See original interview or jump to the link below.
WHEN THE TRUTH IS A POWERFUL LY, Byron Echo, Australia or jump to the link below
WITCH with Dannett Wilson, USA or jump to interview below
LY DE ANGELES with Michael Night Sky, USA or jump to interview below
When the truth is a powerful Ly
Interview by Michael McDonald
Byron Shire Echo
The Byron Spirit Festival is hugely excited to be presenting the unique insights of Ly de Angeles, back in her former homeland, in a two-part in-depth workshop.
Born in Sydney and currently residing in Melbourne, Ly de Angeles has spent her life exploring beyond the boundaries of our manufactured myths and culture to unearth our truths. A ‘seeker’ in the classic sense of the word, Ly’s fearless life journey has seen her travel the world to learn and share knowledge with great skill, heart and passion.
The author of the best-selling The Quickening, plus Tarot: Theory and Practice, Witchcraft: Theory and Practice, The Shining Isle and Genesis, locals will also recall her extraordinary updated production of Jesus Christ Superstar in Bangalow in 2000.
Q: How would you best describe the work you do and the values and beliefs that you bring with you?
A: I do lots of different things. I write books and I read Tarot. I’ve worked a great deal in the past within the arts, particularly performing arts. This current work is the outcome of more than thirty years’ research into Celtic Britain while it was still an indigenous land. It’s based on my latest publication, Priteni, and introduces the participants to an ancestry they probably know little about. A conquered people, the knowledge of whom has all but been destroyed. I have no beliefs. I’m an existentialist, mystic and scholar. I spend a great deal of time attempting to eradicate belief, most of which is derived from one cultural or religious meme or another. Having a language of Earth has been my latest quest. Oh, and I have a food blog because I’ve been almost paleo for exactly two years and I’m pretty fucking fit.
Q: Why do people seek you out?
A: Because they want to know what I can tell them. Mainly for tarot or teaching. Everyone wants something from someone. I have no problem with that. The choice is always mutual. An agreement. If there’s no agreement there’s no relationship.
Q: Do you ever find yourself having to tell someone something they don’t want to hear? I don’t mean ‘you are going to die’ but when you reveal a pattern of behaviour that perhaps they are in denial about; how do you communicate that?
Always. And even the first bit. Remember Damini, singer with the band Tane? I got the tape back after her death. It’s on there. I read for her the November before. When Linda was being murdered it was in the readings of two people in a row. ‘Oh look! Murder. Violent death.’ Of course they freaked. Then they didn’t because they knew what it was. Nine-eleven was in the cards three years before. GFC. I had Lyn Franks for a reading after I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here Australia. Tarot warned her to diversify her stocks. She did. The guy I read for in September 1987 didn’t. Poor bastard. Twenty-eleven was there for three years. I could go on. I don’t get denial, by the way…
Q: What do you think people would gain from a reading that they may not get from a trip to a life coach or a psychologist?
Everyone is different. When I teach, I teach a no-bullshit, bedrock approach to life. I’m an elder. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. With Tarot I tell the future, plain and simple. I recognise what people are going through when it’s tough. I tell them. I’m a mirror. We often talk about how they can get out of the brutal relationship, the debt, the boredom. When events happen that people did not see coming it gives them a sense of destiny. That life is important for the experience. Even the most desolate of times, in retrospect, as long as there is a retrospect, can be contextual gold to creative people. It’s also important to say it like it is. I’d be lying if I pretended life was all sweetness. Some people live lonely. With addiction and suicide. Come on! Byron Shire? I take them to the crossroads. I’m dangerous. That’s why I never advertise. Life coach? No comparison. Same with psychologist.
Q: Where have you been and what has been happening since you left Byron Shire? How have you found leaving the ‘bubble’ for the ‘outside’? Has this been integral to expanding your work?
