[This issue we sit down with witch and author, Heron Michelle. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practice; her new book, Elemental Witchcraft; 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?
Heron Michelle: My occult thealogy and paradigm are Panentheistic and based in Hermetic philosophy, so it could be called “Hermetic Witchcraft” which is inherently eclectic and syncretic. I call this system of Modern Witchcraft “The Pentacle Path” because it focuses on balance of the Five-fold self through the elements of Spirit, Earth, Air, Fire and Water – like the points of the Pentagram. This balancing between inner and outer mysteries, projective and receptive tides of energy, and the repeating life/death/rebirth cycles of nature are furthered throughout the Great Work of Magick. That magick flows throughout the Wheel of the Year, through lunar, and solar celebrations.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honor in your practice?
HM: As a panentheist (Divinity = Immanent + transcendent) all faces, names, archetypes, and metaphors for Divinity are fair game. I personally have been called by Aphrodite and Hermes, and so have dedicated my work to fulfilling their commission of Divine Love.
ev0ke: You recently published Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? And who is the intended audience?
HM: Thank you! I’ve been blogging on Patheos Pagan as “Witch on Fire” since 2015, which caught the attention of an acquisitions editor at Llewellyn. They reached and asked me to write a book for them. As it happened, I’d promised Hermes that I’d write a manuscript for submission as my Great Work that year, but had been dragging my feet. By April, I think he opened that door for me, so of course I had to walk through. It took three years! The project grew into a proposal for a three book “Pentacle Path” series. Elemental Witchcraft is Volume 1.
My intended audience was any Witch or Pagan-curious person looking for a healthier, more effective, happier way to live in harmony with nature and each other. I wanted to answer the growing demand for advanced Witchcraft books, but first had to introduce my thealogy and techniques for the rank beginner, t00. That’s how it ended up being 480 pages! We start at the beginning, but then take the deep dive into the mysteries and magickal applications.
ev0ke: Why a focus on the traditional four or five elements? What appeals to you about the elements, spiritually, mythologically, and even psychologically?
HM: I’ve always been enchanted by the Alchemical approach to the five elements of nature. It is from these elemental essences that everything in creation manifests. To work with these elements does create our Five-Fold self holistically. You can’t possibly live a healthy, effective life if you’re denying or harming any part of your complex personhood. Like any other occult mystery school, the Pentacle Path is also an applied form of psychotherapy. However, I think it is best partnered with actual psychological counseling with a licensed mental health care provider.
ev0ke: Elemental Witchcraft contains a number of exercises, guided journeys, and rites. How were these developed? Through years of personal practice? Through consultation with other witches?
HM: Yes, the rites and spells are a combination of practices developed over a decade of coven practice and the classroom exercises presented in The Sojo Circle Coven and our outer court classes held at my shop, The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions. I then furthered refined them for a private practice as presented in the book.
ev0ke: The book also contains recipes for candles, incense, and other tools. This “crafty” side of witchcraft can be rather intimidating for some people, who worry about doing it “wrong.” Which of these crafts is your favorite, and what advice do you have for people who want to make their own tools?
HM: Just do it! I honestly believe that so long as your heart and mind hold a beneficial intention, then you can’t really do the Craft “wrong.” However, there are “more effective” techniques and timings of things, which I’m attempting to logically explain to new and old practitioners alike. My advice is always “go direct.” Open your mind and spirit in prayerful conversation with Divinity and the spirits within the materials of plant, stone and bone with whom your spell is working, and ask for their aid and guidance. Then shut up, listen carefully and trust your intuition about what to do next. So far this technique has never failed to be instructive and powerful, one way or another something changes!
ev0ke: In the introduction to Elemental Witchcraft, you discuss your neurodivergency and the resulting “hyperawareness, hyper-feeling, hyper-focus, hyper-communication.” How well do you think the witchcraft (and, by extension, the Pagan/polytheist) community has addressed neurodivergency? What can we do better?
HM: What I’ve noticed recently in our community, is that the various neurodivergencies (and especially ADD/ADHD that I can speak about) are a common characteristic among our witchy/pagan/magickal kind. Mostly that goes undiagnosed in cis females and instead is merely noted as a deeper empathy, sensitivity to energetic movements and patterns, resulting in anxiety and depression. These H’s can lead to the sorts of existential crises and questioning that often leads to the Witching Path. My only advice is to “know thyself” and then accept that all the rest of us witching folk are also in a process of “knowing themselves” and defining themselves by their own terms. Create flexible and accepting spaces for the nuance and flavor of our diverse perspectives, skills and challenges. Just open up loving spaces in “perfect love and trustworthiness.” My four rules for Personal Sovereignty would take us a long way to improving our community for everyone: Don’t burn the Witch. Don’t be the Asshole (or “Don’t be the problem” when I’m being polite in the book.) Don’t be the Weak Link. Must be present to win.
ev0ke: Which conventions, book fairs, or other events are you planning to attend in the foreseeable future?
HM: I’ve just returned from headlining the Florida Pagan Gathering Beltaine 2022. Next up, I’ll be vending and teaching at Mystic South in Atlanta, GA in July. I’m currently scheduling with any other in-person events who would like me to visit in the coming years.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
HM: Right now I’m working on volume two: Lunar Witchcraft, with sights on volume three: Solar Witchcraft after that!