Part I: All About Michele . . .
LM: Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you? What's your background?
(Please share what you feel comfortable sharing or feel is relevant.) Tell me about your training and experience.
MM: I’ve been a professional psychic, NLP Practitioner, spiritual counselor and teacher for nearly 20 years. Simple Wicca was my first nonfiction book, published in 2000… then came A Magical Course in Tarot: Reading the Cards in a Whole New Way in 2002. I also wrote the script and acted as Tarot consultant for Sting's CD ROM project entitled, All This Time (Starwave, 1995), a personal exploration of Sting's life and music, in which he appears as a “seer” who reads the Tarot cards.
I am the originator and co-developer of CSI (Cognitive Spiritual Integration) (trademark), a visionary method of foundational change work. CSI blends a distinctive style of NLP parts work, belief system change techniques, core dynamics of masculine and feminine polarity, and intimate spiritual exploration. The CSI program is a carefully structured protocol of one-on-one work that emphasizes personal accountability and intimacy with God, producing dramatic and measurable life changes for clients willing to pioneer a genuinely unique path to personal growth.
Currently in the works—Abeo, a Seattle-based company that specializes in groundbreaking approaches to change work, co-founded by another wickedly brilliant NLP practitioner, Roslyn Ericksen and myself. In Latin, abeo means, “to be changed,” and our company tagline is “Live Your Legend.” Individual and group processes, as well as workshops, are now in development.
LM: Are there any anecdotes about your personal journey? How and when did you realize that your spiritual path is the one for you? Was there an event that triggered this response?
MM: I always knew there was something really powerful out there… from the time I was little, I felt the energy and the mystery of other realms and pretty much tread on magical ground through art, music, imagination, and stories of other times and places. I really began searching for a more concrete connection to Spirit when I was in my early teens. I went the structured route—even going so far as to choose baptism in the Christian church when I was a junior in High School. The experience of baptism itself was a truly reverent, awe-inspiring thing for me—I really felt the stirring in me, and was hungry for more. The problem was, all the kids I knew through the youth group at the church were bible-thumping Young Lifers on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, and pot-smoking shoplifters on Fridays and Saturdays. And the ministers at the church didn’t seem overly interested in what went on beyond the limits of those weekly meetings and services. Needless to say, I began to struggle with the mixed messages.
MM: I was dating a really cute guy at the time from a different high school whose sweet little Italian mom belonged to a rather radical “holy-roller” Catholic Church… speaking in tongues and the whole thing. Wild stuff. I had sooooo many questions about God, the bible, all of it, and my boyfriend, knowing I was struggling with the gang in my denomination, decided to do me a huge favor by setting up a personal meeting for me with two of the priests at his mom’s church… I was going to get a chance to ask them anything and everything I wanted, and I was psyched! Unfortunately, about 15 minutes into the meeting, they had me (and I mean this literally) backed up against a wall, and were telling me that my baptism in the Christian church meant nothing, and that I was going to burn in hell unless I was baptized in their church. (My boyfriend hadn’t been baptized by them, either, so I was, apparently, guilty by association as well.) Sigh. I got the hell out of there, pun intended, broke up with the cute but spiritually doomed boyfriend, and became righteously disillusioned then and there about God and religion. I found faith in a truer “religion” of Stevie Nicks songs and medieval poetry and the stories of Camelot and Robin Hood, until I was in my late twenties and bought my first Tarot deck. I became a professional reader soon after, and found the Craft through the metaphysical bookstore I was working in.
As I voraciously explored my personal relationship with Spirit through the intimate channel of Wicca, I became more and more aware of, and intrigued by, the polarity of God—the energetic yin/yang aspects of the masculine and feminine faces of the Divine. Passion and intimacy in human relationships depend entirely upon the dynamic alliance of those opposites; I discovered how essential that same instinctual alliance is in a human’s ability to be passionate about and intimate with God. In fact, the degree to which we are able to trust and be intimate with people, is the greatest indicator of our willingness to authentically open our hearts and lives to the power of Spirit. Over the years my experience and understanding of this magical truth has continued to deepen my connection to God in profound ways, and has also given me the ability to facilitate that kind of relationship for my clients. I even developed a class entitled, “Falling in Love with God,” and it’s my personal desideratum—helping people understand that religion is a language, spirituality is an adventure, and God, the angels, the Masters, and everyone else on the other side are the most extraordinary friends and mentors anyone could ever wish for… and, a little like vampires—they can’t come in unless you personally invite them.
LM: Do you have a personal Vision or mission statement that serves to encapsulate your personal ambitions, drive, or direction?
This is my “passion statement:”
My passion is helping people be extraordinary. I believe that we all have within us the blueprint of a divine destiny, created exclusively for each one of us long ago, by a loving and exalted hand. Not some fated, set-in-stone judgment that we are powerless to, but rather, the tale of a boundless truth that entreats us to live an uncommon and inspiring life. Until now, only a few have chosen to fully live their divine stories. Those who have, have changed history, both globally and provincially—for all of us, for all time, for the better. It’s time now for the exception to become the rule, for the commonplace to become legendary… and owning your unique, God-gifted destiny is closer than you think. The world, more than ever before, is crying out for that kind of ownership, that kind of stewardship, and that kind of leadership. And my destiny is to help others claim and fully live theirs.
