Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Interview with Diana L Paxson

RavenzCraft Arts Written Interview

with Diana L. Paxson

Hello Diana, Thank you for taking the time to do this, My Girlfriend and I have been a fan of your work and books for the last few years, The first book I read about Asatru was given to me by her as a gift , little did we know that this book would start a whole spiritual breakthrough, since reading Essential Asatru walking the path of Norse paganism, I have been Inspired to read many more books relating to the subject, and start up this amazing website, that promotes and supports upcoming artists and musicians on the pagan path.

We had no idea this would get so big , we have had some amazing people get involved, please find time to view our past Interviews, this was all literally inspired by your words! So I guess I would say this would be one of the most important Interviews I've ever done.So I just wanted to explain that to you and really thank you for everything!

The 1st question I have for you is, what started you on your path? Was there a certain person or book that inspired you personally?

  1. Like many who have ended up as pagans, I was a kind of instinctive pagan growing up, spending a lot of time communing with nature. Because my mother had given me a goddess name I also read every book on mythology I could find. In college I focused on the Middle Ages, but what I really wanted was something earlier. It was not until the 60s, when change suddenly seemed possible, that I got into science fiction fandom and met pagans.

My first pagan group (1968) was the A.O.R. (Aquarian Order of the Restoration), a ceremonial lodge based on the work of Dion Fortune and led by Marion Zimmer Bradley, where I learned to write rituals. Marion, like Dion Fortune, saw no conflict between paganism and esoteric Christianity, so my conversion was gradual. In 1978 Marion and I started Darkmoon Circle, a Women’s Spirituality group that is still going, and was part of the inspiration for Mists of Avalon. Darkmoon gave birth to the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, a co-ed umbrella organization for pagan circles in the San Francisco Bay area through which I was ordained as a priestess in 1982.

2.)Was the Norse tradition always your calling, or did you practice other followings as well? 

In addition to working in Women’s Spirituality and eclectic Wicca, I taught Western Esoteric Kabbalah for several years, then, needing balance, started working with Michael Harner’s neo-shamanism.

In 1987 I finally got a chance to take one of his workshops. On the first day, I acquired Raven as an ally (for the story see the introduction to Trance-Portation). On the second day we were told to seek a teacher in human form, and Raven took me to Odin, the beginning of a relationship that next summer will have lasted 30 years. I’ve discussed that experience in my up-coming book on Odin.   

My original goal was to learn northern European shamanic practices, but I thought that first I’d better get some cultural context, and got together a bunch of friends to study the runes. The material I developed for that class eventually became Taking up the Runes. By the time we had finished with the futhark, we were ready to tackle oracular seidh, the Norse equivalent of the Delphic Oracle (see The Way of the Oracle), and by the time we had that working (1991), we had become Hrafnar kindred, which is also still going strong.

3.Do you feel like having a spiritual practice or following helped inspire your creativity as a writer/teacher? 

They go hand-in-hand. In 1971 I decided to make a serious effort at writing, and finished a novel that became the source of the Westria books, although it was 1981 before I actually got one published. They came out during the 80s and early 90s. I was once on a panel about paganism and SF. One of the other panelists said that reading the Westria books had converted her to paganism. I replied that I had become a pagan by writing them, a process of discovering what I believed. The religion of Westria is an eclectic paganism with a strong environmental-ethic, including everything I’ve studied over the years. When I wrote a sequel (The Golden Hills of Westria) in 2005, Odin appeared.  
During the 90s I began to write pagan historical novels, beginning with The White Raven, about Tristan and Iseult. When Marion’s health prevented her from writing, I took over the Avalon series, starting with a rewrite of the original version of The Forest House. Each time I begin a new novel I figure out which god or goddess is most involved in the story and make an altar which acquires appropriate items as I go along, as, for instance, the bit of meteor iron I got when I was writing Sword of Avalon.
My non-fiction books are a harvest of the work I have been doing for the past 40 years, especially the classes in runes, trance-work and the like which I usually have going in addition to meetings and rituals.

