Danielle Dulsky, founder of the Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs, author of Woman Most Wild (New World Library, 2017) and a female spirituality activist, discusses her guide for self-proclaimed witches to rediscover their instinctive womanhood in The Holy Wild (NWL, Sept.).
How is this book different from your previous book, Woman Most Wild?
My intention was for Woman Most Wild to be a sweet-voiced invitation, asking readers to question the stereotypes and indoctrinated beliefs they have about witchcraft. My intention is for The Holy Wild is to go beyond that initial invitation to meet the witch within and to actually give her a voice—to let her speak, permit her to share her story of becoming, and even more than that, to know that story as valuable medicine for these troubled times.
What inspired your belief that women need “their own teaching tales”?
Witchcraft is essentially feminist, ecologically conscious, and against all forms of oppression. It requires each individual practitioner to take an inventory of what they’ve been told of divinity, magick, and the sacred. Practicing magick demands the witch know themselves to be part of the cosmic web—an embodiment of the same energy that they seek to wield. In the absence of teaching tales and stories of spiritual transformation—where the hero is a heroine—there is often a blockage to deep self-awareness. This lack of understanding is born of patriarchal culture. We learn that deities, prophets, and spiritual leaders are male. The women in our spiritual teaching stories are often the sinners, the ugly witches, and the wicked step-mothers.
Do you think it’s becoming increasingly difficult for women to understand their inner wild in the modern world?
There are countless reasons to resist any kind of change, but I’m not sure the wild feminine path requires anything more from you aside from taking notice of where you already are. It’s a shift in awareness more than a to-do list, and while, yes, that sort of embodied presence does demand the phone gets put on silent or even better, left at home for an hour, I think that an embrace of The Holy Wild looks different for everyone. There’s no one way to be a witch, and there’s no one route home to the wilds.
What is the message you’d like readers to take away from the book?
I think the key message is that it’s not my words or stories that are holy; it’s the reader’s own personal words and stories that are holy. My hope is that the verses and stories I share serve as a sort of catalyst for the reader to revision parts of her own experience as not only not shameful, but deeply sacred in their own right.