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elen hawke, llewellyn publications, children of artemis, professional astrologer

Hawke, Elen: British Author

Author: M.L. Benton

MLBenton@echoedvoices.org

Copyright © 2002 by Echoed Voices. All rights reserved.
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Elen Hawke is an author, artist and British witch from Oxford, England with many years experience both living and teaching the Craft. She is a Craft elder, a Wiccan initiate, and a professional astrologer and tarot reader, as well as being a working photographer and illustrator. Elen has published books, articles and spell work for Llewellyn Publications. Her books include "In The Circle: Crafting the Witches Path and The Sacred Round: A Witch's Guide to Magical Practice".

Greetings Elen, thank you for joining us today. I would like to start the interview out with you telling us a little about yourself. {smiles} Can you give us a small bio?


I'm a British witch with many years experience both living and teaching the Craft. I am a Craft elder, a Wiccan initiate, and a professional astrologer and tarot reader, as well as being a working photographer and illustrator. I live in Oxford, England, with my husband, my daughter, seven cats, two guinea pigs and a dog. I'm the author of two books published by Llewellyn:
In The Circle, Crafting the Witches Path, The Sacred Round, A Witch's Guide to Magical Practice.
I have also written various articles and spell work for other Llewellyn publications, such as the 2003 Llewellyn Witches Calendar.
I help run the email discussion group, witchcraft_uk for Children of Artemis www.witchcraft.org, who also host my website.

When did you find your spiritual path? Can you tell us a little about this?

There was never a time when I thought "Ah, that's it, now I'm comfortably in a niche". My path seems to have been with me as far back as I can remember, but the scenery along the way has changed from time to time. My leanings have always been pagan, but I've explored spiritualism, Buddhism, Hinduism and many other religions as well, and they are still part of the way I see. There have been two significant points, though. The first was the day I said inwardly, at about age 20, "If there is anyone listening, I want to help in any way I can". Immediately it was as if the floodgates had opened, and people began to flow through my life, all with problems or questions which they felt I could solve. It took me twenty or more years to realise that I also needed to see to my own needs, and that it was stupid to allow others to take up my time to the extent where I was exhausted and ill. The second significant point was when I realised that witchcraft was the name for my personal set !
of beliefs; I really did have the sense of homecoming which books on the Craft describe. Epiphany!

How has it inspired your life?

I'm content. I feel fulfilled. My spirituality can't be separated from my everyday life. I often find inspiration in the little things, like watching frogs in the pond in my garden, or the way a leaf or flower begins to unfurl. It's very hard to describe this sort of feeling without sounding corny or fluffy, but it's true! I'm very moved by nature, the seasons, the moon, the elements, all of which I see as sacred.

I know what you mean, I call those the small blessings of life, and when you add them up, they turn out to be the biggest.

Can you tell us a little more about being a Craft Elder?

It's about teaching, about running a coven, about finding yourself in the role of advisor whilst still learning yourself. You realise that now you are the person doing initiations and handfastings, and putting people in touch with each other. A new generation of pagan seekers is coming to you and asking the question you once asked, but you have to accept that they may do very different things with the answers than that which you yourself have done.

Can you tell us what makes your chosen path now the right one for you at this time?

My beliefs and spirituality mesh comfortably with my life. I'm doing what I enjoy. When that is no longer the case, I will change things. It isn't so much having chosen a path, but rather having a way of looking at the world which I have found a name for; though others using the same titles for their beliefs may have different concepts.

Let's discuss some of your favorites if you don't mind. Can you tell our readers, who is your favorite author, and why? What is your favorite book?

That's a difficult question! I don't have individual favourite things, but rather preferences, which may change over time. If I was allowed one book to take to a desert island, it would probably be Alan Garner's The Owl Service. It still has the power to move me. I suppose it may be because it is rooted in our native tradition, and therefore speaks on a deep level (the book is based on the story of Blodeuwedd the Maiden of Flowers from the Mabinogian, and deals with the way we view energies). As for favourite authors, I have lots. I love reading Jilly Cooper, Terry Pratchet, Dean Koonz and others, as well as pagan authors. Stephen King's The Stand is one of the most amazing books I've ever read, as is The Lord of the Rings.I loved Ursula Le Guinn's Earthsea trilogy when I read it. Also the Narnia books, and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising - a must read for pagans! I'm a readaholic, so anything is better than nothing. I've been known to read Mills & Boon if nothing else is !
around. I love poetry too. As for pagan books, Starhawk is great, so are Vivianne Crowley, Kala Trobe, Karri Allrich, Ronald Hutton, Kerr Cuhulain. I've just started reading Yasmine Galenorn's Embracing the Moon, and am finding her style of writing both refreshingly uplifting, informative and ethical. Sorry, you wanted me to be specific, but I can't!!

No I understand it's hard to be singular when trying to be specific. {smiles} What type of music do you like?

I don't have time to listen to much music... I can't work to it as I find myself drawn into the music and away from the work. I love Mozart. I like blues, jazz, Clannad, U2, Tracey Chapman, Eric Clapton, the Dawson's Creek album. John Lennon's Imagine is one of my all time favourite songs...it never fails to move me. Recently a friend introduced me to Cachaito and other jazzy Cuban music. I've got a vast and varied range of stuff I like really.

Who is your favorite singer, and why?

I don't have one! I like lots of singers.

Do you watch TV? If so what is your favorite show or movie?

Again, no specific favourites. I can take or leave TV, I'd rather read most of the time. I enjoy watching films. We watch a couple of Australian soaps, along with the rest of Britain :-) We got very caught up with Roswell High till it was moved to Saturday mornings. My husband is a Startrek fan, so I watch that with him and enjoy it, but it wouldn't break my heart to miss it. If there's a good comedy like Ab Fab, or a good drama, then I can be tempted. And obviously anything pagan, such as the Channel 4 series we had here in Britain, Desperately Seeking Something.

Also who is your favorite actor/actress?

Sorry, don't have any! I used to find Richard Gere and Jeremy Irons rather fanciable ;-)

They are certainly charismatic! What is your favorite magazine and also e-zine and why?

I read and enjoy Pagan Dawn four times a year as I receive it as part of my membership of the Pagan Federation (the British umbrella pagan organisation). The Children of Artemis Witchcraft & Wicca Magazine is enjoyable too, and I both read and contribute to that. Both are excellent sources of information for all pagans. Otherwise I buy magazines if I've got a current passion for something, such as when I'm intending to buy a new computer or camera. I can get quite obsessive if I'm into something... but that's a great way to learn. As for ezines, Sacred Spiral www.sacredspiral.com and Cauldrons & Broomsticks www.cauldrons-broomsticks.net are both excellent. I found out about both of them because they did reviews of my first book, but I like them so much that I go back and read them regularly. I just looked at Echoed Voices www.echoedvoices.org for the first time recently, and I'm really impressed with that too.

{Smiles}

What is your favorite color?

I love green in my environment. I used to wear a lot of black, but recently I've been drawn to warm colours (sorry about the British spelling here...it's automatic I'm afraid!) like gold, amber, deep orange, terracotta. In terms of Vedic (Hindu) astrology, I'm shortly to enter a long period ruled by Jupiter, and these colours are Jupiterian, so maybe that's why. I'm also attracted to mauves and lilac colours at the moment.

What is your favorite time of year, and why?

I love them all. We have such marked, definite seasons here, so it's exciting to go with the changes. I always enjoy the Winter solstice, but right now I'm looking forward to Imbolc, then the spring and summer.

What are some of your favorite hobbies and past-times?

Reading, reading and reading! I enjoy walking and cycling too. We don't have a car, so I have to use some form self propelled energetic transport to get around. I'm a digital artist, so that's a pastime which I can get totally absorbed in. And I love computers. I can and do spend all day in front of one, but I never get bored with it. Fixing problems with them is a challenge I really enjoy. I'm a photographer as well, though I haven't enjoyed that as much since I trained to use it professionally - it's taken the creativity out of it. We have some wonderful sacred sites in Britain, so visiting stone circles and so on is a favourite occupation of mine. I find it really centering and uplifting.

How do you feel technology has changed the format of Art?

The digital media has given artists a lot more scope. I read somewhere recently that the largest number of people using Photoshop are fine artists. There is a lot of flexibility in the programme, and you can print out your results, apply techniques by hand, and then scan the result back into Photoshop. Using digital means allows artists to experiment without having to commit to a final result till they are ready... images are infinitely redeemable. There is a pleasing, rather magical quality which can be exploited artistically with digital image manipulation programmes.

Do you believe that one day, canvas and paintbrushes will be a thing of the past?

Never! For every person like me who loves using digital methods, there must be a dozen who would rather paint, or draw, or sculpt. People like the hands-on feel of the materials. A computer screen and graphics tablet just aren't tactile! I still paint with watercolour and inks and so on myself from time to time.

How did you get into photography?

I went to art school in the 70's and specialised in graphic design and illustration. Photography was a big part of that. I just carried on taking photographs over the years. Then I went back to art school in 1997 and did a course in professional photography and digital imaging.

What was your main topic in photography?

I've always been interested in taking pictures of people, textures and natural forms. Over the years I've done a lot of work on pagan sacred sites, such as stone circles, often using multiple exposures and various darkroom techniques to produce pagan imagery with human forms interwoven in the pictures. I did a lot of black & white photography at one time, using various printing techniques, special papers, toners and so on. Now I often scan the negatives straight into Photoshop and work on them there.

What direction do you feel the computer age has taken us?

It has closed the gap between people. We have a global community now. We are able to exchange views in seconds with someone from a totally different culture the other side of the world. We are able to realise our common humanity and forget our differences. I think it's wonderful.

I do agree very much in terms of unity, I have seen people chatting and corresponding with a difference in culture, when they normally wouldn't have, so it has brought forth positive changes.

To get back with the favorites list, {smiles} Who are your favorite Deities, or rather the ones you feel closest with?

Isis, Inanna, Brighid, Elen and Cernunnos.

And the last of these...What is your favorite time of day/night?

I used to be a late night, crawl out of bed at midday person till I had children. Now I love early mornings. There is an energy at that time of day which is very magical. Dawn and dusk both are special.

Who was the greatest inspiration to you growing up, and who is now?

I honestly don't remember anyone being a particular inspiration to me when I was growing up. Now I find various people move me or inspire me briefly from time to time. Nelson Mandela is pretty amazing. Starhawk inspired me when I first read The Spiral Dance. Bob Geldorf impressed me mightily when he got Band Aid together to help the starving in the 80's. The Beatles, of course, were a great source of inspiration to my generation.

Please take us step by step through your books, what inspired you to do each?

I wrote In the Circle as a response to the many questions I found myself answering on the witchcraft email discussion group I help to run. It is partly based on the magical journals I kept at one time. the book interweaves the festivals and the lunar cycle with step by step instructions for building up magical tools, doing ritual and magic and so on.

The Sacred Round takes the whole process a step further. It gives much more information on magic, ritual, the seasons, the moon's phases, meditation, chakra work and much more. I wanted to write a book which could be used by beginners, but which would take people past the novice work covered by many other books on the subject.

My third book, not due out yet, deals with the magic and myth of the moon's cycle, and includes the Hindu Lunar Zodiac, the Celtic Tree Calendar, eclipses, gods and goddesses of the moon, initiation and other subjects besides. I felt that a lot had been written by other authors about the solar cycle, but not many books specifically about the moon.

It sounds very inticing. Can you tell us the name of your third book, and also its release date?

The title of the third book is Praise to the Moon, Magic and Myth of the Lunar Cycle. It should be released on November 2nd, 2002.

What do you hope each reader will walk away with after reading your books?

Empowerment, inspiration, and the courage and answers they need to feel they can create their own Craft practice and follow their heart. I hope they will have fun, too.

What is the one thing that you hope each of us would learn?

To trust our own inner voice.

Tarot has always been one of my favorite divination's, can you tell us about your tarot deck?

The deck is digital, produced in Photoshop 6 from a mixture of photos, scanned objects and textures. The digital media gives a dreamlike quality which suits both tarot and paganism. I have stuck to the Rider Waite/Colman Smith and Crowley/Harris systems, so that most people will be able to use it. There are various sacred sites shown in the cards, along with pagan imagery such as the Horned God, the Goddess, and the Green Man. I have also used models from various ethnic groups so that you don't see only white skinned Caucassian faces on the cards. We live in a multi cultural world, and I think more tarot decks should reflect that, rather than potraying pseudo medieval imagery. My hope is that people will be able to use the cards for meditation and self realisation as well as divination.

Will there be a book with your new tarot deck? When do you think you will have the deck complete?

The deck will have an accompanying book. I'm not sure when it will be complete. I've yet to look for a publisher.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I've just written a spell index for Kala Trobe's new witches guide, to be published by Llewellyn. That got me writing again, and I've just begun a witches ABC's, which deals alphabetically with various aspects of magical and spiritual life. I'm also still working on my tarot deck.

Can you tell us a little more about the witches ABC's?

It deals with a letter by letter reference guide to all aspects of the Craft. I'm intending to interweave spells, rituals and incense recipes as well. It's at a very early stage at present, so I'm still discovering where the writing process wants to take me!

How do you feel it is different, from the others?

I haven't written this type of list style book before, with short, informative sections. My other books have been informative but quite lyrical too.

When will the ABC's be released?

