[This issue, we sit down for an interview with author Robin Corak. Here, they discuss their new book, Pagan Portals: Demeter; their previous book, Pagan Portals: Persephone; and their upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Robin Corak: My spiritual practice is pretty eclectic, but if I had to pick a path that I work with the most it would be the Avalonian Tradition which comes from the Sisterhood of Avalon. That said, I am drawn to a variety of paths and traditions including various Celtic and Greek practices as well as some Buddhist practices.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honor?
RC: One of my challenges is that I love a wide range of deities so it can be hard sometimes to narrow my focus. I work regularly with the Avalonian goddesses (Rhiannon, Ceridwen, Blodeuwedd, Arianrhod, and Branwen); Greek deities including Persephone, Aphrodite, and Hephaestus; and the Irish Goddess, the Morrigan. There are others I work with and/or have worked with at different points in my life but those are the deities that have been present in my life for a long time. I have also worked with Medusa and honor the local land spirits and the Fay.
ev0ke: You recently released Pagan Portals: Demeter. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Did you approach Moon Books, or did they come to you?
RC: Thank you! This came about as a result of my first book. I found that when I finished Pagan Portals: Persephone, I felt like my work in sharing Her lessons wasn’t completely done. The more I began to try and figure this out, the more I heard Demeter’s voice prompting me to work with Her as well. I approached Moon Books about doing a book on Demeter and they felt that this would be a great follow up to Persephone.
ev0ke: You also wrote Pagan Portals: Persephone. Do you find that there is a lot of overlap among devotees of these two Goddesses? That is, do people tend to honor **both** not just one or the other? If so, why is that?
RC: I honestly don’t know if there is much overlap but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is. In my opinion, working with Demeter deepens ones understanding of Persephone and vice versa. While I primarily worship Persephone, I have enjoyed working with Demeter and find that sometimes my spiritual work with one is more powerful if I include the other in some way. Yet, there are times when it’s important for me to keep that work separate as well. Sometimes I work with Demeter to focus specifically on my role as a mother and at other times I feel the need to work solely with Persephone when I am trying to achieve greater independence and follow my own instincts.
ev0ke: Most people think of Demeter as “just” a Goddess of Agriculture, but there is actually much more to her than that. What is one of your favorite aspects of this Goddess, and why?
RC: Most people seem to view Demeter as a loving, nurturing goddess. She is definitely that! However, it is also fascinating to me that one of her aspects is personified by anger. Whether it’s the determined anger of a mother bear protecting her cubs or the passionate rage to avenge those that have been wronged, Demeter was seen in Her time as a goddess to sometimes be feared. She is associated with the Erinyes, or “Furies” and there are multiple stories of her enacting her vengeance on those who have committed offenses, especially against other women or those she cared about. Demeter gives us permission to feel our anger and shows us how to channel it in productive ways such as in social justice efforts.
ev0ke: What sort of research went into Pagan Portals: Demeter? Huge stacks of books? Lengthy trips to the library? Long conversations with others devoted to Demeter?
RC: I love doing research for my books! There were definitely huge stacks of books around (though I can’t fully blame that on my research as I often have huge stacks of books waiting to be read). I also had the opportunity to travel to Greece when I was working on Persephone and this informed my research for Demeter as well.
ev0ke: There is actually quite a bit of information out there about Demeter, but not all of it is reliable or accurate. In addition to your own book, which resources would you recommend to someone curious to know more about the Goddess?
RC: Great question! This is not an exhaustive list by any means but I found Mysteries of Demeter by Jennifer Reif, Greek Religion by Walter Burkert, and Lost Goddesses of Early Greece by Charlene Spretnak to be particularly helpful. I would also strongly recommend reading The Homeric Hymns which contains the “Hymn to Demeter”.
ev0ke: What is a good way for someone to start building a relationship with Demeter?
RC: I think announcing one’s intention to build a relationship with Demeter (or any deity really) is an important first step. I would recommend reading about Her and setting up an altar to her. The altar doesn’t have to be complex; rather, simple things such as a candle, flowers or plants, acorns, and/or a crystal representing the goddess will work just fine. I also recommend spending time in front of the altar each day or outdoors simply communing with Demeter and meditating on getting to know Her.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
RC: I am currently working on a book about dream magick for Llewellyn and have some ideas for future publications as well.
ev0ke: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events do you hope to attend in the foreseeable future?
RC: I will be at the Mystical Minds convention in California in October and hope to be able to attend Paganicon in 2023 as well. I am always keeping my eyes out for other events to attend also.