10 Mostly City Magick Questions with Christopher Penczak

1. “City Magick: Spells, Rituals, and Symbols for the Urban Witch” was your first book that was published. How does it feel to see it back in print?

It’s honestly a little weird. Though I am very happy with the book and how it started my writing career, I feel a lot less attached to it now and it feels like a lifetime away. I no longer work in the city and have those same issues, so when folks want to talk intensely about it, I feel a little disconnected. I just moved into a lovely home with a barn and five acres in New Hampshire, and we’re setting it up to be the home of the Temple of Witchcraft. I find the woods calling to me more and more, and only in the cities when I travel to teach.

2. What had inspired you to write “City Magick”?

I was working at Fort Apache, a Boston area recording studio and record label. I had just gotten my first degree in Witchcraft, and shifted from this more coven based, outdoor practice in the suburbs of New Hampshire to working all the time in Cambridge, and staying out late at shows and events in Boston. My time off was between office hours and the next show, and I was trying to squeeze a magickal practice in at that time. The techniques naturally grew out of my experiences there and some inspiriation from my partner, Steve Kenson, and his approach to magick through Chaos Magick. Some Peter Carrol, Phil Hine and Grant Morrison helped me on my way.

I kept good notes on my practice, and when I found myself no longer employed, I began writing about it to fill the time and soon had a book to publish.

3. I think many Pagan magic users feel the closer to nature the better. Are there perhaps any advantages to city based magic?

I think it teaches you to feel the current of life force anywhere you are. I think someone who can only practice in nature isn’t really paying attention and needs to gain better percpetion and connection. Nature is everywhere. It is tenaciously growing through the city cracks and found upon the streets no matter where they are. Cities have their own nature, their own ecosystems, their own spirit systems, and they are available to us.

4. At this point in your career you’ve traveled quite a bit, are there any cities you find particularly magical?

Seattle. I love Seattle. Great harmonious mix of nature and city, art and magick. Just returned from there actually, so I might be a little biased. I find San Francisco, Boston and New York City particularly magickal. London is overwhelmingly magickal. At times I feel like I’m wading through the aura of London, but at other times, it’s easier. I wonder if that has to do with seasonal or astrological alignments. Cities have astrology and charts, just like people. They have their own persona and character and life their share with their inhabitants.

5. “City Magick” offers an extensive list of exercises for readers to try such as Sidewalking and TV Scrying. What are some of your favorites and why?

The Sidewalking is still one of my favorite – to attune to the energy and currents and spirits just when out for a walk. You can do it in the woods on a trail, or in the city through downtown. It helps you pick up on what is present energetically wherever you are.

I also like looking for magickal symbols in graffiti art. That is still inspiring. I used to blog about it when I traveled, but haven’t done it in a while.

6. In “City Magick” you discuss magic having three basic building blocks, “the three Rs: reality, rapture, and ritual”. Do you still use those building blocks when discussing magic now, 11 years later?

I don’t think I use that same language today. I tend to focus now on the teachings of the Temple of Witchcraft, and the three there have gotten boilded down to clear intent, strength of will and a method to direct energy. There are some parallels, but not an exact match. I think for the Temple, it was more about basic spell casting magick to start, while City Magick was talking more about magickal consciousness in general.

7. Obviously there is no shortage of books dealing with magic in nature, and “City Magick” covers cities extensively. Can readers adapt the lessons in “City Magick” for life in any of the seemingly zillions of American suburbs?

I think so. In some ways, suburbs are becoming more urban now, aren’t they? The suburbs of my youth are not what they are like now. They are much more congested. So I think the basic idea of attuning the spirit of place, no matter where you are, applies anywhere and anytime.

8. You recently designed spell charms/coins for Deva Designs. Can you tell my readers a little bit about them and where they can find them?

I was approached by the owners of Deva Designs to help co-create a magickal line of products that would serve the Pagan communities and beyond. Deva Designs has a stellar reputation of making magickal products at fair prices. I was always a big fan of their Ted Andrews animal coins and liked their Goddess designs. We designed fifteen spell coin pocket charms, and have release the first five – Love, Healing, Prosperity, Protection and Psychic Power. They are designed with a magickal geometry and symbolism, combining images from several different systems as used in modern Witchcraft. On the back is a spell written to activate the charm. Follow the instructions and recite the spell while holding the charm and then carry it in your pocket.

I sell them on my own website, www.christopherpenczak.com, and local metaphysical retailers can obtain them through Deva Designs whole sale and provide them to the public.

9. I know you’re always insanely busy, do you have any upcoming projects you can share with my readers?

Well, I’m super excited about the Temple of Witchcraft’s new land project. We have obtained a mortgage on a property where the founders of the Temple will be living and paying rent to the Temple. We don’t work on the traditional parsonage model even though we are a nonprofit church in the eyes of the federal government. The first floor of the house and the barn will be Temple facilities, and we are raising funds for a parking lot and barn renovation. Anyone who wants to donate, can visit www.templeofwitchcraft.org. We’ll be putting together a formal donation program for these projects soon, as they really just happened less than two weeks ago, but anyone can donate via our paypal donation button.

I’ve also completed work on two new books to be put out through a publishing company that I’m a co-partner in, Copper Cauldron Publishing. This month’s release is The Feast of the Morrighan, a book about the Celtic Crow Goddess the Morrighan. The second will be out early 2013 is called The Mighty Dead, a book on the enlightened ancestors of the magickal traditions, and most specifically, of Witchcraft.

And lastly I’m helping Laurie Cabot out with her next book, a spell book gathering her years of experiencing running a shop, teaching and pioneering her way as a Witch. It’s great to be reconnected with one of my first and beloved teachers and get such a first hand, direct teachings that we are able to share with the world.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Have you tried Nettles for your allergies? They work wonders for me and my other partner, Adam.

I haven’t given that a try. I don’t know, using nature to treat my allergies……I’m suspicious of the enemy……

About Christopher Penczak:
Christopher Penczak is a modern Witch, teacher, and healer. He is the author of the acclaimed “Inner Temple of Witchcraft” series and of “Gay Witchcraft”, Weiser Books, 2003. He offers classes and workshops throughout the U.S. Visit him at: www.christopherpenczak.com.

10 Questions Again with Alaric Albertsson

1. Holy crap! Do you realize it’s been over two years since we’ve talked? Seriously. Can you forgive me?

Of course. We should both be grateful that we have such busy, interesting lives. It is good to connect with you and the Magical Buffet again, though.

2. We first talked back in 2009 when “Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan” came out and again in 2010 when you talked about your work with Taren Martin in creating The Martin Rune Deck. Since then there has been a whole other book, “Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer”. Can you tell my readers a little about it?

Just as “Travels Through Middle Earth” was my book on Saxon Pagan spirituality, “Wyrdworking” is a book about Anglo-Saxon magic. I had originally intended it to be two books – one discussing the Anglo-Saxon runes, and one discussing other magic modalities – but early on I realized the topics would be more salable if I combined them. Most of the first half of the book explores rune lore. Most of the rune sets sold today are the 24 symbols of the Elder Futhark, which were popularized by authors like Ralph Blum and Edred Thorsson. “Wyrdworking” examines early English runes, known as the Futhorc, which include nine additional symbols.

The second half of the book looks at other magical practices (including incantations, herb magic and divination) as these were practiced in England. We can reconstruct many of these practices from what we know of folk magic and Old English healing and fertility charms. But “Wyrdworking” is not an abstract study of Saxon sorcery; it is a practical guide. The book explains how to use runes both for divination and active magic, how to design effective chants, how to prepare herbal potions and how to choose the tools and supplies you would need for your own magic.

3. I asked this back in ’09, but for those just tuning in you follow the path of a Saxon Pagan. For my readers who may be curious, how does this differ from Celtic or Nordic paths?

The Celtic Britons had some influence on Saxon praxis due to their proximity, but for the most part they were an entirely different culture with their own gods, their own language, and so on. As for the Norse, there is much more similarity. The Saxons were, after all, Germanic people just as the Norse were. The Saxons had a goddess of the spring, Eostre or Eastre, who was unknown to the Norse. Conversely, the Norse had Loki. (I think we have the better deal here.) Saxons also tend to be VERY tribal. Ásatrúar often form kindreds, but it tends to be perceived as more of an option rather than a fundamental aspect of the religion. Obviously there are some solitary Saxon Pagans, but most of us feel there is something incomplete if we cannot worship with an inhíred (tribe or family).

4. Back in 2009 I asked, “What challenges do you see facing the Pagan community? How can the community resolve those issues?”

And you said, “I think the biggest challenge we face – and we have been challenged by this for as long as I’ve been Pagan – is a tendency to believe in One True Path. Face it, most of us are still first-generation Pagans, and part of our baggage is the One Way Syndrome. I believe the central defining quality of Paganism is, or should be, an acceptance that there are many gods and many paths. My way is the best way for me. It may not be the best way for you. Superficially we all seem to agree with this, but on other levels I constantly see people behaving towards others in ugly, judgmental ways.”

Do you still feel that way, or have other issues moved to the forefront?

No, I still think this is our most crippling challenge. Just this past year a woman who has contributed to her branch of Paganism for decades came under heavy fire because of who she would and would not allow into a ritual. I was not there when the incident occurred, and I do not dispute that it could have been handled more diplomatically, but I was very disappointed by the self-righteous zealots who screamed about how “wrong” this woman was for her choice of who she felt comfortable worshiping with.

