Interview with Gwion Raven and Phoenix LeFae – Authors of ‘Life Ritualized’

Life Ritualized, out from Llewellyn Books, is a comprehensive guide to honoring life’s important moments. We caught up with authors Gwion Raven and Phoenix LeFae to share with you a bit about the wonderful practitioners behind this magickal tome.

Q: Can you tell us about your own magical training and background, and how you were led to embrace the title of “witch”?

GR: That’s a questions that could take hours to answer properly! The short-ish version (I don’t really do short versions), is I started studying the occult, through the lens of Tibetan Buddhism. I studied for years, even thought about becoming a monk at one point. My teacher, pointed me to something the Dalai Lama says about following one’s own path. Within a few short months, I was back in England, climbing Glastonbury Tor, cleansing myself in the white spring, and soaring above Avalon with the ravens. Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve studied and been initiated in three magickal traditions including a druidic line, the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, and British Traditional Witchcraft. Once upon a time I used to say I was “pagan”, but I sorta love the fear and confusion I see cross people’s faces when I use the word “Witch”. Words have power!

PL: I came to witchcraft as a teenager. I didn’t grow up in a religious household and at a certain point, found something lacking in my life. I went to several churches and read up on different religions, but it wasn’t until I randomly picked up a book about witchcraft that I found my path. I started calling myself a witch at fifteen. It’s been close to thirty years since then. I’ve studied in many different traditions and lineages. I’ve been initiated in the Avalon Druid Order, the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, and I’m a second degree Gardnerian Wiccan. I’m a bit of a dabbler because I find witchcraft and magick an endlessly fascinating subject. I always want to learn more. I’ll be a student of the craft until the day I die I’m sure.

Q: Have you ever had a magical mentor, or other teacher that was especially impactful for you?

GR: For sure. I’m a firm believer that we might come to the Craft of our own devices, and we might practice as a solitary, but working with a mentor/teacher/community can really accelerate and deepen the process. I’m very fortunate to have had many mentors and teachers along the way. It’s on their shoulders I stand. I often dedicate my workings to “My teachers, and my teacher’s teachers”.

PL: Absolutely! There have been many – in both good and bad ways. But, the biggest supporter and mentor in my path has been a Reclaiming witch named Copper Persephone. She really helped me to find my voice and take a more active role in teaching and sharing my knowledge.

Q: What makes Life Ritualized really special for you? Is there a particular part we should really be tuning into to get a sense of your craft?

GR: There are about sixty rituals and rites in the book. I’ve participated in almost every one of them, at some level. Every ritual and rite in the book, except one, is written by Phoenix and I, so I think our flavour of craft comes through. The book is filled with personal, very personal anecdotes and that gives the reader a sense of who we are as people, as individuals, as a couple, and as witches. I think I’m most pround of how conversational the book is.

PL: Our lives are full of mystery, we need only to pay attention and acknowledge that fact. Life Ritualized helps us to pinpoint moments of transformation and give them the space and honor they deserve. I think the most important takeaway is the tools to notice when we are in a rite of passage and what the heck to do about that. The book is full of personal stories from Gwion and I, which I think gives you a peek at who we are.

Q: What is your favorite spellcasting method and why?

GR: This is great question! A tough question, but a great question. I have to agree with Phoenix, I do love me some candle magick. It’s quick, easy to do and very effective. Of course, I did write a book called The Magick of Foof, so I’m partial to kitchen witchery too. My all time favourite magick though…Whatever works!

PL: I LOVE candle magick. Candles are so wonderful to work with because they are quick and visceral. Flame is energy, we can see it working. But I’m also a big fan of any spellcasting where you get your hands dirty. Being playful and creative engages our fetches – or child selves – and allows us to access deeper magick. Anything where you get to play with herbs, oils, dirt, water, all of it is great. There should be joy in spellcasting.

Q: We are a bit book-obsessed here at Witch With Books – who is your favorite witchy author, and what is your favorite witchy book of all time?

GR: Oh sweet Brigid’s ghost! Now this is a really hard question. Maybe I’ll answer the question this way. I’m currently (re)reading “The Little Work” by Durgadas Allon Duriel. It’s a fascinating blend of occult practices and daily wisdom. I recommend it for anyone interested in understanding their craft and how to blend it with their everyday life. I’ve had the pleasure to read an advanced copy of Kristoffer Hughes’ “Cerridwen – Celtic Goddess of Inspiration”. It might be the best book I’ve read on Cerridwen (or any deity for that matter). It’s an incredibly detailed, rich, and academic tome, marrying lore and legend and Welsh history. It’s simply stunning. There’s an exciting boom in witch publishing right now and there are so many books for almost every interest. Thorn Mooney is a great writer. Laura Tempest Zakroff has put out some amazing work over the past few years. Tomas Prower, Gede Parma, and Madame Pamita are on my lists of reads and rereads. Christopher Penczak and Ivo Dominguez Jr are perennial faves. My all time favourite magickal book isn’t really a pagan book at all. It’s Thomas Moore’s “The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life”. That book influences me daily.

PL: Oh, this is a really hard question. There are so many amazing books out there. Tempest Zakoff, Jason Mankey, Courtney Weber, are some great modern examples. I’m still a big fan of Scott Cunningham, although some of his books are outdated. Starhawk has had a huge influence on my craft. My favorite book is Grimoire of the Green Witch by Ann Moura. I love this book because it is filled with correspondances. It’s like a cheat sheet for spellworking. Any type of correspondence you might be looking for you will find in that book.

Q: What is next for you? Any exciting projects in the works?

GR: Oh yes! I’ve just signed the contract for my next book The title isn’t official yet, but the working title is ” A Year And A Day: A Witch’s Guide To Self-Initiation.”

PL: I’m in the editing phase of my next book, which is all about stepping into the power of the witch, heretic, and warrior woman. I’m really excited about it!

Q: What bit of witchy wisdom would you like to leave for our readers?

GR: Do you! Find your magick. There’s an Rumi poem a dear mentor of mine turned into a beautiful chant. The refrain goes “May the beauty you love, be what you do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

PL: Love this question! Witchcraft isn’t a race. Let yourself enjoy the process. And don’t worry about doing it “right”. Just do it! What’s right for someone else might not work for you. Witchcraft is highly personal. And that can take time. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you walk the path.

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