I just finished another instalment of Demon Interrupted for my blog, so of course my thoughts keep wandering back to the natural beauty of the Lake District and the magic I feel every time I walk the fells there.
The first time I lived in South England, I spent several years as a part of a Wiccan coven. That experience has helped me and very much inspired me with the writing of The Lakeland Witches books, especially when creating the rituals that drive the stories, from the very first protection spell cast on the high fells to the final cleansing ritual and everything in between. That experience is no less helpful as I revisit the Elemental Coven in my Demon Interrupted serial, which appears every three weeks on my blog. I’m especially excited about Demon Interrupted because it’s my chance to revisit Elemental Cottage and suss out one of the many stories yet untold of the witches of the Elemental Coven, and the people and beings who affect them, and I can’t revisit the coven, their Lake District home, or any of the new story unfolding without thinking of how connected and grounded in nature all of the Lakeland witches’ concepts of magic are. But then, it would hardly be a KDG story if that weren’t the case.
There was no sex magic practiced in the real coven of which I was a part. In fact, sex magic, as I’ve written it for the Elemental Coven, doesn’t exist anywhere else. All of the sex magic within The Lakeland Witches stories is a product of my fertile imagination. I chose to make the magic my witches practice sex magic because I wanted to experiment with the idea of what might happen if it were possible to take such a strong part of human biology, such a strong part of the human psyche, such a strong part of all nature, and harness it, shape it, use it as a force to drive magic.
The creative use of sex for magic, as I’ve chosen to write it, is unique to the Elemental Coven and the world in which they live. Covertly, however, all earth-centred spirituality has at its core sex, fertility, and the drive to bring about the next generation, the drive to bring about the next bountiful season. Sex and reproduction are at the very foundation of our existence. That’s pretty obvious, I know. But that sex is so much more, for humans, than just the need to procreate is a powerful driving force in erotica, and it is, in my opinion, a powerful source of magic in which even a sceptic like me can believe.
For me, the very best part of being involved in a pagan tradition was celebrating the seasons and the moon cycles, which automatically brought about an effort to live closer to the rhythm and flow of the earth. That meant an effort was made to be closer to nature, to be aware of the time when the buds on the apple trees begin to swell, to be aware of the time when Orion disappears from the spring sky and Sygnus climbs to prominence, and to be aware of how my own body’s rhythms sync with those of the planet. For me the sense of connectedness, the sense of being a part of the natural world, the sense of being a part of something far greater than myself was magical, and still is. Though I no longer practice with a coven, I find those natural rhythms are still within me, and I find them still deeply moving. Really they always were there, as they are in all of us. Sadly our modern, hermetically sealed life often separates us from those rhythms.
I learned a lot about nature while I was a part of the coven. I paid more attention to what was going on around me. I became more aware of the subtle changes happening all the time. That new awareness and that desire to know nature more intimately also inspired the Lakeland Witches Trilogy, as it does now Demon Interrupted. The writing is continually inspired by thoughts of how much else I might be missing out on because my awareness just hasn’t been sharpened enough. I suppose writing, in a way, is an effort to do just that, to sharpen my awareness.
It was thinking about that heightened awareness and contemplating my own dreams that inspired my interpretation of the Ether and the Dream World as places where my witches and their consorts could go to do magic, create spells, and affect changes in the World of Flesh. They were also places where my baddies could bring about fear and destruction, and also escape to when there was a need.
Though the world of my Lakeland witches is far more magical and frightening than was my own coven experience — for which I’m very thankful — I tried to infuse all of my characters with a love and an appreciation for that natural world. Because I’m deeply in love with the English Lake District where the Lakeland Witches stories are set, I tried to bring as much of the reality of that world into the stories as I could so that whether it’s Anderson and Cassandra’s story or Ferris and Elaine’s story, there is a firm grounding in a very real, very wonderful place.
But beautiful, inspiring Lakeland can also be a place of terrifying power and great danger when the storms ravage the high fells. I wanted the world of the Lakeland Witches to feel real and concrete, to express all the facets of the place I love. And I believe that by setting the stories in a real place and drawing that real place as vividly as I’m able, the magic, the interactions with ghosts and witches and demons will be grounded and just a little more scary and a little more sexy and a little more true to life.