[This month, we sit down for an interview with witch and author, Lucya Starza. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practices; her new book on scrying; her favorite forms of divination; and her upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Lucya Starza: I’m a modern pagan witch, but I’m quite eclectic and use intuition in my personal spiritual practice as well as things from Wicca and traditional English magic. For many years I was in a Gardnerian Wiccan coven, and I feel the training offered a good, solid foundation in modern pagan witchcraft. I’m also lucky that my family were kind of weird and I grew up learning about folk magic as well as New Age practices and various esoteric things. My grandma was a Theosophist and worked as an astrologer, while my father was into dowsing and palmistry and UFOs. My grandfather’s side of the family came from Cornwall and knew a lot of folklore from there. They taught me about various methods of divination and fortune telling as well as other things. I remember my great aunt nodding sagely about traditional customs and folk remedies and so on, and saying, “They might be old wives’ tales, but those old wives knew a thing or two.”
ev0ke: Which Deities, spirits, or other powers are honoured in your tradition?
LS: I respect all deities, spirits and powers. I think one of the positive aspects of paganism is that I’m not restricted to only worshipping one god or goddess. In my personal work, I honour spirits of place, and my ancestors, and also work with deities that seem appropriate. I’ll give an example: I’m a keen photographer and have called upon Diana, the huntress, to help me take the perfect shot with my camera. I see taking a good photo as being rather like hunting in many ways. I take the photos that are on the covers of my books, by the way.
ev0ke: You will be releasing Pagan Portals: Scrying with Moon Books in March 2022. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books or did they come to you?
LS: I’d been teaching scrying workshops for quite a few years and several people had asked me if I was going to write a book on the subject. I’d already written books on practical magic for Moon Books in the Pagan Portals series – Candle Magic, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Guided Visualisations. I approached Moon Books and asked if they’d like me to write about scrying for a further book and they said yes.
ev0ke: Why a book about scrying? What drew you to this topic?
LS: I’ve always loved scrying. It was something I’d tried when I was young. My family were into various fortune telling methods, as I’ve mentioned, and it was something we’d do together on Halloween and New Year’s Eve as well as at other times of year. Sometimes an old green glass fishing float would be brought out to use as a crystal ball. I was never very good at it when I was a child – I was better at card reading – but I was so keen to learn the skill that I tried lots of different methods, read books on the topic, and basically taught myself how to do it. My workshops were a way to pass on that learning to other people and I hope the book reaches a wider audience.
ev0ke: If you could correct one common misconception about scrying, what would it be, and why?
LS: I’d say the biggest common misconception is that you need a special item in order to scry. You don’t. You can scry into a glass of water, a cup of coffee, the clouds, flames and embers, and of course tea-leaves. It’s the intuition of the person doing it that’s most important. Another misconception is that scrying is always about visual images. It can be, but it can also be impressions gained with any of the other senses, or words that come to you, or feelings about things. Quality is more important than quantity. One accurate insight is worth a thousand random impressions. I know that’s three things rather than one. I hope that’s OK.
ev0ke: Pagan Portals: Scrying includes discussion of and techniques centred around crystals, mirrors, water, and fire. Which of these was the earliest techniques that you used? And which would you recommend to someone who is just starting out?
LS: The first item I used was that green glass fishing float I mentioned. For someone starting out I would recommend using whatever you already have available rather than splashing out lots of money on a crystal ball. If you want to try something that’s a bit like a crystal ball, then fill a roundish wine glass with water, or use a glass paperweight. You can make a dark mirror by painting the back of a piece of glass with black paint. You can use a casserole dish instead of a cauldron. Try out various things to see what works for you.
ev0ke: What sort of research went into Pagan Portals: Scrying? Big stacks of books? Long discussions with other practitioners?
LS: All of those things. It was a mixture of experience, practice, research including book reading, and discussions with other practitioners. When I ran workshops I also learnt a lot about the questions people asked and problems they encountered, which I hope I’ve addressed in my book.
ev0ke: Scrying also appears frequently in fairy tales and fantasy. What are some of your favourite examples of scrying in popular culture?
LS: My favourite description of scrying in fiction is the Mirror of Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s writing of her words about the way it works is pretty accurate, and also points out that the future isn’t fixed. Things seen might come to pass, but that’s only one possible future.
ev0ke: Where can readers find your work?
LS: You can order my books via the Moon Books website. Here’s the link to my author page. You can also order my books at independent bookstores and pagan shops.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
LS: I’m currently working on Pagan Portals – Wheel of the Year and am blogging about magic and customs each month at the Moon Books Blog.