Advancing The Witches’ Craft: Aligning Your Magical Spirit Through Meditation, Exploration And Initiation Of The Self
By Lord Foxglove
Publisher: New Page Books (June 2005)
Pages: 335 – Price: $19.99 (includes meditation CD)
Ghostvillage.com author interview
It is a pleasure to interview you, and let me compliment you on your fine nonfiction book, Advancing the Witches’ Craft. Let me ask you first, how did you come to call yourself Lord Foxglove? Does this persona name have something to do with the herb, foxglove?
The foxglove flower was indeed the inspiration for my magickal name, but not for the reasons that one might think. Although quite beautiful, foxglove can be quite deadly. It can also heal if used properly. Many have reaped benefits from the cardio-active drug Digitalis. Digitalis is a medication that is derived from the foxglove flower and has been used to treat patients with heart conditions since as early as 1775. I therefore chose the name Foxglove for its balance: Foxglove is as beautiful and healing as it is deadly and destructive. A balanced trait I think most of us humans share with it. The Priestly title of “Lord” was added to my author name by way of a suggestion from my publisher and Janet Farrar. Janet and my publisher both felt that Foxglove on its own simply sounded too flowery and would not be taken seriously by the pagan community. I countered with the fact that some pagans find the title of lord to be pompous and arrogant. After careful consideration however, I decided to add the title of Lord to my author name. Pompous sounding or not, I have served the pagan community for many years as a Priest, and I consider it to be a title of service and honor; not one of power and majesty.
What is your background, and how did you come to be a Witch?
I have had a lifelong interest in the occult and the paranormal, but in my younger years I had very little knowledge and understanding of what these things truly were. I knew of the practice of Witchcraft, but at that time I had no idea that “normal” everyday people were out there practicing it. The concept of Witchcraft seemed to be beyond my grasp and understanding in those days, but I was inexplicably drawn to it nonetheless. When I was in my early twenties I began having psychic experiences that I could not explain, so I went in search of someone who could give me some answers. At that time I couldn’t find anyone to help me figure things out. A few years later I met a young woman who was a practicing Witch, and from that point on everything began to change. Even though she knew from the beginning that I had the potential to become a very powerful magickal practitioner, she refused to share information with me or teach me. She waited until I went to her and said, “I think I may be a Witch.” At that point she simply smiled, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Its about time. Now we can get to work!” Both of us quickly discovered that I had more of an affinity and natural talent than either of us realized. My ability to use abstract thought and multidimensional thinking heightened those natural abilities, and before either of us knew it, the student was quickly becoming the teacher. From then on I studied in earnest every book, theory, and concept that I could get my hands on that was related to Witchcraft and magickal practice. I spent many years as a solitary, but in the mid-nineties I met the members of a small coven in my area and was asked to attend a meeting. This was my first taste of working with a full group of Witches, and I very much enjoyed the experience. I quickly found a new home with this coven, and it was from our small group that the concept of The Live Oak Experiential Church was formed. The majority of the credit for the church becoming a reality belongs to Rev. Fred De’Ferbrache. It was Fred’s initial concepts and work combined with a team effort from the coven that allowed the church to become a full-blown reality. The church gained legal status several years later, and at its height had over a hundred members, attendees, and clergy members. I served as High Priest for the church for a number of years, but I eventually felt a calling in a new direction. I left the church in the spring of 2001, and along with my wife established the Temple of Aradia and its teaching group the Coven of Aradia’s Muse. And the rest, as they say, is history…
You write an interesting and enjoyable monthly column for Ghostvillage.com. Where do you get your inspirations for topics?
For now we have been investigating ghostly urban legends within driving distance from our ops base in northern Indiana. We have had some pretty interesting results so far and plan to continue with these types of investigations until the well runs dry. We would also like to do investigations for private individuals should interesting cases arise. We are currently working on a WISP website (Witches in Search of the Paranormal) through which we will be offering free investigations on a case-by-case basis.
Do you consider yourself an eclectic eccentric Witch, and if so, why?