LM: What are your goals? What have you accomplished? What's on the horizon?
MM: Such a dangerous question to ask a Sag… I think the above statement says it best. I’ve reached nearly every goal I’ve set for myself so far in this lifetime… and I’m entering a time both astrologically and chronologically that is really my go-for-broke, destiny-or-bust time… and I’m psyched! My work is going to be reaching wider audiences in the next couple of years, and right now I’m gearing up for that… shopping another book, looking at radio or television, and some cool Abeo things in development. Just how I like it—multiple irons in the fire, with a whole smorgasbord of delicious things cooking on the ends… yum!
Part II: Her Writing(s)
LM: Tell me about your book.
MM: I think the best way to summarize Simple Wicca is actually my favorite endorsement for the book, from Amber K, author and Priestess: “A lyrical, joyous, magickal glimpse into the heart of a spiritual path that has an ancient soul yet is forever young. Simple Wicca tells us what it feels like to reach out and touch the hands of the old gods of nature; what it is to know wonder again. A warning: If you read it, you will find yourself yearning to stand in a moonlit circle with the author, just to taste the magick she feels and describes so vividly.”
LM: What makes it unique?
MM: I think what makes Simple Wicca unique is that it’s written from a truly emotional, experiential perspective… I was inspired to give the reader the feeling of the Craft, not just the how-to’s. It’s the kind of book I wish I could have read when I was first exploring the path of witchcraft, because I’m definitely a hands-on girl!
LM: How would one benefit from it?
MM: I’ll quote from the book on this one, if I may: “As human beings, we define ourselves by what fits us. Things work, or they don’t. We like, or dislike; we adore, or we hate. We identify with, empathize with, relate to, understand… or we don’t have a clue.” I wrote Simple Wicca from an intimate, here’s-my-experience perspective, with the hope that anyone can come away with a feeling of relating on some level, as well as a sense of wonder and curiosity about the Craft. As I said before, my great passion is to help others find and develop an intimate relationship with the God of their choice… Simple Wicca speaks from such a personal standpoint so that the reader might discover what they “like, love, identify with, relate to,” about God, themselves, and their own spiritual expression.
LM: What was your inspiration for writing your book(s)?
MM: The inspiration for Simple Wicca was my ongoing love affair with God, and the spiritual intimacy that Wicca not only engenders but joyfully encourages. For A Magical Course in Tarot, it was my ongoing love affair with the Tarot, and the direct line to the Divine that the cards so clearly facilitate.
LM: What is your favorite part of the book?
MM: Chapter Nine—the ritual “walkthrough.” I really would have loved to have that kind of information when I first began doing ritual… I wanted to take the awkwardness and concern over “doing it right” away from the reader, and give them an experiential preview of sorts, so they can relax and be present in their beginning circles.
LM: If you could only offer one piece of advice to would-be witches, what would
MM: Really, Lisa… do you truly expect a Sag to have only one piece of advice??? J I’ll try and contain myself to two… First, do it your way. The books and the classes and the experts offer ingredients. Gather what works for you, what empowers you, what thrills you, and then create your own personal chef-d’oeuvre. And second: Know that a spiritual path, well-loved and unabashedly explored, should, and will, continue to evolve. Welcome the change!
LM: Do you have any advice or tips for those about to get started in this stuff?
MM: It’s a spiritual Nike commercial… Just Do It.
LM: What should we watch out for?
MM: Passive hypocrites, and aggressive dogmas. J
LM: Are there other places people could find out more about you?
Part III: The Writing Process
LM: Did you always enjoy writing or was that something that started after you
began to follow this path? How did you get started writing?
MM: I’ve been writing since I was very small… I love words, the movement and pattern of language. I remember wanting to be a published author from the time I was about seven years old. I used to sit at the fireplace hearth in our living room, writing and illustrating “books” on wide-lined notebook paper. I recall one time asking my mom who it was that wrote the biographies of the writers on the back of books, because I was ready to write mine! But fiction will always be my first love… in fact, if someone had told me 10 years ago that my first published book would be hardcover nonfiction, I would have told them they had me mixed up with someone else!
LM: What is the writing process like for you? Was the creation of this book typical or radically different?
MM: Simple Wicca was definitely a different experience for me than A Magical Course in Tarot, not only because it was my first nonfiction work, but also by virtue of it being part of a series of books that Conari Press was doing on metaphysical subjects. With A Magical Course, I was lucky enough to be really turned loose in the fields of my passion on the topic, and I was able to give a lot of input into the structure and setting of the book. Because Simple Wicca was part of a series, I had to write within specific parameters—depth of topic, word count, layout, etc. It was more structured than I would have initially wanted, but that ultimately ended up working in my favor, because it really gave me a good solid construct to play around in and learn from my first time out. And my editor, Mary Jane Ryan, was a brilliant and benevolent mentor and coach, which made the process even more fulfilling.
