Cumma, cumma-down dooby-doo down, down…
Cumma, cumma-down dooby-doo down, down…
You are so lucky this isn’t a podcast; you really don’t want to hear me sing! “Cow in heat” was a description someone once used. Yes, ouch (that’s your ears and my ego flinching in pain).
But the dogs and the philodendron and the chunk of blue topaz that sits on my desk have been hearing this little ditty, in all its moo-ing glory, all week. ‘Cause breaking up is hard to do.
Don’t worry (Mom!); Andrew and I are solid and just celebrated ten years together.
But my friend and cohort Meg, whom some of you know as our resident Net Witch in charge of all things cyberspace, has realized that it’s time to focus fully on finishing her first novel.
Two years ago Meg and I had a lunch date at a cozy little bistro called The Wine Thief, which used to serve perfectly cooked grass-fed beef burgers to complement their expansive wine list. It was a damp, dreary day and neither of us felt like heading back into the cold. Meg was dreading her drive home and I didn’t want to return to my house, which never felt much warmer (in temperature or spirit) than the chilly window, dripping with condensation, that faced our table.
So we sat, brainstorming and running through more than our fair share of complementary coffee refills.
It was here that Witch Camp was conceived.
Like most conceptions, it took the marriage and melding of two sets of DNA. Meg had her ideas, and I had mine. We bandied them back and forth until they began to stretch and meld. We charted an expansive course because both of us are broad thinkers and neither of us had enough experience with teaching online and creating cyber-communities to let past experience inhibit us.
Needless to say we learned a lot… and became a smidge more inhibited, which was part of the process of turning an idealistic concept into a usable reality.
Now, almost two years later, Witch Camp is a thriving international community of women on an earth path—seekers, and learners, and those who just want some sisterhood and magic in their lives. The “Witch Camp Canteen” was born earlier this week when a small shop went live here at maiatoll.com. And we finally have the herbal-based monthly workbooks available for all of you as well.
It’s not perfect, but it’s done (which is its own form of perfection).
Watching all these pieces fall into place during our final weeks together was magical. It reminded me a bit of the process I go through every time I sell a house: projects that have been in the works for years suddenly get done and chores that seemed impenetrable are simplified until they are do-able…. Then done. And the movers come and put the boxes in the truck.
You’ve heard me speak before of the wheel of the year—the concept that time is circular, not linear. That we as people go through phases in the same way that the year goes through seasons. It is autumn now, both in my world and in my relationship with Meg. We have brought in the harvest and winterized the garden. Seeds have been set to earth that will shelter underground until they are ready to poke their heads up in the spring.
It is time. It feels right.
To send Meg off in style, I want to repost an interview Debora Geary, author of The Modern Witch books, that Meg did for us (back when Herbiary had its own blog). This chat was the beginning of new friendships and (if you ask me!) the seed of Meg’s desire to get her words out into the world in a bigger way. It is a beautiful tribute to both of these women who are my friends and confidantes and fellow seekers in this big beautiful world.
Read on below (even if you have never read Deb’s books, you’ll find her words to be gems. Pinky swear.).
And… talk to me. Tell me about what’s hurting your heart right now and what song is seeing you through.
Wisdom is what happens after you walk and live and soak in the lessons.
(This week’s guest post is by Meg Smith)
Sparked by Maia’s wish to jog me out of some work and winter doldrums, I recently had the honor of interviewing author Debora Geary, whose books I (and a few others on the Herbiary team) have indulged in for years. We covered a fair amount of territory, so I’ll simply encourage you to read on for a glimpse of her lovely (and, dare I say, magical) spirit.
Well, seeing as this is an interview for “Herbiary,” I might as well start off with the requisite, “What’s your favorite herbal reference as you develop the healers in your stories?”
I think my favorite source is about to become the women of Herbiary! I find that research tends to break up my flow when I’m writing, so I often end up with sentences like “Moira made herself a nice cup of xxx and xxx.” And then I use Google and fill in with whatever fits my fancy. I like resources that mix science and story, and I borrow from whatever happens to catch my eye that day.
You’ve touched a lot of hearts over the past several years by envisioning a widespread nurturing community that challenges its members to find strength and growth through the gifts at their cores. What have you discovered about yourself (and your gifts) in this process?
I’ve been asked a lot of interview questions in the last three years. I’m reading this one in astonished and slightly embarrassed wonder. No one ever asks what the writing has done to me. Hmm. I think, if I back up a moment and take a good look, the most important thing I’ve discovered is that I am a woman in transition. On a journey.
