When I was in Scotland late last year, an English journalist emailed me to request an interview, and to review Seven Sacred Sites. My mum sent off a copy of the book for me, and we emailed back and forth quite a bit, and I later sent my other books for review as well.
I was really touched this week to read the interview that resulted…
Serene Conneeley’s chronicles of magic
By Huria Choudhari, Ravenhawks Magazine.
For the contemporary witch nothing serves as a better introduction to the craft of magic and spells than the books of Serene Conneeley.
An investigation into sacred sites, largely fed by my own quest for magical knowledge, led me to ‘Seven Sacred Sites’. ‘Seven Sacred Sites’ is Conneeley’s captivating and inspiring book that chronicles the “vibrational essence, beauty, tranquillity and history” of seven of the world’s most magical places including the old Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru; the pyramids of Egypt; Uluru, the ancient monolith in Central Australia; the magically placed stone circles of Stonehenge; and the volcanoes, mountains and oceans of Hawaii.
In ‘Seven Sacred Sites’, Conneeley’s adventures see her take sacred plant medicine with shamans in the Amazon jungle; explore her inner priestess in the Serene Conneeleymystical isle of Avalon in Glastonbury; meditate in Egypt’s Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice; connect with the volcano goddess in the island paradise of Hawaii; dance within the sacred circle of Stonehenge in the British Isles; walk in the footsteps of kings and queens on the Camino pilgrimage across Spain; and explore the powerful earth energy of Uluru with Anangu elders.
Having visited some of these places myself, ‘Seven Sacred Sites’, for me, served as the missing piece of the jigsaw in my understanding, awareness, insight and connection to these sites which at the time of visiting I was “in the dark” about, largely due to my own reticence about the magical abilities inherent within me.
One book down and the Australian writer, healer and witch had not only whet my appetite for delving into more magic but her writings and knowledge of the craft had most significantly managed to open up my own internal blocks around being a magic user and being fearful of my powers.
Far from being a reluctant witch, Conneeley’s own interest in magic started at a young age. “Magic has always been with me,” she says. Born in Sydney but raised in a small town on the West Australian coast, Conneeley’s parents were adamant that she and her sister not grow up in the city.
“My childhood was spent amongst the trees of our bush property. It sounds grander than it was – for several years the ‘bedroom’ my sister and I shared was a tent attached to the one-room wooden cabin that was our home, and we had no electricity or hot water,” Conneeley recalls.
“I played amongst the trees, watched the seasons unfold, crossed a fallen log to the state forest across the river from us, swam at the beach by day, admired the stars at night – and was a vegetarian whose earaches were soothed by a baked onion tied to my head, and illnesses were treated by a naturopath and chiropractor rather than a GP. So I guess my hippie upbringing helped instill in me an appreciation for nature and a connection to the natural world.”
Conneeley’s journey as a teenage witch saw her borrowing her mother’s holistic health books by the likes of Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer and doing courses in the Japanese healing method of reiki. She would also connect with crystals and “fall in love” with the healing tools. But it was the time that followed when Conneeley would embrace the witch within. “I attended some pagan full moon circles, met some lovely women at a Witchy Reiki course and joined their coven for a time, studied magical and medicinal herbalism, travelled to many sacred places around the world and immersed myself in those energies – and finally realised that everything I had always felt and believed made me a witch,” she adds.
Incorporating magic into her daily life comes naturally to Conneeley who draws “inspiration from the moon” and “strength from the sun”. “To me, magic is about intent, and it is within every one of us, rather than an external thing we must labour to harness,” Conneeley adds. “It’s about connecting to the earth, celebrating the turning of the seasons, being in tune with the cycles of the moon and honouring the God and the Goddess, not as literal beings, but as archetypes of masculine and feminine and the balance of the two within us and within nature. It’s also – just as importantly, for me at least – about taking responsibility for my actions, realising the consequences of all that I do, choosing to be happy, deciding what kind of life I want to lead and working to create it, and recognising the sacred in all things.
“Practically, I have an altar and beautiful blessed tools that help me work magic. I celebrate the Sabbats with ritual and dance on a hill with other pagans under the full moon of the Esbats. I cast spells to let go of pain, fear and guilt. I draw on the energy of the earth and nature to heal myself and others. I honour the seasons of the earth and the phases of the moon, and always endeavour to include some form of nature conservation in my writing.”
Sharing her knowledge of the craft is something that Serene Conneeley is clearly destined to do. In addition to ‘Seven Sacred Sites’, she has written several books on magic as well as a novel, ‘Into the Mists’. And with her friend and fellow magic user, Lucy Cavendish, she has co-authored three books – ‘Witchy Magic’, ‘Mermaid Magic’ and ‘The Book of Faery Magic’.