LM: Do you do research? What are your sources?
MM: A bit, when it’s called for. I’m not a huge researcher by nature… I tend to be much more of a learn-as-you-go, fly-by-the-seat kind of gal. And by virtue of my career path, I’ve gathered unbelievable stores of information on all the topics I would write about anyway. When I do need to research, I usually turn to other books, or “The Matrix”… cue the ominous movie music. But I confess, I always feel a bit of vertigo when I start surfing the web, like I’m going to get sucked in and never come out again. It’s a bit unsettling to me, but undoubtedly an amazing resource. And I’m definitely getting better at finding the treasures in the vast cyber swamp… although YouTube has become a dangerous distraction. All the 80’s music videos! Such memories… the swelling, guitar-crazed anthems, the permed hair, the shoulder pads… sigh. Those were the days. (dabbing a theatrical tear)
LM: Who, or what, has influenced your writing?
MM: As I mentioned earlier, up until Simple Wicca, I’d only written poetry and fiction. The genre of Fantasy has been the most influential to my writing, as well as the works of Shakespeare, Rumi, T.S. Eliot, Ranier Maria Rilke, and every book by Tanith Lee. Writers who speak with a lilt, and a definite rhythm—stories you want to read out loud because the words feel good in your mouth, and sound even better—like Rumer Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, The Earth Witch by Louise Lawrence, and anything by Alice Hoffman.
LM: Is there one aspect of writing that you particularly enjoy? Dislike?
MM: Once I’m “in the flow,” I absolutely love the process… I’ve been known to lose myself completely in the I’m-in-another-world of it, only stopping when I glance up, bleary eyed, and realize the sky’s beginning to lighten, and I’ve been writing all night. It’s just getting to the flow that can make me a tad crazy. On a good day, I sit down at the computer, words and ideas purring away inside me like mischievous kittens under a bed, and after a few minutes of jingling the catnip mouse and calling to them in that weird but oddly endearing pet-owner voice, they come scampering out and begin shredding up the empty screen with Pulitzer Prize winning zeal. All I have to do is keep up, and keep changing the CD’s in the stereo.
On a not-so-good day? Coaxing the little buggers out of the bedroom of my brain and down to the keyboard feels like giving birth… and I don’t mean that in the miraculous-experience-of-bringing-life-into-the-world kind of way. I mean the bearing down, cursing, wanting to climb out of my own skin and strangle the doctor kind of way. If after 20 minutes or so I’m still looking to do murder, I give myself a break for an hour or even a day. But the words always come, and like babies of both the two-legged and four-legged variety, they come in their own sweet time, and nine times out of ten, with relative respect for whatever deadline might be looming. (This is not to say they don’t once in awhile play the squeaking-in-under-the-wire game, however. Remember the scene in “Broadcast News” where Holly Hunter’s character is editing the news piece right up to the very last second, with everyone in the editing room chanting, “Go, go, go!” and Joan Cusack literally running to the broadcast room with tape in hand, vaulting over a toddler and barely avoiding decapitation by sliding under an opened file cabinet drawer? Yeah… been there. More than once.) But the words always come. Always. And, more often than not, happily, I find they’re more miraculous than I expected when they do arrive, and I’m humbled and grateful to have been chosen to be their messenger, no matter the process of getting there. Gotta love that.
Part IV: What's Next?
LM: Are there any future projects you care to mention?
MM: I am currently shopping a book proposal, tentatively titled, Essential Change.
This book is the culmination of a nearly twenty-year career helping clients “recover” from New Age and self-help philosophies. As an NLP Practitioner, spiritual counselor, and professional psychic, I’ve seen first-hand how the self-help movement has not only failed to help; it’s actually served to fuel a growing sense of confusion, disillusionment and despair. The statistics are compelling, the arguments difficult to ignore. Yet, it’s not the philosophies themselves that are the problem…it’s the simplistic, one-dimensional, quick-fix way in which they are packaged and ultimately presented.
Everyone wants the formula. Every one of us wants the secret, the magic words to say that will instantly make all our dreams come true. That desire is actually part of our human hardwiring, and those magical formulas are our spiritual birthright. But “spiritual beings having a human experience” are a lot more complicated than most popular New Age and self-help concepts allow for. Essential Change approaches self-help from a completely unique angle, exploring through multiple genres how the human psyche relates to, and affects, the spiritual nature, and vice versa—and the critical role belief systems, patterns of behavior, and identity issues play in determining whether any self-help principle becomes just another failed party trick, or your own personal Golden Rule.
With Essential Change I’m attempting to do something truly unique—crossing categories of New Age, self-help, religion, and psychology—because the human experience crosses every category! Essential Change “fills in the blanks”, offering the reader an unprecedented understanding of what’s missing from most New Age self-help principles, why they (and you, ultimately) fail, and, most important, detailing the multifaceted, divinely human process necessary to make them truly successful.
LM: Well, I for one am looking forward to that book – it will be a much-needed addition to the new age library. Thank you Michele, this has been a pleasure.