Silver Ravenwolf is a woman who really doesn’t need any introduction in our community, as she is nationally and internationally recognized as an elder of Wicca. She has authored many groundbreaking and best-selling books on witchcraft, magick and spirituality. She founded the Black Forest Clan, a Witchcraft Tradition drawing from Silver’s Germanic heritage, Pow-Wow, Folk Magick, and training that she received from her British Traditional Wicca lineage which includes Gerald Gardner, Raymond Buckland and Lord Serphant in the Serpent Stone Family. Her writing was pivotal in propelling Wicca as one of the fastest-growing faiths in the United States, rising to the best-selling books on the subject of magick in history. Her works include The Witching Hour, Solitary Witch, To Ride A Silver Broomstick, To Stir A Magick Cauldron, To Light A Sacred Flame, Mindlight, Hedgewitch, A Witch’s Notebook, Angels: Companions in Magick, Teen Witch, American Folk Magick, Silver’s Spells, and more.
The publication of To Ride A Silver Broomstick came out 25 years ago. For any of those who follow my work and my story, you know that Silver Ravenwolf’s work was highly influential on me and the first book I got my hands on as a child was her Teen Witch, which set me on a life-long path of magick – as it has for countless people. I was beyond honored and thrilled to get this opportunity to interview a childhood hero, an elder whose work is highly influential on my path, and an author whose style of writing I love and admire.
With someone whose work was so groundbreaking and wildly successful as your books have been, the books have been at the forefront of many discussions, both praise and criticism. This seems natural to me, as there’s always going to be haters and trolls of anyone’s work that is at the forefront. I see you as a very strong and driven person who has flourished despite all of this. How have you dealt with the criticism that has been aimed at your work? What advice do you have for handling viciousness directed at a person for sharing their work?
There is always going to be a criticism of one’s work because perfection is what we strive for – not what we attain – which is delightful! There is good debate, and then there are the nonsensical personal attacks that are a waste of everyone’s time. Our generations have experienced a remarkable gift – the linking of minds across the globe through a single medium. Never before have we had the grace of one-on-one interaction in this way, where we can immediately access large numbers of people in almost any country in real time and have them answer back! The internet is the gift of our era that has opened the doors to research, science, art, and music. But, as with any tool, there will be those who choose to misuse it based on their own agendas. The basis for such attacks that you speak of is fear, pain, or a combination of these energies. Our ego reacts immediately to the negativity directed at us. Our ego, rather than fielding this dark energy, urges us to ingest that pain or fear, and then its piranha jaws eagerly attempt to injure us just as it has maimed the person that sent it to us in the first place. If we remove our own ego at the inception of the attack, and look at it for what it is – an expression of pain, sickness, fear and insecurity – then we can say, “This isn’t me. I don’t accept this,” and refuse to engage. As our society matures in the use of the internet, some of this behavior will decrease; however, the mental health issues, which give birth to such attacks, still need to be addressed.
How did you discover witchcraft? I think I remember reading something a long time ago about a book given to you by a cousin. Which book was that?
My cousin, who was seven years my senior, gave me a pack of tarot cards, which began my journey into the occult. The first book I read on the subject was Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch – and I was absolutely hooked. I read her words and said, “This is not what I thought Witchcraft was all about. I’m so relieved because this? THIS is me!”
Many of us have foreshadowing interests or experiences before we discover witchcraft formally that are considered witchy. Did you have any of these experiences growing up?
I had some experiences; however, I came from a practical home, where stuff and nonsense wasn’t a part of daily discussion. My mother was a Scorpio, and my father and maternal grandmother were Capricorns. Logic was encouraged. Freedom of thought was celebrated as long as it wasn’t considered immoral. But the unseen? Definitely not. I kept my encounters quiet. On the one occasion I did speak of the power of one of my dolls, I was made fun of, and the puppet mysteriously disappeared. After that, I learned to keep my mouth shut.
What inspired you to begin writing about witchcraft at all? What was your motivation and goal behind the books when you originally wrote them?