In my own Saxon e-group, the most common problem that I or one of the other moderators must address is one person telling another that he or she is doing something “wrong”. I do not expect people to agree about everything, but sometimes it gets so negative.

5. On Facebook you occasionally talk about your chickens, and I generally find your chicken status updates so amusing. Can you share with us a little bit about deciding to have chickens, getting started, and now having them?

Oh, chickens are not new for us. We had a small flock when we lived in Missouri. Only then we were in a more rural area, so our flock was larger and always included a rooster. (Who I always named “Stu”, to keep in mind where he would eventually wind up.) Now, in Pennsylvania, we are suburbanites with a tiny flock of three Rhode Island Red hens. If you have never had a fresh egg, you have never really tasted an egg. The factory-farmed eggs you buy at the supermarket are not “fresh” by any rational definition of that word. I missed fresh eggs, and chickens are really so easy to keep. We have a parakeet in the living room, and three hens in a coop in the back garden, and caring for the hens is no more time consuming than caring for the parakeet.

You do want a sturdy coop, because EVERYBODY loves the taste of chicken. Dogs, hawks, opossums and raccoons will all cheerfully devour your birds. Otherwise there is not a lot of work involved, and most people would be surprised to know that a lot of cities allow a family to keep two or three hens. Sometimes there are specific rules, such as how far the coop has to be from other residences, so it is important to find out what the law says in your own city. Roosters are almost always illegal in urban areas. Because, you know, the pastoral sound of a rooster crowing is so much more annoying than ambulance sirens, gun shots and screaming children.

6. Speaking of Facebook, how do you feel about the rise of social media? A lot of authors I know love the access to readers it allows but curse it as a horrible time sink.

I like Facebook. It isn’t a time sink for me, but then I do not feel that I have to respond to everything. If somebody has a reasonable question I answer it succinctly, but I really don’t spend that much time on social networks. Also, a lot of the same questions are asked again and again, and do not take long to answer. I don’t “cut and paste”, but typing a response is very quick if I’ve answered the same question a dozen times before.

I do think we are living in a very exciting era. Not only can people connect more directly with me, but I have been able to connect with authors (like Paul Huson and Louise Huebner) whose books I read 35-40 years ago.

7. You present at and attend a lot of festivals and events, what are some of your favorites?

I’m going to have to say the Heartland Pagan Festival, but I’m extremely biased. Heartland is held every year in – well, in the heartland, of course – in Kansas. In the 90’s I was actively involved with the group that puts on the festival, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

In recent years I have been very impressed with the Earth Warriors Festival held every autumn in Ohio. Earth Warriors tends to have more of a focus than many festivals, which gives it a sense of purpose and direction that is often lacking. And they have the best meal plan ever.

8. Now that spring/summer season is gearing up, are there any events that you already know you’ll be attending and/or speaking at?

I plan to attend Heartland this May, although just as a participant this year. In June I will be speaking at the Steel Valley Pagan Festival in Ohio. It is a single day event, and this is their first year, but the organizer is very enthusiastic. In August I will be speaking at Summerland, an ADF festival held near Cincinnati. Then in September I’ll be speaking again at the Earth Warriors festival, also in Ohio.

It isn’t a festival as such, but I will be one of the speakers at Pittsburgh’s local Pagan Pride Day celebration.

9. What’s next? Do you have any projects my readers can look forward to?

I’m currently working on a book about living as a Pagan. “What to do after the ritual is over.” The book is filled with suggested activities to help a person live more fully with an earth-centered spirituality. And, yes, keeping chickens is among those many activities. I don’t want to say much more than this, because I’ve learned that I stop writing whenever I start talking about what I’m writing. It sort of dissipates my energy.

I’m hoping that Llewellyn will pick up this project. If they are not interested I will market it elsewhere, but the people I have worked with have been very respectful of my writing and helpful in promoting my books.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question!

How long is it going to be before we do this again? Two years is too long!

I don’t know, I hadn’t meant for it to be two years this time! We should definitely do this when your next book about living as a Pagan is coming out, or when you have some really good chicken stories.

About Alaric Albertsson:
Alaric is the author of “Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan” and “Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer”, both published by Llewellyn Worldwide. Alaric first embraced polytheism in the summer of 1971, and has never looked back! Over the past four decades his personal spiritual practice has developed as a synthesis of Anglo-Saxon tradition, country beliefs, herbal studies and rune lore. For Alaric, a reverence for the earth and respect for ancestral and indigenous spirits are fundamental defining qualities of Pagan religion.

During the 70’s, living in the Ozark mountains, Alaric had the opportunity to talk with rural people with traditional customs – moon lore, weather lore, healing superstitions – passed on for generations. During this time he was also influenced by spiritist traditions. He eventually moved to Kansas City, where he served as Vice President and on the Board of Directors for the Heartland Spiritual Alliance during the 1990’s. In 2001, on the day of the winter solstice, Alaric left the Midwest and moved to Pennsylvania, where he currently resides.

Alaric and his partner Scott co-founded the Saxon inhíred Earendel in 2003. Like all inhírdas, Earendel is an extended family and not open to the public, but its members strive to foster a greater public awareness and appreciation of Pagan Saxon traditions in southwestern Pennsylvania. As an author, speaker and drýmann, Alaric himself travels around the United States giving presentations and classes throughout the year.

You can learn more at www.alaricalbertsson.com.

10 Questions with Margaret Pearson Ph.D.

1. When did you first develop an interest in the study of Chinese history?
I first studied Chinese history in the eighth grade, when my teacher convinced the Seattle School Board that her students needed world history up to the Romans more than a second round of Washington State History. In high school, I devoured Lao-tzu (Laozi) and Li Po (LiBai). When I took Chinese language the summer of 1963, I found it MUCH easier than German, and felt I had found the field of study which suited me. (Later I realized that reading and writing come a lot slower without an alphabet.)

However, I wanted to be more practical, so my first career was designing computer systems for a large corporation in New York City. But after four years of that, I decided to try graduate study of Chinese history.

2. How did that lead to your interest in the I Ching?
I first read and studied the “Changes” as an undergraduate at Smith. I liked many of the words in it. Later, during a sabbatical at Cambridge University, I consulted the book each morning, partly as a way of procrastinating. As I compared Chinese and English texts. I found so many differences between them that I wondered whether a new translation was needed. A friend trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich told me some of the ways she felt the text was being misused by some Jungian therapists. I could not bear to think that some women, at their most vulnerable moments of indecision, being told that some of the concepts in the “I ching” translations were ‘universal truths.’ I published a short note on how far the usual translation of hexagram 44 is from its original topic, the honors given to a royal bride.

3. For readers who may not be familiar with it, what is the I Ching?
That is a very hard question! Actually, what I have translated in just part of the I ching (Yijing, Book of Changes). The core text, the Zhouyi (Chou Dynasty Changes), was assembled between about 1050 and 700 BCE, although it contains nuggets of text which are earlier. The full I ching includes this core plus all the commentaries ever written about it. This much longer work is the product of many authors over many centuries, and reflects quite a diversity of points of view. The Zhouyi (Chou Changes) is a bit like the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch or Torah. The I ching is like every commentary written on these books, including the entire Talmud.

4. How does your book “The Original I Ching: An Authentic Translation of the Book of Changes” differ from other books on the subject?
Probably the most important difference is that I have clearly separated the core text from later commentaries. I have added some historical background, but this is clearly separated from the text itself, in paragraphs after the Images. I wanted to let readers be able to select their own interpretations freely, based on knowledge of what the original says. I have included page references to three other translations reflecting other views, one with a full translation of the earliest surviving commentary, written around 240 CE, and one done between 1913 and 1923, and reflecting late imperial thought. (This latter is the familiar Wilhelm/Baynes translation.)

Secondly, my translation recognizes that women as well as men used the Changes. We know this from many references in historical texts like the Tso chuan (Zuozhuan) and from the discovery of a copy of the book in the tomb complex of a Duchess who died around 165 BCE. (Buried near Mawangdui.)Chinese pronouns are usually gender neutral or absent altogether. So I suppose they ought to be translated as “s/he or it or they.” But most translators have said “he.” I think that is misleading. I have used “you” instead. It’s a bit less awkward than “s/he or it” and it’s one of the few gender neutral English pronouns.

Third, I am a historian of China, and have taught Chinese history and thought for over thirty years. I have added relevant historical background which includes references to recent discoveries which have transformed our understanding of earliest Chinese culture and society. For example, we now know that some elite women ruled their own walled cities and had many subordinates, male and female. One queen led multiple successful military campaigns. And probably men and women were of nearly the same height at this time. All of this challenges stereotypes which we now know are anachronistic.

5. When discussing your translation in the book, you focus on the positive and ungendered meaning of yin. Can you explain the significance of this for my readers?
Alison Black, Vitali Rubin, Lisa Raphals and I have found much evidence that the paired concepts of yin and yang were not gendered for about a thousand years. So the idea that they refer to people at all came later. By the time of Wang Bi (d 249), many assumed that they referred to the genders. The line by line analysis, also later, assumes this. But original analysis was far more concrete. As I read through the entire Zhouyi, I discovered that about 90% of the derogatory comments about women disappeared, since most of them were in later commentaries, not in the core text itself.

Only once is the character yin used in the Zhouyi, at nine in the second place for hexagram 61: The crane cries from yin. Here yin has its original topographic meaning of the southern bank of a body of water. This is the usual meaning in other early Chinese texts such as “Mencius” and the “Classic of Poetry (Shijing)”.

