I’m Nimue Brown (Druid, author, quiet revolutionary, coffee addict) and when I get the chance I like to pounce on especially interesting fellow Pagans and ask them questions about their work and their lives so that I can bring them to other people’s attention. In this interview I’m delighted to introduce Sheena Cundy, who first got on my radar at a PF conference in Colchester, where she was singing with her band, Morrigan’s Path. I liked the music, and we got talking, and since then I’ve read her glorious novel and explored her fascinating oracle set. Like many Pagans, she doesn’t limit herself to one area of exploration or practice…
Nimue: What first drew you to Paganism?
Sheena: Officially, the Craft drew me to Paganism. I found that once I had joined a coven, dedicated to the Craft and named myself Witch… my path was set out. However, I think I’ve been a Pagan all my life as the more I learn, the more I realise it has always been there in some shape or form. The land and nature, people and animals, music and the magical arts are the love of my life!
Nimue: What sort of music styles do you prefer?
Sheena: Diversity is the magic of music for me… I love many styles, from punk to classical! Any instrument that is played well, particularly live, is hard to beat – including the voice… I think the fusions of different styles are interesting, and the contrast of traditional and contemporary instruments – as long as it’s original – can be effective as well as fun!
Nimue: Does that thread of diversity run through your magical life as well? Is fusion part of your craft?
Sheena: Diversity seems to run through all areas of my life, and it is all magical, so yes. I thrive on it. And although I have my own individual style as we all do, I like to have the freedom to change and move around within it. I get bored with repetition and need stimulation and inspiration to create. Fusion is very much a part of my craft, the same way a gardener will graft a new shoot onto the root stock of a stem or branch is how I see it. With a firm connection to our roots we can create our own unique pathways in life. For me, it’s the path of the Crafty Crone, I’m making it up as I go along… Symbolism is not all fixed and new traditions can and do evolve from the old. Creating from original substance is what keeps me inspired. … spells, potions, mantras, incense, stories, songs… is the magic of my life.
Nimue: You’re a songwriter, novelist, and now writing non-fiction for the Moon Books blog. Do you find some forms easier than others or do they all come naturally to you?
Sheena: I do find songs and stories easier, yes. I love making things up, creating from scratch and being original. In non-fiction I find myself far too self-conscious to begin with then once I’ve managed to let go of the ego and just be myself, the barriers come down and inspiration flows again. Of all of them, song writing is probably the most natural and spontaneous. I was out walking my dog this morning and brought a tune and some words back, reached for the guitar… and now it seems it’s a song writing day instead of a non-fiction or a story day. I try not to beat myself self up about these things and just go with the flow…as long as I can make those deadlines with the other writing, time or lack of it is not an issue.
Nimue: So what prompted you to have a go at non-fiction?
Sheena: I started writing non-fiction as a contributor for a pagan ezine called The Moonstone about five years ago. As well as short stories, I wrote a series on the Tarot which evolved into a 60 page manual for a ten week course I’ve run from home for the last four years. Alongside that, I wrote the guide book for the Magic of Nature Oracle – a card deck based on British wildlife – created with my sister Tania who is an artist. From there, I’ve contributed with oracle reading features in a number of publications. Spiritual development is such an important part of my life and so those life experiences naturally filtering into the writing. As a teacher who feels compelled to pass on knowledge, as well as a performer who loves an audience; writing provides an exciting platform for both!
Nimue: What are you working on currently, on the non-fiction side?
Sheena: I have just started a work in progress for the Moon Books blog, with a chapter posting up each month. Your Magical Nature is psychic development from a Pagan perspective. It feels like a natural progression from the Magic of Nature Oracle in which I drew my inspiration from the Crone as an archetypal guide. Again, I will be creating something new while retaining a strong connection to the old… I find the idea both exciting and daunting, what challenge isn’t? But the stretch will do me good, that next mountain will bring a whole different perspective, and if others can benefit from the view – I will have done my job. Hopefully, it’ll be my next book.
Nimue: And your novel comes out in November 2015? How does that connect to your other work?
Sheena: The novel is the light relief I needed to (just about) keep my self from stepping over the edge as I entered Crone territory for the first time. Also, I wanted to see if I could actually write something of that length – 50,000 words – probably small fry to most authors but for a short story/song writer, quite some mountain. My other work- the songs, the spiritual non-fiction – reflect the serious, philosophical side of me and the novel is the more humorous… But at the same time, the subject matter, the main character, is all part of who I am and what I do. Minerva gave me a free rein to laugh at myself and I think that’s fundamental to keeping a balance and staying grounded in this life.
Nimue: I think comedy has an amazing power to ease things and help us cope, and your book is certainly very funny, and very releasing. Did you know you have this capacity for humour before you started, or did that come as a surprise?
Sheena: What a lovely question! Thank you. I have always enjoyed a good laugh, so it felt only natural to include humour in the story. I get bogged down in too much serious stuff and the wonderful thing about writing fiction is that you can do what you like! I love that freedom. And I tried to maintain a balance of sorts with it. And once the characters begin to take shape, it really is great fun. In fact, I think it’s the best laugh I’ve ever had on my own, and it’s addictive, I need to get started on the sequel.
Nimue: What are you up to at the moment?
Sheena: I’ve given myself just enough to do writing wise – and have the time for everything else…promoting the novel and writing and recording with Morrigans Path among (quite a lot of) other things. I keep telling myself there’s plenty of time – and with a bit of magic, it’ll work.
Nimue: where can people find you online?