Vila's Cottage Crafts
"Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones" By Vila Spiderhawk
* * * * * A MUST READ FOR THE SUMMER * * * * *
Before we get to the interview, I wanted to say a little something
about this book and its' author. Being a journalist I can say that I
have read my fair share of novels throughout my career and 54 years of
living thus far. There is every now and then that one novel, or that
one collection of short stories, that will sneak up behind you without
a nod and knock you right out of your shoes and you sit back and say,
"WOW!, what a read." This is one of those books.
While I sat cozy in my chair with a good piping hot cup of tea I had
sat down ready to review this book giving myself about 45 minutes to
read through it and then decide on my interview process, when I
realizes a couple of hours later that I had not moved even enough to
sip the tea which was then icy cold. I had not only read the entire
book thoroughly in this book, but had even gone back and re-read
several of stories again and again. I easily found myself being part
of the character's lives. I related with several of them and with
those I didn't know I had such emotions for them that I felt like I
was shutting the door on them if I didn't finish their stories. If
you're looking for a great summer read then is definitely on my top
Now for our interview with VilaSpiderhawk:
Merry meet Vila, it is a joy meeting you and thank you for taking the
time to sit with me today. Before we get started I want to say "Thank
You" for writing this book. It is not very often that I find myself
so enthralled by a story that I want to reread it over it again. To
find several short stories that not only caught my emotions but also
put me so rawly right there in the stories with the players as if
their lives where mine has been quite a long time in the coming and
this book has done just that. I have lived and loved 54 years of my
life and could relate so easily with the women and children in a
couple of these stories. I walked the labyrinth with Donnata, and
Mima Po lived up my street as well. I still have her gift with me
and will carry it with me forever as I go. "Hidden Passages, Tales to
Honor the Crone," is a collection of stories all about Goddess women
of all ages, who have all traveled on the same journey sometime during
their lifetime The modern day women can easily identify with these
sister from the different cultures while taking the journeys with
*SageKatt (SK)* *Vila, I am curious, where did you find the impulses
to write the varied stories in your book?*
*Vila (V) *I have been writing all my life for my own amusement
but never for publication. Oh, I published a poem here and there in
English or in French. But I was never really serious about
Then I took a course with Shekhinah Mountainwater in which she asked
that I write a few stories on various topics. After she read the
first one she said I really should try for publication. Well, people
have been telling me that for decades, and I always shooed off the
idea. But she was so insistent that I decided to try. I collected
the stories that I'd written for her and added others, and a year
later I had a manuscript.
*(SK)* *Without giving away the book I am thinking of the 3 stories
that entailed Cara, Donnata and Heraulta. Winding these 3 stories
together like a braid was genius. The plots in each story take many
twist and turns, would you consider this a part of your writing
*(V)* The plots and twists come from the characters themselves. I
go into channeling mode and write down what they tell me in rough form
and then go back to make the stories readable. Some of my characters
are so chatty that I can't even write in full sentences if I want to
get down everything they're telling me. So I just do the best I can.
If I lose some of what they have told me I simply go back (in a trance
state) and call on them. Most often they're very cooperative,
understanding that I don't move as quickly as they do. And they
patiently go over what I've missed or forgotten. After all, they want
their stories told.
Then the real work begins: turning each story into a work of art.
After all, these women have trusted me with their truths. They deserve
the best work I can do.
*(SK)* *Who would you say is your biggest influence in your writing and why?*
*(V)* Generally, I have always felt a strong desire to write. I
never had anything to say, but I always somehow said it well. Then I
found Goddess, actually, many Goddesses. And suddenly characters were
opening up to me like a rose garden in June. Goddess gave me my voice
before I was born. But I needed 58 years to find out what she wanted
me to sing.
For this book, however, the biggest influence was the people who told
me their stories. These are wonderful people, flawed to be sure, but
good people at heart. And they've blessed me with their trust.
(SK) What was your initial inspiration for this book?*
*(V)* The initial inspiration was Shekhinah's assignment to write.
The first story I wrote was Mima Po's. She really was my neighbor.
She died when I was very young, but I loved her enormously. I wanted
very much for Shekhinah to meet her, and later I wanted others to meet
her as well. She truly was a lovely person, and I treasure her
*(SK) Besides writing the book I know you also write for other
publications would you like to tell us about them?*
*(V)* Yes I write for periodicals on occasion if the theme sings
to me and I feel I have something to say. I've been published in Sage
Woman and in Beltane Papers. I think Pan Gaia is printing an article
of mine too but I'm not yet sure of that.
Sage Woman was the first Pagan magazine I read, and I was so thrilled
to find something out there for us, something that didn't tell us how
to lose weight or how to get or keep a man! It was a magazine that
celebrated Goddess-loving women just as we are, warts and all. I
loved that! And so I bought it whenever I saw it on the shelves. I
didn't dream that one day I'd be featured in it.
A few years later I found other magazines, but Sage Woman was the
first and so has always had a special place in my heart. Therefore,
when I decided to write for magazines, it was Sage Woman that I turned
to first. But I don't write for magazines all that often. The theme
of the issue has to really sing to me if I'm to write something true
and worth reading.
*(SK) Something that I noticed about "HiddenPassages" was that this
book is written with 8 stories about 8 women. In most or a lot of
cultures the number 8 is thought to be sacred noting immortality.