Changing lines (sixes and nines) are emphasized; static ones (sevens and eights) are not discussed. The original book is, after all, about Change! Compare hexagrams 11 and 12: Peace (11) exists when earth is above sky; stagnation (12) when each is stuck where it usually belongs.

When I first discussed this discovery at Cambridge University, I noticed that the faces of Asian women changed, apparently as they realized that the concepts of yin and yang have evolved and that the gendered meanings are not truly universal or primordial. These interpretations were added by societies which could not imagine what early China was like, where nature was seen more clearly, and many elite women were honored and authoritative.

6. In reading the section on societal structure in “The Original I Ching” I was struck by the revelation that many royal and noble women outranked men, and that at least one Shang queen governed and led military campaigns as her husband’s second in command. That’s not the common perception people have when considering ancient China, how is it that it’s taken so long to discover this side of their society?
Part of the problem is that the British arrived in China when footbinding was nearly universal, in the mid nineteenth century. For most of Chinese history, women had natural feet, but most Westerners do not know this.

The excavations of the tombs of Fu Hao and at Mawangdui happened towards the end of the twentieth century. It has taken time for these discoveries to be studied and added to literature about China. In the meantime, old stereotypes have persisted.

Also, people have confused norms with realities, and forgotten that class and age trumped gender for most of Chinese history.

Finally, until recently almost every trained Sinologist was male. Many of them did not think gender issues were very important.

7. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the I Ching?
That everyone thought it meant the same thing for thousands of years. But it is like any other great text: how it is understood has changed as the people reading it have changed.

8. Are you familiar with the assorted I Ching apps that are available for downloading onto mobile phones? Any thoughts on the phenomena?
I have used a few of those on the web, and one writer of phone apps has contacted me about using my translation.

For me, there is something about the physical process of writing down a question, tossing the coins with my own hands, and reading changing lines and images with long term attention, over several hours, not just minutes, that makes the experience more meaningful. I suspect that nuances are lost in shorter versions. But to each his/her own! Using the phone versions may lead people to deeper study eventually, so I’m not categorically against them.

9. Now that “The Original I Ching” has been published, what will you be focusing on next?
First I will be writing up the information on what yin meant in early China, because I think more folks need to understand how this term has evolved. I have also started a short article on one time the Changes were consulted, in 133, and the life of the person who used it then, before and after the consult. (which was about when to retire from a frustrating job). I want to do another book as well, though it usually takes me thirteen or fourteen years to complete a book, and I’m not sure I have that much time left.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

What would you like my next book to be about? Explaining more examples of how it’s been used (and misused) in the past? Giving more explanations of more of the lines, something I cut out of this translation?

Also: what other question would you like to ask, of me or the Changes? Have you used it and found it helpful or not? I’d love to hear those stories.

I would definitely be interested in a book explaining the evolution of the term yin. Also, more stories of the empowered women from Chinese history would be a fascinating good time.

I’ve used the I Ching a few times and have found it to be a satisfying experience. I’m not sure I would describe any of the times as helpful, but they weren’t disastrous, or horrible, or unhelpful.

About Margaret Pearson Ph.D.:
Margaret Pearson Ph.D. studied Chinese literature with Hellmut Wilhelm, and history with Jack Dull and Chan Hok-lam. Her doctoral dissertation was the first English translation of the political sections of Wang Fu’s “Qianfulun”. In 1997 she was elected a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and was elected to life membership there the following years. Since 1980, she has taught Chinese and Japanese history at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Readers can contact Pearson via responses to the ‘interview’ on this website, or at her new website, originaliching.org, or by email at originaliching@me.com.

Want to learn a little more? Here’s a video about Pearson and her book.

10 Questions with Avi Glijansky

1. For my readers who may not be familiar with it, can you tell them about “The Further Adventures of Cupid & Eros”?
THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CUPID AND EROS is a fantasy romantic comedy about two love gods (the titular Cupid and Eros) trying to set the world and their own love lives right.

While it’s commonly believed that Cupid and Eros are two names for the same god, in our world they are in fact colleagues, each the god of love in their respective pantheon. They still match up mortals and do their best to stem the tide of infidelity and divorce, but besides their common mission they are as different as night and Day. Cupid is the original “nice guy”; sweet, charming, but constantly in the “friend zone”. Eros on the other hand is sexy as hell, and irresistible to anything with a pulse—Mortal, God, or anything in between. He’s the ultimate romantic, she’s the ultimate personification of passion and unbridled sensuality.

When we first meet Cupid he’s still depressed from being dumped by his girlfriend Psyche. Eros has just about had it with his moping and her plans to help him recapture his confidence are what kicks the story off in our first season.

2. Where did the idea of Cupid and Eros doing their job in our modern times come from?
I’m a big nerd. Well OK, that’s not the entire answer, but it’s a big part of it. Ever since I was little, myths (not just Greek, but myths and legends from all cultures) were some of my favorite stories… right next to episodes of The Twilight Zone and just about any comic book I could get my hands on. I guess all that stuff kind of swirled around in my head and I found myself constantly intrigued by the idea of what these mythic figures would be like if they were walking around today.

The thing that set me off towards what would eventually become C&E was actually a panel from a SANDMAN comic by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman presented this banquet with representatives from different pantheons and folklores. I loved that idea of these different mythologies interacting directly… and I thought ‘OK, so Gaiman puts them in a palace, at a banquet… I’m going to put them in a gymnasium at what amounts to an awkward high-school reunion’ That idea, which would eventually become the Inter-Pantheon Mixer we see in episodes 5 and 6, was the beginning of Cupid & Eros.

As for why I chose focus on Cupid… At first it was simply because I thought it’d be funny to show a Cupid who can’t get a date himself… from there… well, lets just say I can relate (perhaps a bit too well) to his plight.

3. In future episodes can we look forward to them coming across competition from other love based deities like Aphrodite, Ishtar, Venus, or Qetesh?
I wouldn’t call it competition exactly, but I do want to feature a lot of those gods you mentioned. Aphrodite and Venus figure prominently in our heroes’ stories… If you go back and read some of those myths (not the least of which is Cupid & Psyche) you realize Cupid’s relationship with his mother was about as neurotic as they come.

And because in our world the different pantheons co-exist, I see different gods of the same thing as being like cops from another precinct… there’s some competition but there’s also the need for cooperation. I have a story I want to tell where Cupid ends up having to work with Kama (or Kamadeva, the hindu god of love). Kama is also an archer so there’s no way the two wouldn’t have a bit of a professional rivalry.

4. In the first episode it’s revealed that Psyche left Cupid for a dermatologist. How did you decide that out of all the occupations that would be the one of Psyche’s love interest?
Well, Psyche’s beauty is so central to her myth, but I figure if your boyfriend’s mom is Venus… after a while wouldn’t you start to worry that you might not live up? And wouldn’t you constantly look for ways to preserve that beauty both in the godly realms and on the mortal plane?

Also I lived in in NYC up until 2006 and there’s a dermatologist whose subway ads are legendary… in my mind that’s who Psyche is currently shacking up with 🙂

5. I’m a big fan of the deity Quan Yin (Kwan Yin). I think she’d be an excellent “straight man” in a comedy setting, any chance I could see her in a future episode?
Believe it or not, a version of her is actually present at the Inter-Pantheon Mixer! If you look very closely at the name tag on the young goddess who Cupid mistakenly believes is smiling at him, you’ll see it actually reads “Guan Yin,” one of the alternate spellings for Quan Yin. I liked the idea that a goddess of mercy would unintentionally shoot down our hero… and I figured she’d be the kind of goddess Cupid would be drawn to. Plus there’s a real treasure trove of legends about her and ways in which she’s been presented. I think you’re right she would be a great addition to the cast.

In fact, almost every single extra at the mixer is actually tied to a real deity that we wanted to potentially bring in to the show in the future… but we did take care to be a bit vague about it so that we would have some flexibility down the road.

6. Are there any particular deities you’re fond of that might make an appearance in future episodes?
Oh man, there are so many. As mentioned, Venus, Aphrodite and Kama all figure into stories I want to tell. And Neikea, our villain at the end of season 1, has a whole family (not least of which is her mother, the goddess of discord Eris) who aren’t too fond of love gods.

I love the Egyptian and African pantheons and would love to bring them in. As much as I love putting modern spins on the Greek/Roman pantheons part of the fun of the show is calling attention deities that most westerners really don’t think about.

7. You’re the creator, writer, and director of “Cupid & Eros”. Can you describe the process of taking your ideas and ending up with an episode?
Things changed a bit episode to episode, but the basic plan of attack remained the same.

I started by writing our scripts. In all but one case I knew who my actors would be so I could write with them in mind. It’s one of the perks of having so many insanely talented friends. What’s more, my key crew – Director of Photography Jefferson Loftfield, Production Designer Vicky Chan, Gaffer Edwin Kim and Costume Designer Tera Struck – had all come on board as I was writing our first few episodes. Because they were with me from the beginning, I knew that we were all on the same page even before we shot our first frame of footage.

I wrote all of season one in 3 episode story arcs, so after I had a draft of each arc I would send it to my co-producer Andy Wells. Andy would then look at the draft, and in addition to making any story suggestions, he would identify areas that might have been problematic for our budget. One of Andy’s strengths, and one of the reasons why I was so fortunate to have him at my side, is his ability to figure out ways to stretch every dollar to the max. He was the definition of the creative producer.

