[This issue, we sit down with author Erin Aurelia — who also goes by the professional name of Erin R. Lund. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practices, her writing and her editing services, and her current and upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Erin Aurelia: My daily spiritual practice is flametending, centered around tending Brighid’s Perpetual Fire, which I engage with as simultaneously her fire, my inner spiritual fire, and the universal spiritual energetic fire, each feeding and reflecting the other. I have been drawn to incorporate ogham work into this practice and it also includes journaling and related observances and inner journeying during each of the four Celtic fire festivals.
My spiritual expression has evolved into one of deep inner work and mystical relationship with deity in which Brighid is less the object of my devotion or worship, but rather the guide I look to who reveals my path to me, and the wise and supportive companion who accompanies me along its way.
It’s not a deity-devotee relationship style I find is terribly common in the pagan world, but one I think makes sense in the context of flametending, which is a solitary practice, even while many of us tend as members of flametending orders or communities. I myself am currently a member of Daughters of the Flame. I began flametending twenty years ago with Ord Brighideach, then left and tried a smaller group, after which I created my own order, Nigheanan Brìghde, and also joined DotF, but later left DotF to focus on my own group, then left my own group when I went through divorce and rejoined DotF to continue practicing in supportive community without the added responsibility of administrative work.
Though my path in paganism has morphed through many forms during these past two decades, Brighid and flametending were my constant, still center and have now become the welcoming container in which I primarily do my spiritual work. I have also recently joined the Sisterhood of Avalon, as I feel its deep inner work is similar to what I am doing in my flametending and resonates and dovetails nicely with it, and sometimes even inspires and informs it! The Avalonian work has in some way given me a clearer understanding of my flametending practice and in part inspired me to write a book about it, which is to be published by Moon Books. I am spending this year writing it as I refine my practice. The book-in-progress is currently titled, The Torch of Brighid: Flametending for Transformation.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits are honored in your tradition?
EA: My flametending practice is centered on Brighid, and I honor the Tuatha dé Danann collectively on the fire festivals.
ev0ke: You are both a professional writer and a professional editor, which allows you a rather unique perspective. As an editor, what do you wish writers understood about the proofing, editing, and publishing process?
EA: Like most editors, we would like writers and authors to have a clear understanding of the various types of editing and editors, but that I never had as a writer before I studied editing, so I can appreciate that doing writing doesn’t seem to naturally entail understanding editing! I offer some education about these various editing needs on my editing business website, Sunshine Editorial Services, so that writers can speak to editors with clarity and authority regarding the editing services they are seeking. This is especially important information for indie authors, as authors published by traditional publishing houses are typically getting all their editing needs met in-house by professionals who simply do the work with no need to explain it to the authors. However, even then, as a writer myself, I would have appreciated more clarity about the editing process before interfacing with editors so I could have better understood what to expect and why certain editing was being done. Clear communication and comprehension makes every path and relationship smoother!
ev0ke: As an editor, what services do you offer? And do you prefer working in particular genres, or are you open to any sort of manuscript?
EA: I have so far worked primarily with creative and transformative nonfiction, including a self-help/life-coaching book and memoirs, which I love! I offer all editing services for these, including developmental, line, and copy editing, and proofreading, and editing their related book proposals for publishers. I have also edited web copy for a colleague’s editing business and a home-use preschool curriculum, which was fun, as I got to flex my Montessori-training muscles. I really enjoy working with authors to bring out and highlight their unique voices and messages and would love to also work on travel memoirs, books about the arts, and topics of spirituality, women’s issues, and inner growth. Additionally, in the world of fiction, I am a big fan of mysteries—Agatha Christie is my favorite—and would love to edit them! I especially seek to uplift women’s voices and enterprises with my editing work.
ev0ke: You have composed two poetry collections — Bone&Stars and Love Conspiracy — and you are currently working on the third, Feral. Congratulations! First, how did you decide which poems to include in these collections? Was there any one poem which was particularly difficult, but ultimately satisfying, to create?
EA: Thank you! The collections formed themselves both through time and theme. The first, Bone&Stars, was my recovery process through poetry from an abusive marriage I had recently left. Abuse leaves people in survival mode and largely numb, and my feelings were not honored by my spouse and subsequently I had squashed them to feel safe, so after I left, my feelings gradually began to rise to the surface, and I needed to sit with and delve into them to really understand what and why they were. I did this through articulating images and feelings through poetry, which helped me better understand what I had experienced and what coming through the other side of it meant.
Love Conspiracy happened next when I made a new friend whom I fell in love with, but kept my feelings for him to myself for some time, then eventually revealed them, even though I knew they would not be reciprocated.
The last collection, Feral, still in the making, is my articulated expression of digging down into and swimming deeply in my pure sense of self, spelunking into myself, without reference to, and unfettered from any relationship with anyone else. Articulation of this deep, wild experience helps me better know not only my experiences, but my essence, and the personal and cosmic forces which converge there, and is always what and who I am, regardless of who else I have known or will know.