Absolutely integral. My writing was becoming predictable. I’m psychic enough to know a crossroads when I come to one. I would have just gotten old and dreary if I’d stayed, slowly rotting into an old tryhard, not an elder. For a writer that’s the death of creativity. I came to Melbourne to do postgraduate studies. To challenge myself. Done now. Fresh writing. I’m still travelling between Melbourne, Sydney and Byron for Tarot. I have family there. I’m first generation in this country. I love my family or I would have moved to the lands of my ancestors. Here, at least, I can live in a hundred-year-old house. The architecture here, the winter, the seasons, the culture, the freaks and poets and strippers. It’s beautiful. My work is intense and constant. I’ll be in British territory later this year. Meeting up with master storyteller, author and mythographer Dr Martin Shaw. I want to coerce him into bringing his passage rites here for those suffering hiraeth also. Then I’ll probably do a Masters.
Q: What are you most looking forward to returning home? (Always hard not to call here home!)
Yes, I do still consider the Shire home. As much as Melbourne. As I’ve said, I’m back every few months. The people. There are many people I love so deeply and dearly and they are all there. The land. Always the land. We know each other.
Q: What will you be sharing at Spirit Festival?
A: Blue People is about Celtic mysticism and spirituality – the indigenous bloodline of ancient Britain. About the fact we’re still here. Britons are Priteni, ‘painted people’ according to Tacitus and Caesar, tattooed with the totems of clan and kinship. England is a long list of invasions later. Angles and Saxons. We live in an era of wanting to know ourselves and many have sought the spirituality of other cultures, ashamed that we, as a pale people (I do not use the word white, it is loaded and racist), do not have a heritage of rich mysticism within which to recognise ourselves, unable to share our stories in mutual respect. Ashamed for what our forebears have inflicted on every indigenous nation they have invaded. Unable to claim family except in thin parental groups with Abrahmanic histories.
There’s a thing called Shifting Baseline Syndrome. That’s forgetting. How far back do you remember? Your grandparents maybe? Their parents? I was adopted. I had no parents. It took a lifetime to uncover information about the woman who bore me. From that information Bernard Casimir (www.thesignsofthetimes.com.au) was able to trace a taproot of ancestry back over two thousand years (I kid you not) to a man named Caradoc ap Silures. The Silures were a tribe in what is now known as Wales. I knew the name like the back of my hand. The names of all the ancient tribes. Their families. Who Boudica was. What the people fought to retain through all the invasions and killings. Caradoc was not a Silurian but he fought with them alongside many other tribes. He was the son of Cunobelin of the Catuvellauni, now around Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. That means I’m Catuvellauni because of him. It’s a direct line. Do you get it? So many people do not know they have this depth within their bones. So many first-nation people don’t know this story and that is unfair. To share our histories is a gift of mutual acknowledgement.
We did that way back at the Wearing of the Green Pageant. Remember that? Go to http://www.lydeangeles.com/about.html and scroll down. The old Byron! The mob walked at the front of our parade in solidarity. To listen to an ancestor, Calgacus, speak of the Romans, saying, ‘You leave a wasteland and call it peace,’ gives us a sense of ourselves. He was a chieftain of one of the tribes in what is now Scotland. I’m there to take people on a very deep journey. A very emotional experience. An initiatory and shamanic experience. To give the gift of a history – a seriously honest history – the ground-water beneath the roots of the oldest oak. And yes, I have read Tacitus. I thank life for him every day.
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Interview by Dannett Wilson
Danette: Thank you so very much Ly for letting us ask you a few questions. I shared with Kallan, my editor, for the Sunday Stew, and she has a couple questions for you as well.
Q: On your website you mention, “I wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation in whose country I now live.” So, my first question is if you can tell me more about these people and share some experience of time you may have spent with them? How have they enhanced your magic?
A: I acknowledge the First Nation People because it is the honorable thing to do. I abhor the rape and decimation of indigenous nations. It has always been done, I know. Although my studies of such only go back to Rome’s invasions of Europe and Britain (the Norse did so previously but never to the same extent) all of Europe, Africa, Canada, USA, Polynesia, South America, New Zealand, Australia. Bullets and beads, oh, and missionaries set about destroying ways as ancient and sustainable as time. It affects me to the marrow, the injustice of it all.
I had no contact with indigenous people until I moved to Byron Bay in the north back in 1991. I have potent contacts up that way, with both kadaicha and featherfoot of more than one country, all with their own tragedies.