Three years ago, it was shortly after my fortieth birthday, I had two kids who needed a lot from me, a satisfying marriage, and a self-employed career as a data analyst. I had a pretty good sense of the road I was on. And then I decided I wanted to write a book, and a whole bunch of things turned on their heads. I am learning about entirely new levels and layers of Debora Geary, just like many of my characters. I’m slowly coming out of my introverted shell and seeking more connection – more wise women with cups of tea and more laughing children and more friends who see deeply. There is a wise old Irish witch in my books, and it astonishes me how often she says exactly what I need to hear. Words for the road.
Your stories are infused with a particular energy – an unabashed call to love that inevitably fills the cups of your readers. How do you keep your own cup full? (I can only assume that writing and reading your own work serves a different purpose for you than it does for your readers!)
My writing is my way of trying to call that kind of love into existence; to paint a picture of possibilities, so that more of us meet-up with that kind of community in our lives, outside of the pages of cookie-infused books.
Keeping my own cup full is a deep challenge, and one I’m just beginning to wrap my head around. I’m still a baby writer. But I’m learning. Reading my inbox is treasure – to know you touch people’s lives is pure magic. I’ve re-discovered singing this year – something I do with passion and joy and very mediocre talent, but it’s wonderful. I’m trying to read more – that got turned off for awhile. And I’m trying to sit gently with the knowledge that I’m still emptying more than I fill. Waiting for the words of the wise old Irish witch to kick me in the pants, maybe…
It seems that more and more people are feeling the tug back towards the rhythms and cycles of mother earth. Have you always had the connection that you reflect in your writing, or was it prompted by something in your life? And, how intimately is that connection intertwined with your day-to-day?
I’m someone who experiences the world very intuitively, not through my senses (my readers will know it’s very rare that I actually describe how someone looks, for example). I live in my rich inner landscape. But we all need grounding and anchors outside ourselves — things to stabilize what lives within — and I think part of my journey now is seeking more of mine. Cycles and rhythms are soothing to my inner data analyst – she loves pattern. I’ll be very curious to see how my answer to this question changes in the coming years!
You cover a significant array of human strengths, differences, and weaknesses through your characters. Is this inspired by personal journey, people in your life, or simply research and imagination?
There are few values I hold more dear than that we are each wonderful, unique, and worthy of love. And when we as a community can’t manage that, it weakens all of us. I grew up in a small town and felt very different. Other. And then I went to an international school in Italy for two years and found deep connection with people who shared nothing of my culture, language, or upbringing. It was transformative, and it shaped a very important part of who I am (including the deeply ingrained belief that a shared meal makes everything better).
I’ve spent much of my life since reaching across divides of one sort or another – to delinquent teens, senior executives, cancer patients. Learning how much of me lives in each of them. But nothing drove this message home more than the chance to be mother to my son. Griffin is severely autistic – he doesn’t speak, and he understands only a very little of what we say to him. And some days, being his mama is the most deeply frustrating experience of my life. But mostly, it has stripped my sense of what love is back to the very essentials. When he curls up against my chest, full of giggles or sleepy snuggles, it is so obvious that we are, in all the most important ways, so very much alike. Everything else is just trappings. My books are my plea to the world to see his heart. To see every heart.
And now you’ve got me in tears. So, yes. Personal journey.
As your readership has grown, how has this fueled (or hindered) your work?
I’m an introvert. I like dealing with the world one person at a time. My Facebook page has 5,000 residents. It’s entirely overwhelming, but in the way that I imagine riding a magic carpet through the Milky Way would be overwhelming.
I have to turn it off sometimes. When I’m fighting with a misbehaving chapter 14 (and for some reason, chapter 14 always misbehaves), it’s important not to think about how many people are eagerly awaiting their next dose of laughter and tears. And I have an assistant now, which was a really difficult choice – reader emails are wondrous things, and I would love to be the person answering each and every one of them. But I can’t. And I’ve been blessed with readers who have been deeply supportive of my bumbling efforts to figure out how to navigate my sudden ride through the Milky Way.
You don’t indicate any signs of closing the door on your stories. Despite their organic evolution, are you at a place to share any of your visions for the future of your characters or yourself?
Ha. No. I’ll know when I’m done!
Finally, you might be amused to know that many of our plethora of passwords here at Herbiary were at one time rooted in bits of your books. Do you have any suggestions to fuel our future security stash? (We strive for giggles!)
I used “Gertrude Geronimo” for a while, but it’s kind of hard to type…
Debora Geary is the beloved author of the “Modern Witch” series. She has asked me not to link to her books or sites because we both agree that this post,
today, is a tribute to Meg, who is a silver thread in both of our stories.
Meg Smith has wielded the “net magic” for Herbiary and maiatoll.com for the past three years. She is a wife, and mama to two spunky and sensitive boys. Now that she’s not wrangling websites, she’ll focus on playing with words, music, and yarn. You can witness her journey and evolution here.
Okay, everybody, sing it with me:
Down, dooby-dooby, Meg! I love you.