Once our scripts were locked Andy would handle most of the details organizing the shoot so I could concentrate on working with my cast and crew on the creative side of things. One of the great things about working on something episodic like a web series is that we all grew with the show as the shoot progressed.

Yes I always had final say, but I knew that my colleagues understood the show, its world and its characters just as I did. A director is only ever as good as his crew and I truly believe I worked with some of the best.

Once production wrapped I moved to the editing room. I’m fortunate to have a phenomenal editor, Matthew Smith (who also edits The Guild, a web series created by Felica Day that is largely considered the mark by which other web series are measured). I would do a first cut of each episode and then Matt would come in and take my ideas and polish them, often suggesting even better ways to structure a scene or pace an episode.

While we did our best to stay ahead of the curve, we often found ourselves working right up until the night before an episode was due to go live. All in all we were actively in production and post production from roughly February of 2010 to February of 2011.

8. Where can our readers go to see episodes of “Further Adventures of Cupid & Eros”?
Our home base is at www.cupidanderos.com There you can watch all of our first season, learn more about the show and the people behind it, and get updates on screenings, new content, etc. This month you’ll also be able to go there to buy our Season 1 DVD which is going to be filled with not just our 9 episode first season, but all our additional content, photos, and audio commentaries.

And if people prefer, you can also watch us via Hulu, YouTube, Blip, and other online networks. There’s a complete list of all the places you can go to see C&E here: http://cupidanderos.tumblr.com/watch

9. Do you have other projects our readers can look forward to? Can readers look forward to more episodes of “Cupid & Eros”?
I hope we get to do more “Cupid & Eros” but at present we’re on a bit of a break. Our first season was completely self-funded and the stark reality at the moment is that I don’t have the resources to do that again… not without either dropping the quality of the show or asking my cast and crew to work for free, both of which I’m simply not willing to do.

We’re using what we have to build our audience (which is why I’m so thankful for chances like this) and hopefully we’ll soon get to a point where we can move forward with season 2. I’ve got a lot of stories left to tell and the next two seasons are already plotted out, so it’s just a question of finances (as it often is with independent filmmaking).

To that end, if people dig what we’re doing they can help by spreading the word far and wide. Following us on twitter/liking us on Facebook. Subscribing to our channel on YouTube or Blip.tv. If people wish, they can also donate directly to the show via our website. But the most important thing people can do to help is just watch and encouraging others to do the same.

In the meantime, I do have other work out there. My other web series The Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club ( – co-created and directed by my C&E Editor Matthew Smith) has it’s first episode out and can be seen at www.slbaac.com. Some of my short films are available online and can be seen at my website www.highway9pictures.com or on my Youtube page, youtube.com/user/aglijansky

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question!
You already mentioned your affinity for Quan Yin, what other gods or goddesses would you like to see re-envisioned for 2012? I promise to give you credit if we steal… I mean, borrow your idea 🙂

Oh geez, don’t ask Mom to pick a favorite! Of course here on the website I’ve gotten to discuss a lot of my favorites already, that’s the joy of having your own site! We already mentioned Kuan Yin. I haven’t gotten to her on the site yet, but I have an affection for Kali. I tend to have a soft for figures who have been misunderstood or who have gotten a bad rap, so I list Set, Pandora, and Haephaetus amongst my favorites. I love Pele because in my opinion, what woman doesn’t? And I could go on, and on. But a real favorite of mine was technically an actual woman, but in my mind she is as legendary of a figure as an mythological character of her era, and that is Phryne, the courtesan of ancient Greece who lived a life larger than perhaps the Gods themselves.

About Avi Glijansky:
Avi Glijansky is an independent filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. He is the Writer and Director of several short films including OCEAN CITY (Haig Manoogian Post Production Award, NYU; Opening Night Film, Cape May NJ State Film Festival; Nominee Best Student Short, Ashland Independent Film Festival, First Glance Philadelphia Film Festival, Rehobooth Beach Film Festival; Nominee Best Dramatic Short, Ohio Independent Film Festival). In 2005, a draft of his feature film screenplay, 30TH STREET, took 2nd place in the “25 and Under” category of the annual Set in Philadelphia Screenplay Competition organized by the Philadelphia Film Office. In 2006, Avi and his producing partner, Adam Spielberg (Ramin Bahrani’s PLASTIC BAG), were among the final 15 filmmakers considered by Jonathan Lethem when he held a contest to give away the option to his novel YOU DON’T LOVE ME YET. Avi also adapted the novel MESSIAH, by Gore Vidal, for producers Mark Petracca (WILDWOOD DAYS) and Michael Butler (HAIR). From January 2007 through January 2009, Avi was a Production and Development Executive at Los Angeles-based Upload Films. During his time at Upload, Avi was intimately involved in all of the company’s projects including SHOTGUN STORIES, THE BABYSITTERS, PRINT, and DROOL. Avi is the Writer/Director/Co-Producer of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CUPID AND EROS, an original web series about the love god Cupid and his terrible love life. Season 1, which features guest appearances by Bradford Anderson (GENERAL HOSPITAL) Jeff Cannata (THE TOTALLY RAD SHOW) and Taryn O’Neill (COMPULSIONS), had its finale on Feb 28th 2011. The show was one of six winners of NYU’s Inaugural Web Series Showcase and has received great reviews from Tubefilter, Eguiders, ThoseVideoGuys, Indie Intertube PopCultureMonster and tVadio. Most recently, Avi, co-created, co-wrote and produced THE SILVERLAKE BADMINTON AND ADVENTURERS CLUB which won the judges prize at the Celebrate the Web 4: Raising the Bar Web Pilot Festival.

You can follow him on twitter @ag457 and find his work online at www.highway9pictures.com

Hey Folks! Rebecca here. I told Avi that I was going to embed the first episode, “I’m Fine”, of “The Further Adventures of Cupid and Eros” here at the end of the interview. I told him that after my readers saw the first 5 minute episode they wouldn’t be able to resist watching the rest of the series. So go ahead, give it a try. We’ll talk in the comments after you watched the rest of the series. 🙂

10 Questions with Dawn Hunt

1. You describe yourself as a Kitchen Witch. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, can you tell my readers what that means?
A Kitchen Witch is one who uses food, and the preparation and consumption of it to glean spiritual and personal goals. We use the power of intention and mindfulness to focus energy into food as well as awakening the innate magickal properties in food to help us along our chosen path. By putting love, joy and positivity in our kitchen and recognizing the power of ritual cooking a Kitchen Witch can create the sacred every day through simple recipes and make any meal magickal with the right tools and intentions. Make no mistake, you don’t have to be the world’s best cook and your recipes don’t have to be gourmet or high priced, just full of positive energy and joy and love! At least, that is how I see the world of Kitchen Magick. It is more about your energy than the food in your fridge.

2. How did you end up working with the Temple of Witchcraft to do “Tastes from the Temple: Kitchen Witchery from the Temple of Witchcraft”?
This book was something the Temple of Witchcraft wanted to do for a while, I’m told. However the project was put on hold until fate stepped in and put me in the right place at the right time! I had cooked for a couple of events and vended my Witchy Wares and I guess that they decided to put their faith in my abilities and know how as a Kitchen Witch. I am forever grateful that they thought so much of me!!!

3. “Tastes from the Temple” is a fundraiser for the Temple of Witchcraft, can you tell my readers a little bit about the organization?
Well, I am an honorary member of the Temple, which means I have not been through all the formal training but I am considered part of the community because I have helped out at many events and help as much as I can. The organization as a whole was founded by Christopher Penczak, Steve Kenson and Adam Sartwell. These three brilliant, kind and Magickal men grew the Temple of Witchcraft as a nonprofit charitable religious organization based in the State of New Hampshire. The Temple of Witchcraft’s goal on an individual level is to awaken the potential of the human soul to its natural gifts of psychic awareness, communion with nature and the spirits, and magick. Your readers can find out more at www.templeofwitchcraft.org

4. In what ways does “Tastes from the Temple” differ from other cookbooks?
In many ways it is a book in the true spirit of community cookbooks. The kind that old churches would put together to raise funds and unite spirits in a church or organization. But “Tastes From the Temple” has recipes from not only our immediate community but also from all over the country. Stories and anecdotes from Temple of Witchcraft members accompany every recipe so we can really get to know this community. I have taken each recipe and added a little dash of magick by including the innate magickal attributes of the foods, how and why to use them and for what magickal purposes.

5. One section of the book features recipes that highlight “Heirloom Magick”. Can you tell my readers a little bit about this tradition?
Heirloom Magick is one of my favorite portions of the book. It is what I call the idea of cooking with and for the ancestors. We can stay connected to our past loves ones through food and keep their memories alive when we cook their recipes or use their kitchen tools. This is something I really started doing this past year after my grandmother passed away. I got a box full of her old pots and pans, even a muffin tin that had been my Great Grandmother’s back in Italy. I noticed how when using these as ritual tools really helped me to stay close to, not only my grandmother, but my heritage. Recipes I had never made before started erupting from heart and everything just tasted so wonderful and full of love and tradition. I love this type of food magick so much I have even started to teach classes on it!