It happened to my ancestors at the hands of Rome and yet, until I recently wrote Priteni (also available in Kindle), the telling of that story has always been an oral thing. David, long-time friend, once lover, is the son of an indigenous woman (I do not have permission to say more) but his father was a Scotsman, and a brutal drunk. He was ashamed of his white blood.
“You give us a wasteland and call it peace…” I quoted to him. “What?” he asked. I repeated the quote. “Who said that?” “Calgacus. Your ancestor,” I replied. “Before the battle against Rome.” He watched me for a while without responding.
Currently the Australian constitution does not recognise the First Nations as even existing and it is only a few years since the term Terra Nullius was abolished thanks to Eddie Mabo. Acknowledgement before any event, within any work, is both an emotional and a political statement by a strong movement of us here. The Recognise Campaign. There’s no reason anyone reading this doesn't join us either. Don’t care what country. There are many countries in what the invaders call Australia, and they are all different. Same in USA? Are the First Nations acknowledged thus there? No. I know. I've checked. It took a lot of bloodshed in Ireland for the language to be revived, for the landscape to be named in the language of the indigenous people. Same in Wales. Hmm. Long way to go. So much harm done.
I have shared the stories of the subjugated Priteni tribes with indigenous people here in Australia. Because almost nobody knows about us no one told them, ever. Did you learn about Boudega in school? No. Were you taught about The Pale? So most with whom I have spoken just thought us pompous, self-righteous invaders, taking from them their identities and replacing them with Christianity, chains or death, stealing them from their families and giving them English names. In my book The Feast of Flesh and Spirit I wrote a piece called Slaughterhouse Creek. Hope you take a moment to read it.
Q: Priteni sounded so wonderful I went to Amazon and ordered it right off. My father's family is from Scotland and Ireland and I have embraced my Celtic roots, but your 30 years of research is certainly my next question. What has kept you inspired and amazed for 30 years researching the history of the Celts?
A: I’m a fair-skinned woman. I’ve never made sense, even to myself. I know I am indigenous to somewhere but I have never known where. I have been a scholar-witch all my life. What is our anthropology when we do not fall within the bounds of acceptable, culturally? I know I am not indigenous to this land. I honour and respect it but I will not lie and pretend it is my land. I have shallow bones buried here. A mother, perhaps a father (although I’ll never know him), perhaps two grandparents, although they could have returned to England, I’ll never know that either. The bones of my ancestors are dominantly Priteni, in the northern lands of the Brigantians and the Catuvallauni. And in France, back to 1207 (a hundred years before the start of the Inquisition) and, like you sister, in Ireland and Scotland although the stories of these people are yet to be written. So it’s been a search for truth and identity, really. I don’t do delusion well at all and if there’s a valid story to be found, rather than what we hope or want, I’ll hunt it down if I can.
Now… As for that (and here I go offending an entire raft of people, yet again) the same applies to that which I revere. Dion Fortune and so many who have written after her (including me, so I will clear all this up here) said “All gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess and there is but one initiator.” What’s that? Fortune, Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, and so very many that have written since, have postulated just this. It’s a meme. And it incorporates merges and morphs very, very diverse cultural and ethnic spiritualities and mysteries into a hodge-podge amalgamation of anthropomorphic deities. It is just plain incorrect. Witchcraft Theory and Practice. That’s 101. Much of it wiccan, a spirituality to which I no longer identify. When we truly grow up we have to ask the question Are we not trading one form of religion for another. And the answer is yes.
Even before I encountered the mind-shattering awareness that I have come to know over, particularly, the last twelve years I had that rough-around-the-edges feeling that there was more to witchcraft than mimicking the memes that others, of a relatively modern society and predominantly Christian society, have presented. Of deity names ad hoc and ad nauseam. Without deep scholarship or deeper contemplation. Rudyard Kipling wrote “Naming is treacherous because naming divides truths into half-truths making them a coffin of counters. Be careful. Give the spell no name.” And so it is.
Down the pages of history. Discovering the myths and legends of Europe, Ireland, England before it became England, France when the tribe dwelling in what is now known as Paris is the Parisi, the Belgae to the north, the Caledonii in what is now Scotland. Finding the lore of the Fir Bolg, knowing that the Dumnonii (the people of contemporary Cornwall) provided the tin for the Bronze Age that went as far as China along the Old Silk Road. All spoken of as though dead and gone. All recounted in the past tense as though we are, in essence, extinct.
Do witches need to know this? Who am I to say? What have I unearthed, though, when it comes to meeting and truly communing with this Mystery that others call gods and goddesses? That I now will not? It’s sovereignty! Of all the Priteni tribes the one I studied the most—and one cannot really know a people unless one goes to the land in which they are now rock and headland, river and sparrow—was the Brigantians (present-day Lancashire/Yorkshire). Because it is written that their goddess is Brigid and isn’t that strange? Why? Is ‘she’ the same as in Ireland? The answer is no. Brigid, named for the tribe, is the Pennines. The word brigid is roughly ‘high one’ and she/he/them is/are genus loci. Now this is really important. The people are the land, you see? Since before when? When not, perhaps. The Pennines are mountains, rivers, wells, shelter, and boar and stag and bear and every healing plant and every necessary poison and visionary mushroom. Interwoven. Summer following spring. Trees communicating through colour and sap. Salmon and wolves, bears and golden hunting eagles, hare and hounds. That’s it. You see it. Pipers and drummers. There yet?
When people lump it all together, invoke deities known as Kali and Isis, or say that Asherah and Diana are the same, what is removed from our language is the uniqueness, not only of the people of the region where this genus loci and they intertwined, but the knowledge they have to share with us who are not them. What we have are stories and stories keep us curious. Take something for granted and we become complacent.
When we live with the delusion of separation how can magic really work? Without the consensual agreement of the whole that is the sovereign space of existence?
Even here in Melbourne, and remember this is not my ancestral anything, I know that if I travel ten suburbs from my home I am in another country. One can feel these secret, unseen borderlands. Who set them? No one. They are there. They are leys, dragon-lines. I know I need to get onto your next question but if I may conclude by including aspects of your first question regarding the Wurundjeri, or the Bunjalung, or the Dja Dja Wurrung people, or the Ojibwa, Navaho, Comanche, Maori, Brigantii, Tuatha de Danann, Scythian people, Samé… I could go on… is that we know because we have been earth since before earth became earth. I realise that’s an assumption because even now the theory of the Big Bang is being torn to shreds but… because nothing comes from nothing we have, in our DNA, the knowledge of our eternity. Therefore we should not be slack and accept only what modern texts tell us about anything, let alone what it is to be witch.
If it has the taint of religion about it, it is suspect.
Q: You say that “one of the heroes is a great, great grandfather.” Could I enquire one awesome resource and some ad
vice for our readers and myself you might share on researching your family lineage and roots?
A: My friend of thirty four years, Bernard Casimir, is a renowned genealogist. We share a hundred year old house with Helen and a cat named Pi. Bernard’s work is painstaking but he’s been doing it for forty years. All genealogical work is painstaking because it (again) is so easy to make shit up for the sake of an identity. He’s hunting through parish registers from four hundred years ago, translating wills and notaries from the 12th century. Following riverbeds that never disappear from the landscape. Sure, they can be rerouted by such things as the Great Famine, the Black Plague, the Holocaust, but tributaries exist that can become major rivers into the depths of who you are. Language has changed, letters are almost unrecognisable. It’s quite a craft. I’m an adopted person and began the hunt (originally) for my true time of birth so I could get an accurate astrological chart. Over years more and more information came to light by the organisation peering into all this on my behalf. I met my biological mother once. I did not like her and never communicated with her after. She is now dead. Through documentation about her birth time/place and that of her parents Bernard was able to trace four distinct lineages. All that is required to begin the process is the birth/death certificates of one’s biological parent/s and their parents.
What happens as a result of unearthing all these people is the surety of a vastly deep history. It changes you. To know your identity from five hundred years ago, two thousand? Realising just how many people are of the same line. All of us in this house are related. How’s that? Your best friends, your coven? It’s like waking all those dead up in your own veins. Death loses any power over you.