I’m not sure what will come after this collection, but something writing poetry has taught me is that I don’t have to know; each line heard and witten reveals the next, like stepping stones, so I am sure the next project will reveal itself when I arrive at its place of emergence.
As to your second question, I don’t think I have ever had any difficulty creating my poems, but to the point I just made about each line revealing the next, I have had the experience of a poem ending up very differently than I had thought it would when I began it! My job in my poetry is to recognize when deep feelings are moving within me and ready to talk, make space to listen to them talk, then write down what I hear. In a way, I am simply transcribing the voice inside my head that’s talking at that moment. A couple writing experiences were especially like this; one was writing a poem I called “My Body,” which began in a feeling into my physical self and ended as a clear reclamation of my physical self from an abusive partner who judged and controlled it, and whose judgement had come to color my view toward it. Rage and passion spilled in the page and I was delighted with the final product! Another poem happened this way in a sort of psychedelic free-flow of personal impressions and morphing, dreamy imagery which is part of my lastest collection, Feral. It’s one of my favorite pieces to perform. I love performing both of these, actually!
ev0ke: In addition to writing poetry, you are also a spoken word poet. Are some of your poems meant to be spoken/heard as opposed to read/written? In your experience, how does speaking/hearing a poem out loud alter your understanding of it?
EA: I don’t think I have any which cannot be appreciated both on the page and in the ear, but I do have one with some very particular pauses for vocal breathing which aren’t really translated onto the written page but are quite effective in performance! Another one came out in the same cadence as a song I had been repeatedly listening to, so I think hearing it in that cadence is the proper experience of it rather than reading it silently from the page, or in the reader’s own inner voice devoid of that cadence, which of course they wouldn’t know.
Poetry, though, is foundationally an oral tradition, and I find that when poetry is delivered out loud, it breathes and truly lives. The voice and the body further express the feelings and sentiments of the words, and so more viscerally convey them to the listener than to the reader alone. Even alone, I will read aloud my poems when finished to hear their full voice, and I love reading poetry aloud from the volumes of it that I buy. When the sound and vibration of it moves through your body, your experience of it is so much richer. I loved reading poetry to my sons when they were young. Alas, they didn’t grow to love it as I do, but I tried!
ev0ke: You are also an enthusiastic supporter of live music. Have you found these different interests — writing, editing, poetry, music, your spiritual path — to be mutually influential? Or are they distinct?
EA: Yes, I am that enthusiastic supporter, as many musicians where I live will attest to (and have)! My poetry-writing had largely been shut down during my two-decades-long abusive marriage, and it was music that brought it back to me, helped me find my voice and my fire again, and brought me back to life. I have always loved music, but in these recent years, it has truly saved me. When I knew I needed it in my life, I sought out open mics to listen to regular live music to sit and write to. It was at one of the first I attended that I was invited by a host to read, and from there, I became a regular performer myself, and performed with musicians I befriended there accompanying me, which is my favorite way to perform! I’ve also been part of some fun collaborations; one musician invited to me write a song with him from one of my poems set to his music, which I sang. A friend in a band invited me to compose and perform a spoken word piece for the end of one of their songs that ended in a long jam session, and I invited a local musician I had followed to compose pieces on his electric guitar to accompany my spoken-word poems, of which we have made a handful of basic recordings and have had them played on a local indie online radio station (Shady Pines!). I follow several local bands and love learning about new bands emerging in the area.
Music is my drug of choice, and they are my dealers!
I also love spending time with fellow creatives and jamming with them on my tambourine, which one local musician friend jokingly refers to as my backstage pass, haha.
To turn to editing and meditating, editing feels like meditation to me, and I listen to Debussey when I work, and my spiritual path is centered around Brighid, goddess of poetry, and poetry includes song lyrics and music, as poetry was originally sung or intoned, often to a harp, so I’d say in a sense that she connects all these pieces together!
ev0ke: Where can readers find your work?
EA: I write and perform poetry under the name Erin Aurelia and post poetry on facebook and instagram at erinaureliapoetry; videos of performances are available to view, as well. I have published some pieces in a blog on substack. My aforementioned book will be published under the same name and I am blogging it through Patreon as I write it, which can be found at here. I edit under my legal name, Erin R Lund, and my editing services are available through my business, Sunshine Editorial Services.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
EA: In addition to writing my flametending book, I will be recording three spoken-word EPs, each one named for my three poetry collections. Each will contain about five poems each, all selected and arranged to tell the essence of the story of each full collection. This will be a collaboration with the electric guitarist I referred to above, | s e a s o f t r e e s |, whose music can be heard on instagram at seasoftreesmusic. I hope to also publish a chapbook of all the recorded pieces, which will likely be a self-publishing venture.