6. The Temple of Witchcraft community contributed many of the recipes featured in “Tastes from the Temple”, what is one of your favorites contributed from the community and why?
I think one of my favorite contributions is from Alix Wright. She is a lead minister of the Temple and a very, very dear friend of mine. Her recipe is found in the “Sweets” section of the book. It is a fruit cake soaked in brandy for up to a month. Fruit cake is not something most of us find very appetizing but this one is so very rich and a little naughty with all that brandy! To be honest it is one of my favorites because it is something I never would have thought of on my own. It is very unique and has a history and a deep affection among Alix’s family and friends. In the true spirit of Kitchen Witchery this cake is made with love and patience and gets better with time.

7. Now I know this one is going to be really hard, but what’s one of your favorites of your recipes that you used in “Tastes from the Temple” and why?
OH Yes. This is a very hard question…Hummm…I think it is a tie between the Pasta Fagioli in the Heirloom Magick chapter and the Three Bean Chili in the Witchy Entertaining Chapter. The Pasta Fagioli really rings true to everything I mentioned earlier about Heirloom Magick. When I cook it I am taken back to my childhood and cold Autumn nights after jumping in piles of leaves or walking the dog. And the Three Bean Chili is something I make all the time. It has become a staple in my home and for my friends. When I don’t have any in the freezer I make a huge pot of it to be sure that I always have some on hand. In fact, as I write this I am reminded that just yesterday my husband, Justin, asked when we were going to have some chili! It is easy, filling, healthy and comforting; wonderful for big crowds of people or for a cozy night in on the couch. I would be hard pressed to have to choose between these two!

8. Since these recipes are magical, they all magically have no calories, right?
Of course! I have magickaly removed all the calories, fat, sugar and cholesterol! HA HA! The truth is many of these recipes are healthy options and many use good old fashioned butter, sugar, cream and/or beef! The key to anything is moderation. Enjoy everything, just don’t sit down and eat the entire pan of Four Cheese Baked Macaroni found in the Comfort Foods chapter all by yourself!

9. You’re always busy doing events and writing for websites and publications. Where can my readers see you, or read you next?
Well right now I am really focused on “Tastes from the Temple”. I will be selling signed copies at Muse Gifts and Books in Marlborough, NH on January 15th. February 4th I can be found at the Robin’s Nest in Bellingham, MA for my Recipes for Romance Class. And look for my “Cooking with the Element of Air” article in the upcoming “Witches and Pagans” Magazine in early Spring. For a full list of my events and upcoming Classes visit me at www.CucinaAurora.com

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
WOW! I get to ask you a question???? OK…What is your favorite food to cook/eat and what magick does it hold for you?

That’s tough. Due to some ongoing health issues my relationship with food has become pretty adversarial at times. These days I enjoy sushi greatly. I always liked it, but as long as it isn’t packing spicy stuff or fried stuff I can pretty much eat as much as my wallet allows. It’s tasty, fun, and we love our local place. We gave them cookies for the holidays!

If I was healthy, I truly miss delivery New York style pizza. Not only is it delicious (in moderation, of course), but it’s the food of parties, of bad days at work when you come home and don’t want to cook, and of course, of rewarding groups for hard labor (like helping you move)!

About Dawn Hunt:
Dawn Aurora Hunt, known as “the Kitchen Witch”, is the founder of Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery. She teaches classes on Kitchen Witchery and food Magic, touring and giving workshops along the East Coast. Creating the sacred every day though simple spell recipes and kitchen rituals, Dawn has brought food Magick into the homes of Pagans and Non-Pagans alike. Through her line of infused olive oils, dips, cookie mixes, and Kitchen Witch Ware products she has shown that simple home-made foods are best for the body, mind and soul. She and her husband, Justin, live in the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts. For more information visit her website: www.cucinaaurora.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter at Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery.

About The Temple of Witchcraft:
Witchcraft is a tradition of experience, and the best way to experience the path of the Witch is to actively train in its magickal and spiritual lessons. The Temple of Witchcraft provides a complete system of training and tradition, with four degrees found in the Mystery School for personal and magickal development and a fifth degree in the Seminary for the training of High Priestesses and High Priests interested in serving the gods, spirits, and community as ministers. Teachings are divided by degree into the Oracular, Fertility, Ecstatic, Gnostic, and Resurrection Mysteries. Training emphasizes the ability to look within, awaken your own gifts and abilities, and perform both lesser and greater magicks for your own evolution and the betterment of the world around you. The Temple of Witchcraft offers both in-person and online courses with direct teaching and mentorship. Classes use the “Temple of Witchcraft” series of books and CD Companions as primary texts, supplemented monthly with information from the Temple’s Book of Shadows, MP3 recordings of lectures and meditations from our founders, social support through group discussion with classmates, and direct individual feedback from a mentor. For more information and current schedules, please visit: www.templeofwitchcraft.org.

10 Questions with Varla Ventura

1. So Weiser Books just launched two lines of ebooks, Paranormal Parlor and Magical Creatures. Can you tell my readers a little bit about those two lines?
Magical Creatures is a collection of stories from out-of-print and public domain books and includes such delightful beings as mermaids; goblins, pookas, and other members of the fairy kingdom; vampires; werewolves; and even mummies! Most of these are “fiction” or folkloric. Paranormal Parlor covers the wonderful world of psychic and supernatural—from old Victorian séances to classic ghost stories.

2. You’re the official curator of these two lines of books. What does that job entail?
I comb through volumes of stories, folktales, and true accounts to find hidden gems with secrets of their own. Sometimes the story is more in the author or the creation of the story. Once I have picked out the pieces I write a little about each book and author into an introduction, trying to put it in modern context. Not all the books are outstanding literary works—sometimes they are just quirky enough to be collectible, which is really what this project is all about. Being a lover of the strange and the forgotten, it is truly a labor of love.

3. What are a couple of your favorite books from the two collections?
From the Magical Creatures collection one of my absolute favorites is Polidori’s “Vampyre, A Tale”. One could argue it isn’t the finest vampire story ever written, but it has tons of cultural and pop-cultural significance. Polidori was Lord Byron’s personal physician and was there the fated night that Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary (Wollstonecraft) Shelley were gathered round the fire, conspiring to write their own ghost stories. This story was born that night. In addition, this was the first vampire novel written and published in English, which pre-dates Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” by seventy years.

From the Paranormal Parlor collection I think the stand-out is this novel, “Jap-Herron”, which was written entirely via the Ouija board. Sounds interesting enough on its own, but it turns out the author and her medium were channeling the ghost of Mark Twain and they claimed this was a novel he had been waiting to write since he died seven years before. The author, Emily Grant Hutchings, claimed that Twain identified her as “the one” to be his scribe. It went to press but was pulled immediately from the stands because Twain’s publisher and daughter sued Hutchings and her publisher.

4. Not only are you the curator for these lines of ebooks, you’re also an author. You wrote “Beyond Bizarre: Frightening Facts and Blood-Curdling True Tales” and “Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts & Strange Stories”. What are these books like?
These are collections themselves, probably why Weiser’s publisher thought of me for the first of these e-book collections. They are books of supernatural stories, hauntings, ghost encounters, UFO sightings, strange laws still on the books, bizarre news stories, weird medical conditions, and all manner of sea shanties, rock and roll horror stories and basically truth-is-stranger-than fiction kind of stuff. The kind of thing you read or hear about and then think it isn’t true, and then you investigate further and discover not only is it true, but it is way weirder than you first thought.

5. How did you get interested in, for lack of a better phrase, “the bizarre”?
I was kind of raised in a freaky household. We played a lot with Ouija boards and Tarot cards, celebrated Halloween like most families celebrate Christmas. Seriously, one year my mom kept us out of school until after Halloween so we could fully participate in the costume making and pumpkin sculpting. So I kind of always had an unusual outlook on things. I love freaking people out and I was at a party spouting some weird story and my friend said, “Hey, why don’t you put all your crazy stories together into a book?”

6. Care to entertain my readers with a favorite “freaky fact”?
In 1971 a man in Pennsylvania sued Satan—sighting The Devil himself as cause for all of the man’s ill luck. It was thrown out of court on the grounds that it could not be proved that Satan lived in Pennsylvania at the time.

7. Will these two lines of books from Weiser only ever be released as ebooks? Where can my readers go to buy and download them?
As far as I know there are no immediate plans to make them print books, though I would guess that if one in particular were enormously popular it might be considered. The idea is for someone to be able to collect these inexpensively and amass a collection at their fingertips. They are currently available on Amazon for Kindle, B&N’s Nook and in the Apple store for the any of their reading devices. You can search by the names of the collections, individual title, or by my name.

8. Are there going to be more books added to these collections? Any that you can tell us about now?
Oh yes! Many, many more. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what there is to come. Most of these first ones are personal favorites, but I have begun now to start exploring for new books through a variety of channels—references from the backs of my favorite old volumes of books, recommendations from friends and readers, and online searches. Among the next round, which will be released in early December, we have a ghost story by Charles Dickens, a holiday kidnapping story by L. Frank Baum, a collection of Pooka tales, and a fabulous publication circa 1900 all about a series of séances that took place in San Francisco.

9. And what about you? Will there be more books from you for my readers to look forward to?
I am pretty immersed in unearthing and resurrecting these volumes of forgotten lore, but when I surface I am sure to be half-way through my next manuscript. I have a ton of ideas, and am constantly gathering stories.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
Have you ever seen a ghost?

Nope, but it isn’t for a lack of trying.

About Varla Ventura:
Varla Ventura is the author of “The Book of the Bizarre” and “Beyond Bizarre” and is a lover of all things odd and unusual and truly freaky. Her favorite holiday is Halloween, which she celebrates almost every day. She lives in the attic of an old Victorian in San Francisco. She can be found online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/varla-ventura, http://varlaventura.wordpress.com/, and http://facebook.com/varla.ventura.