Q: You mention, in your bio, of two near-death experiences (drowning and electrocution). Can you elaborate? I know there is a story here.
A: No, not really. Not about them per se. I was eleven. It was an astonishing year. Everything that could possibly have happened that year did happen (including my first taste of renown). It was like a ‘quickening’ psychically, emotionally and with my writing. I’ve since almost died countless times in this one body! It’s almost hilarious that I’m still here.
Q: I loved reading about your getting lost in nature as a kid, being a book addict and your wonderful grandmother. What is your best memory of your grandmother or time spent with her?
A: When I first met her? The smell of her. She smelled of violets. As well as reading cards and tea leaves she managed the Rembrandt Hotel in Kings Cross. That hotel also smelled exotic. Of old sandstone and deep, cool outdoor gardens. It smelled of the pleasure had there in those early days. All the jazz and blues musicians on R & R during the Second World War stayed there. It was an exquisite art deco building with ceramic naked women supporting globe lights along art-hung hallways, the old gaslights still on the walls, concertina elevator doors of polished brass with a boy on a stool wearing a little red hat working the levers. The smells of her hotel. The sight of her in fox furs. The gift of a Maori paua shell bracelet (she’d lived in New Zealand before immigrating to Sydney). Later, when she lived with us, her humor and her readings that were so accurate they were deadly. My favorite memory, however, was after she was dead. She’d predicted it the week before but I just didn’t understand. She’d read my teacup and said that between now and next Tuesday your mother is going to be extremely upset by events beyond her control. It wasn’t the death, however. When my mother went to set up funeral arrangements and have Marion’s body transferred to the funeral home to do what they do she was told there wasn’t one. My grandmother had donated herself to science and had already been sent off to a university. My mother cremated an empty coffin.
Q: Byron Bay is gorgeous, and reminds me of Cornwall. How did you end up there, and is it magical?
A: How funny. It’s nothing like Cornwall from my perspective. More like Ibiza! I lived there for 22 years and there’s a tale of great mystery and magic to be told about the getting there but we’d be here all day so I won’t. It is a magical place, yes, and in saying that I wish to acknowledge the Arakwal people of the Bunjalung Nation. It’s their country and it’s been returned to them.
When I first moved my entire family there in 1991 it was into the belly of magic. It was strong for almost two decades and I had a whopper of a coven, produced and directed several shows, raised my kids, worked with teens in trouble to learn the arts, and I wrote several books. Consumerism is now rampant and the greedy paw over the dead flesh of honesty like maggots. Too many drugs, too many failed dreams. Too much exclusivity. Too many secret beatings, ice, pot that’s had the anti psychotic, CBD, bred out of it. Schizophrenia. Suicide. My sons and their children are still there. I am in Melbourne now. Came here in December ’15.
Q: Iaido, the sword skills of the Samurai warriors sounds fascinating and I want to enquire, how has your martial arts blended with or enhanced your witchcraft and magic?
A: I’m a very physical woman. Tactile. Also curious. Point a sword, point an athamé. No difference. I also love weights and still work out at a gym three days a week. Iaido, hapkido, aikido and MMA. Worked them all. I learned to kill and defend, yes, but then I realised I needed more so I did a senior first aid certificate (brown snakes around Byron Bay. They’ll kill you if you don’t know how to bandage the limb bitten) so I knew how to set a bone or resuscitate a person in cardiac arrest. Then I joined the Regional Emergency Road Rescue Squad and drove a truck and stood with a cop, holding a blanket to keep the sight-seers from staring at the boy whose legs were crushed by a side-swipe, listening to the ambos’ no-nonsensing him into hope, then taking his mother aside so they could do their job and she wouldn’t have to panic. None of them stared at the tattoos on my face; the cops just said “Thank god you’re here.” I love the challenge of learning a new skill. That’s magic, you know, among other things. Wonder. It’s why I turned my hand to film making (got a company: Full Story Productions and new writing styles (my crime thriller, Comeuppance, has won an award in Canada and been published in The Crime Factory (Issue 16, page 101) but you’ll note I haven’t hyperlinked it. It’s a shocker! Oh and growing food. Cooking is my new magic and I have a blog to help others to live grain and sugar-free.