‘Witchy Magic’ explores the wisdom of witchcraft, offering clear guidance on how you can access this ancient knowledge to create the life you desire. It explores how to create your own magic through connecting with nature; craft and cast trusted spells for love, health, joy, wisdom, success and authenticity; weave magic with the seasons, the moon cycles and the elements of the natural world; cast circles and create an altar; tap into your own healing powers; and determine your destiny through divination methods.
‘Mermaid Magic’ looks into the healing powers of mermaids, magic and the marine environment. While ‘The Book of Faery Magic’ delves into tradition, history and faery lore, providing whimsical accounts of interaction with the fae, grounded guidance on working with them, and beautiful ideas for reconnection with the magical realms.
‘The Book of Faery Magic’ was the first book that the two friends embarked on together. Conneeley says that in spite of some challenges, the pair had fun writing together. “We wrote well together, inspiring each other to look deeper into the aspects we each chose to write about, and had a lot of fun doing it,” she explains. “Lucy wrote more about the spiritual side – connecting with faeries, her experiences with Otherworld beings, how to find them and speak to them – while I focused on faeries as a personification of nature – how to use the faeries as inspiration to take better care of the planet and become an environmental activist, the magical properties of herbs and flowers, how to create your own fae garden, how to connect with your inner faery, places connected to the fae and more.”
The research process involved gathering knowledge from books, courses and interviews. “
“I researched a great deal through books, both old and new, did courses on magical and medicinal herbalism, drew on my interactions from travelling to sacred places, interviewed many people, from magical writer Juliet Marillier to environmentalist Cara Walker, druid priestess Cassandra Eason, faery artist Jessica Galbreth and author and healer Doreen Virtue,” Conneeley describes.
“For Mermaid Magic I submerged myself even deeper into the research, again focusing on the environmental aspects of the ocean as well as how you can connect with yourSerene Conneeley inner mermaid and use their archetypes for your own healing and growth – I did chapters on whales and dolphins and their conservation, swimming with them in the wild, the healing power of water, both wells and the ocean, crystals connected with the sea, connecting with mer myths and legends – and interviewed many people, from writers, artists, professors and environmentalists to healers, surfers, conservationists and an Indigenous woman whose people are connected to the ocean.”
Last year Mermaid Magic was published in Japanese by a Japanese publisher, which for Serene Conneeley was a major achievement “especially given the sadness of the dolphin hunts and whaling industry in that country – as well as the resistance to both by so many of the people of that land”, she states.
Healing is also at the heart of Conneeley’s books, a practice that she has embraced wholeheartedly in her work not just as an author and journalist but as a reconnective healing practitioner too. Reconnective Healing is a non-touch approach to energy healing. When you are trained and reconnected, you gain access to spiritual energy in the universe that you can pass to others and heal them of all kinds of ills. “I’ve been honoured to see some incredible results from it, from a brain tumour shocking doctors by its shrinking to emotional breakthroughs that have been incredibly healing,” she says. “I also feel that words have power, and that they can inspire and uplift people – although equally they can wound, so care needs to be taken. It means a great deal to me when people write to me to say that one of my books helped them through a tough time or inspired them to make some changes in their lives.”
Conneeley’s next magical adventure is currently underway as she writes her second novel and seventh book, a sequel to ‘Into The Mists’, which was published last year. Her first novel followed the tale of a young Australian girl whose parents die, which results in her being sent to England to live with a grandmother she never knew existed. There’s magic, and several mysteries, as she journeys through grief and anger and tries to make sense of her life and discover a future that will have meaning for her. “It sounds a little grimmer than it really is – there’s fun and laughter and magical rituals too, and a cottage that may or may not exist, and a couple of adorable black cats,” she says.
As far as wanderlust goes and the need to feed her fascination with history, myth and magic, Serene Conneeley hopes to expand her adventure pool in the future. “I would love to visit Greece one day and experience its ruined temples, and really get a feel for their history and culture,” she says. “And I’d definitely like to spend more time in New Zealand, and explore its countryside.”
For more information on Serene Conneeley and her books, visit: SereneConneeley.com
Huria Choudhari is a journalist, stylist, digital guru and creative coach. She writes about music, fashion and lifestyle for Life & Soul Magazine (www.lifeandsoulmagazine.com). Hones her stylist skills to building and designing websites, and helps people discover and embrace their creativity.