I was already writing and publishing horror short stories and art-crafting articles in magazines when the opportunity presented itself to help someone who was not allowed to have wicca-related materials. This individual was in prison, so I set about creating a basic how-to for his use. I had no designs for the work other than it should be of assistance to that reader. My mailings came to the attention of the Chaplain of the institution, who was delighted at my presentation and encouraged me to expand it. In the meantime, I lost my job as a result of a hostile takeover (new office manager) and my husband said, “You’ve been blabbing about writing a book. Now you have the time to do it. Pick your theme and go for it.” So, I did. To Ride a Silver Broomstick was the final product. The title came to me in a dream.
Your writing had a huge impact on millennial and gen-X youth who are now taking leadership roles and writing books of their own. You are seen as being one of the biggest figures that influenced our generation of Craft. I’m not sure if you even realize what a big deal that is to the future of the Craft. What advice would you give them?
I don’t see my work as all that great – it was and is merely an effort to communicate what was in my heart in the hope that what I learned along my path would help others. If there has been a change or influence, it was entirely up to the reader and how they incorporated the information (or not) in their lives. To that end, I have tried to write this way consistently:
Always write with the reader in mind, as if you are looking them in the eye and talking to them in a moment of intimate sharing. Don’t focus on what the other person — meaning other writers, critics, leaders – is/are doing. They are not better than you, and you are not better than them. You have your path – keep your eye on that. They have theirs. If you avert your eyes through desires of the ego, you trip. As long as your work helps one individual? You have done your job – keep going! You don’t need a fan club – your words need to help someone survive, even if it is just for one night. Follow your passion. Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear. Not everything you produce will be good, or even okay. The point? You tried. Trying is living. Trying is moving forward even if you think you aren’t. When it is fallow? Celebrate. When it is Fortunate and Busy? Celebrate. Rise above the clamor of insecurity and revel in the excitement and opportunity of each new day. Never stop wanting to learn!
Even in your darkest hour, if you are breathing? You still have work to do. Do it.
Your work has inspired and impacted us, but whose work has had a huge impact on your books? Who were the authors, teachers, and witches that you looked up to or inspired you when you began your path?I was lucky to have the opportunity to read the spiritual works of, and meet or correspond with many mystical people over the past 50 years. I began my craft journey as a teen, and now, at 62, continue to meet bright, enlightened individuals within and outside of our community. In all honesty, every single person I have met has had something special to share. Every meeting has enhanced the fabric of my work.
As witches, our paths, ideas, and beliefs naturally evolve and change and deepen. When we write about witchcraft our words are immortalized forever. They tend to be somewhat of a snapshot of where we were at the time. How has your path, ideas and beliefs deepened, changed or evolved since your first book, To Ride A Silver Broomstick back in 1993? Do you ever look back on some of your writing and think about things that you would change if you were re-writing those books today?
I wouldn’t change anything because I wrote the books for their time. It was a delightful journey wherein choices had to be made and lessons learned. I celebrate those moments and realize that the past is the past, and the elements of that past are what created the experiences that I needed in my attempt at progression and understanding. Every day is a new opportunity to move in a way most conducive to my life plan, and I have learned that you can’t wait around for success, or money, or love or whatever – instead, make this day count toward those goals. The past cannot be altered and serves only as a reminder of lessons learned. I know you will think this strange, but I never listen to an interview I’ve done, or watch a television spot in which I’ve participated. To me, the work is finished the moment it is over. The time, effort and result are an energy strand on my life path that I analyzed while it occurred. I choose to move forward without incumbrance of “what if,” or “I should have done this.” New authors, those filled with passion and the desire to share compassionate spirituality with others, will take the Craft where it needs to go for their generations.
This past October your new book, The Witching Hour: Spells, Powders, Formulas, and Witchy Techniques was released. As I wrote in my review, I believe that this is definitely your best book yet and my favorite of your vast catalogue of authored books. For me, as an outside reader I see a huge evolution in this work compared to your first books. It feels very different than your other works but is almost like a new tapestry woven from threads of the other books you’ve written. What inspired you to write this book and how do you feel it’s different from your previous works?