4.How do you feel about being a diverse follower? For example the practicing of seidr or witchcraft techniques mixed in with Asatru? Some people are turned away from it, but I personally am a follower of Asatru but do include some witchcraft techniques in my practice.

First, if you read the sagas, it becomes clear that magic was an important part of Old Norse culture. If Odin and Freyja practiced them, one can hardly argue that, seidr, galdr or gand are not part of Asatru. However the sagas also make clear that there were wide variations in practice. Some people paid more attention to the ancestors and wights than to the gods, whereas there were some, like Thorolfr Mostrseggr, who had a close and active relationship with one of the gods and others like Egil Skallagrimsson, who was a runemaster as well as a warrior. People versed in various kinds of magic were specialists to whom you went when you needed help. In the Troth we do not require our clergy to practice magic, but they should know enough about it to make referrals if needed.

5.Do you have a patron god or goddess that is closest to you? And have you had any personal experiences or breakthroughs in your time working with them?

I won’t say I’ve never met a god I couldn’t work with, but very nearly. Thus, I was rather surprised when my agreement to work with Odin on learning the runes and seidr turned into a permanent relationship. I already had a good contact with him through trance-work when he possessed one of my kindred members at a ritual.  Further research indicated that this might well have been a heathen practice in the past, and I needed to find out about it. I started working with a local Umbanda group (a Brazilian equivalent to Santeria), and eventually learned how to do trance-possession myself. That story is told in Part IV of my book on Possession.
Although since meeting Odin my practice has become increasingly focused  in Germanic religion, I still attend Darkmoon Circle regularly, and work with the African Powers in Umbanda. My understanding is that Odin encourages this so that  he can make contact with other Powers through me. At present, if I pay attention, I usually have a sense that Odin is around.

6.So pardon me if I missed something somewhere, I've been so buried lately, but do you have any New Content or Special things to come in the near future?

Why yes, now that you mention it. I have just finished a book on Odin, with special attention to his aspects as the Wanderer, the master of runes and seidr, the ruler of Asgard, the Desired One, the war-god, the stirrer of strife, the god of death and the god of ecstastic experience. It includes analysis of his role in the lore, quotes from a variety of people about their experiences with him, and suggestions for ways to work with him. It is for people who simply want to know more about him, and for people who have had unexpected encounters with Odin and want to know how to respond.

7.What is your favorite book or movie currently?  And do you have any mentors or anyone you are really following lately?

I have, of course, been watching Vikings! and am looking forward to the upcoming TV series based on Gaiman’s American Gods. I am a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek.  My favorite recent movie is Hidden Figures, which I think shows both what was, and is, bad about America, and what we can achieve.

8. So our website and purpose is constantly trying to provide "Entertaining Education" for younger people that may have interest in this path, would you ever consider working or providing some content or material for a future project related on Asatru or Norse practices with us in the future?

Certainly! When I read the D’Aulaire book of Norse myths to my grandchildren I kept having to edit and improve them. I think there is definitely room for more accurate re-tellings for children.

9.So what pushed you to take things to the next level and start writing and really sharing and educating people about these followings and beliefs? 

Most of my non-fiction has been written because there was nothing else that filled that exact niche available and people kept asking for recommendations. Most of the books are based on material developed for my classes on trance-work and the like. I have just started another round of the rune class, this time focusing on the Anglo-Saxon version of the runes, which will probably turn into a book in a year or two.

10.This last question is for you to express, Is there anything you would like to say or present to all the followers and listeners out there? Any words of wisdom or anything you want to mention?

This country was founded by people who remembered how devastating religious conflict can be. Fight for your religious rights, and strive to be a worthy example.

Thank you for getting involved in this project, my goal is to Inspire others to become aware of their own potentials and really start creating a better life for themselves and others by having a good following or foundation through spirituality and having a positive mindset.

Thank you again for everything you have done you are a big inspiration to many!

Thank you as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment