads to a more universal connection. As above--so below. Microcosm leads to macrocosm.

As we discover the truth of our own selves, we begin to discover our inter-relatedness with others. This is why I think that spirituality is such an individual subject. We must each find our own way to that primordial power, and since every person and every being is different, each path to that primal soup, the core if you will, has to be a bit different.

At the same time, we must form a community of support, friendship and tolerance. For if we accept that all paths can be valid, how can we possibly wage war with one another over this ritual style, over that name for a God/dess, over whether one is Buddhist or Hindu. I suppose this is an unrealistic dream of mine, but I would love to be able to sit down at a dinner party with: Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Moslems and Pagans....and see no tensions or arguments erupt over religion.

TWPT: Are there any practices or methods for opening up the mystical side of our lives? After years spent in a world that for the most part denies that there is this other world that exists just out of sight it is hard for many to open up and let go of the scientific method thinking and begin to explore the world with other senses.

YG: Oh yes...so many practices and methods. Guided meditation, ecstatic dancing, visualization, ritual work, walking in the woods, even just picking blackberries in silence for an hour or two will start tuning you into the world of which you are a part. That's the great thing about the burgeoning New Age and Magickal book craze...we're getting all this different information, all these new paths towards self-enlightenment, and this simply offers the seeker a better chance for finding something that resonates within their hearts. I think this is wonderful, and am truly glad to see the spread of information swell. It's like a ripple in ocean that is fast becoming a tidal wave.

However, I would like to add this note: we MUST be vigilant. The religious extremists want to quell anything that deviates from their belief systems.

Hate groups want to divide our united stance against intolerance and bigotry. As I've said before in my books and on my site: I am a one-quarter Cherokee, fat, bisexual, tattooed, short, sensuous, female Witch who is somewhat into b&d. I fit a number of minorities who could be and who are targeted. Look to your own life and think about what you believe that may be under fire right now. We have a duty and a responsibility to stand up for not only our own rights, but the rights of others to practice their religion and lifestyle so long as it doesn't harm others or interfere with others' beliefs. Remember: if we do not speak when another is persecuted, there won't be anyone to speak for us when it's our turn.

TWPT: How would you define a Pagan zealot or a Pagan fundy?

YG: I have run across, all too frequently, pagan fundies and zealots who are just as bad as the Christian fundamentalists I've met. Now, it is one thing to be devoted to your path. I am, after all, totally devoted to my spiritual journey. But once you start routinely slamming other religions in public, once you start interrupting other services, then you have crossed the line.

I recently was talking to a good friend on line. He's a devout Christian, but very open minded, and he frequents a Christian chatroom. Well, he sent me a note about how some girl came into the chatroom, started slamming them for their beliefs, and said she was a "goth witch". I told him, if they have the opportunity, kick her out. I'd do that to someone who perpetrated the reverse action. If you walk into a church, be prepared for Christian beliefs and don't take offense that you encounter it. If you go to a Pagan circle, you'd better realize you are going to encounter magickal ritual. If you are invited to a Native American ceremony, don't get offended if they don't want your athame there.

And just because we encounter rude behavior in others, does not give us the right to adopt that same attitude. If someone interrupts my circle, I'll give them hell, I'll tear them up one side and down the other. But I won't go up to someone I know is Christian and start telling them they're wrong to believe in their path. The only time I make exception with this, is with hate groups. Then, I feel that if they are crossing the lines and inciting hate crimes, we have to step in and do something. Lives have been lost under the guise of freedom of belief/speech and sometimes, as I have said in other areas of this interview, human rights take precedence over individual rights.

TWPT: How prevalent are these types in the Wiccan/Pagan community?

YG: Mostly I notice this in those who are first entering the Craft (which is true of just about any....for lack of a better word, newly converted, in any religion). Sometimes I find that the less a person reads about a subject, the less they study the history of our beliefs, the less they acquaint themselves with current events, the more insular and xenophobic they become.

TWPT: What would you suggest as remedies to guard against becoming that which we have left behind us?

YG: Once we acknowledge diversity, accept the vast array of beliefs and cultures and ethnicities within our world, we will see how very foolish it is to expect the entire world to participate in our personal spiritual paths.

Just as I incorporate a bit of Buddhist and Taoist thought in to my path, it would be insane for me to attempt to become a Buddhist with my nature.

However, I can appreciate the beliefs and accept bits and pieces into my world without betraying my essential self. I think that's the strength I see in eclecticism. Even though one tends to lose some focus and power by straying from tradition, that very divergence creates a new vitality, energy and enthusiasm.

TWPT: How involved should we be in the political process?

YG: As much as I don't want to be involved in it, I think that first and foremost, every American person over the age of 18 has a duty to vote.

We create this country through our silence or our speaking out. If you do not vote, you cannot complain. Simple as that. Don't want to vote? Don't want to acquaint yourself with the issues? Well, perhaps you'd be better off in a country where you don't have the freedom to express your choices.

See, people...Hitler could not have done what he did if the citizenry had spoken out, had rebelled. Silence is assent. If you see someone being beaten because they are black and you do not speak, you are as guilty as the perpetrators. If you know someone who is raping women, but you keep silent because it's "none of your business", then you are helping him every time he grabs another victim. If you see an abuse in the system and don't speak up, then you give that abuse power. Yes, it is a difficult process, and I will not deny that more often than not, our choices come down to the lesser of two evils, but until we unite and forge a strong political voice, our rights are going to continue to get trampled.

Would I want a Pagan in the White House? No more than I want a Catholic or a Jew or a Moslem. Because I value the separation of Church and State, and that, my friends, is at stake today. If the religious right has its say, then your children will be seeing the Ten commandments on their school room walls and most likely, in a few years, be saying prayers to a God they do not worship.

At the beginning of this century, women had no right to vote and were considered under the rule of their husbands. Just last century, blacks were property. In the fifties, McCarthy and his cronies ruined hundreds of careers with their "red menace" witchhunt. Today, we fight for the right to retain our status as a legally recognized religion. We fight for the right to our sexuality without interference. We fight to retain the rights that were hard won by our ancestors, and I wish people would realize that these are NOT guaranteed. We have to be the watchdogs, or we could so easily lose our rights and freedoms to those who would see this country run under the guise of a moral cloak of ethics.

Get out there and vote, get out there and run for office if you are interested. Don't act like a flake, show them that we mean business, we are serious and we are part of this nation.

TWPT: How real a threat is there from folks like Bob Barr and the religious right? Haven't they been losing momentum over the last few years?

YG: They are always a threat because zealots never rest and there are always new fanatics to take up the cause. The good ole' boy system is still a strong reality and though I think it will lessen over the next thirty, forty years, we still have a long way to go in assuring our freedoms to worship as we will.

You can bet that the fundamentalists will seek out any weakness in our community and exploit it. And the areas I see that are most vulnerable are our apathy towards the political process, our inability to quit squabbling amongst ourselves, and our flower-in-the-gun holdover hippie mentality.

We need organization (not in terms of unified beliefs, but in terms of a group of individuals concerned with keeping our right to freedom of speech and religion), we need to realize that the "establishment" isn't going away, and we need to start paying attention to what's going on in this world of ours.

TWPT: Are there enough of us that our voices will even be heard among the millions of other voices that always seem to drown us out?

YG: If we can get our heads together, present a coherent case, we could join together with Buddhists, Jews, and other minority religions in this country under the concept that we simply want to keep our freedom of worship alive.

I strongly recommend people take a look at The Interfaith Alliance.

Here in Washington, we have had not only Christians and Jews, but Buddhists and Wiccans sitting on the council. This is a wonderful start. Also, get involved in the ACLU, another powerful organization that is basically an umbrella group. Yes, there are enough of us, if we realize that we are not an insular group with no resources. We have to dig, we have to be willing to work with others not of our faith, and yes, it can be done.

TWPT: I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me and for your frank and in depth answers to my questions. I would like to wish you the brightest of blessings and much success along your path both as an author and fellow traveller on this spiritual path.

YG: Thank you much, and I enjoyed it. I feel honored to be able to give something of value to people through a medium which I love. I could not ask the universe for a better choice in careers. Writing is my life. My life belongs to the Gods. It's natural I should write about them. ~~~waves~~~