1. Tell our readers a little bit about your first book “Circle, Coven, and Grove” and why you chose that subject matter for the book?
Circle, Coven & Grove is a year of rituals (New Moons, Full Moons and Sabbats) set up by month. It was primarily written with groups in mind, as you can tell from the title, but I have had many Solitaries tell me that they use it too.
I wrote it because it was the book I wished I’d had for my first year as a High Priestess, and couldn’t find. And because I realized that not all groups have someone in them who is comfortable writing rituals.
2. What can my readers expect from your next book “Everyday Witch A to Z”, which releases in October?
Well, the subtitle is: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft, and that ought to give you a pretty good idea. Some of the book is funny and light-hearted, some of it is deeply spiritual and all of it is intended to share useful information and make you think. There are lots of little sidebars, like “Simple Spells” and “Magic’s Herbal Hints.” (My black cat Magic co-wrote the book.) My hope is that there will be a little something for everyone in it!
I also have a third one finished, which will be coming out next summer. It is called The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch, and it is all about integrating your spiritual life as a witch with your mundane everyday life. Walking your talk, if you will.
3. I see that in October you will be featured in Laurell K. Hamilton’s newsletter. I love Hamilton so I have to ask, how did that come about?
It was kind of funny, actually. The publicist at Llewellyn suggested when my first book came out that I get a myspace page, for networking and such. I’ve gotten in touch with many other very cool authors through that site, and made a number of friends. At one point last year, I wrote a note to Laurell congratulating her on her newest book, and her assistant Darla Cook wrote me back. Darla explained that Laurell is a technophobe, and so she doesn’t answer her own email. We chatted back and forth a bit, I mentioned that I was an author, and presto, Darla invited me to be in the newsletter. I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it, since I love Laurell, too!
4. You’ve been leading a group, the Blue Moon Circle, for several years. What are your thoughts on the Coven verses Solitary Wiccan practitioner?
Well, they’re both equally good paths, of course. Some people are more suited to one or another, and other folks would like to be in a group but there isn’t one available that suits them. When I first discovered that I was a Witch, I was amazed to find out that I was a group Witch—since I am primarily a solitary person in most other ways. I still practice on my own at times, but I was with my first group for over 5 years, and I have been leading Blue Moon Circle for 4. I find group work very rewarding, in part because of the extra energy that can be generated by a bunch of Witches all working together, but also because I love the feeling of being an extended family. Blue Moon Circle is an unusually tight-knit group, we even take vacations together (husbands, kids and all), and many of the Blue Mooners come along with me to author appearances.
5. What advice would you give someone interested in learning about Wicca?
Buy a lot of books! There are many different forms of Wicca, and the best way to discover what works for you is to do a lot of reading. And if you can find some local Witches to practice with, which can help you really get a feel for ritual and magick.
And listen to your own inner wisdom. If something doesn’t seem right to you, don’t do it.
6. In your opinion, what piece of modern pop culture (for example movies or television shows) do you feel has done the best job of portraying female magic practioners (witches)? What has done the worst?
Interesting question. To be honest, I kind of liked Charmed, although it wasn’t what you’d call realistic. And of course there’s Harry Potter… I’m not sure I can think of any good examples of realistic portrayals of the modern witch, except a book or two maybe. As for the bad stuff…well, all those movies that confuse Satanism and witchcraft, or feature so-called evil witches make me twitch.
7. What challenges do you see facing the Wiccan community? How can the community resolve those issues?
I think that in many ways, we are our own worst enemy. I get frustrated sometimes with people arguing about the proper ways to practice, or what we call ourselves. (There’s a little rant in Everyday Witch about unity, in fact.) I think that we need to realize that we have much more in common with each other that we do with anyone who is not a pagan/witch/Wiccan, and be kind to each other.
8. Who is your favorite Llewellyn author?
Okay, now you’re trying to get me in trouble! I don’t know how I could pick, really, there are so many. I enjoy Ellen Dugan’s garden witchery books, and I’m currently reading Christopher Penczak’s The Mystic Foundation, which is fascinating and deep. And anything by the late Scott Cunningham is very useful for reference material. But the book I am most looking forward to reading next is the Shadow Magick Compendium, by Raven Digitalis, coming out in October, too. I got a sneak preview of it, and what I saw looks absolutely amazing. I recommend it highly.
9. I’m from the Albany, NY area. You live in Oneonta, NY and I see you refer to it as upstate New York. Wouldn’t you say upstate would be more like Glens Falls or Plattsburgh? I always think of Oneonta as like central New York.
I guess I’ve always thought of everything above NYC as Upstate. I grew up near Albany, and that’s how everyone there (and everyone here) refers to the area. The “official” name for this section of the state is “The Central Leatherstocking Region,” however, so maybe you’re right!
10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?
If you could ask an author to write a book about Wicca or the magickal world, what would you want the book to be about?
I couldn’t possibly ask. I find it all so interesting I wouldn’t know what to ask for!
Deborah Blake is a Wiccan High Priestess who has been leading her current group, Blue Moon Circle, for four years. She is the author of Circle, Coven and Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice (Llewellyn 2007) and Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft (Llewellyn 2008). Her third book will be out in 2009. Her award-winning short story, “Dead and (Mostly) Gone” is included in the Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction: 13 Prize Winning Tales (Llewellyn, October 2008).
When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend, and works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, an ordained minister and an Intuitive Energy Healer. 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.