Q: What advice do you have for someone interested in embracing Native American culture and how to approach learning from elders where we live?
A: One can’t embrace it unless one is Native American. We can learn from them everything they are willing to teach but no one should push. White people haven’t earned the right. That’s important. To accept responsibility. Has anyone apologized? No. Obama is focusing some of his attention on this small path to acknowledging how very wrong the slaughter, the erasure of culture, John Wayne. Same applies to the slave trade of African Americans and that continuing injustice. I learned a while back about intergenerational trauma. We all suffer it. The disregarded and disenfranchised more than any. Thank you for asking that question.
Kallan also had a couple of questions…
Q: How does the indigenous view differ from that of mainstream wicca and other pagan belief systems?
A: I’m indigenous to both the Brigantians and Catuvallauni tribes of the lands of the Priteni. I can’t speak for everyone but walking the walk is the bottom line. Everything to do with knowledge and silence. The more we talk without good reason the less the voices of those who really need to be heard will be heard. That’s not just people. That’s species. The white rhino. How many left? Three? The water off the coast of Rio Doce in Brazil? The hole in the ozone above me? Those sinkholes in Siberia? Fukushima? We’re all facing peril. Witches. Pagans. We’re beheaded in Saudi Arabia. Massacred in New Guinea, Haiti and parts of Africa. Most mock us as useless or non-existent or dress their children in black pointy hats and paint their faces green at what they call Halloween, our most austere and potent cycle of Samhain (which, by the way, is the end of April in Australia… and still parents help dress their children in ghoulish garb and send them out to beg for sugar… a little creepy don’t you think, when we usually suggest they don’t talk to strangers?).
We do not use our voices as indigenous people of earth. Too many still do Christmas. Not enough know their own bones or are really useful. Wicca has become mainstream, yes. I am not wiccan. I respect anyone’s right to believe what they do to a degree. Respect is an earned thing. Paganism is a very generic word. Witch embraces the word heretic (the right to challenge mainstream concepts of authority) and anarchy.
Q: You often speak of the earth having a conversation with us. Can you expound on this a bit for our readers? What advice would you have for those who want to listen/respond, but don’t know how?
A: I try not to give advice. Ha ha. Probably all of the above. I appreciate the chance to share a conversation about these matters. Okay. You asked. Everybody should grow enough organic food to share with others. Know where food comes from, stop Big Corp from poisoning us with pre-packaged food by taking your cloth bag to the fish monger, the green grocer, the butcher. Ask them to wrap your goods in paper not plastic. Get rid of plastic. Food and drug companies are in the cancer-making market. They’re killing you. Stop consuming, start hunting, Be fussy. Love the life of what you eat. Find out how your meat or fish is killed. Where it’s from. Don’t buy from supermarkets. Don’t feed your kids junk. Get away from your mobile phones and read Toxin Toxout so you know where your possessions come from, what they do to you and your family, where they end up. Learn to talk to dogs. Ride a horse. Climb things to find out if you’re as strong on the outside as you are on the inside. Shame the man who hurts his wife or kids. Have an opinion about gender and sexuality but don’t judge unless it concerns the abuse of children. Be kind to one another. Be kind anyway. Knowledge is masterful. Knowledge is magic. Make your own athamé, your own wand, your own grimoir.
When we accept responsibility for what we even think we are clearing silent spaces for earth to communicate. Stop considering that aliens create crop circles. Earth is talking. Showing us the incredible power of communication. If we don’t listen to the weather? Oh my… Proactive in meaningful ways.
One can cast a ritual circle and make a wand from willow withies, can celebrate Llughnassad and the cycles of the moon. And cast spells. For what? You think they’re going to work? They do, but do you know why? The whole point of being witch is responsibility in the true meaning of the word. Is to hold a mirror with the glass facing out because we have looked so far within we’re game enough. Being the person that children ask questions of because they know we won’t lie and if we don’t know then at least we can say so. The shaman, the sorcerer.
