Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Interview With Author Danielle Dulsky

 In preparation for our review of the book which we expect to post tomorrow, we are happy to bring you a slightly excerpted interview with Danielle Dulsky, author of The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman. The interview is provided by the publisher, New World Library, whose format we edited lightly for blog use.
Publisher (abbreviated NWL below):….Can you explain the book’s title?

Danielle Dulsky (abbreviated DD below): I like to the think of the title as a mini-spell of sorts. The words are ordered in a very specific way that is intended to unbind some of the knots that have been tied around nature-based spirituality, women’s stories, and the sacred in general. The word “Heathen” is derived from “dweller on the heath” or those who were living in rural and as-yet un-Christianized areas, so even though the word invokes a visceral response similar to “Witch” or “Pagan,” it simply means living close to nature, close to the “old ways,” and/or in tune with the land and the wilds.

NWL: What do you mean when you use the terms “the wilds” and “untamed”?
DD: When I say “the wilds” and “untamed,” I’m not speaking about being out of control or immature. The wilds are meeting place between nature and our own human psyche. It is a growing landscape that has retained the beauteous balance between sovereignty and interconnectivity, reclaiming the essence of Earth-based traditions. I think all modern spiritual paths that claim a kinship with the natural world — such as Witchcraft, Wicca, and any number of new age spiritualities — could benefit from stripping themselves down from time to time. White neo-pagans in particular, would do well to examine how their practices have evolved with respect to both colonization and capitalism, and to work toward dismantling those systems of oppression to which few contemporary spiritual paths are truly immune. It’s the task of the practitioner to really examine practices and beliefs, dig out what’s not theirs or has been appropriated, and find the connection to nature, which is a deep reverence for the wilds.

NWL: How is the book laid out?
DD: The book is written in five different sections, or chapters — one for each of the elements. Each section is comprised of verses, rituals, and magick. The verses chapters are opportunities for the reader to explore the ways in which the element has manifested in her own story — in her own lived experience — while the rituals and magick chapters are various spells, rituals, and guided meditations for developing a further relationship with that particular element.

NWL: Is this a book only for those who identify as women?
DD: Absolutely not. This book is for anyone who is hungry for the divine feminine, which need not be framed according to deity. Nature is the divine feminine, and Goddess archetypes all over the world reflect this of-the-Earth quality. Because we’re so accustomed to presuming divinity is male, I do use “she/her” pronouns and “woman,” but it’s the suppressed feminine we’re after, not “femaleness.”

NWL: You proudly call yourself a Witch. Can you explain what that means to you?
DD: Being a Witch means very different things to different people. For me, a Witch is anyone, regardless of gender, who both practices Witchcraft and has claimed the name Witch for their own; I say this not to disrespect any lineages or traditions but to validate both solitary practitioners who might have been Witches for decades or longer but never trained as such due to a lack of access, or those hereditary Witches who have no name for their lineage, perhaps, but are certainly no less Witch simply because they don’t have a particular label for what they do….. To my mind, Witches don’t want to conform to those same hierarchical systems that have defined, and indeed confined, religions over the years, so we must retain some resistance to systemic organization. At the same time, we must also support those who are new to the Craft and encourage safe and skilled mentorships that empower the new practitioner.

NWL: What if you live in a city or urban area? Can you still be a Witch?
DD: Of course. I actually address this in the book, so readers living in a variety of urban places can still connect with their nature magick. Firstly, as an urban Witch, you have innumerable resources that a rural Witch might not have, including community and circle. Secondly, nature is everywhere. We can always see the sky, feel the wind on our faces and the ground under our feet.

NWL:A significant part of the book offers the reader a chance to write their own “verses” and stories. Why is this so important?

DD: I’m a huge fan of personal myth-writing as a means of making sense of life’s experiences. When we write and tell our own stories in an intentionally new way, we almost always glean some important piece of knowledge or wisdom we may not have noticed before. When we do this, we find that many of the answers we’re looking for are right there in our own lived experiences, and I think that any truly “holy book” will permit those who read it a chance to become a part of it. This is the “embodied spiritual,” or the practice of feeling, sensing, and naming the sacred with the body rather than merely the mind.

NWL: Who did you write this book for?
DD: This book is for anyone searching for the sacred within their own experiences. You don’t need to consider yourself a woman, a Witch, or even “wild” to read it, though it’s helpful to not be offended by those terms. What you do need to have is a sense of some bit of the sacred within the world around you — within the Holy Wild of your life.

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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.