I only started writing it recently, and have yet to offer it to Llewellyn, so I'm not sure.

Please keep us updated, personally, I can't wait!

As you look back and see the roads your journey of life has taken you down, where would like to see it go next?

I want to concentrate on my writing and photography/art and build those areas strongly. We are also working on renovating the house at the moment, and I'm keen to see the end of that and be able to relax and enjoy it. I'm looking forward to having grandchildren as well, should that be what lies ahead. I very much want to come to America to promote my books. I have some wonderful friends there now whom I have yet to meet outside of cyberspace, and I'm dying to try all that yummy food! I would also really, really like a holiday!!!

LOL Thats what we say about the food in England. Yummy! If you have learned one thing in your experience, can you tell us what this has been?

Trust yourself. If somebody tells you something, listen and respect their experience, but use you own inner judgement and guidance to decide whether that course of action is right for you personally.

If you could change one thing from your journey what would this have been?

Do you mean my spiritual journey, or my life generally? The answer to both would be have more children, as they are both a great joy and a great spur to personal growth.

What would you like to accomplish before your next journey?

I need to consolidate my material circumstances so that I leave my children with some security.

Your passion is reading, what type of book would you like to write after your other commitments are through?

I've tried fiction, but can never seem to finish a book...I run out of ideas for the plot. I guess I will keep writing informative books for people. I really enjoy that.

You're very good at it, as well! What type of advice would you give to someone still searching for their spiritual path?

Follow your heart. Listen to you own inner guidance. It isn't even necessary to have a named path. For years I took what I felt was relevant to me from the various paths I studied. Witchcraft just happened to fit my direction. Different religions and spiritual paths are simply ways of interpreting something which is always there and available to anyone. You don't need permission for your personal beliefs. The Buddha said that your religion is a boat to take you to the other shore. When you get there, you don't need the boat anymore.

Very nicely put! In the book, The Sacred Round, your Sabbat Rituals {you call Festivals} are very beautiful. You really seem to draw on nature and it comes out in your writing. What is it about nature as a whole that draws us so close, yet we still want our modern lifestyles?

I think we all have an instinctive knowledge that living in harmony with nature is healthy and balanced. There's nothing wrong with technology, it can make our lives more comfortable, thus freeing us to be more creative (struggling to feed yourself and keep warm is not conducive to creative self expression). It's just that our cities and the other trappings of civilisation have taken over. We blot out the stars with sodium lighting, we carve up the landscape with motorways (more a problem here than in the States probably, as we have less space) and we pollute the air, the water and crops. The "noise" of the way we live doesn't allow for inner peace and reflection. We know this deep down, and our inner selves crave the sense of being centred which connection with the natural world can give us. So what do we do? We go off into the countryside in our cars!

In The Sacred Round, Chapter Four: Chakra Work, you go very in-depth into the chakras. For our readers who are still new to the craft, can you explain why our chakras and the energies are so important?

The chakras are energy centres corresponding to different parts of the body, and they each relate to a different activity or area of life. Briefly, the base chakra connects you to the physical world, the navel to sexuality and material needs, the solar plexus to emotions, the heart to love, the throat to self expression, the third eye to creative visualisation and psychic energies, and the crown to the universal whole. They need to be in balance with each other if we are to function healthily. If a chakra becomes over active or blocked, then we may experience problems in the area it governs. For example, doing too much psychic work without balancing that up with exercise, food etc. can make your third eye overactive and lead to feelings of giddiness or being spaced out. A depleted base chakra will make you feel drained. When you perform ritual or magic, you need your chakras to be equally open and active. When you have finished any sort of psychic or spiritual work, they sho!
uld be closed down, and eating and drinking will facilitate that.

Can you tell us about Chapter Six: The Moon?

I wanted to give readers a thorough understanding of the moon's cycle and phases. All the phases affect our lives, are important, and can be worked with productively. So I have described the energies present at each phase from dark to new to full, including the first and last quarters. I have also suggested some deities connected with each phase, and have given examples of invocations and rituals, plus the kinds of magic which are appropriate to each.

Why do you feel the moon draws so many to her no matter our paths?

The moon has a pull, a psychic charge, which affects the whole of life on this planet, from fertility and plant growth to emotions. That's a very powerful thing!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'd like to thank you for the opportunity of doing this interview. I've really enjoyed it. Warm blessings to everyone reading it, too.

Thank you so much, Elen, for joining us today, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Will you come back and join us again sometime in the near future?

I'd love to!


You may visit Elen Hawke's website at www.witchcraft.org/elenhawke.htm

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