Wild Magic Woman: Issue 2 Part 2 Mary Sharratt's, "My Heroine's Journey: Writing Women Back in History"

As a longtime fan of Mary's, today's installment holds special interest for me. Having the privilege to step into the pages of her own story, learn more about what motivates her as a woman and writer is a precious gift. And to offer it up to you now, is a joy!

My Heroine’s Journey: Writing Women Back in History

We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.            

This is not your fault or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed into the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father and the celebrated chronicle of my brother.

Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

I am an expat author. My home is everywhere and nowhere. A wanderer, I have lived in many different places, from Minnesota, my birthplace, with its rustling marshes haunted by the cries of redwing blackbirds, to Bavaria with its dark forests and dazzling meadows and pure streams where otter still live, to my present home in the haunted moorlands of Pendle Witch country in Lancashire, England. My entire adult life has been a literal journey of finding myself in the great world.

For as long as I remember, I longed to be a writer. As a novelist I am on a mission to write women back into history. To tell the neglected, unwritten stories of women like my pioneering foremothers who emigrated from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in the 1860s to break the prairie soil of southern Minnesota.

To a large extent, women have been written out of history. Their lives and deeds have become lost to us. To uncover their buried truths, we must act as detectives, studying the sparse clues that have been handed down to us. We must learn to read between the lines and fill in the blanks. My heroine’s journey, in other words, is about reclaiming the lost heroines of history. My quest is to give voice to ancestral memory of that lost motherline.

When I sat down and did the research, I discovered very epoch had its radical voices, movers and shakers, extraordinary women who rocked the establishment. Think of Sappho, Hypatia, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth I of England, Aphra Benn, Anne Bonny the Pirate Queen, Emma Goldman, and Rosa Parks, to name a few.

But the women who stand out in history and claim their power are often the most maligned—or else their accomplishments are trivialized or dismissed.

As a case in point, I present Alma Schindler Mahler (1879-1964), the heroine of my new novel Ecstasy. She was one of the most controversial women in the twentieth century. Her husbands and lovers included composer Gustav Mahler, Bauhaus-founder Walter Gropius, artist Oskar Kokoschka, and poet Franz Werfel. But she was her own woman to the last, polyamorous long before it was cool. Although she was also a composer in her own right, most commentators, including some of her own biographers, ignore this and focus instead on how she “failed” to be the ideal woman for the great men in her life. Alma, like Lilith, is demonized as a man-destroying monster. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s observation that well-behaved women seldom make history could have been written about Alma.

I have long idolized Gustav Mahler and own multiple recordings of each of his symphonies and song cycles. I fell in love with both his music and the entire mythos surrounding him. For me, his character arc is that of the perfect tragic hero who met his untimely death at the age of fifty with courage and nobility. Yet as deeply as I admire Mahler, I would not want to be his wife.

Some Mahlerites blame Alma for his downfall. Despite the fact that Mahler died of a hereditary heart condition, they appear to believe that Alma’s adulterous affair with Walter Gropius hastened Mahler’s demise. 

Yet Mahler loved Alma as passionately as some of his fans seem to hate her. We can feel Alma’s indelible presence in his music from his Fifth Symphony onward. His most tender adagios are declarations of his devotion to her. In his tenth and final symphony, we can literally hear his heart breaking for her. He scrawled on the score, “To live for you, to die for you, Almschi.”

How could one woman could inspire such emotional extremes? The deeper I delved into Alma’s story, the more complex and compelling she became.

As a young woman, Alma Maria Schindler was a most accomplished pianist—her teacher thought she was good enough to study at Vienna Conservatory. However, Alma didn’t want a career of public performance. Instead she yearned to be a composer. Her lieder, composed under the guidance of her mentor and lover, Alexander von Zemlinsky, are arresting, emotional, and highly original and can be compared with the early work of Zemlinsky’s other famous student, Arnold Schoenberg.

But the odds were stacked against her. In turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, women who strived for a livelihood in the arts were mocked as the “third sex”—the fate of Alma’s friend, the sculptor Ilse Conrat. When a towering genius like Mahler asked Alma to give up her composing career as a condition of their marriage, she reluctantly succumbed. 

