Chances are, you’re probably encountered some of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s work if you’re a fan of witchy books. Drawing from her over twenty years of experience in the field, she has authored The Green Witch’s Grimoire, Spellcrafting, House Witch, and The Witch’s Book of Self-Care – plus many more! We were thrilled to catch up with her to learn all about her latest book, her journey in the world of magic, and her words of wisdom for witches of all experiences.
Q: Can you share a bit about your magical path, and how that journey has led you to create such an impressive list of titles on Wicca and Witchcraft?
AMH: I started off pretty quietly, reading and doing little things on my own. At one point I found myself working at a new age bookshop, and things snowballed from there. I’ve always been involved in the book industry, starting with sales and then ordering, and I ended up being a consultant for a publisher for their new age line. At one point they said, “Look, instead of trying to find someone to write a book for this new line, why don’t you do one?” And then everything snapped into place.
I try to write books I wish I’d had when I started out, and books I wish I could have pulled off the shelf when trying to explain things to clients at the metaphysical shop. A lot of my time there was spent debunking ‘This Is What You Have To Do To Be a True Witch’ misinformation, so The Green Witch was my statement on how the heart of witchery is how you connect to the natural world around you, not the initiations and prescribed activities. It struck a chord; I forget how many reprints the first edition went to, and the rerelease was even more popular. Earth-centred spirituality is very close to my heart, as is hearthcraft.
Q: Are there any individuals or ideas that have been particularly influential in your magical training or spiritual path?
AMH: Ideas… this is going to sound odd, but the concept of pure lineage and traditional initiations was important, because I rebelled strongly against those concepts. Magic and spirituality are about you and your relationship with the natural world around you, and however you conceptualize the Divine. The idea that you can only be a True Witch if you do certain things in a certain way makes me want to gnash my teeth.
As for people… I’d be remiss if I didn’t say Silver. Since meeting her, she has done so much to strengthen my confidence and resolve, and has supported me personally through a bunch of life stuff. Through her I have met so many strong, insightful, excellent people who have become good friends over the past twenty years.
Q: Your latest book, Grimoire, just hit the shelves on November 17th. What makes this latest title particularly special for you?
AMH: This one is a complement to my previous book, The Green Witch’s Grimoire, which is about how to design and build your own collection of wisdom, references, and records. While working on that one, we realized that offering a book with examples of some of the basic information a witch consults frequently, templates for recording spells, rituals, and research—along with lots of empty pages for adding your own work—might be something readers were interested in, especially people who for whatever reason cannot (or don’t want to) go into the deep details about designing their own book. It’s pretty, too; the design department did a beautiful job. I like the size of it. The pages offer lots of space to write on, draw on, and add stickers or printouts.
Q: What is your favorite spellcasting method and why?
AMH: I like being spontaneous. I’ll take pinches of herbs and mix them together in an offering bowl, or bring home leaves or sticks or pinecones. I charge them with my goal, leave them on the altar for as many days as I feel it needs, then return them to nature with thanks. I go for candles often, too, writing my spell on them with a burin. I’m also a fan of art or writing as spells. Coloured pencils and parchment cut into small shapes are wonderful for that. I can leave them on the altar under a candle, burn them, or tuck them into trees or plants and let them release their magic slowly and organically outdoors.
I also drink a lot of blended teas as magical acts. I know what each ingredient brings in terms of energy, and I can choose what I need and empower it to focus it further. I’m extremely lucky in that a good friend who is also a witch owns a tea store, so a lot of the time my work is halfway done!
Q: It is well-known that we are totally book-obsessed here at Witch With Books, and we would love to know – who is your favorite witchy author, and what is your favorite witchy book of all time?
AMH: This is a terrible question. How can you ask this of me?
I’ll give you a handful instead. And rather than single titles, I’m going to be general in some of my answers.
Reading about old customs is a very rich source of information and inspiration. For that, I like Ronald Hutton’s work. I also enjoy reading old collections of charms and healing incantations, and folk magic in general. Right now I’m reading Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plantlore, and Healing by Stephen Pollington.
I enjoy the works of Judika Illes and Ellen Dugan.
In the category of exciting new authors, I’ve been so impressed with Mat Auryn’s Psychic Witch. It’s full of terrific exercises and ideas about working with energy in so many different ways, both your own energy and that around you. It immediately jumped onto my assigned reading list for students, no matter what their level of experience. And Amy Blackthorn is a great new voice on using herbs and plants in magical work.
Q: What is next for you? Should we look out for more books, or perhaps other projects you have in the works?
AMH: I do have another book in the works! It’s about garden magic, and how working with plants from the seed through the harvest and beyond can offer you so much opportunity to experience energy at different stages of a life cycle. It offers various ways to approach it, because most people don’t have the opportunity to plant a big garden in a yard.
And in personal projects, I’m slowly writing a book for young witches. My daughter and her friends are all around ten years old, and very into magic. Their favourite thing to do is to make potions outside with natural elements and either leave them to disseminate magic, or pour them out to spread it. I get questions now and then about what the best colour would be for a certain goal, or what herbs would be best for something, and I figured I should just sit down and start collecting information for them, written in a way that they can understand. I started with a kid version of centering and grounding, and how to rebalance yourself when you’re in emotional upheaval. There are big feelings when you’re a tween, and it’s hard to listen to the energy around you when you’re all stormy inside. I mailed the first chapter to each of them, and they all ran outside and did the exercises. I have the next five chapters outlined… all I need is the time to expand them!
Q: Is there any witchy wisdom you would like to leave for our readers?
AMH: Trust yourself, but do the research to back it up and discover why your intuition is guiding you in a certain way.
Witchery is a way of life, not a sometimes thing. Let yourself see the magic in small things. Blow wishes from your fingertips. Talk to the birds. Breathe love over leaves and petals. Speak your gratitude for what you harvest, both in terms of physical harvests and spiritual or emotional growth. Give back. Say hello to the moon when you see it. You don’t have to perform intricate rituals to mark moons and seasons, although you can if you enjoy it. What counts is how you live your life, and how you treat the people and environment around you.
Honour the land you live on. We are custodians, and speakers for the land when it cannot stand up for itself. Love it, and work to protect it in both magical and mundane ways.
Thank you, Arin!
Arin Murphy-Hiscock is the author of The Green Witch’s Grimoire, Spellcrafting, The Pregnant Goddess, Wicca, The Green Witch, The Way of the Hedge Witch, House Witch, The Witch’s Book of Self-Care, Pagan Pregnancy, Solitary Wicca for Life, and The Hidden Meaning of Birds—A Spiritual Field Guide. She has been active in the field of alternative spirituality for over twenty years and lives in Montreal, Canada.