Posted on

Diva in the Mists

WENDY RULE chats with JULIE SNODGRASS

 

A short excerpt from one of Wendy’s live concerts …..

In the space of a note, she can glide effortlessly from Maiden-like softness into the primal darkness of the Crone.  Her passion for literature, particularly Romanticism, weaves agelessly through her music and performance, evoking the spirit of Lord Byron, W.B.Yeats, William Blake and Homer.  Her voice has been described as both powerful and sensual, at times evocative of Tori Amos, Kate Bush or Edith Piaf.  Blend these rich ingredients together and you have an artistic brew that is uniquely Wendy Rule.    This is Julie Snodgrass in conversation with Wendy Rule

J:  You’ve recently released a new C.D., ‘Meditations Through the Elements’, which I’m sure readers will be very interested in.

W:  I think it’s important to remember that we all have our own individual ways of connecting with the elements.  They have their physical qualities, but also their esoteric qualities.  With modern witchcraft I think one of the very important things that we need to remember is that it’s our direct experience with nature that really teaches us most.  I concentrate on the four elements, as it always brings me back out of my head and into full connection with nature.  We have to remember that it’s a nature-based spiritual path, and to be out under the elements is vital for keeping the passion of the path alive.

 

 

J:  The album is very sensual and trancey, and lends itself beautifully to uses other than just listening pleasure.

 

W:  It’s a very relaxing album, so it’s lovely just to lay down and dream to, or to put on at night just to let go.  You can either listen to it a track at a time – ‘I think I’ll connect with ‘water’’, or, ‘I think I’ll connect with ‘fire’’, or you can go through the whole hour-long journey.  Some friends that are healers have been using it in metaphysical work such as yoga, massage and reiki.  It can be lovely background music, but then, if you really choose to focus on it and dive into it, it can take you on a very wise journey.

 

 

J:  How do you define magic, and how does it work through the elements?

 

W:  A lot of the power of magic is awareness and being aware of what you want to call on.  Magic is a reflection of your intention and the clarity of that intention and that the universe is ultimately growing and wants us to be healthy and balanced.  The elements awaken us to that awareness, so that we are able to discern if our lives are in balance – Is there too much ‘fire”?  Am I going too wild or do I have a lot of anger?  Do I need to ground, or be a bit softer with myself and call in more ‘water’?  It’s no coincidence that tarot cards have the four elements there in order to get a really complete picture of life.

 

 

 

J:  The themes of many of your songs involve the element of water and its accompanying metaphysical aspect of emotions.  What is it about this element that is so enticing?

 

W:  I live by a river and I find water just absolutely, incredibly beautiful.  I’m just drawn to water all the time.  I love the shape shifting aspects of water and I love how it’s both formless and yet takes on the form of whatever it’s connecting with or held by.  Symbolically, it’s a beautiful metaphor for the emotional flow within us that is shaped by those around us.  Water’s also very determined too; it just keeps on at it.  It can be a very gentle and benign energy or it can be this crashing force.  I love the excitement of water, its unknown quantities, that occult energy of what’s below the surface.

 

 

J:  The ‘Lotus Eaters’ album is rich with mythological characters from the islands of Greece, and would probably be your most watery album to date.  Tell us about the inspiration behind the album.

 

W:  I’ve always loved fairytales and myth since I was a kid, especially Greek Mythology.  One of the stories that’s had a really big impact on me is the ancient Homeric poem of the Odyssey.  Odysseus goes off to war and goes journeying and yearns for his home.  I’ve often identified with that yearning for connection, to find that place where you feel complete and safe.  I loved Odysseus’s connection with the Goddess too and the crazy stories where he battles Poseidon – waves crashing … I love the imagery.

 

 

J;  There was a rather delightfully witchy mini series, starring Sigrid Thornton, called ,Little Oberon’, which was set in a small country town nestled in the mountains.  They used some songs from your ‘Lotus Eaters’ album to good effect.  Can you tell us how you came to be involved in the series?

W:  For many years, my music has been distributed by Shock Records in Australia.  I’m completely independent and create my own albums, but it’s Shock who gets them into stores around Australia.  The publishing arm of Shock had been approached to find something that would fit, and it was pretty obvious that they were going to choose, probably the only witch on their books. So they really went into bat for me and presented my songs to the people who were doing the mini series.

