I am pleased to welcome a wonderful new friend, the multi-faceted Rev. Judith Laxer, author of magical realism, Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers.
Rev. Judith Laxer is a modern day mystic who believes beauty and humor and the wonders of nature make life worth living. The founding Priestess of Gaia’s Temple, a house of worship for the Divine Feminine with close to a decade and a half of service to the community, Judith also enjoys a private practice as a psychic, spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, shamanic practitioner, author, and teacher of women’s mysteries.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers is a collection of eight short fictional stories that accompany the sabbats, or natural earth holy days, on the Pagan Wheel of the Year: the solstices, the equinoxes and the cross quarter days in between. The stories help the reader deepen their connection to nature within a spiritual context.
A young woman follows her lover and finds her spiritual calling in the Autumn realm of the dead; a first-time mother gives birth on the Winter solstice; a daughter’s grief heals in a Spring garden; a joyous ceremony of mature sexuality celebrates the peak of Summer: these stories, and more, explore magical realism in ordinary life. Following the Pagan Wheel of the Year through the experience of the characters, this collection of stories demonstrates how the changing of the seasons is a spiritual model for the soul.
How did you come up with the title?
The Wheel of the Year is a metaphoric model for our souls’ journey. I wanted a title that speaks to the ongoing cycles of life. The use of the word Wheel in the title addresses this metaphor because like circles, wheels have no beginning and no ending. Also, I have always been fascinated with the concept of time and how our perception of it shifts with our awareness of living.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
There are several reasons, actually. My personal experience of living a devotional life is so richly connected to the natural world and so satisfying, I wanted to share the beauty and significance of a life lived this way. Especially in our era of ubiquitous technology that engages us in superficiality and keeps us disconnected. Secondly, I want these stories to inform readers who don’t resonate with any modern established religion to understand how reverence for nature can be a viable spiritual path. Finally, I wanted to debunk a few unsavory myths and much negative press about Paganism.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Must I choose one? When an idea buzzes around inside me and propels me to start playing with words. When I am on a roll and the words are flowing and I am out of my own way. When I finish the first draft and then get to go back and begin carefully crafting it. I love polishing a story.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Intellectually I know there are going to be days when I write and write and don’t like what I end up with. But emotionally, if I end up not liking what I have spent time writing, doubt sets in. Often I feel I am in competition with myself, like I must outdo myself each time I sit down to write. Once I get that inner competitor under lock and key, I have a much easier time.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Barbara Kingsolver, Joan Didion, Somerset Maugham, Elizabeth Cunningham, and my latest favorite Colum McCann.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
Jean Huston has had an enormous influence on me. I strive to have her command of language, but it’s more how she thinks that is so impressive. I find her understanding of the possible human to be endlessly inspiring.
Favorite place to write?
My desktop at home. I sit in the room I have designed to my liking, surrounded by my art, looking out my window onto my garden. Visual beauty is crucial for inspiration and creativity and my sense of myself as an artist.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
Oh my, yes! Technology and the whole social media thing has been a huge learning curve. I still have much trepidation approaching it, but I am determined to stay in the game and remain relevant.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I joined a weekly writing group. The help, support, and camaraderie are invaluable.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
Toughen your skin, believe in your work, hone your voice, cultivate your ability to trust, and prepare to wait.
Where can we find your book?
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I once accompanied my hypnotherapy client into the operating room for her breast cancer surgery. She was allergic to anesthetic and we used hypnosis to get her through it! The next thing I know, I am wearing scrubs sitting on a stool at her head in the freezing operating room for close to eight hours. To this day, it is still one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.
What’s next for you?
Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? I’ve begun working on my next book, which I believe will be another collection of short stories. But it’s still in the infancy stage and therefore too soon to tell.
Thank you, Judith! I wish you the best of luck with your book and look forward to reading it!