My grandchildren know me as witch. I feed them exquisite food and stories. At midsummer and midwinter, when everyone from educators to double base and sax players bring laughter and food to our house, the kids are embraced and included. They know Christmas is a cultural lie; are freaked out at the worship of the image of a tortured, agonized dead man, kept perpetually alive in the imagination, and of his daddy who supposedly set the scene. What does that say of our society?
Danette: Thank you so much for this opportunity to share.
Danette Wilson can be found at her blog http://redwitchesjourney.com/
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Interview by Michael Night Sky
Published through Llewellyn USA, 2012
From Australia, Ly de Angeles is high priestess of the coven of the Wildwood Gate (which includes members worldwide) and is also a legendary tarot reader known for her amazing accuracy in her readings. Being a Sagittarius, Ly is also known for being an outspoken and challenging teacher in regards to her coven and her tarot workshops. Having run "Tarot Collectives" (as she describes it) for years, Ly was eventually led to write one of her most recent book releases: Tarot Theory and Practice. Ly is very influential, with many people, LA Witch author Fiona Horne among them, crediting her for bringing them into the craft.
Q: Is it your belief that a witch is born a witch?
A: It’s not so much a belief as an opinion. I'm quite certain others will debate this. My opinion is personal. I've always known I was a witch and I can pretty much “smell" another one a mile away. Something in the aura, perhaps? But, there’s also the matter of a dog knowing itself in difference to being a cow.
Q: Can you explain a little about your beliefs and the development of a Witch? Or how it takes a witch to make a witch?
A: I don't have beliefs. I have understandings or I know stuff for sure or else I'll go looking. A witch is an individual and the individual develops by learning and experiencing as much as is within their destined possibility. Many witches I've met over the years don't know they are witches because, (a) they've been taught that witches are something they usually are not (like hags with warts that bake children in ovens) or, (b) they don't see the word the same way as I do.
When I saw the movie Powder years ago I was overjoyed that someone could pinpoint the concept that, to me, represents witchcraft: when asked how he could do the stuff he did and know the stuff he knew, the boy called Powder pointed to his head and said most people had a “blind spot” and saw themselves as separate to everything going on around them.
Witches don't have that. Neither do many pagans I've met over the years.
Other than the understandings that I've written about in the books there’s also the challenges set by each other to allow us to come to terms with how much illusion we live with, with the intention of removing it from the way we live. It’s like getting beneath the surface of society to seek out true gods.
Q: Is there a difference between a witch, a wiccan, and a pagan? What do you feel are some of the major differences?
A: Witchcraft isn't a religion whereas wicca is, and can be traced back to Gerald Gardner (and probably way beyond that, evolving from a mix of other occult traditions). Wicca tends towards hierarchy and dualism, but today there are so many variations of wicca that it is like some wonderful forest.
Paganism is a generic term for those with awareness and a reverence for life and an understanding that each of us is responsible for how we co-existence.
Most witches are pagans as are most wiccans and most druids.
Q: When did you first realize you were a witch?
A: I became enamored of all things mystical, haunted, and occult from the age of 11. I also knew at that age that I would be a writer and that I was a witch.
Q: What significant events happened to you at this time for you to realize you would become a witch and a writer?
A: There were a number of things:
- I had two near death experiences: one through electric shock, the other, drowning
- I had a ghostly visitation that was explained to me as “the man” by my grandmother. Even though we are not blood relatives, she had had the same visitation when a girl.
- The above-mentioned grandmother moved in with my family, and introduced me to tarot
- I'd been writing since a very young age, but at 11 I wrote an essay for Book Week (Australia) and won first prize
- I discovered that my ability to communicate with dogs was unusual. Until then I had thought everyone did it.
- I had what I can only call a ‘spiritual epiphany’ that was, in some way, all bound up with my developing sexuality. The two become irrevocably linked.
The word “witch” is simply how I knew myself.
Q: Is it important for a witch to have a code of honor (for example, the Wiccan Rede)?
A: Not at all. I think the integrity of each individual is their own business. What’s with the idea that everyone should behave in a particular manner? I don't like the idea of an across the board set of rules. The Wiccan Rede has many variations from what I can glean but it seems to postulate that one can do what one wants as long as there is no harm involved. “Harm” has no blanket definitions. What would you do to someone who tortured or mutilated someone you love? There has been much debate over this thing called a rede and it is some vague concept of anarchy with a clause. Debate, please?
