NEW SOUTH WALES — Australian author and ritualist Jane Meredith launched her sixth book Aspecting the Goddess: Drawing down the divine feminine last month.
Sharing the similar format – combined workbook, memoir and anthology- as some of Meredith’s earlier works, Aspecting the Goddess explores twelve different goddess myths including Freyja, Eve, Persephone and Blodeuwedd.
“Aspecting the Goddess is a book I have been wanting to write for a long time,” Meredith tells TWH.“I basically waited until I thought I could get a publisher to agree to publish exactly the book I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. All of my books explore one of my passions – and this one, working with the Goddess, is very close to my heart.”Born in the 1960s and now based in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains area, Meredith possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in secondary education with majors in sociology and politics. She has worked a wide variety of jobs including teaching, market research and tarot reading. Throughout her life she has been involved in student politics, the women’s peace movement, and trade unionism. At 27 she had a child and moved to Northern New South Wales where she read and taught tarot and organised women’s groups and rituals.
Meredith is a teacher and facilitator within the Reclaiming tradition in Australia. Since 2011 she has been instrumental in the running of public rituals, teaching core classes, and helping organise the CloudCatcher Witchcamp in Queensland each year.
“Reclaiming is amazing in its community-building, its accessibility and its appeal….You don’t have to identify as Reclaiming to attend [Reclaiming events],” Meredith explains. “In Australia, the foundational Reclaiming course, Elements of Magic, has run 43 times by my count, since 2011. That’s with an average of 10 to 20 students in each one, always taught by at least two Reclaiming teachers.”
“There have been 15 Reclaiming WitchCamps (magical intensives taking place over four or five days) since 2011. With six to eight teachers and 40 – 85 participants at each one, creating wild and deep magic, community and radical life-changing experiences.”
Meredith feels that the smaller Pagan population and greater distances in Australia have done little to stymie the popularity of the Reclaiming tradition throughout the country.
“I would say, hunger is sharper. I think of Reclaiming as fierce and joyful potion, reaching out to solo practitioners… people from all life situations and magical or activist or artistic backgrounds and all those touched or called by Reclaiming’s Principles of Unity, Starhawk’s books or connection to Reclaiming communities…. We add a vibrant and creative thread to the worldwide Reclaiming community.”
“Reclaiming is essentially eclectic. I might say this book is a union of my Goddess background, current Reclaiming ritual styles and my own personal magic.” Meredith says.
The book’s title is itself is a clear indicator of this union: in the Reclaiming tradition, ‘aspecting’ is, as Meredith puts it, “a very technical and controlled yet ecstatic ritual practice… of inviting a deity to partially inhabit a human being, within ritual, for a specified length of time, for a particular purpose or intention. I think the word has a lovely, haunting and luminous feel to it… It’s an experience rather than a belief!”
When asked about the inclusion of the words ‘drawing down’ in the book’s title, Meredith said that this was a not a reference to writings and rituals within traditional initiatory (or more eclectic) Wicca. “Unlike ‘aspecting’ I thought [‘drawing down’] was familiar as a word and concept. And they are essentially the same thing, although… aspecting tends to include a lot of precise and particular formatting of the experience.”
In a recent review, author Nimue Brown praised Meredith’s attention to detail and level-headedness when dealing with topics which have not always been treated in this manner in Pagan writings. Brown writes, “There’s a wealth of detail here the like of which I’ve not seen before. At every turn, Jane offers multiple approaches and possibilities, methods she’s tested, and permission to explore and experiment. While it’s a book that goes confidently into some really woo-woo territory, it does so in an utterly grounded way, with wisdom and good sense and regular reminders that just because things can get magical, doesn’t mean they always will.”
Meredith says that the writing process is not always easy, but for Aspecting the Goddesswas, it was meaningful. Her finished piece is representative of a journey and something to be proud of, she says. “Embracing the long, unwinding story of my grief around my mother’s death as some kind of a ‘through thread’ is something I feel satisfied, in a quiet, deep way, about.”
She explains, “Including so many stories set within Reclaiming WitchCamps, and in particularCloudCatcherWitchCamp, is something I feel joyous about. I love the cover. I feel tremendously pleased to have given so much space – so many words and so many pages – to each of these goddesses, who have each shaped and touched and blessed my life. And I’ve dedicated it to my very dear friend Trinda, who died as I was beginning to write it and who I felt, hovering next to my right elbow, through most of the writing of it.”
Meredith hopes that the book will appeal to a range of experience levels, and that for a few this will be the right book at just the right time. “I’ve heard so many stories of ‘my friend gave me this at just the right moment’, or‘it literally jumped off the shelf in a bookshop into my hands’. I just trust it will go places, almost by itself. I’ve written it so that the reader could have…. no experience at all, of magic, ritual and mythology… or a lot. That’s the joy of personal writing: inviting someone to step into the experience and then imagine or create some experiences for themselves. I hope people who’ve previously liked my work will enjoy and resonate with this one.”
Aspecting the Goddess was released on May 25 by Moon Books. It is available in both physical and Kindle editions on Amazon.com.