[This issue, we sit down with witch and author, Melusine Draco. Here, she discusses her ancestor-based practices; her new book on herbal simples; and her upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intimate and experiential?
MD: I am an initiate of traditional British Old Craft and our particular Coven of the Scales has a recorded history dating back to the mid-1800s, although it has changed location a few times over the years.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honour in your tradition?
MD: We are predominantly Ancestor-based, since they act as intermediaries between us and the Old Lad/Old Lass in their primal form.
ev0ke: Moon Books will be releasing your newest title The Witch’s Book of Simples in March 2022. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books with the idea, or did they come to you?
MD: Thank you … In all honesty, this is stuff I grew up with, being country-born and -bred, and I just asked Trevor Greenfield (our boss) if he’d be interested in this as a beginner’s title. We’re lucky in having a qualified medical herbalist in the Coven, so I can check that the text isn’t likely to kill anyone!
ev0ke: In the book, you chronicle the history of herbalism in the West, and the development of medicine gardens, herbal texts, apothecaries, and so forth. It was a fascinating read. Which one interesting tidbit did you absolutely have to share with readers?
MD: It’s got to be the snippet about the green men and women and the ‘Green Man and Still’. I collect these historical anecdotes relating to the Old Ways and all my books are liberally spiced with them.
ev0ke: Many people keep their kitchens stocked with basic foods, or the ingredients to make basics foodstuffs. Which “basics” do you recommend witches and others interested in folk medicine should grow and always have fresh on-hand?
MD: Apart from the ‘Scarborough Four’ — parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme — I wouldn’t be without bay, because of its protective properties, and chamomile for its soothing qualities.
ev0ke: For those who hope to start their own herb garden, how do you recommend they do so? Grow from seed? Buy the seedlings at a garden store? Order them online?
MD: I grow all my herbs in containers on gravel because many herbs can be extremely invasive, and I acquire them any way I can. Some are grown from seed; others arrive as established plants in pots, while rarer varieties are often found online. The containers are then arranged in groupings depending on the weather, as most herbs like sunlight and not too much shade.
ev0ke: You have also authored several books in the Arcanum series. How do you decide which topics to discuss, and who is the intended audience of these books?
MD: Arcanum books are practical and/or instructional texts on a specific esoteric subject or theme and written by magical practitioners with proven antecedents. Based on the idea of those children’s ‘Ladybird’ books that often introduced us to an interest that lasted a life time and, taking its name from the Coven of the Scales’ foundation course, the aim was to offer further tuition/guidance on specific elements of witch-lore and practice. The series to be aimed at those who have attained a certain level of magical competence and who don’t need to be spoon-fed basic instructions for Circle-casting with each volume – and are therefore not written with beginnersin mind. The subjects usually evolve from conversations with Coven members after the theme has been aired and discussed on our Coven fb page.
ev0ke: Where can readers find your work?
MD: Articles and further details of the books can be found both on the Coven of the Scales website/blog (www.covenofthescales.com); Coven Café Culture on Facebook and my own blog http://wordpress.com/view/melusine-draco.blog
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
MD: RATS! has just been published in Arcanum, and my current work-in-progress is a large limited edition Inner Court Witchcraft, with Icubation & Temple Sleep in the pipeline.