Absolutely! To me a magickal eclectic is someone who refuses to be tied to a specific tradition, religion, or mindset, and is constantly open to trying new things and learning all they can from a variety of different sources. A magickal eccentric is simply someone who is crazy enough to say to hell with it, throw caution to the wind, and take things to the next level!
What kind of musician are you, and what instrument or instruments do you perform with? Do you compose?
As with most areas of my life, I try to stay pretty eclectic musically and don’t hold to any particular style. I am a guitarist by trade, but I occasionally plunk away at the keyboard. I have composed and arranged well over a hundred songs, and I feel that’s where the bulk of my musical talents lies. The meditation CD that is included with my book Advancing the Witches’ Craft was quite a challenge for me as 99% of the three hours of music was recorded using a keyboard. My keyboard skills are limited at best, and I was suffering from a severe case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during the entire recording process. Not to mention typing a three hundred-page book at the same time!
As a family man, what future do you see for yourself, your wife, and children? Do you sense a coming of economic dark times in the USA, or another more refined version of The Burning Times? Or both? Many who profess to be a Witch now seem to be migrating to Canada…is there a reason for this?
Right now my family is experiencing dark economic times, so in many ways this is a timely and relevant question. Even though we are currently suffering financially setbacks, I see a very bright future for us personally. We are no strangers to adversity, and we have been blessed with many wonderful people, experiences, and personal possessions in the past. But we have also had to work very hard for these things. Our current situation aside, we have accomplished things that many people would be envious of, but again, these things were achieved by hard work, dedication, and belief in ourselves and our abilities.
As for the USA in general, I think we have a fragile economic balance right now. I have recently seen things that have given me both hope and caution. My advice would be to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
As far as another “more refined” version of the burning times as you put it, I really don’t know where to go with this question. I think that many modern Witches and neo-pagans use the burning times as an excuse to rage against the persecution machine so-to-speak. If any actual Witches were victimized during the so-called burning times, those persecutions hold little or no relevance to the modern practitioner. To use the burning times as a modern excuse for being a victim of persecution is no different than a 21st century African-American holding a grudge against anyone who is Caucasian simply because their ancestors may have owned slaves. Most if not all old-world pagans had been converted to Christianity (at least in outer persona) well before the burning times took place, so in reality it was Christians that were persecuted and murdered, not pagans. To answer your question more directly however, no, I don’t foresee another burning times taking place.
I was unaware of Witches migrating to Canada and I was unable to find much information about it. Perhaps you could write an article about this, Lee?
What kind of pet companions do you have at your home? Could you share something about your home life and daily routine at Nevermore Gardens with the readers?
What pet companions I don’t have would be a shorter list! At its height, the “Nevermore Zoo” consisted of two Russian tortoises, a veiled chameleon, two mentally disturbed cats, a dog who thinks she’s human, four guinea pigs, and a pair of ferrets named Goose and Salmon. I recently read an article in Pangaia magazine about practicing magick with ferrets. I couldn’t find anything in the article about using sedatives or duct tape to constrain them, so I never gave it a try.
Other than writing books, columns, and articles, I own a small business that keeps me busy two or three days a week. Since I work mostly at home, I have taken on the duties of house cleaner, bottle washer, and head chef as well. My wife and I have such a wide range of hobbies, interests, and projects that we have been dubbed “the busiest people we know” by our students. We are also huge book and film aficionados, and most evenings we can be found relaxing with these activities or hanging out in the garden discussing things.
Tell us about your ordained priest responsibilities as cofounder of the Live Oak Experiential Church and the Temple of Aradia.
The church was, and I believe still is, nondenominational. As priest I performed many legally and/or spiritually binding weddings and handfastings with a variety of differing themes and religious slants. I would preside over most of the public and private rituals as High Priest, and served as church counselor and PR person as well. I serve many of these same functions for the Temple of Aradia, and I am also one of the temples chief instructors.
Do you enjoy teaching? Do you have a Web site?
