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All my life I’ve walked the Deer Trods of Elen of the Ways – the Ancestor, the Lady of the Boreal Forest. I grew up in the old shamanism of Britain, in a family of cunning folk who’ve practiced the old British ways for many generations. I’m a quirky, unconventional person with an intensely strong connection to nature.
Dad was a wise man from Lancashire. He met and fell in love with Mum before WWII but I didn’t come along until three years after the end of the war. My mother’s mother was a witch from the Isle of Man but, unfortunately, I never knew her. Mum passed over into the Summer Lands when I was four years old but I remember her well and sometimes she still comes to me if there is a need. After Mum’s death, Dad and I lived on Dartmoor with me learning the old ways from him and my relations as well as the village elders.
When I was eight we moved to settle in an ancient little village on the edge of Exmoor where the church is dedicated to the goddess Urith – the old spelling is Iwerydd. Dad fell in love again with the woman who had come as our housekeeper … her father had owned the house we now lived in … and soon they were married. My stepmother and her sister, now my Aunt Ida, and our next-door neighbour were among the elder folk of the village.
Aunt Ida owned the village well, sacred to the goddess that cures cataract and gives clairvoyance. So, I was still deeply involved in all the old ways and following the deer trods along with the other young ones of elder folk.
As well as Dad, my stepmother Vera, and Aunt Ida, one of my uncles was a gardener who talked to his plants and taught me lots of biodynamic-like things. Another was a woodsman who could talk with animals and would take me out with him, teach me the trees and the wood-ways. I’ve seen him call a wild hawk to his wrist, or sit with a wild adder-snake coiled around his wrist. Many times I’d go with him to sit all night under a tree watching foxes, dormice, weasels, rabbits, badgers, hunting owls, and all the other night-denizens of the wild woods. I grew up in an environment full of everyday magic.
I’ve also had and interesting working life including being a systems analyst and project manager of a big computer system for the Ministry of Defence; perhaps surprisingly to some, I met quite a few servicemen who also had the old ways in their blood. After that came 30 years as a Transpersonal psychotherapist, that’s given me a deep understanding of people and dovetails beautifully with the old ways. It’s also been very useful for novel writing, helping me develop characters in a rounded and believable way. Add in that my husband is particle physicist so I’ve been absorbing cutting-edge science with the cornflakes for 45 years and you have an interesting mix!
Always living with otherworld, I’ve explored all sorts of magical paths and been fortunate to meet and work with some amazing people … Lila Bek, Caitlin & John Matthews, Emma Restall Orr, C Maxwell Cade, Colin Bloy, Hamish Miller, Tom Graves, Paul Devereux, John Michell, Dr Don Robins, and many others during the 1970s and 80s.
When I’m not writing you might find me in the Highlands of Scotland, and staying with my friend and colleague, Fiona Dove, at her croft in Aberdeenshire.
You can also find me walking and wild-camping on Exmoor, Dartmoor, or the Welsh mountains, or Brittany or the Pyrenees; I know them all intimately and they add colour and realism to my stories. I love weaving magic and mystery together while still keeping sharp on characters and places, so I do my best to help the stories flow effortlessly and believably to gripping conclusions.
My bragging rights include dancing for Arlene Philips; taking contemporary dance class with Robert Cohen; flying in Jaguar fighter aircraft; doing plasma-physics at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy; and being kissed by Mick Jagger! I often tweet on ecology, the environment, and animal cruelty issues.
I love cats, eat paleo, and my motto is If the cat and the boyfriend disagree get rid of the boyfriend!
Warm wishes from between the two lights,