 

 

 

J:  You recorded an album in the U.S. with American musician, Gary Stadler, called ‘Deep within a Faerie Forest’.  The album is very etheric, and captures a spirit of innocence with only a fleeting glimpse of darker worlds that lay beyond.  The album is very delicate and beautiful, and rather airy – quite a departure from what people might expect.

 

W:  Gary approached me with this album and fairies, and I said, ‘Only if it’s a dark, scary fairy of the forest.’  We ended up with an album that was his darkest and lightest-ever album.  It’s not so much of a great, epic soul journey that my other major albums are, but it’s a sweet step to the side for a moment.  It’s nice not to be too limited in our perception of ourselves – it was fun!

 

 

 

J:  You tour quite extensively, both locally and overseas, particularly America, where your popularity continues to grow.

 

W:  There’s a very strong and dedicated Pagan community there, and America was one of the first countries really getting into the internet, which has been great for my music.  I like the people, and I love the incredible diversity of the landscape, so I go back again and again.  I feel nurtured and very, very appreciated in America.

 

 

J:  Is there any chance of you, one day, calling America home?

 

W:  No, I don’t have any intention of that, I really don’t.  I love travelling, and I’d like to spend, maybe a year in America.  I keep going back for each season to see what the land is doing.  I’ve done Spring, Autumn and Summer, but I haven’t quite done a Winter yet, so I’d like to do a whole year journey.  But I really, really love Australia, and, I think, Victoria will be my home, possibly forever.

 

J:  It’s like the Odysseus story again.

W:  Yes, exactly!

 

 

J:  You often take part in some of the big Pagan gatherings in the U.S.  What are they like and which one’s your favourite?

 

W:  Oh, they’re fabulous!  Americans are great at mobilising themselves and getting things happening, and if you get that energy directed to something really great, then they do a damn fine job of it.  I’ve been twice to a lovely festival called ‘Rites of Spring’, which is superb, just a beautiful festival with really good, wholesome, wise people.

 

 

 

J:  I heard that you arrived at one of the festivals flying, not on a broom, but on a magic carpet!

 

W:  That was at ‘Burning Man Festival’, that was fantastic!  ‘Burning Man’ is very much about visual arts and people make incredible artistic creations.  They have little cafes set up, and I was sitting there thinking, ‘What will I do now?’  Then, literally, five people rode by on a magic carpet, very subtly motorised on wheels, but was nevertheless a magic carpet, with a hooker to smoke in the middle.  So I jumped on, and suddenly I was off into the desert for two hours … on a magic carpet!

 

 

 

 

 

J:  Your previous album, ‘The Wolf Sky’, is powerful and somewhat shamanic in its feel and approach.  The first and last tracks seem to lead you into, then bring you back out from, a kind of journey.

 

W:  After the real wateriness of ‘The Lotus Eaters’, I really wanted more earthy energy.  I really felt, for me, it was time to do something that was overtly Pagan and Witchy, with an overt circle casting, and I really didn’t give a damn whether the mainstream were into it, or not.  I wanted it to be more like my live performances.

 

 

J:  One of the most beautiful tracks on the album would have to be, the almost a’ Capella, ‘She Danced Alone Upon the Waves’.

 

W:  That’s actually based on an ancient Greek Creation Myth, and why I love this myth is its beautiful dance between the masculine and feminine.  The goddess of empty chaos is lonely, so she begins to dance with the north wind, which then becomes a serpent and her lover.  She becomes pregnant to the serpent and turns into a dove and lays an egg, but it’s actually the serpent who curls around the egg and incubates it.  Then, when the egg opens up, all the Universe – the stars, the moon the sun, the mountains – are liberated in Creation.

 

J:  The album cover is quite striking, and features your treasured raven wings.  How did they come to you, and how do you use them in your music and magic?

W:  They came to me as an offering from the poor raven, I’m afraid.  I was driving up north with my boyfriend, William, and we saw a raven that had obviously been quite freshly killed.  We did a little ritual for the raven, then I had to overcome my squeamishness.  We cut its wings off and buried it at the side of the road, which is a much better option than being run over continuously, so I felt we’d really respected it.  I use the wings all the time.  I really connect with the raven in a shamanic way, it brings me into a place of power, that dark, strong, wise energy that I yearn to connect with.

