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1. How and when did you realize that your spiritual path is the one for you? Was there an event that triggered this response?

I realized the patch of Wicca was for me when I was a child. I had an eccentric aunt who mentored me on the laws of nature and I was well versed in astrology, tree and flower lore, as well as the stars and the moon before I started first grade. I now know she was a witch but since we lived in the Bible belt, she was underground. I feel lucky to have come from a family of "wise women."

 

2. Prior to this point did you have any kind of spiritual background or exposure to other spiritual paths?

My father (a seventh son of a seventh son) came from a long line of Masons but they were very secretive about it. My mother is a First Day Adventist, a Christian. They are a tiny group of less than 2000 members. They are very different from Seventh Day and Baptists as they do not believe in heaven or hell. You have to be a good person and one day heaven will be here on earth. That was what I was exposed to until Aunt Edith began taking me for "nature walks and nature talks."

 

3. What was it about your path's beliefs that seemed unique and different from what you had been taught prior to that?

Coming from the Appalachian Mountain area, I was a solitary soul and, after my Aunt passed away, I followed my instincts in putting together a sort of "patchwork spirituality" that worked for me. I say "roll your own religion" and even wrote scrolls where I delineated my path.

 

4. How did you learn about your path once you had decided to follow it? Were there helpful books, organizations or people that acted as guides during those formative years?

When I moved to San Francisco, YES but before that, no. In my book I note that Z. Budapest's Women's Spirituality Forum was instrumental in my connecting with community. Priestess training was invaluable for my learning.

 

5. What were some of your first impressions of the Wiccan/Pagan community at large once you started to meet some of the folks who were walking the same path as you?

I was so excited when I came to the San Francisco Bay Area and discovered so many groups. PantheaCon is the place to explore it ALL. It is in San Jose every president's day weekend and there you will find Vampires, Druids, Gnostic Bishops, Goddess groups, every stripe of paganism is there! I loved finding like-minded folks so we can share spirit and support each other.

 

6. Did you always enjoy writing or was that something that started after you began to follow this path?

I have always written. I also sense a big part of my destiny is to write fantasy fiction. I am preparing for that now.

 

7. When was it that you decided that you'd like to share your ideas and thoughts in book form and how did you go about approaching a publisher with your proposal?

As with nearly everything, it was a series of synchronicities events and personal connections. However, Citadel has stopped (for now, as I understand) pagan books. Sad!

 

8. Let's talk about your book Goth Magick. Was there something in particular that motivated you to write this book?

I wanted to inspire readers to insert their OWN imagination into the process so the book is one big invitation for self-expression combined with spirit.

 

9. If you had to describe Goth Wicca to an outsider, how would you do so? To another (non Goth) Witch?

“Goth Magic” is the next step beyond Wicca for beginners. It is for the spiritual adventurer who likes to look at the other side, the hidden, strange, and mysterious, in order to discover a marvelous and unexpected world of enchantment.  Goth magic is unique and provides a stepping-off point for self-exploration and the creation of personal spells and tribal rituals including very special rites of passage that engender the deepest personal transformation.

 

10. How do you see the Goth movement within the large context of our culture and the pagan community?

During the Dark Ages, Northern Europeans practiced a sort of “original “paganism. The Goths were a Germanic tribe hailing from the area we now know as Scandinavia and made quite a name for themselves as they spread across Europe, even sacking Rome among many noteworthy deeds. Soon, the word “barbarian” was replaced by the much more colorful term Goth, which much later came to mean “uncivilized.” Ironically, modern Goths are among the MOST civilized among us and differ greatly from their ax-toting forebears but both have much in common – a great romanticism, a love of the earth and her magic as well as a deep tribalism and sense of adventure.

 

11. What are the shortcomings and what are the advantages of Goth Wicca?

Shortcomings are few as I see it but anyone who fears being marginalized should thing twice. Advantages are the excitement of self expression on the deepest soul level and finding your "tribe" and making life-long connections.

 

12. Is the information contained in Goth Magick drawn from your own experience?

Mostly it is but I also share, with great gratitude, stories and spells of fellow Goth witches.


