Lisa Marie Basile is the prolific word witch who has authored both the eagerly-awaited The Magical Writing Grimoire released this past April (read our review here) and Light Magic for Dark Times: More than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis (2018). Lisa is also the founder and creative director of Luna Luna Magazine, and the creator of Ritual Poetica, a space that explores the intersection of writing and healing, sacredness, and ritual. We spoke to Lisa about her journey into witchcraft and her many projects that have come about as a result.
Q: First things first – can you share with us how you discovered magic for yourself and your journey to embracing the label of “witch”?
LMB: This took such a long time for me to find, reconcile, nurture, and adopt an identity of the witch. My whole life up until now, really. I was raised Catholic but with parents who let me explore anything I wanted. I spent years in the library aisles reading esoterica and casting mini spells in back gardens with friends. I was very much a “The Craft” teen. Along the way, trauma happened and I not only lost sight of the priority of a magical practice, but I was just trying to survive. I’d thought I was an atheist for some time, and either denied or ignored or felt I didn’t deserve magic or belief, but the truth is…it was always “on” in the background: My intuition, my power of prediction, uncanny dream wisdom, a connection with nature and animals, how when I wrote I made changes and shits in my life. It’s like when I showed up to the page, everything, in reality, fell in line. How toxic people started to slip away when I came into my power, truth, and my confidence.
So it was in the past decade I started feeling like I was a witch. I felt powerful. I felt alive. I am a word witch; I’ve been that way since day one.
Q: You also use the phrase “word witch” to describe yourself in several of your works. How do you define “word witchery,” and how did you land on that specific title?
LMB: I’m not the first one to use the phrase wordcraft, I’m pretty sure, but I may be one of the few who use it more literally as a blend of magical craft and writing. I think “word witch” is the best way to summarize who I am as a being on this earth; I use my words to create shifts — for myself and for those around me.
I use my words to write and speak my intentions and ideas into being. I use my words to explore my shadow self. It’s so simple and clear and perfect. And I think there are a lot of word witches around us, which is amazing.
Q: The Magical Writing Grimoire has made quite a splash as it hit the market this year (huge congratulations)! Can you share what makes this book so meaningful to you?
LMB: Thank you so much for your kindness. The truth is, I was so worried about this book. COVID impacted my life and my city (NYC) so much — and it literally took lives around the world. It was and is a sad, dark time — so I was worried this book would be buried under the chaos. And yet, I think, looking back, its arrival was perfect. It seems people have found it really illuminating in an especially uncertain time.
Of course, you get out of it what you put into it, so it’s really the people who are using it that are finding illumination — and that is what makes it so special to me. It can be used by anyone, adapted in any way, and used to really explore the self. Everyone will get something different out of it, as everyone’s words are unique. It is also the very apex of my loves — writing, poetry, connection, intuition, psychology, and the sacred.
Q: You also wrote Light Magic for Dark Times, which was released in 2018. Do you see The Magical Writing Grimoire as an extension of that work? Can they be utilized in conjunction with one another?
LMB: I really do. Light Magic had a writing chapter and people seemed to really like it, so when my publisher asked if I wanted to write another book it felt natural to expand my focus on rituals of accessibility and inclusivity into the writing space. I think they can always and definitely be used together! For example, if you want to focus on trauma healing or regeneration, there are rituals in LMDT that you can use, and then you can turn to the Grimoire for further journaling or honing in on your feelings, what comes up for you in your processes, and perhaps writing your own spells to use with LMDT.
Q: We are obviously a bit book-obsessed here at Witch With Books, so we would love to know: who is your favorite witchy author, and what is your favorite witchy book of all time?
LMB: I would have to say that Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés is one of the most magical books I had ever read. It intersects everything I feel to be true and potent about living a sacred life.
Q: As many members of our community are new to the craft, what advice do you have for them as they begin to walk the path of the witch?
LMB: You are already magical; you don’t need anything special to tap into your deep, beautiful, innate power. Breathe, listen, pay attention to your intuition, listen to the trees, infuse your meals with intention, direct your energy outward, notice synchronicities. All of this is already yours. And don’t feel obligated to read/connect with/become part of anyone path or do something a guru is doing just because they’re popular or widely published. You CAN make your own brand of magic. Do what works. Respectfully disregard the rest. Don’t encroach on closed traditions.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your latest project, Ritual Poetica, and how that came into being?
LMB: This is basically an extension of my passions. It’s a space where I can get into a conversation with others about how they use writing as a magical, sacred, healing tool. It’s also a place for me to publish poems and other works that are inspired by divination or other sacred ideas and methods. It has an accompanying Instagram full of rituals and writing prompts: @ritual_poetica
Thank you, Lisa!
Lisa Marie Basile is a textbook Scorpio, word witch, poet, and the author of Light Magic for Dark Times and The Magical Writing Grimoire, as well as several books of poetry and the forthcoming City Witch(2021). She is the founding editor of Luna Luna Magazine, which is a dedicated space for literature, magical living, and ideas. She also runs Ritual Poetica, a project that explores the intersection between sacredness and writing. Her work focuses on trauma recovery, self-care, accessibility, chronic illness and the body, shadow work, and ancestral exploration. Her work can be found in The New York Times, Sabat Magazine, Narratively, Best American Experimental Writing, and more. She has a Master’s degree in writing from The New School in NYC.