Hmm… If spending a year trying to keep yourself from strangling your students while they are learning to “get it” could be considered enjoyable, then yes! Seriously though, teaching can be a very frustrating endeavor, but it also has its rewards. I think I learn as much if not more from my students than they do from me, and it’s wonderful to see a blossoming student grow magickally and spiritually. My official author website can be accessed at: www.lordfoxglove.com
Let’s talk about your new book, Advancing the Witches’ Craft. What are your hopes for this book, what do you wish to achieve with it, and who do you hope to reach with it?
My main hope for Advancing the Witches’ Craft is to reach people. I feel the magickal community as a whole, doesn’t have a sense of its own identity. I think that before this can be achieved, we must first learn how to identify with ourselves. This is the underlying theme of my book, and one of the main goals I hope to achieve with it.
Advancing the Witches’ Craft is an in-depth, accurate guide to the shadow spirit. How long did it take you to write this book? What was your first realization you had made contact with your personal shadow spirit and how did you react to the initial contact?
The writing process took approximately nine months to complete, but there are many more facets to writing and signing a book deal than most people realize. For me, writing the proposal for the book and everything else that goes along with it was more of an ordeal than writing the book itself. Contract negotiations, editing and re-editing, publicity, and recording the meditation CD were much more time consuming and frustrating than writing the actual book. Most people also don’t realize that authors of non-fiction books, especially pagan books, are sharing their knowledge for very modest monetary returns. Even best-selling pagan authors don’t come close to reaching the heights of J.K. Rowling or Stephan King. When all is said and done, most pagan authors earn less than minimum wage for all of their hard work. Authoring pagan books therefore has to come from a love of the subject matter and a desire to share knowledge, not from a desire to line one’s pockets.
Realization of who and what my shadow spirit was came many years after first contact was made. First contact with my shadow spirit occurred well before I had acquired any knowledge or understanding of metaphysics and magick. This first contact was, however, the initial force that interested me in unraveling otherworldly mysteries, and ultimately what led me to Witchcraft and study of the occult. My initial reaction to first contact with my shadow spirit was a mixed bag of emotions. I was as frightened as I was exhilarated-as interested as I was wary. I honestly didn’t know what my shadow spirit was upon first contact. All I really knew was that I was determined to find out and that nothing was going to stand in my way!
You do have many challenging thoughts in your book, which will surprise many in the Witch community. Did you plan it that way as part of your honest approach to various topics? You have a sense of honesty that comes through in your writings.
I had hoped to stir up some controversy and challenge with my book, but I didn’t go out of my way to accomplish it. I was simply being who and what I am. Believe me, that’s enough to stir up all the challenge and controversy a person can handle! The various topics in the book were indeed approached honestly, but the challenges and controversy were not so much planned, as they are a bonus. I was so tired of seeing the same old topics and ideas being regurgitated in print. I felt that someone needed to give the cauldron a good stirring and that I might just be the one to do it. As you stated, my honesty shines through most clearly in my writing. It shines through because this is honestly who and what I am: a challenging, controversial, and romantic poet, with a big heart and intolerance for the suffering of humankind.
Is being a Witch for everybody?
Anyone who has ever made a wish at a birthday party or has used their mind and willpower to affect change has practiced Witchcraft in one form or another. But to address your question more directly however, no, I don’t think that being a Witch is for everybody. Mainstream religions serve their purpose for many individuals, and I don’t believe that any religion or belief system is better than any other religion or belief system. If we close our minds and spirits to the teachings of religions other than our own, I believe that we have effectively erased many possibilities and placed ourselves squarely inside an invisible box that even we ourselves cannot see. I consider a true Witch to be a person who has opened themselves up to any and all possibilities, purposes, and mindsets, and doesn’t accept the concepts of separatism and impossibility. This way of thinking and experiencing the universe is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea.
What do you see as the major weakness in today’s Witch community, is it lack of central authority to meet the bigotry of old ways fostered by the Christian community? It seems in modern times that a person claiming to be a Witch, Pagan, Wiccan, or related, is oftentimes very much alone in many communities, and once uncovered, is eliminated by personal loss of job or something equally destructive.