When you wrote the book was this a factor, maybe a motivator for the
number of stories and women or just a coincidence?*
*(V)* Yes the number eight has always been important to me exactly
because it's the number of immortality and, lying on its side, the
symbol for infinity. You see, each of my characters lives on in this
book and will continue to live as long as people read their stories.
So the number eight is important to my characters as well.
The truths in this book are eternal as well. Women will always
struggle over how to raise their children (Heraulta) or how to survive
without their mothers (Donnata) or how to fly out on their own when
it's time for them to leave the nest (Cara). Girls will always find
truths that are contradictory to everything their parents taught them
(Mima Po). Girls will always have their first periods (Passages).
Women will always turn to other women for support when they feel
invisible (Lavinia). And sadly, women will always have to live
somehow through the deaths of their children (Nanu's Story and Gita's
Journey). These experiences are virtually universal. They transcend
race, religion, time, and culture.
I have written other stories, of course, and I may put them together
in another book one day. But eight is what I wanted for this
particular volume. And I wanted these particular eight. All the
characters get on very well with one another. They enjoy each other's
company. It's a lovely little coven, this group of eight stories, and
I feel really peaceful with it. One day I may write a collection of
nine or seven or five stories. And that will be the perfect number
for that book. But for this one the number was eight.
*(SK) I have to admit that while reading the book I easily finished
each story thinking that was my favorite one and then I started the
next and could feel myself becoming that character and identifying
with her and then realizing that I had a couple of the characters that
were my favorite. Do you have a favorite story out of the eight that
stands out among them all and if so which one and why?*
*(V) *Oh that's like asking a mother who her favorite child is. I
respect and adore each one of these characters and love each one of
their stories. Each is different, of course. Each has her own
baggage, her own present, and her own aspirations for the future. But
I couldn't begin to single out an individual character or story as a
favorite. Each one taught me much and each, in her way, has been a
special blessing to me.
*(SK) Are you currently working on any new projects? If yes would
you like to tell us about them?*
*(V)* Yes I'm working on the Forest Song trilogy. Actually, it's
the story of a character I channeled while I was writing Hidden
Passages. I wrote her tale in short story form, but she was far from
satisfied. She wanted an entire novel. In fact, it turns out that
she wants several novels. I have finished the first, Forest Song:
Finding Home, and it's with the publisher now. I hope to learn soon if
they will publish it.
Forest Song: Finding Home takes place between 1929 and 1934 and is
about Judy Baumann's girlhood struggle to escape from her parents'
house in Germany to the enchanted woods between Germany and Poland.
Once she makes it to the forest, she meets a witch; the witch's
consort; and a cast of people, fairies, and animals who guide her
through the mysteries of Polish witchcraft and help her grow into her
The second (and possibly third) novel(s) will be about her
child-bearing years. And the last will be about her years as a Crone.
But Judy's one of the chattier characters in my life, so I just don't
know how many books she'll fill. As of now I plan to call each book
Forest Song with a different subtitle. The one I'm writing now is
Forest Song: Little Mother.
*(SK)* I sincerely hope they do decide to publish the book as you
have peak my interest already. Please let PaganPages know how
everything progress with the Novel.
*(SK) What has surprised you the most about being a published author.*
*(V)* The readers' reactions amaze me. They're wonderful! People
read my book or one of my articles and write me at my web site
(*www.vilaspiderhawk.com*)to tell me how deeply my work has touched
their lives. They often tell me their own life stories, which is so
very kind of them! I just love my readers, both the men and the
*(SK)* *Vila, being a witch now for about 5-6 years and a retired
teacher, I know there is a lot more about your family. You currently
reside in the woods of Pennsylvania, would you tell our Readers a
little more about that and your family.*
*(V)* Oh sure. Ever since my husband and I became a couple we
have been talking about building a log home in the woods. Our
favorite leisure activity was designing the house. He happens to be
very good at drawing up plans. We always knew we'd do this one day,
though we didn't know where or when. Well, a dozen years ago we found
this lovely piece of land. It's 34 acres of woods, and we simply fell
in love with it. So we bought it. However, we hadn't yet settled on
a design for the house that really sang to both of us. So it was a
couple of years before we actually built here. We moved in here in
1999. And we are still awed every time we look out a window. It is
just amazingly gorgeous here.
We never had any children. In fact, I have never even been pregnant.
And I am fine with that. I never really wanted children. I know
saying that is a form of heresy in our culture, but there it is. I
just never really wanted kids. However, we've rescued many cats over
the years. In fact, all our cats have horror stories. And we feel
that we're making a difference by giving them a loving home.
It's a superb life. Every day I wake up grateful, and every night,
even on the toughest of days(and some really are tough) I am grateful
for my husband, for my kitties, for this wonderful forest from which I
draw so much strength, and for my dear friends who help me through
difficult times in more ways than even they can know. I really
couldn't ask for more.
*(SK) Thank you very much Vila, for sitting with me today and talking
to our Readers about your life and your book, "Hidden Passages, Tales
to Honor the Crones". It has been a joy working with you and this
project and I look forward to getting with you again soon when your
new novel, "Forest Song: Finding Home", is published.*
* "Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones", can be purchased at
all online booksellers' sites and from the publisher,
Hidden Passages, Tales to Honor the Crones
296 Pages Paperback