This issue, we sit down with the prolific and talented Lady Spiderwitch. Here, she discusses Celtic Faerie witchcraft, the state of Paganism in Canada, and her first poetry collection, Metamorphosis.
Eternal Haunted Summer: If you could correct one common misconception about modern Paganism, what would it be?
Lady Spiderwitch: The one common misconception about Paganism I would correct is that we don’t sacrifice animals, we don’t drink blood, and we deserve just as much respect as anyone else.
EHS: How do you describe your personal spiritual path?
LS: I’m a practitioner of Celtic Faerie kitchen witchery. I do a lot of magick working with herbs and flowers from my garden. I concoct potions, candles, brews, and spells. I work with the Sabbats and seasons, lunar phases. I work with faeries and then it’s easy to explain why objects get moved in my place without me moving them. This Samhain, I made an offering of milk and honey to the faeries in my garden. The Spiritual Science Fellowship trained me in the Spiritual and Psychic Development course, an eighteen-week intense Mediumship course. I also studied astrology with world-renowned astrologer Wynne Jordan, level 1. I attended a wonderful herb workshop with the local Herbalists Association of Nova Scotia the other night with a friend. I drank my first and only ever herbal tea of sage, mugwort, rosemary and thyme tea with mistletoe tincture there.
EHS: How did you come to the magical name of Lady Spiderwitch?
LS: My sister mentioned Spiderwitch as something for me to be for Halloween once years ago and it stuck. I like it. I like spiders and spiders are always around me. So are crows and cats.
EHS: What is it like being a Pagan in Canada? Is there an active community? How accepting of Paganism is the larger society?
LS: I live in an area where we have a strong pagan presence. We celebrated Samhain publicly and there was a great turnout. There are a few awesome metaphysical shops where I live, too. The acceptance is coming slowly, seeing as Time magazine just accused witches of being terrorists. But we are gaining some slow acceptance here. More ‘muggles’ are attending the psychic fairs. The only way to know if there’s a community here is to be involved in it. The coven I’m in, Earth Spirit Society of Nova Scotia, was a presenter at World Religion Day in January 2013. This is how it went:
“As it turned out, our first presentation was not at WRD, but rather at the Festival of Lights, held at Mount Saint Vincent University, the previous month. Festival of Lights is an annual, multi-faith celebration of the winter solstice. This presentation was also well accepted. Although there was press at WRD, there were no public commentaries on the presence of a Pagan group. In fact, except for positive feedback, there was no response at all, beyond a single incident of someone, for some reason, having difficulty with a Discordian pamphlet from our display and this was resolved with a letter of explanation. Pagans are stepping into the light and finding casual acceptance after five years of work to make it happen. Pagan Presence originated with a single purpose: involvement in World Religion Day. Today, Pagan Presence is ongoing, with the purpose of Pagan representation at multi-faith public celebrations.”
(Quote from the Earth Spirit Society of Nova Scotia website: http://essns.org/wrd.html.
EHS: Is it true that you do your writing in a haunted attic? Haunted by whom?
LS: I used to write in a haunted attic when I lived in an old Victorian house with my mother. An elderly lady haunted our house, waiting for someone to return who never would. I suspect the home I live in now may be haunted. Something has to explain objects moving on their own and all the noises and the tingling on the back of my neck at night in the washroom. I am very clairvoyant. We have a saying here: For every wave that washes in, there’s a ghost story. We live in a place where it is accepted to be dining in a haunted restaurant. I dined at the famous Five Fishermen restaurant, known for its ghosts. The building has residual energy in it and a high turnover rate — the employees quit if they see cutlery flying off the dining tables. The building was a schoolhouse in 1817 and then Anna Leonowen’s art school, then the Snow family bought the building and turned it into a morgue when the Titanic sank in April 1912. In 1975, it became a restaurant and still is –and apparently, still haunted.
EHS: What kind of research goes into your writing? Is your desk covered in books?
LS: I do lots of research that would serve the writing I do. Yes, my desk, my bookcases, and on occasion, my floors and bed get covered in books. I have an organization system, but it gets out of hand occasionally. I enjoy doing research on actual haunting, lore, myths, folklore, and Pagan publications. I also read widely about mythological creatures, the pantheon of different gods and goddesses. Celtic mythology is my passion. I’m trying now to find more information about the Vikings.
EHS: You have been published in a wide variety of venues, from Essential Herbal to Circle Magazine to Crone. Which was your first? Of which are you most proud?
LS: The ones I’m most proud of are my article “The Clay Goddess,” about my matron deity Brighid; and my contribution to the book Naming the Goddess that Moon Books just released. My two articles were published in Circle Magazine in their summer 2011 issue. That was my first pagan writing in a pagan publication.
EHS: A few years ago you published your first collection, Metamorphosis: A Poet’s Symmetry. How did you decide which poems to include in the anthology?
LS: That was hard. I decided to just go with the strongest poems. I organized them into lighter and darker poems. Light and dark in tone.
EHS: Which poem in Metamorphosis was the most difficult to write? Which was the most deeply personal?
LS: I think “Ode to a Rose” was the hardest, because I tried to write an actual ode about a rose. I think the “Frightening Spirit’s Dance” was the most personal, because I was head over heels in love with someone then.
EHS: Where can curious readers find Metamorphosis? Will there be a second volume?
LS: Unfortunately, there aren’t any copies left. Sorry! However, I have been thinking about a second volume.
EHS: What are some of your favorite books about witches and witchcraft? Any particular titles that you recommend?
LS: I like Scott Cunningham’s books, Ravenwolf’s books, Arin Murphy Hiscock’s books, and I read about any book about witches and witchcraft I can get a hold of. Reading widely gives me a broader understanding of what is involved in witchcraft. About recommending a title, it depends on what the person is looking for, but I like Deborah Blake’s books. She is fun to read and comprehensive.
EHS: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events will you be attending in the foreseeable future?
LS: We hold an annual Word on the Street book fair here every September, and I attend many book launches and readings by my favorite fellow authors. There is a stronger market though for Pagan publications in the US, and Europe.
EHS: What other projects are you working on?
LS: The other projects I am working on are my supernatural novel and my blogs and maybe a second poetry volume. More writing for Eternal Haunted Summer. I am also hoping to complete an ebook about herbs this winter.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of EHS.]