10 Questions with Kenaz Filan

1. For my readers who may not be familiar, what is Voodoo?
Voodoo is a family of spiritual and magical practices which draw inspiration from the religions of Dahomey – an area comprising modern-day Benin and parts of Togo. Both in Africa and in the African Diaspora, they have incorporated many other traditions as well: there is a strong influence from Kongo and Bantu (central/southern African) and Yorubaland (modern-day Nigeria), combined with a large helping of Freemasonry and Roman Catholicism. Among the traditions which arise from this root are Vodu Dominicano and Vodu Cubano (Cuban and Dominican Vodou), Haitian Vodou, Beninois Vodun, and New Orleans Voodoo.

2. What drew you to Voodoo?
In 1994 I encountered a spirit who identified himself as “Legba” and who told me I was going to become an initiate in Haitian Vodou. At that time Vodou was not really accessible to non-Haitians living in the US, and so I was skeptical.

Then, in 1999, as Vodou was becoming more popular, Legba showed up again and told me it was time for me to travel to Haiti. I informed him that this would be impossible since I had a job and a long-term girlfriend. Within a few days my boss died and the law firm closed. I came home to tell my girlfriend that, only to discover she was moving out and moving in with a guy she met at her job. My path thus cleared, I was able to travel to Haiti and get a lave tet from Danise David of Cyvadier: in 2003 I was initiated by Edeline St. Amand (Mambo Azan Taye) and Hugue Pierre (Houngan Si Gan Temps) in Société la Belle Venus #2 of Jacmel, Haiti and Brooklyn, New York as Houngan Si Pwen Coquille du Mer. And so my journey to Gineh began.

3. How does the Voodoo of New Orleans differ from Haitian and other schools of Voodoo?
Much modern day New Orleans Voodoo begins with Charles Massicot Gandolfo, proprietor of the New Orleans Voodoo Museum. Inspired by Robert Tallant’s 1940s work on New Orleans folklore and religion (Gumbo Ya-Ya, Voodoo in New Orleans and The Voodoo Queen: a Biography of Marie Laveau), Gandolfo’s Voodoo Museum aimed at the tourist trade: he hired practitioners of Santeria, Palo Mayombe and other African Diaspora traditions as well as initiates in Haitian Vodou to work for him. He also, in the best New Orleans tradition, was never one to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

As a result, many people complain that New Orleans Voodoo is a creation for tourists and doesn’t have authentic “roots.” But New Orleans rootworkers have always done a lot of business aimed at the tourist trade – the Crescent City has always been a tourist town, and people came to get mojo hands, gris-gris bags and other spells designed to bring back lovers and ensure gambling luck.

I’d even argue that this only serves to make New Orleans Voodoo an authentically American spiritual tradition: America has never been good about keeping business and religion separate. A religion which began as a money-making venture aimed at the tourists, but which went on to become a serious and even somewhat respectable spiritual tradition – how American is that?!

4. Your latest book, “The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook”, contains a whole lot of information about New Orleans aside from its Voodoo. The history, the music, and the food all feature prominently. How much influence did these factors have on what is considered New Orleans Voodoo today?
Blues music can be traced back to the Griots of Mali; gris-gris bags come from the “gerrygerrys” carried by the Mande slaves who were brought to New Orleans Voodoo is a product of its culture – or more precisely, of a unique blending of cultures.

5. New Orleans in the past and present has been the home to an amazing cast of characters. Who are a few of your favorite New Orleans people and why?
I am very impressed by Sallie Ann Glassman and Priestess Miriam Chamani. Both are strong, intelligent independent women who heard the Crescent City’s call and answered it. (Sallie Ann is from Indiana, while Priestess Miriam is from Chicago). Both have added new strains of magic to the local practice – Sallie Ann is strongly influenced by Thelema, while Miriam learned Belizean folk magic from her late husband. And both have given back a great deal to the community.

Fred “Chicken Man” Staten was an… impressive… fellow. Long before Ozzy Osbourne did his dove-decapitating trick, Chicken Man made a name for himself biting the heads off chickens. Yet beneath his sideshow geek exterior was a sensitive and tender-hearted fellow (save where chickens were concerned, I guess) who regularly offered aid and counsel to lovelorn tourists and to kids growing up on the Crescent City’s mean streets. He was scorned by many as a “mere showman” – but they forgot that Marie Laveau held dances for bored locals!

As far as New Orleans writers go, my all-time favorite is John Kennedy Toole. Confederacy of Dunces is far and away the greatest book about New Orleans and its ever-changing cast of characters. Ignatius J. Reilly, the book’s protagonist, is one of the greatest literary creations since Don Quixote.

6. The book you wrote with Raven Kaldera, “Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession” features a lot of personal experiences. Did you two ever discuss how much of your own lives you were willing to share?
That is always an issue with me. I’m by nature a private and introverted person: I would rather write about facts, figures and events than share my deepest feelings with the world. Yet in “Drawing Down the Spirits” we found ourselves describing our experiences and providing a lot of sometimes unflattering personal information.

Ultimately, we decided the most important thing we could do with “Drawing Down the Spirits” is provide a guide for people who were experiencing trance possession. This meant we needed to talk about our mistakes so that they didn’t repeat them: it also meant that we had to describe some of our personal interactions with spirit. This wasn’t always a comfortable or an easy process, but I think we did a reasonably good job of describing trance possession for an interested audience. Hopefully some of our readers were able to learn from our errors and go on to make new errors of their own 😉

7. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about Voodoo? Would you like to take a moment here to clear it up?
Where to begin, where to begin? How about I list a few of the big ones:

Flesh-eating zombies come from George Romero, not Haitian Vodou. In Haiti a zombie is typically someone who has been “zombified” through drugs and ritual and who works as a manual laborer. I’ve also seen the term used to describe the spirit of a dead person who is called upon to do magical work I love Night of the Living Dead as much as the next guy – but it’s not Wade Davis’s Serpent and the Rainbow. (And while we’re on the topic, Davis’s book is fabulous but the Wes Craven movie it “inspired” is truly awful – Wes should have stuck to Elm Street and stayed away from Haiti).

“Drumbeat-driven voodoo orgies” are not part of Vodou. The only time sex and magic get mixed in Vodou is before fets or after initiations. You are expected to refrain from sex for 24 hours before a fet (spirit party) and 41 days after your initiation. So it’s not about licentious behavior but about abstinence! The problem is that black people have traditionally been eroticized by uptight Protestants: they saw people dancing and figured it had to have something to do with sex since “everyone knows those colored folks are hot-blooded.” (This isn’t just distasteful, by the way: it’s outright dangerous. Lynching was justified as a way of protecting white maidens from lust-crazed black men, while rape of black women was justified by saying “those savages don’t place any value on chastity.”)

Perhaps my biggest concern is the idea that you have to be initiated in Vodou to serve the lwa. This started when one notorious online personality decided to make a career out of selling Vodou Initiation Tours. The fact is that most people do not need the responsibilities that come with initiation to the Vodou priesthood, and they certainly don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to light a candle for the spirits. The Priesthood should be the culmination of one’s service to the lwa and entry into the next level, not the beginning.

8. Jambalaya, pralines, or beignets?
It depends. I don’t generally have that much of a sweet tooth, but I make an exception for pralines. Jambalaya is a rib-sticking bowl of pure nutritional goodness, depending on who is cooking it and what they threw in today’s batch. And beignets are the perfect accompaniment to one of the Big Easy’s greatest specialties – coffee with chicory.

9. What other projects are you working on that my readers can be on the look out for?
I’m working on a follow-up to “Drawing Down the Spirits” with Raven Kaldera. This is tentatively titled “Talking with the Spirits: a Guide to Personal Gnosis”. After that I’m hoping to follow up “Power of the Poppy” with a guide to stimulants in historical and contemporary culture – that book has the working title: “Speed: 4,000 years of Life in the Fast Lane”. And after that who knows: inspiration strikes when and where it will and we never know where it will take us.

10. Parting Shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
What subject(s) would you like to see me cover next? Writing is a lonely business: it’s hard to determine what your audience wants and easy to take it personally when your work gets a less than enthusiastic reception. I’m always interested in hearing what people want to read and writing something that meets their needs.

I’m thrilled to hear you’re doing a follow up to “Drawing Down the Spirits” with Raven Kaldera and I’m very interested in the book about stimulants that you’re working on too! I love the historical context that you give to the subject matter of all or your books, which means that if you find something interesting enough to write about it, odds are very good that I’m going to want to read it!

About Kenaz Filan:
Kenaz Filan is the author of six books through Inner Traditions/Park Street Press, the most recent being “The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook”. The former managing editor of “newWitch” and an initiated Houngan Si Pwen in Haitian Vodou, Filan has written about Haitian Vodou, trance possession and the shamanic and medicinal uses of poppies. Filan has also published essays in various magazines, including “Renaissance” and “Mysteries” and is a regular contributor to “Witches and Pagans”.

You can learn more at http://www.kenazfilan.com and http://kenazfilan.blogspot.com.