Q: What is Ly de Angeles most passionate about, in a manner of speaking?
A: I'm really turned on by current and historic events. That’s everything from politics and the chess-games that they play to world religions and the chess-games they play. I love debating history, ethics, and media.
It’s kinda funny. I don't introduce myself to people as witch, I introduce myself as Ly. When people ask what I do, I usually ask what they mean. I'm a bit of an eccentric pain in the arse that way because it still annoys me that people are defined by what they do in life rather than who they are.
Just because I am witch and have written about some aspects of witchcraft doesn't mean it should be a seeming separation. No disrespect intended. When an event comes to my attention and it’s abhorrent, then I'm going to do whatever I can to participate in harmonizing the dysfunction. It’s just that in many instances I'll use magic. I guess, at the end of the day, one of the main questions we can ask ourselves here is to define magic? Or is that another subject?
I'm also turned on by good food, my friends, playing with dogs, writing, making exciting things happen that otherwise would not and dragging my associates, friends and, often, large percentages of my local community with me, yelling at lousy drivers from within the privacy of my own car, and laughing at funny things.
Q: When did you first start reading tarot?
A: Major change of subject here, Michael!
I don't quite remember. When did I begin reading tarot as an occupation? That would have been about 28 or 30 years ago. I remember, though, when I bought my first deck of tarot (though not the year). I got them from Adyar Bookshop in Sydney. Back in those days they kept them under the counter as they were still considered a bit suspicious. (Laughs)
Q: Has working with the tarot changed your life in any significant way?
A: A thousand times a thousand times a thousand-fold. I was only able to get such a small amount of information into Tarot Theory and Practice. I've had several lifetimes learning in this seeming one: from tarot Itself, from qabbalah, from the people who've come back and told me of the events that were predicted. So much joy! So many questions!! It’s the questions that were raised that have caused me to delve into realms I could never have dreamed even existed when I was young.
Q: You had been reading tarot for many years before you finally decided to write a book about it. Why didn't you write one about it sooner?
A: (Laughs) Destiny.
Q: What are some important issues with which you feel that witches and pagans should be involved? What things need our immediate attention in our day and age?
A: Community. Sustainable alternatives to commodification. Cuba has done it with its exciting organic gardening incentive. They were forced to. We're close to that, ecologically. People need to pull their heads out of the sand. Things that are taken for granted like electricity, Internet, and pre-packaged food are only common in certain areas of the world. Things could change drastically while we sleep. I don't think ‘eyes-wide-open’ is simply for pagans and witches. That’s crazy talk
Q: How did you get involved with the making of the book Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future, seeing as you are both an editor and a contributor to the project?
A: We chose the book as a diving-board forum that wasn't intrinsically supposed to involve talking about ourselves or justifying ourselves because there’s been too much of that and it’s annoying. Paganism isn't a new thing for goodness sake; it’s simply that for the first time in centuries we won't be killed for speaking out.
Firstly we needed to express different understandings or aspects of paganism because the term is, ultimately, a generic one. Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the WWF, for example, don't bother expressing their spiritualities to the public at large and neither, in the long run, does it matter. The book was an ice-breaker. What we do matters.
I don't think the book went far enough. Either that or there could be more. Hanging out with like-minded others should, I think have been the aim. Stimulating multiple forums aimed at concerted agreement on what can be done in response to environmental and social imbalances and ills would have been an excellent outcome to the books impact.
Q: In the Llewellyn Journal you have an article titled “Proactivate;” in it you mention "the pagan community in all its diversity and beauty still does not have a collective voice on the world stage." Would you care to expand your thoughts on this subject, and maybe share how we can work together to change this, and why you feel it is important to do?
A: I can’t really. I just want people to look more deeply into anything of consequence. Humans are making a mess.
Q: Anything you would care to leave us with in parting?
A: People don’t listen enough. It’s surprising what we really hear if we really listen.
Michael Night Sky is a student of magick and is currently a witch in training (red priest) with the Circle of the Heartbeat's Drum in North County San Diego, California.