Yet underneath it all she was still that questing young woman who yearned to compose symphonies and operas. Shortly before her marriage, twenty-two-year-old Alma wrote in her diary, “I have two souls: I know it.” Born in an era that struggled to recognize women as full-fledged human beings, Alma experienced a fundamental split in her psyche—the rift between herself as a distinct creative individual and herself as an object of male desire. The suppression of her true self to become the woman Mahler wanted her to be was unsustainable and inhuman. Eventually the authentic Alma erupted out of this false persona. 

What emerged was a woman far ahead of her time, who rejected the shackles of condoned feminine behavior and insisted on her sexual and creative freedom. Alma eventually returned to composing and went on to publish fourteen of her songs. Three other lieder have been discovered posthumously. Now her work is regularly performed and recorded.

Like unconventional women throughout history, Alma to this day faces a backlash of misinterpretation and outright condemnation. She was complex, transgressive, ambitious, and often perplexing.

Paradoxically it was Alma’s transgressiveness that taught me the most profound lesson about claiming my own power as a woman in male-dominated society. Delving into Alma’s complexities allowed me to embrace all the shadows and light in my own character. For Alma was neither a “good” woman nor a “bad” woman, but a woman who insisted on being fully human, whatever the cost. A woman who recognized that pure and impure, faithful and loose, madonna and whore are simply poisonous projections used to deny women their full expression of being. Alma was not any one color, dark or light. She was the whole spectrum. So it is with all of us. Every woman contains the totality, the heights and the depths.

This is why Alma deserves to be the center of her own story. She was not only a composer but what in German is called a Lebenskünstlerin, or life artist—she pioneered new ways of being as a woman that was in itself a work of art. May we all be life artists on our heroine’s journey.

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(Mary at Gustav Mahler's composing hut in Austria)

Bio: Mary Sharratt is on a mission to write women back into history. Her novel Ecstasy,  drawn from Alma Mahler’s heroine’s journey, is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Visit her website: www.marysharratt.com


Issue 2: Diary of an Earth Daughter's Wild Magic Woman: Mary Sharratt Part I

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(Mary's latest novel, Ecstasy, released tomorrow!)

Welcome to Diary of an Earth Daughter's Issue 2 of Wild Magic Woman. I am honored to be working with Mary once again and to highlight a second novel of hers. Today we begin with a Q and A to get us underway. In this installment you get an insider's scoop of some of the workings, musings and mechanics of Mary's process and thoughts regarding her latest work, Ecstasy. Tomorrow stay tuned as Mary shares an intimate look at her own Heroine's Journey, an exclusive for our Circle Magica community!

Thanks to Mary for bringing two special behind-the-scenes glimpses to help us celebrate your mission of writing women back into history! 


1.     When were you first introduced to the Mahlers’ music and compositions?

I grew up with classical music and played violin from elementary school through my college years. I always write with classical music playing in the background to put me in the zone. When I was living in Germany in the 1990s, I fell in love with the sheer passion of Gustav Mahler’s music, the way he isn’t afraid to delve deep into the heart of human darkness and suffering, and how he brings you out again into sheer transcendence.

When I discovered that Alma Mahler was also a composer—one who was forced to live in Gustav’s shadow—I bought recordings of her work and fell in love with her passionate lieder. She plunges you straight into a maelstrom of emotion and longing. Her work truly evokes the heart and soul of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna.

2.     Understanding that Alma is “a larger-than-life woman”, how was it that you chose to focus the novel on a portion of Alma’s life? How did you decide when to end her story in the book?

Originally, I wanted the novel to tell the story of Alma’s entire life, but it took me 400 pages just to try to do justice to her young adulthood and first marriage. Narrating the full sweep of Alma’s long and turbulent life would require a trilogy, at the very least. Who knows—maybe if ECSTASY is super-successful, my publisher might ask me to write a sequel or two!