10 Questions with Jordan Stratford

1. What is alchemy?
Well, obviously it’s a lot of things. But I think in essence it’s the practical and theoretic Natural Philosophy of the West, deriving from ancient Egyptian culture. The word “alchemy” means “of Khemet”, from khem meaning black – as in the black, fertile soil of the Nile Delta. This culture had a world-view that bore with it certain assumptions about the experiential universe, about meaning and the immanent divinity within the material world. Alchemy is and was about cracking open our experience of the material to discover the divine, and to discern meaning from that.

2. How is alchemy relevant in this modern era?
When we speak of modernism, that’s its own set of cultural assumptions that didn’t just emerge from itself. The roots of our world-view dig through the strata of Rome and Greece and Egypt and Sumeria, and the fossils of these cultures populate our everyday lives. The days of the week named after Woden and Thor and Freya, Saturn, Sun and Moon. Months of Janus and Juno and Mars. So understanding the past gives us a firmer footing in the present. Additionally we live in an age where science informs almost every aspect of our lives, and that science has its heritage in alchemical study. Newton called himself an alchemist.

The current dialogue and tension between science and religion strikes me as wholly artificial. Both shed light on aspects of human knowing, just as poetry and prose do not negate one another. What’s up for grabs is the role of meaning in the face of an exclusively materialist take on science which excludes meaning, or even the question of meaning. Alchemy contributes a scientific model which places meaning at its heart. We shouldn’t be so quick to get rid of that; I think we might need it later.

3. What personally drew you to study alchemy?
Jung. He empathized with the work of the alchemists in their goal of attaining understanding as a means of healing. Where their pursuit was general – healing the world, healing the human rift with God – his was particular, healing the patient through a discovery of their own archetypal landscape and the forces shaping this. Jung also identified alchemy from the late Middle Ages through the early modern era as the bridge to the Classical understanding of the universe; the NeoPlatonists, and back to the Gnostics. As a Gnostic, for me, this is tracing the breadcrumbs home.

4. How did “A Dictionary of Western Alchemy” come about?
Entirely by accident, to be honest. It began as scraps of notes I kept while wandering through these compelling, bizarre, encrypted original source texts. When a particular symbol or phrase or term would come to light, I’d jot a little note either in a Moleskin or a text file. After two decades, I’d amassed about three hundred of these, and began to organize their etymology, giving me something I could navigate more deliberately. It was only then that I realized that this was the germ of something others might find beneficial, and I spent the next few years identifying and filling in the gaps. Then of course the thing was much too big, more of an anemic encyclopedia, and I scaled it down to something concise and more easily accessible: a dictionary.

5. Traditionally alchemists shrouded their work in symbol and code. Do you feel someone using your dictionary in the course of studying alchemy is “cheating” the system?
The purpose of encryption was I think twofold: one was more pedestrian in nature, which is about protecting commercial, intellectual property. The cat’s out of the bag in that regard. If you want a process for polishing cotton so that it resembles silk – and this was one of the biggies – you can find that in seconds. Likewise was the formula for making potable gold. As to the second reason, it was to approach the subject with a sense of otherness, a sense of the sacred. But I feel this is still possible if the study of alchemy is done mindfully and with intent. So it’s not so much cheating as hacking. Here’s a tool, get in there, see what you can make of it.

6. How accurate of a portrayal of an alchemist do you feel Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series is?
Ha! I actually invoke Snape in my book’s Introduction. It’s not a bad start, actually, this image of Snape. He’s taking intangible concepts like luck or fame or fear, and making them finite, bottling and putting a stopper on them, in order to use them to solve a very real problem. The fact that he’s a literary character is a bonus; story and narrative and allegory are all vital components of alchemical Work. I think it does get to the core of it, despite all the additional stuff that goes along with him being in a children’s book.

7. You also wrote “Living Gnosticism: An Ancient Way of Knowing”. Do you find any similarities in the study of Gnosticism and the study of alchemy?
In perhaps the most famous Gnostic text, The Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says

Split a piece of wood; I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.

So the material world isn’t in its natural root divine, but it functions as a vehicle for the divine. This subtle distinction is frequently mistaken for dualism, but it’s much richer than that, much more hopeful. And this is really the crux of alchemical thinking: there’s a plant, which will experience corruption and decay, and there’s the idea of the plant, which pre-exists the plant and will survive its material experience. Spagyrics, or plant alchemy, says that if you take away all the parts of the whole-plant-thing that’s useful while it’s experiencing material-plantness, what’s left is something pure and infinitely refined. And this is the medicine of the plant. The parts it needs for collecting sunlight and repelling predators goes away, and the soul remains. We have the ability to access that plant-soul, to respect it and learn from it and benefit from it.

Gnosticism says, hey, there’s this whole artificial world out there, a world of clocks and pay cheques and parking tickets and status, and none of that stuff is real. We made it all up, and yet we confuse that constructed world with the real world, the primordial idea of existence and how we ought to relate to each other and to the divine. So alchemy and Gnosticism share this dialectic of content and context. And both are ultimately engaged in this process of Restoration, of healing by identifying with the All.

8. You’re an ordained priest in the Apostolic Johannite Church, could you share a little bit about this particular tradition and how it varies from other Christian traditions they may be familiar with?
The Tradition begins with the community of John the Baptist, some of whom became Christians and others who, maintaining that John was Christ, spread East. Within the group of those who later followed Jesus, most took a Platonic view of the whole thing, stressing mystery and metaphor, while others took to the emerging party line of Peter and Paul. So there’s a schism, evident half-way through the Gospel of John, where these original John followers leave and take on what we eventually label a Gnostic flavour. This group’s teachings flow through various “heretical” movements; the Paulicians and Bogomils and Cathars, debating and disagreeing and pondering the whole way.

Then in 1804, Napoleon’s doctor comes across what purports to be a mediaeval text, a slightly different version of the Gospel of John wherein John and not Peter is the successor of Christ. There’s also no Resurrection narrative. So this 19th century doctor sets out to “restore” the John Tradition, the Johannite Tradition, along Masonic lines. This church wobbles around a bit, gets some validity through the bishop of Haiti, and pops up significantly at the end of the century. Many, many independent churches share this heritage through chains of ordination and consecration, but only recently has one church made it their main focus and aesthetic, and that’s the Apostolic Johannite Church. Rather than just hang this Tradition on the wall as one-among-many, this is our principal vein of inquiry and spiritual context. You can check out the website at www.johannite.org if you like.

9. Do you have any other upcoming projects that my readers will be interested in?
I hope so. I’ve committed to doing a book on Cathars for Quest (the alchemical dictionary’s publisher) as well as a follow up to my Gnosticism book. There are also some workbooks on Qabalah and Tarot in the hopper, and I just finished shooting a documentary film about Zen meditation in youth prisons.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
I would ask, what’s the alchemy of the site? What’s being refined here, transmuted by these conversations, and what’s your experience of the insight gained, for you personally, spiritually, creatively?

I always say that the Magical Buffet is where spirituality, politics, and pop culture collide, with hopefully entertaining and enlightening results. I know personally it has shown me that people are people. Regardless of education, spiritual or political association, gender, race, etc. at the end of the day we usually want the same things. More often than not, that involves alcohol.

About Jordan Stratford:
Born in Prince Rupert British Columbia, Jordan Stratford studied writing at the University of Victoria, where he was influenced by the fine art of the Victoria exhibition group The Limners. He found work early on in photography and in the field of digital layout and typography, and then freelanced as a writer, publisher and interactive designer until founding Arc New Media as the Creative Director in 1994.

Stratford received his Licentiate of Sacred Theology with his ordination as a priest in the Apostolic Johannite Church in 2005 and briefly studied the DMin program at Wisdom University. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry Studies at St. Raphael the Archangel Theological Seminary. He served as the Rector of the AJC’s Regina Coeli Parish in Victoria BC from its founding until 2008. Stratford is also an outspoken local advocate for the rights of the homeless and mentally ill.

In 2006, U.S. News & World Report interviewed Stratford along with NT Wright and Dr. Marvin Meyer for a feature article on Gnosticism, and his work has also been cited in college course material and doctoral dissertations. Additionally, Stratford has regularly contributed to blogs relating to Gnosticism, Esoteric Christianity, Paganism, new religious movements and the Independent Sacramental Movement.

Stratford is also a screenwriter, independent filmmaker and artist, and has had several art shows at Michelle Frost Gallery and Rogue Art in Victoria. Currently he supports artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers as a creative coach, and has work-shopped over 30 screenplays from concept to draft. He serves on the board of directors for the Vancouver Island Film Producers’ Association and the South Island Film Commission.

In addition to “A Dictionary of Western Alchemy”, Stratford is the author of “Living Gnosticism” (Apocryphile Press 2007) ISBN 1-933993-53-7, reviewed in the Summer 2008 edition of PanGaia Magazine.

For more information visit: jordanstratford.com & on twitter @jordanstratford

10 Questions with Claude Lecouteux

A little note here from me (Rebecca). Claude Lecouteux, in my opinion, is a certified bad ass. His book “The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind” became an all-time favorite of mine as soon as I read it. In the two years since of doing book reviews “The Return of the Dead” is still one of my favorites to recommend. Lecouteux’s latest book, “Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and Ghostly Processions of the Undead” is simply amazing. I’d say go buy it now but I want you to stick around because it was my extremely giddy honor to get to interview Claude Lecouteux and I want everyone to read that. Seriously, like every single person ever, because I got to interview Claude Lecouteux!

Crap, what did I actually set out here to say? Oh yeah. Claude Lecouteux is French and as such English is not his native language so some of the phrasing and use of language may seem “off”. Since the only French I know comes from the song “Lady Marmalade”, I was impressed at how good his answers came across.

