Ten Questions with Raven Digitalis

1.Obviously this is a word that each individual defines differently, but for you, what does the term “Goth” mean?
Well, “Goth” was originally used as a derogatory term—much like “Witch” was—to refer to those who were uncivilized and trouble-making, in particular the Ostrogoths and Visigoths of Sweden. The Visigoths are famous for having sacked Rome in 410. Anyway, the Goths had a similar deital/religious structure to the Norse and other Germanic tribes, and were eventually driven underground.

Then comes the Gothic architecture style of the Renaissance, in which case “Gothic” is derived from the previous “Goth” or “Gothick” derogatory term, because the architecture of the time was very much against the grain and, though immaculately gorgeous, was not generally looked upon too fondly at the time.

Modern Goths, however, have nothing to do with the historical Goths. The title “Goth,” in this case, comes from the literary usage of the term in the later European Romantic period, in which “Gothic” was used to describe darkly-themed literature. Modern Goths carry over this vibration, seeing as they are darkly expressive in their own art, including musically and visually. To me, the modern usage of “Gothic” refers to a particular energy pattern; that of dark beauty, emotional depth, and creativity shrouded in shadow. I find it to be a very spiritual thing, which is greatly the focus of my book Goth Craft.

2.According to your website, not only are you trained in Georgian Wicca, but also Buddhist philosophy. What influence has Buddhist philosophy had on your spiritual and magical practices?
Yes, I am very much aligned to Buddhism. I find the religion’s focus on love, compassion, and awareness to be like none other. Buddhist thought has many psychological levels that are applicable to anyone in any moment. Buddhists “take refuge” in the Three Jewels; the Buddha (as a teacher), the Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings), and the Sangha (fellow practitioners/seekers), and strives to do away with the three Mental Poisons of Greed, Hatred, and Delusion. Every school of Buddhist thought is different, but all emphasize compassion, awareness, and diligent meditation.

3.Um, now I have to ask, what is Georgian Wicca, and how is it different from other traditions?
Georgian Wicca is derived from British Traditional Wicca, and practices rituals and observations that are included in Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. It has many different influences and is, like all traditions, a conglomerate of numerous preceding trads (though British Traditional is its main influencer). Georgian Craft was begun in 1970 by George ‘Pat’ Patterson, Zanoni Silverknife, and Tanith. I was lucky enough to be trained by Zanoni Silverknife herself, here in my hometown of Missoula, Montana.

4. Joy Division or New Order?
Oh gosh. Umm, they’re quite similar, seeing as New Order is basically Joy Division without Ian Curtis. New Order is considerably more dancey, though, which I adore, but I have lots of respect for Ian Curtis, so I’d have to say Joy Division!

5. What do you feel is one of the biggest misconceptions about the Goth culture?
Probably that we are sinister, self-serving, or bitter people. Most Goths are actually quite pleasant; we simply have different viewpoints from most people and tend to express the darkness of our minds and society through dark art.

6. Who are some of the people that have inspired you spiritually and magically?
Countless authors, teachers, musicians, magicians, Witches, and friends. I’ve known so many people over the years that I couldn’t even begin to count how many have had positive spiritual influences on me. I am so grateful for everyone I know. I would say that the people who have had the most impact are my two Priestesses, Estha McNevin and Zanoni Silverknife. If I were to name two musical artists as being profoundly influential, I would name Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and Anna-Varney Cantodea of Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows.

7. What other Llewellyn author would you like to take out for some heavy drinking and general mischief making?
Hah! I actually did just that a few days ago with Kala Trobe (my new roommate!) and Christopher Penczak. It was a hoot-and-a-half. We are all soul-connected so it made for a magickal, bonding time.

8. Liquid or pencil eyeliner? Any brand you’d like to endorse?
Definitely liquid eyeliner; it’s like using a paintbrush. You can do anything with it! I actually go off in my book about how awesome it is. As for brands, I tend to endorse brands that don’t test on animals. For general makeup and cosmetics, I recommend the following brands that are cruelty-free (this list is taken from Goth Craft): Clinique, Revlon, M•A•C, Avon, Chanel, Almay, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Burt’s Bees, Prestige, Bonne Bell, Estée Lauder, Manic Panic, Stargazer, Urban Decay, and GoodGoth.

9. What’s next?
I’m gonna get a cup of tea and write some more of this short story I’m working on.

Oh, you mean in general? Well, my second book, Shadow Magick Compendium, is contracted and the manuscript is finished, so that’s going to be the next big project. I love writing! In the near future—October to be precise—, I will be going on a book tour and hitting up Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, LA/Hollywood, and Baltimore (see website for [up]dates), and will be working on book #3 after that.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?
Okay… What are your thoughts on genetically modified food?

I know I put too much faith in the FDA, but I take on faith that my non-organic food is safe. Thanks to advances in science we may not have achieved the fabled all breast meat Kentucky Fried Chicken ( http://www.snopes.com/horrors/food/kfc.asp), but our plants and animals yield more food than ever before. The tragedy to me is that we use all this science to generate more food and still so many go without. I don’t mind genetically modified food, I mind that those advances aren’t helping the people they should.

“When Paganism and Gothic culture collide, a powerful blend of independent thought and magickal transformation is often the result. Raven Digitalis explores this dynamic intersection and what draws us to the dark side. Digitalis introduces many kinds of Goths and Witches, and the philosophy of each. Practical as well as insightful, Goth Craft covers the basics of magick, with special attention to blood magick, death magick, and necromancy. You’ll also learn how to channel dark emotions, express yourself through the dark arts (clothes, hair, makeup, body modification), choose appropriate Goth music for ritual, and myriad other ways to merge magickal practice with the Goth lifestyle. Also covered is vampyrism, BDSM, gender/sexuality, and the magickal-spiritual use of drugs. From working shadow magick to spellcasting on the dance floor, Goth Craft revels in the exciting convergence of two vital subcultures.”

Raven Digitalis (Missoula, MT) is the author of Goth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark Culture, and the forthcoming Shadow Magick Compendium, both on Llewellyn. He is a Neopagan Priest and co-founder of the “disciplined eclectic” shadow magick tradition Opus Aima Obscuræ, and is a radio and club DJ of Gothic, EBM, and industrial music. With his Priestess Estha, Raven holds community gatherings, Tarot readings, and a variety of ritual services. From their home, the two also operate the metaphysical business Twigs and Brews, specializing in magickal and medicinal bath salts, herbal blends, essential oils, and incenses. Raven holds a degree in anthropology from the University of Montana and is also an animal rights activist and black-and-white photographic artist.