The Witching Hour took eight years to complete – a project focused on experimentation, life experiences, and spiritual practices. I wanted to move my work in a fresh direction based on my own testing and investigation. The work was delayed four years due to the degenerating health of my father, and then another four while I physically, mentally and spiritually recuperated after his death. Although I never stopped writing, I did not prepare books for publication because I wanted to take that time to learn. In this time period I moved into the Crone stage of my life, which gave me additional insight. Slowly, I built what I wanted to say – what I wanted to offer to the reader based on the work I was doing. Thanks to the encouragement of many Black Forest Members, friends, and family, I was able to coalesce the information into three books, The Witching Hour being the first. The Poppet and Spirit Animal book the second (which will be available in April 2018), and a third book Whisper Magick which is in process.
I saw the Poppet Magick book is coming out soon; Poppet Magick: Patterns, Spells & Formulas for Poppets, Spirit Dolls & Magickal Animals. I knew that you were artistically inclined since you share a lot of your art in your earlier books, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I found out what a talented doll-maker you are. I’ve been following your cute poppet doll pictures and adventures on your Instagram and am blown away with the detail, creativity, and love you put into them. You seem very passionate about making these dolls and imbuing them with a lot of magick. They seem very important to you. Are there any particular stories about them or their magick that you’d like to share? What about doll magick are you so passionate about?
I love to design and construct spirit animals and dolls that people will use in their enchantments. I have spent hours drawing, cutting, stitching and embellishing a variety of creatures – all designed to bring love and confidence into the life of the owner.
My Taco Cat and his lady friend, Siracha Cat, became leading figures in my doll and animal construction. Fun and loveable, Taco Cat took on a uniquely active personality. His name, derived from the enchanted herbs I used to grunge him, are a fiery combination of taco spices! Little did I realize when I designed him just what an amazing energy he would add to my life! Larger in size than many of my other projects, Taco Cat has made regular appearances on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Taco Cat unquestionably represents the spice of life! Loving adventure. Having a sense of humor. Being courageous. His Geist Bag or Heart Packet (stuffed deep inside the doll) holds toys, rose quartz, a crystal, taco spices, hot peppers from my garden, a ghost pepper that I was told was so hot it would kill a person (no kidding), coffee beans, tonka beans, 3 pennies, a match, and a come alive paper charm.
For quite a while I posted exciting pics of Taco Cat frequently, and then doubt set in, and I thought, “Gee, people probably think I’m stupid or a show-off. Maybe I should stop making such a fuss over this stuffed cat.” So, I did. What I didn’t expect were all the posts and e-mails asking me what the heck happened to Taco Cat! But, it was the last e-mail that I received that made up my mind about Taco Cat and sharing his pattern here. I’ll paraphrase: “Dear Silver, I just wanted you to know how much my mother and I love seeing the pictures of Taco Cat that you post. My mother is dying of cancer, and every day she asks about Taco Cat so she can see a funny picture and laugh.” After I got done bawling my eyes out, I posted another pic of Taco Cat having a good time. Taco Cat stands for: Never give up and never give in (to stupid shit). Eventually, I posted story pics of Taco Cat looking for and meeting Siracha Cat (his lady friend). I had so much fun thinking up ideas for their big meeting. I even had Siracha Cat cast a spell to “catch her cat” (so to speak). Siracha Cat is all about independence and personal empowerment. Her Geist Bag/Heart Sachet contains a teeny-weeny statue of Sekhmet, dragons blood resin, hot peppers, coffee, a tiny bottle of perfume, and a come-alive paper charm. Taco Cat represented a learning experience on many levels. The pattern for Taco Cat is in my new book. If you make one of these cats? Prepare for your life to change!
So what’s next? What projects are you working on at the moment? Any future plans?
I am currently writing my next book, Whisper Magick. I am also working with the chakras using Yoga asana’s, meditation, herbs, gemstones, energy movement and sound to heal individuals who have suffered abuse or have had traumatic experiences. I have a website: Whisper Magick where I offer soy candles I pour and am considering expanding to add herbal mixes for those who would like to use this type of enchantment to their dolls, sachets, conjure bags or spirit animal projects.
Thank you all for sharing your time and energy with me. I am delighted that we could mentally walk together, even if it has been just for a moment. May you be blessed with love in every breath and may you experience joy with every thought.