 

 

J:  And the raven represents creation too, which draws me to the next two songs.  ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creator Destroyer’ are two sonically dynamic songs, as well as being quite confronting and disturbing in their subject matter.  Tell us about these songs…

 

W:  It’s the first time I’ve really done a kind of social commentary.  ‘Evolution’ I wrote after seeing the wonderful, yet horrifying film, ‘Hotel Rwanda’.  I saw the genocide, and I just couldn’t believe that this was going on and the world did nothing.  What is it about us humans that, potentially, we can be so beautiful and just so incredibly horrible too?  I find that disturbing.  I do think there’s a point of choice … people talk about good and evil, I don’t really believe in it.

 

 

 

J:  Many artists regard their medium, be it painting, poetry, sculpture, or other craft, as a creative, and often cathartic, outlet for, what Jungian psychologists would call, the ‘shadow side’.  In your craft of songwriting and performing, do you find this to be so?

 

W:  Yes, definitely!  Emotions become dangerous when they’re bottled up, so it helps to flow.  I felt very damaged as a child, and my first few albums were very much a form of self healing, to dive into some of those pretty scary places and look at them square on.  Now I feel I can access that dark area with a sense of knowledge and wisdom, whereas in the earlier days, I was more at the mercy of the Underworld.

 

 

 

J:  With rare exception, you compose all of your own material.  What things do you find attracts the muses?

 

W:  Nature, all the time – nature, nature, nature – she just continues to teach me, and love, that’s the main one, love in all its ways.

 

 

 

J:  Your partner, William, who is percussionist in your band, is a multi-talented artist who crafts exquisite jewellery.

 

W:  It’s a wonderful union in that he’s a very dedicated artist in his field.  When we tour together, he tours as a jeweller, taking his wares around to shops in New York, London and Paris, but he still gets to jam at my gigs.  It’s a very beautiful balance we have.

 

 

 

J:  Your son, Reuben, whom you have raised as a Pagan, is now part of your band.  Your relationship is obviously fairly close.

 

W:  It’s very close.  He jams sometimes with me, but he’s not a formal member of the band; and he’s a great musician in his own right.  He doesn’t really see himself as Pagan anymore, but he’s retained the things that I think are the really vital qualities of Paganism – respect for all living things, respect for the planet, self love, integrity, direction and creativity.

 

 

 

J:  What pearls of wisdom would you like to offer other Pagan parents on raising children?

 

W:  I have very much focused on the need for freedom for both him and me, and to respect each other’s need for space.  Also, self-responsibility, that’s what magic is all about.  I think any kind of ritual is healthy; it doesn’t have to be a big Pagan thing.  It might be that every Friday you have dinner with candles, or, it’s Winter solstice so we make this special cake or drink this special drink.  I think kids love the physical and the sensual, so I like to enliven celebrations and bring a sense of play.

 

 

 

J:  Your music is closely intertwined with your magic, and your performances embody this. When you cast your musical spell upon your audience, what kinds of things would you like for them to draw from your music?

W:  My intention when performing is to create a sense of awareness that we’ve all entered into some sort of sacred ritual together. My music
is very personal and emotional, so it’s important for me to feel a strong level of intimacy with the audience. I really like to break
down the usual performer/audience barriers and truly feel that we are one tribe together. Overtly creating ritual space, by casting circle,
or smudging the room, helps enormously with this. Even those people who have no experience of Magic will have a sense that something
special and sacred is taking place.

From this place of ritual, I hope that people are able to enter more deeply into their own emotional worlds, and recognize their own
Magical, powerful selves. I like to remind people that Magic and the sacred can be found everyday, in the simplest gestures and connections
with each other and Nature. I would hope, when people leave one of my performances, that they take with them a strong sense of their deep
selves.
 

(interviewer bio.)

Julie Snodgrass has owned and run the Esoteric Bookshop in Murrumbeena for 15 years  & 12 years in Hawthorn before that, and holds open sabbat celebrations in her shop courtyard, and runs courses in natural magic.  Now from her home & magic garden in Vermont.  An eclectic witch and freelance writer, she has written for ‘Insight’, ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘Cosmic American Music’ magazines as well as a regular feature for the ‘Labrys’ newsletter.