Awhile back my wife gave our students an assignment in which they were to write a paper on how things would be different today if Christianity had failed and paganism had become the mainstream religion. She asked me to write a paper on this topic as well. A week later our students handed in their assignments. None of them were under three pages in length. In fact one of our students got so worked up about the assignment that he turned in an entire notebooks worth of material on the topic. After all of our students had read their reports aloud (including an abridged version of the notebook) my wife asked me to share what I had written with our group. I reached into my back pocket, pulled out a crumpled half-sheet of paper, and read my report aloud. It didn’t take too long as my report consisted of a single word. And what was that word? Nothing. Dumbfounded and jaws agape, my students stared at me in disbelief. One of our stronger willed students (Mr. Notebook) began to protest almost immediately. “How can you say nothing would be different?” he almost shouted. “Pagans are kind and loving people! The world would be a better place if paganism had won out! A pagan church wouldn’t treat the Christians with the same prejudice and persecution that they have shown us!” I think I almost died laughing. I reminded my student that old-world paganism and neo-paganism have very little if anything in common. I reminded him that the Celts (ancient scattered tribes that for some reason Wiccans and modern pagans cling to) were most likely bloodthirsty barbarians who probably could have cared less about religious tolerance and unity. I reminded him that I have heard as much if not more religion bashing come from the mouths of Wiccans and pagans than I have from the Christians.
I have shared this story with you for two reasons. Firstly, I think that it’s very likely that if we did have a central pagan authority that its mere existence would create more hatred and bigotry than it would stop. And secondly, if paganism had the money, power, and influence of the Christians, we would be about as likely to give that up as they would.
I think the major weakness within the modern pagan movement is that we oftentimes talk-the-talk, but don’t walk-the-walk. Part of being pagan in our day and age is having to deal with persecution, job-loss, and solitude. This is unfortunate, but for now, that’s the way it is. We are however starting to see more-and-more victories on the battlefield of tolerance. In the end I think we can win the day by remaining strong, patient, and tolerant. Not by resorting to using the tool, methods, and weapons of the oppressors.
With so much information becoming available, is it still the preferred path to follow the solitary approach? How do you compare solitary to coven as a path to follow?
Preferred is a good word choice here. In the end I think it all comes down to individual preference and perception. Solitaries and covens both have their advantages and disadvantages. A solitary can do whatever they want when they are practicing without concern of stepping on someone else’s toes or offending them, but there is also something to be said about team effort. In much the same way as a team of professional workers, a coven can combine their skills, knowledge, and power to oftentimes accomplish things quicker and more efficiently than a person working on there own can. Covens also offer the benefit of having multiple approaches and points of view to a given topic or working, but one weak link can also create a weak chain. A coven also offers an arena for teaching and the sharing of new concepts and ideas. I can tell you from personal experience however, that when a coven dissolves without warning, it can be very spiritually and magickally damaging to a person. I think I would recommend that a practitioner try both solitary and coven scenarios if possible and make up their own mind.
Which path would you suggest to a newcomer investigating the wonderful, intricate ways of Witchcraft?
All spiritual paths lead to the same place; spirituality. The most wonderful facet of Witchcraft (and what has kept me interested in it for decades) is its lack of a central “hive mind” belief system. Witchcraft teaches us to study anything we find of interest and to incorporate what we have learned into our magickal practice. The path that I would suggest to a newcomer is the path of investigation and experience. They should delve deeply into the areas of study that they find interesting and exciting, no matter what those areas of study may be. They should get their hands dirty and experience life and magick, not just read about it in books or learn it from a teacher. If a newcomer limits him or herself to a single path, they may find out in the end that we aren’t too happy about where that path has led them. That will leave them with the unenviable task of having to retrace their steps back to the beginning and start all over again. If a newcomer keeps their magickal options open, they will have other resources from which to draw should their spiritual well run dry.
It has been good talking with you. You have a fascinating approach to Witchcraft. Is there anything else you would like to add and share with the readers?
Be true to yourself and true to your words. Find the beauty, power, and magick waiting to be tapped within all things. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything. Above all else, no matter what you do, find joy in doing it!
Thank you for the interview. It has been a pleasure to share your thoughts on Witchcraft with the readers at Ghostvillage.com.
Thank you Lee! You are a wonderful interviewer, and you asked some great questions.
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