1. With previous books such as “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies” and “The Return of the Dead” it seems like much of your work has now culminated in your new book “The Wild Hunt and Ghostly Processions of the Undead”. Is that the case?

It is not the case. The field of my research is so large that I was constrained to go step by step. “The Return of the Dead” showed me the different facets of the believes connected with the death and the dead. This book was a first approach, the basis of my other investigations: I could not say and explain all the ramifications of the subject just in one book.

In “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies” I found the answer to a question that bored me: what returns? A shape? A corpse? A soul in human form? The answer was the alter ego, the root of the believe in an external soul.

The “Phantom Armies of the Night” explores the return of troops of dead and tries to show that we are confronted with a blend of different legends which roots are the believe in a life after the life, the dangers for the livings to meet such troops, what often involves an obligation, and a warning: don’t have an unsocial behaviour, don’t transgress the moral codex of the community.

2. For readers unfamiliar with the term, could you describe what The Wild Hunt is?

The Wild Hunt is a band of the dead whose passage over the earth at certain times of the year is accompanied by diverse phenomena. The leader of that Hunt is a giant or a devil or a warning rider. Unfortunately the Wild Hunt was confused with the legend of the Wild Hunter.

3. How does The Wild Hunt differ from other troops of the dead or phantom armies that show up in folklore and mythology?

The Wild Hunt differs from the other troops through its highly Christian character and through its message: be careful in all you act! A bad life involves the damnation, the members of the Hunt are sinners.

4. With so many versions of The Wild Hunt and associated processions of the undead how did you go about sorting through all of it to find the definitive stories?

I search first the common points, then the sources of the differences, I compare all the testimonies I have found and analyze the part the Medieval church plays in the variations. A myth is the result of all its variations.

5. One of things I find fascinating in your books is how you show the role Christianity has played in shaping and/or distorting Pagan folklore. While researching your books do you find this an interesting puzzle to work out or just a frustrating obstacle in getting to the heart of a particular legend?

I found it an interesting enigma. I am like a detective investigating for traces. One of the aims of my studies is to raise the veil of the Christian distortions.

6. You kick off “Phantom Armies of the Night” discussing “The Good Women Who Roam the Night”. Although later in the book they are sometimes associated with leading unbaptized children who have died (obviously an unpleasant thought), and of course there is the mandatory demonization by Christianity, at the heart they seem like perhaps the only group discussed that doesn’t do harm or act as a harbinger of bad things to come. Is that correct, because I may opt to see if they’ll eat at my house this year.

You are right! The good woman leading a troop of dead children is not a harbinger of bad things to come. And if the good women, three in number, visit your home and if you have done what they expected, you’ll be happy and lucky.

7. My readers may not be aware, but you are French and live in Paris. Your latest book, “Phantom Armies”, was actually published in French in 1999 under the title “Chasses fantastiques et cohorts de la nuit au moyen age”. Do you get nervous about having your work translated into other languages?

I am not nervous if I can read the translation before publication. But it’s not always the case. My books were translated in 12 languages – Chinese, Czech, etc. – so that I have no control. I just understand the west and north European languages.

8. Since your work is published in France and then America, what are some upcoming projects that my readers can look forward to in either country, or both?

Jon Graham will translate two other books of mine: my analysis of the poltergeists and my Dictionary of the magical and medicinal stones and gems.

In France the next book is entitled “The poisonous maiden”, an anthology of legends and fairy tales of the Middle Ages; this is a part of my corpus of research, like my other anthologies on Werewolves, Dwarfs, Vampires and other selections I published.

The translation of Franz Obert’s “Tales of Transylvania” (collected 1856) I made with my wife will appear soon.

My last project I began 1995 is a Dictionary of the magical words and formulas; to day 1000 entries!

9. You conclude “Phantom Armies of the Night” by saying, “As you will have guessed, an investigation such as ours here is an attempt at discovery. We cannot reach a conclusion, and to reach one would be presumptuous, as long as so many texts remain to be exhumed, so many testimonies remain to be pulled from unpublished archives that are piled on library shelves.” With the book already being 12 years-old, does this mean perhaps we can look forward to an updated edition in the future?

It depends not from me but from the editors!

Karin Ueltschi, a friend of mine, wrote her PhD on the subject; I was in the jury and I can say her book (published in 2008) can be considered as the updated edition of my study.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Hi! It’s Rebecca again. I think the kind of joke of asking me a question got lost in translation, so I’ll use this space to share a few final thoughts.

1. Buy “Phantom Armies of the Night”.
2. Please Inner Traditions, hurry and publish an English version of “The Poisonous Maiden”!
3. When you do publish it (soon), for goodness sake keep the title “The Poisonous Maiden”! What a great title!
4. I get a review copy of that, right?

About Claude Lecouteux:
Claude Lecouteux is a former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne. He is the author of numerous books on medieval and pagan afterlife beliefs, including “The Return of the Dead”, “The Secret History of Vampires”, and “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies”. He lives in Paris.

10 Questions with Magic the Cat

It’s hard to believe, but I met Deborah Blake virtually all the way back in September of 2008 when I interviewed her in anticipation of her book “Everyday Witch A to Z”. The rest as they say, is history.

Of course as time passed I learned that the real creative spirit, the person behind the celebrity that is “Deborah Blake”, is actually her cat Magic. After careful negotiations I’m proud to say that I’m finally able to bring you an interview with a fantastic author, and the real celebrity. That’s right, I give you 10 questions with Magic the Cat: Queen of the Universe.

1. How did you first meet Deborah Blake?
I was stuck in this stupid cage with my mom and my siblings. Deborah came to see us at the shelter and thought she was going to take just my brother home. I politely but assertively informed her she had to take me too. (And mom, of course.) So now we all live with her. What kind of a plan is it to get ONE kitten, anyway?

2. When did you realize that she needed your assistance with her writing?
When she was writing the second book, “Everyday Witch A to Z”. There was a LOT of stuff in that book; she clearly needed help. And she had “Ask Onyx” letters for her—it was obvious that someone needed to answer the “Dear Magic” letters!

3. How many books have you assisted her with so far?
That I’ve gotten credit for? Three: “Everyday Witch A to Z” (2008), “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook” (2009), and the one we just finished writing, “50 Rituals for the Everyday Witch”. But really, I help her with everything she writes, even if my name isn’t mentioned. Somebody has to keep her on track, or none of us would get fed!

4. I’ve heard that Deborah has just sent her sixth book to Llewellyn Worldwide for review. Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect and the part you played in its creation?
Meow! I love the new book! It was my idea, in fact. She was trying to figure out what to write next, and I whispered in her ear that she should write a book of rituals for a year of magical practice. [She thinks it was her idea though, so don’t tell her.] There are 50 rituals in all, including 12 New Moons and 12 Full Moons, all 8 Sabbats, and some rituals for celebration (weddings and such) as well as the practical application of magick (you know, prosperity, love, and all that).

5. Is your writing with Deborah collaborative process or do you each work independently?
We definitely work together; she’d be lost without me! I usually sit on the top of the desk (if possible with my fuzzy butt right in front of the monitor) or on her lap. In fact, as she types this for me (my paws don’t work all that well on the keyboard) I am sitting on the desktop. You know, right on top of the notes she thought she needed to use. Snicker.

Magic the Cat hard at work.

6. Do the other cats in the household ever contribute to the creative process?
No. Not at all. I’m the only creative one in the bunch. So I should get all the catnip. Just for the record.

7. Do you feel you’re a role model for other cats, and if so, how to do you handle the responsibility?

Well, yes—yes I do. And it is quite the burden. I need extra food just to keep my strength up. And treats, of course. I think all the people who read my (and Deborah’s) books should send me treats.

8. If my readers want to see and hear more from you, where can they go?
I have been trying to get Deborah to give me my own Facebook page. But for now, they will have to check me out at Deborah’s website www.deborahblakehps.com and blog http://deborahblake.blogspot.com or on her accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

9. Now that book six for Llewellyn is nearing completion, what other projects can my readers look forward to?
Well…she did just start on a new super-sekrit project…but I’m not allowed to tell what it is. Really, my lips are sealed. Unless you have treats. Oh, hey—is that a treat? Okay, it might have something to do with goddesses. But that’s all you get out of me. Unless you have another treat…

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.
Okay. Here’s my question: do you think black cats are really bad luck? Or just so good looking that everyone is jealous of them?

Everyone is jealous of them, obviously.

About Magic the Cat and her Owner Deborah Blake:
Deborah Blake is the author of “Circle, Coven and Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice” (Llewellyn 2007), “Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft” (Llewellyn 2008), “The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch” (Llewellyn2009), “Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook” (July 2010) and “Witchcraft on a Shoestring” (September 2010). She has published numerous articles in Pagan publications, including the Llewellyn Almanacs and her ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine. Her award-winning short story, “Dead and (Mostly) Gone” is included in the Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction: 13 Prize Winning Tales (Llewellyn, 2008). She is represented by agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.

When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker. She lives in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Magic the Cat (full title—Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe) is one of Deborah’s five cats, but the only familiar and writer among them. She is black, which contrary to popular belief is actually lucky. She loves seafood, fruit of all kinds (especially raspberries and blueberries), and prefers to eat off of Deborah’s plate whenever possible. She is the reincarnated spirit of an Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter, which is why she loves fruit and doesn’t believe that ANY of the rules apply to her.