13. If you could only offer one piece of advice to would-be Goth Wiccans, what would it be?

“Know thyself” and “to thy own self be true.” I say this in the introduction of the book. It might be true for ALL people no matter what religion!

 

14. There are those who might criticize Goth Wicca as being derivative, or fluffy.. Others might say that it is evil since the emphasis of the path is on the dark. How would you respond to such criticism?

Take a closer look, however, and you will find a rich tapestry of ideas and practices in Goth culture as well as highly literate, highly spiritual, colorful, and creative people from all walks of life – doctors, attorneys, musician, teachers, writers, and yes, they all do wear a lot of black but it IS always elegant, isn’t it?

 

Many Goths report that they turned away from the religious heritage of their families early on in life to explore other options. Wicca is increasingly the religion of choice for those who walk their own path and express their inner nature while honoring nature and living harmoniously with the earth. In May 2005, The New York Times touted an article in which it was noted that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in North America. Whether they consider themselves a “White Witch” or a “Dark Wiccan,” something is calling to people on a profound level, something that “feeds” them in a way nothing else does, spiritually and communally. Perhaps it is that Wicca does not preach a prescribed path and rules. Hey–it does not preach at all! There is only a bond of honesty and the golden rule of Wicca which holds true for all Wiccans and Goth Wiccans as well.

 

15. Does writing get easier the more you do it? What did you learn from writing your first book that you applied to your second book?

Writing DOES get easier and I have a suggestion for anyone pondering the literary life- set a word count, even if it is 500 words a day. I floundered for years before I figured that out. It just requires a little discipline and will work wonders!

 

17. Do you have any other projects in the development?

Believe it or not, I have found myself drawn to the work of the Stoic philosophers and am working with the writings of Cicero and how that is more meaningful now than even 2000 years ago. I like the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern.

 

18. Will you be promoting your book during 2007, perhaps at conferences and festivals? Anything that you are particularly looking forward to?

The aforementioned PantheaCon and the International New Age Trade Show in Denver in late June around Solstice. Stay tuned for more!

 

19. Where do you see Goth Wiccans within the larger community? What are your hopes for that community in the coming years? Are there critical things that we should all be working on or towards?

More and more young people, in particular, are finding themselves drawn to a Gothic lifestyle, one that embodies an alternative to mainstream fashion and ideals. Because of its flipside status, Gothic welcomes those of all ages, shapes, and sizes to explore their individuality and creativity, along with their macabre side

 To be a Goth Wiccan is not to be a heretic. It is being really and truly yourself, a rather “high risk” individualist. While Goths have a fascination with the idea of death, life after death, and taking a position of being unafraid of death as a natural part of the life cycle, Goths do not idealize in any way the unmitigated cruelty and waste of human lives, including thousands of witches, that was the Burning Times and The  Inquisition. Remembering and knowing is an important way of honoring those who died.

We must remember our own who died

In May of 2005, a young woman in England was dunked repeatedly in the river and nearly drowned because her family and neighbors believed she was practicing witchcraft. So, while we believed these dark times are over, we must be ever vigilant. We must never forget.



20. Any final thoughts you'd like to share with your readers as we close out this interview?

As a modern primitive or urban pagan, you can establish a sacred space and arm yourself with magickal tools. And, in so doing, you can create a magickal place where the mundane world is left behind. It can be in your home or your own backyard where, despite the noise of the day-to-day, you can touch the sacred. There is no need to ascend to the top of a mountain or to a silent retreat in search of the sacred, or as a Goth, the deepest darkest dungeon you can find. Nay - anywhere you choose can become the place of magick where you cast the circle.

 

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Goth Magick is available from Citadel Books (pp. 240, $12.95)

 
bio: Brenda Knight is the author of the bestselling Good Spells series from Chronicle Books. A scholar of medieval literature and modern poetry, she has studied with many of the leading names in Wicca, such as Starhawk, Z Budapest, Eileen Holland, Christopher Penczak, and more. Knight has led ritual and magic workshops throughout North America and has just founded a retreat center in Mendocino, California, where she  conducts ongoing Wicca workshops. She lives in Daly City, California.

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