3.     Do you feel there is more to write about Alma in a subsequent work someday?

Definitely. There was her passionate relationship with the artist Oskar Kokoschka, her decades with her third husband, the poet and novelist Franz Werfel, and her and Franz’s dramatic escape from the Nazis. They had to cross from France on foot and hike through the mountains of Spain until they reached Portugal. In Lisbon they boarded a ship for New York. I’d also like to write about her complex relationship with her daughter Anna, who became a celebrated twentieth century sculptor. I almost see mother and daughter as two halves of the same whole. Alma’s artistic sacrifice literally gave birth to her daughter’s determined brilliance and successful career.   

4.     If you could meet Alma what would you most like to converse with her about?

Gustav Mahler famously made Alma give up her own music as a condition of their marriage. This sacrifice proved to be soul-destroying for Alma and nearly destroyed their relationship. Later Gustav repented and urged Alma to compose again. He helped her get her first collection of songs published. After his death, Alma published two more collections of her lieder, totalling fourteen songs in her lifetime. Three additional songs were discovered posthumously, two of which were published in 2000. Beyond these seventeen surviving lieder, nothing else remains or has been found. We do know that, according to her early diaries, Alma composed or drafted more than a hundred songs, various instrumental pieces, and the beginning of an opera. These “lost” works may have been destroyed in World War II after Alma fled Austria and left most of her belongings behind, or she may have destroyed them herself. We will never know what posterity might have lost.

I would ask Alma what happened to all this lost music and why she didn’t share it with posterity. After all, she took Gustav Mahler’s scores with her when she escaped from Austria, but not her own. At the end of her life, how deeply did she regret this loss? And what was it like for her to see her daughter Anna succeed in becoming a respected and recognized sculptor with a vast body of work that was literally carved in stone? 

5.     In the book’s Historical Afterword you describe Alma as a Lebenskünstlerin- who are some of today’s “life artists”?

A life artist, for those unfamiliar with the term, is someone who succeeds in not only creating art but in truly living and embodying their creative spirit until their entire life becomes a work of art. With her insistence on her independence and sexual and creative freedom, Alma was a life artist who pioneered new ways of being as a woman. Another of my most beloved twentieth century life artists was Frida Kahlo.

Today’s life artists include women like visionary singer-song writer and poet Patti Smith. For me, she was far more radical and groundbreaking even than David Bowie. Just listen to her 1975 album Horses. African American spiritual elder Luisah Teish is a priestess of Oshun and a bona fide matriarch who stands in her sovereignty and refuses to let anyone else define who she should be.  A prolific writer and modern contemplative, Sara Maitland lives as a hermit in the wilds of Galloway, Scotland. A Book of Silence is just one of the masterpieces that arose from the depths of her hallowed solitude.

6.     What is your greatest wish for Ecstasy?

Previous books about Alma have generally presented her in a very negative and misogynist light. I hope ECSTASY inspires people to take a fresh look at Alma and recognize her as an artist in her own right, not just a femme fatale or a muse to famous men. I also hope my book helps readers understand why all these geniuses fell in love with her—her fascination and allure went far beyond physical beauty and sex appeal. I hope the reader, too, will fall in love with Alma in all her nuanced glory and recognize that her struggles as a female composer are as relevant today as they were a century ago.

7.     As a writer, what is one experience you dream of fulfilling before you leave the earth?

I’m on a mission to write overlooked women back into history, a task I find both exhilarating and daunting. To a large extent, women have been written out of history. Their lives and deeds have become lost to us. To uncover their buried histories, we must act as detectives, studying the sparse clues that have been handed down to us. So far I’ve written about the Pendle Witches of 1612, Hildegard of Bingen, and Renaissance poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanier. I wrote my novels to make these women’s lives accessible and relevant to modern readers. 

I hope my books can inspire readers to care about women’s lost histories as much as I do and to rethink common misperceptions about women in the past. Together authors and readers can restore women to their rightful place in history.

8.     What are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek at your new work-in-progress?

Revelations, my new novel in progress, should be of special interest to fans of my 2012 novel, Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. Here I return once more to the realm of female medieval mystics. Revelations is the story of the intersecting lives of two spiritual women who changed history—earthy Margery Kempe, globetrotting pilgrim and mother of fourteen, and ethereal Julian of Norwich, sainted anchorite, theologian, and author of the first book in English by a woman. Imagine, if you will, a fifteenth century Eat, Pray, Love.

Diary of an Earth Daughter: Garden Dreaming

Today the sun will sink beneath the tree line across the street dipping into Great Pond at 5:15pm. Come the Spring Equinox we will have 12:08:55 hours of daylight with the sun setting at 6:56pm. These longer stretches of light and hint of warmth stir my inner gardener out of hibernation. Soon I will retrieve seed flats from the potting table in the dark recesses of the garage and fill them with soil designed to get this year's garden hopefuls underway. I will pluck the jewels from last year's successes out of the cigar box; the Jackson heirloom Stripe, R.L and 2016 tomato seeds,  Selena's Roma and Leslie's squash. This year I'll fill in with my first order from the reknown Fedco seed catalog. Garden dreaming has begun!

A photojournal today, whether your inner gardner is like mine, anticipating the joys of what is to come, or you are simply in need of a reminder that the good green season will be upon us in no time! 

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Last year's humble beginning....

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in high season....

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mighty squash.....

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An annual pleasure: leafing through the pages of Mary Azarian's delightful book each winter.

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Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay

Wild Magic Woman Issue I, Part II: "Heroine: Arriving at Authenticity"/Cinde Perdigao

“The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain. We discover our boundaries, and those boundaries separate us from our fellows. As we clarify our perceptions, we lose our misconceptions. As we eliminate ambiguity, we lose illusion as well. We arrive at clarity, and clarity creates change.”

          -Julia Cameron “The Artist’s Way”

 Photo Credit: Ali Campbell

Photo Credit: Ali Campbell


A quote from writer and artist Julia Cameron that personifies the notion of creating space for ourselves in the present moment. 

My good friend Deb has given me some space here to talk about a few things.  Over the past 6 years I have experienced a transformation on all levels-emotionally, financially, spiritually, and creatively.  Transformation cannot happen without a connection to something higher than ourselves.  So, we are going to talk a little bit about the process of being authentic and how for me, the creative process and meditation were the keys to moving forward into authenticity. 

I realized recently that I’ve been retracing the same footsteps for several years.  I’ve been telling the same story; a story of healing, strength and overcoming, but I am only just now arriving at a level of authenticity.  By authenticity, I don’t mean a girl with long hair in a flowing dress with light around her.  By authenticity I mean the ability to hold myself in love even when I am at my worst.  Being able to say, I love myself when I’m disappointed, grouchy, sick, tired, incorrect, or unkind.  It means that the opinions of others come second to the opinion I hold of myself.    

When you begin to recognize your edges, you know that you are starting to make a transformation.  When you can hold the tension of your triggers, then you can reframe your behavior towards them.  Two years after my divorce from a 14-year marriage, I started a meditation practice.  I practiced in the evenings after having been invited to a class by Ken Lidden of ABT Yoga in Topsfield.  In the beginning, I set an alarm to make sure I sat for at least 15 minutes.  I created a small space for myself in the bedroom where I sat against the wall next to a few favorite chachkas.  I would simply breathe…no trying to empty my mind, no trying to picture a sandy beach.  I just breathed, felt it and acknowledged it.  I started to recognize after several weeks, maybe months, that small sections of harmony were developing in my living space—I was becoming mindful of my space.  I was also becoming less ruled by my emotions.  I had always been a bit reactionary throughout my younger days and now I was noticing I had a choice in how I could react to things.  I noticed a calmness driving my 45-minute traffic ridden commute. 

Anything you resist…will persist. When you don’t acknowledge a fear or strong emotion, it gets stronger.  If you keep finding yourself back in the same place with the same result…give the thing that scares you your full attention. I am a creative digital photographer.  My creative process gave me an opportunity to process all the grief I was experiencing.  I do close up work and the process of having to slow down, pause and focus allowed me to be still with myself.  It gave me the chance to express emotion without words.  It brought my emotions to the surface, without fear.  It was unconscious, but I was learning to trust the process.  

I always pictured transformation as a girl wearing ballet slippers gently flitting over rocks in a stream.  For me, transformation is messy, dark, itchy, and scary.  It is in that space of transformation, where you let everything bubble up, that you learn to love your shadow.  Shadow work is something I began to focus on as my meditation practice grew.  As I began to start a new life on my own, I became present to all the things that scared me.  I became aware of the beliefs I was living from and began to peel back layers of long held misconceptions.  I had been living from a place of scarcity, especially where finances were concerned.  Having lived with a disability since the age of 6, I grew up with the notion that I could never make it “on my own’ and could never make enough money to support myself.  It was a true theory of lack.  Meditation practice allowed me to acknowledge this belief—one that was certainly a limiting one.  My practice gave me the courage to ask for help, to learn to manage my finances, to ask for raises and appropriate compensation.   A squelched voice can’t be heard.  You must have the courage to ask for what you need.  Meditation practice doesn’t make you calm and weak, it makes you focused and confident in your beliefs about yourself.  You develop the power to speak up and speak your truth.  

The practice of meditation will bring your awareness to your darkness, your shadow.  This requires courage.  As I began to acknowledge and sit with the things I didn’t like about myself, my photography grew.  I started to create a body of work that was unique and developed a signature style.  All the beliefs I held, all the things I didn’t like where slowly getting acknowledged in my creative process.  In turn, viewers could resonate with the images.  In meditation practice we use the term “just like me” (a term I believe originally coined by Pema Chodron).  Viewers could identify with the emotions and themes present in my photographs.  I was honored to speak at a national photography conference which gave my story a wider audience.  Yet, there was so much work still to be done. 

Working with your shadow requires you to create a new structure for yourself.  To truly change and transform, you must step into that new structure with courage.   Change is uncomfortable and there is a temptation of wanting to run back and cling to the old structure/story.  Working with my shadow illuminated the behaviors which were limiting me from being authentic. Inevitably, this process is a process of loss.  The old story is being released and there is grief.  When you are working with the darkness, you must be prepared to feel sorrow.

The new structure for me includes morning meditation and teaching one class a week at the studio I learned it.  It includes daily gratitude work-either verbal or in writing.  It includes not tolerating any behavior that isn’t kind either from myself or someone else.  There are people who will drop off your path during transformation.  Let them go.  In your new structure you will recognize quickly who supports you.  My new structure includes connecting spiritually to something outside me (for me it is Buddhism).  My new structure means I love myself regardless of what I’m feeling, and knowing I am worthy of the deepest love and kindness. 

Arriving at authenticity means I say what I mean, and I am truthful.  This differs greatly from my emotional maneuvering or people-pleasing.  The connections and friendships I have are deep.  My relationship with my family is also much deeper.  I am not trying to live up to any standard or role projected on me.  Arriving at authenticity means I acknowledge emotions when they arrive but make a conscious choice of how to express them.  I practice a pause.  If I am angry, I sit with anger.  If I am sad, I sit with sadness.  The practice of meditation is the core from which I operate.  It allows me to stand in my truth and be courageous. 


As a reminder, Cinde is offering the Circle Magica community a special Wild Magic Woman package of cards. 5 cards w/envelopes for $15. Click here to order yours.

To view more of Cinde's work and learn more about upcoming events or to contact her directly: 



Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay

Issue I: Diary of an Earth Daughter's Wild Magic Woman Cinde Perdigao

Hello Kindred

 Welcome to our inaugural edition of Diary of an Earth Daughter’s Wild Magic Woman. In this limited edition series a guest blogger takes the page and adds to our living library of woman voices, each telling stories from her own Heroine's Journey. They speak from all walks of life and perspectives and spin tales of seeking and discovery, power claiming, creativity, spirituality, transformation.  

Each edition comes in two parts: In Part I you get to meet my guest blogger as we visit together. In Part II, my guest takes the page and invites you into her private world.

Today you will meet friend, creative, photographer, teacher and heroine Cinde Perdigao. 

In this edition’s video you’ll see why Cinde is our first Wild Magic Woman. I hope you'll be inspired by her unique story and talents.  Click below and join us now for Part I of our series. Tomorrow you'll receive Part II,  Cinde's essay: "Heroine: Arriving in Authenticity".

A few of Cinde’s flowers and their stories:


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 My energy flower.  This was one of the first flowers I ever photographed up close and it was the beginning of my transformation process through creativity.  When I photographed this flower, it was brilliant with energy.  It came at me through my lens and completely enveloped me.
This is a signature piece for me and I often take it with me on trips or during times when I need to feel connection.

Lotus also called “Support”

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I had always wanted to photograph lotuses.  They are sacred flowers.  My best friend and I discovered a small patch of them in a location outside the city.  We were finished shooting for the day, when suddenly it started to drizzle.  We were packing up, but turned around one last time and this lotus was bathed in light and rain drops.  We raced back to photograph it.  For me the leaf symbolizes support for the flower.  It is a gentle guidance for the flower to grow.  This flower, dappled in light, has a slight leaning in…..craving the intimacy of the dark.

Fuchsia also called “Elegance”

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 Again, created during some close-up work.  Often, I just place myself behind my lens and let the flowers speak.  This flower was part of a pretty fuchsia plant.  Here, I love the gentle coaxing of the buds by the flower.  I always look for the “story” to reveal itself in an image.  The story here are those two buds waiting to bloom.  There is the energy of potential in this flower.  This flower like some of my other work, has a textured background added after the image was created.  This is an important technique for me, in that it allows me to present the emotional conversation of the image visually.  I try to compliment the emotion of the flower with the proper texture. 

Pink Dahlias

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I don’t often use vases or containers in my work.  I like the story of the flower to be undistracted.  However, these cheerful pink dahlias appropriately “rested” in this small green vase.  The middle of the flower is the real story in this image, giving birth to flowing petals.   Again, the image is complimented with a matching texture.  This was a gift for my mother one spring.

Anemone.  Also called “Presence”

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A strong flower without a doubt.  This flower is neither soft nor friendly.  The story of this flower is its strong stem that curves up to an opening, strong center.  These flowers bloom quickly when you buy them, so you must be ready to shoot them right away.  This flower opened on my way home from the flower store in my car.  Its large petals are strong and veiny and act like a beckoning hand.  The background texture was chosen because it was not a distraction from the presence of the flower. 

Gladiolas “Darkness Arrives”

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 Not all the stories told by flowers are full of light.  The stalk of gladiolas lent itself perfectly to black and white.  Full of contrast and a treacherous ascension of sorts; It drips with finger like petals.  I have a color version of this piece which doesn’t convey they story of trepidation that the black and white version does. 

Botichitta Cyclamen  “Unfurling”

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Another energy flower for me.  I waited for days for my cyclamen plant to start to unfurl.  I would always somehow miss it—it would open at night or when I was at work. Finally, with patience, the story is told through the unfurling petals.  It’s just beginning to open.  This flower was a true parallel to my process and journey. 

Red Cyclamen  “Desire”

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This is perhaps one of my strongest flower images.  This poignant flower with its deep red geometric petals mirrors the notion of desire.  Yet, the turbulent texture in the background illuminates the difficulty surrounding desire. 


Cinde is offering the Circle Magica community a special Wild Magic Woman package of cards. 5 cards w/envelopes for $15. Click here to order yours.

To view more of Cinde's work and learn more about upcoming events or to contact her directly: 



Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay


Diary of an Earth Daughter: A Visit w/the Heitmanns

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My Mainers; Norm & Pat Heitmann

Though neither Pat nor Norm were born in Maine, with Pat moving to "Vacationland" in 1973, and Norm settling there at age 3,  I still think of them as My Mainers. They have adopted the ways and lifestyle so you'd not know otherwise. Their home pictured below, nestled in a woodland grove, set back away from the road and neighbors, is a quiet space removed from the hustle of outside life.

Relaxed, warm, inviting describe both my friends and their space. You may recall from our HeartStone House vlog that I met the Heitmann's during a series of classes I taught on intuitive development a few years ago at ZuZu's Healing Arts Ctr. in Melrose, Ma., and we became friends from the get go. Many of the classmates made friends with each other and we have all trekked up at various times to visit with Pat and Norm. It was and continues to be a magical coming together of kindred spirits. 

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Home Sweet Home, a woodland retreat

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Backyard Birch sentinels

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Words brought to life at the Heitmann homestead

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All manner of magical creature takes up residence

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Prayer stone

What can I tell you about my friends? To begin: Norm has spent the last 38 years working his day job as a lawyer, raising family (7 children between he and Pat though none together and 6 grandkids) and as he told me, "Even as a child I knew there was something 'more'. So other than when I allowed life to interfere (which was almost always) I was looking for answers.....Thirteen years ago I decided to stop letting life get in the way and began seeking in earnest."

What I adore most about Norm is his willingness to stretch beyond his comfort zone and traditional convention. That as a professional in a decidedly left brained arena, he's been willing to seek truth wherever the road led him, albeit down some more of the less traveled paths, speaks to his courage and sincerity.  He typically fell into the role of token male- as most often the only guy who showed up for the classes I taught. Not put off in the least and maybe enjoying all the sisters he spent time with, he brought all of himself to our circles, participating fully, contributing thougthfully and lending a compassionate and encourging spirit. When I first worked with him in my classes, I had no idea (some intuitive, eh??) that it was a reach for him to partner with any one else or practice readings or work in small groups. He only mentioned this in passing many moons later, and it endeared him to me all the more.

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Pat, a trained sign language interpreter, has worked in the field for 30 years with assignments ranging from Shakespeare to President Obama to welding at Job Corps to heart catheterizations and birthing. She and Norm met through her work and they eventually married, now with 24 years to their credit. "Retired" these days, Pat shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, she is a licentiate minister with the Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism (Pat says it was their son who passed away that brought them to the study and embrace of Spiritualism, with 'lots of signs and signals on the heels of his passing'. And that 'it became crucial for me to understand what became of him').

 For the many credentials Pat has racked up over her lifespan, my sense when I am with her is that ministering is her genus loci, nurture and Mother her native tongue. No doubt the diversity of life experience and challenges she's overcome are offerings laid upon her altar of living, perhaps enriching innate capacities to empathize, counsel, care. Combined, this means one never leaves her feeling as less. Most often, I find her presence lingers with me, for days after I visit, like summer's last light.

In the time that they've been together, both Pat and Norm have become certified hypnotherapists, trained with Brain Weiss, M.D. in past life regression and teach and facilitate Akashic Record sessions and classes. Additional trainings include IET, New Paradigm of Multi-Dimensional Healing, use of color, sound and crystals. They're also Reiki Masters who teach, practice and host a weekly Thursday evening Reiki share and healing circle at their home. Time is made for those who wish to develop their channeling skills and message work, and often Norm transmits messages from his spirit teachers and guides.

 To hold up treasures such as Norm and Pat highlight the best of what humanity can be. I am certain they are points of light illuminating places that otherwise would rest in shadowy forgetfulness. They are proof no matter how remote or off the beaten track, even in the far flung reaches of Northern Maine, that goodness dwells, hope spreads and love prevails. 

diary norm buddhist card pic.jpg
diary norm ganesh pic.jpg
diary norm glass lamp pic.jpg
diary norm gnome pic.jpg


diary norm hindu image w sheep pic.jpg
diary norm his chair pic.jpg
diary norm pooh pic.jpg
diary norm selenite etc pic.jpg
diary norm shaman pic pic.jpg
diary norm red wall hanging pic.jpg
diary norm shelf upstairs pic.jpg
diary norm angel upstairs pic.jpg
diary norm my feet pic.jpg

The road less traveled is richly rewarded.

To connect with Pat & Norm Heitmann:

207. 356. 5756 norm

207. 356. 8577 pat


Diary of an EarthDaughter: Woman, Land & Legacy

  (clearing a path)    

(clearing a path)


(I had hoped to get this installment out to you prior to April's end, but Life had other plans. So, a story to start your Beltane for those who celebrate- let's welcome the joy of the fertile season with all its promise of abundant harvests to follow.):

We don’t have to travel very far for this month’s story. In fact, we go no further than my own backyard. Come on out for the latest.

Since this land informed us it wishes to be productive and to work in partnership with its inhabitants, I’ve rolled up my sleeves, sifted through my reference books, checked out design guides from the library and met with permaculture design consultant, Leslie Stevens of Sidewalk Farms in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Leslie sat with me recently, and within a couple hours, mind bursting with ideas, crammed notepad at the ready, I was off to the compost pile, shovel in hand.

  (cardboard; the first layer, goes down.)

(cardboard; the first layer, goes down.)

I laid out one trial bed with mulch retrieved from piles out in the back nine, leftover from years gone by, but perfect for our sheet layering purposes. Coffee grounds reclaimed from Starbuck’s, grass clippings were added.  Super loam and extra compost will round it out once we get closer to planting day. Regular doses of compost tea will keep the seasonal feeding going. Techniques to achieve the best recipe of layer ingredients vary, and I’m sure we will experiment, but for now this will do.

Leslie reeled me in from dotting the entire lot with beds, a macro appetite on a micro time budget. In my wild dreams there would be flowers for cutting: dahlias, wildflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, coneflower, angelica; and snapdragon, calendula, violet, borage, bee balm, nasturtium for nibbling.  Harvesting gardens overflowing with lavender, echinacea, mugwort, yarrow, mullein, plantain, motherwort-a  brimming kitchen patch right out the back door bursting with basil, cilantro, lemon thyme, rosemary, chive, potted mints, creeping chamomile for the walkway….squash to disguise the hideous metal pen, and in the main veg garden old favorites like cukes, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, experiments with lettuces, kale, chard, carrot, potato, scallion, and of course, a nod to the nightshades and dark beauties with celebrities such as Datura, Belladonna, henbane, foxglove, and mandrake…..

We will, however, begin m  o  d  e  s  t  l  y.

Leslie suggested three beds, plus filling in the wooden trough (a subject for debate as Steve wants to wrench the unsightly thing off the patio) for the kitchen herbs and a selection of cutting greens, maybe a few more herbs by the deck….and potting up lavender and rosemary for easy over wintering.  A restrained start, we'll see how my willpower holds out.

   (abandoned where it lay, farming equipment, out beyond the barn, curious tales they could tell.)   

 (abandoned where it lay, farming equipment, out beyond the barn, curious tales they could tell.)

  (work underway for an outdoor ritual space)

(work underway for an outdoor ritual space)

Family Legacy

It’s worth noting that all but two of the tomato plantings (these being gifted to us from dear friend Selena’s seeds) will come from my own family stock, how cool is that??

  (Selena's seedlings off to a winning start)

(Selena's seedlings off to a winning start)

Auntie Irene sent me smears of dried specimens labeled, “R.L.’s Red”, “Stripe” and “2016”. Dad tells me some of these seeds were carried on my great grandfather James Penley’s person as he walked from Western Virginia to the eventual Jackson/Penley homeplace in Greenville, Tennessee- about a 600 mile trek, without roads, bridges, through the forests, hills and dales. I'm told members of this seed pool have been in the family for 150 years!

  (Auntie Irene & me at her place in Tn.)

(Auntie Irene & me at her place in Tn.)

  (Great Grandma & Pa Penley:  Melvina and James)

(Great Grandma & Pa Penley:  Melvina and James)

Ohh, I pray I can raise them well and that they will grace our table come those sultry July and August evenings.  Send my seedlings a good thought, will you?

  ("Stripe" have sprouted in less than a week.)

("Stripe" have sprouted in less than a week.)

I’d like to grow as much as possible to keep us fed not only in the summer but year-round. We will take our baby steps this year, with successive planting and making tomato sauce, hopefully cutting back or eliminating the need to purchase it in the winter season.

Doing my best to follow in my ancestors’ lighter carbon footprint, I will teach Niko what I learn about this new growing methodology too. I cannot bear to think of a day when a Jackson descendant doesn’t put seedling to ground. And you can bet someday I’ll be the Granny in the garden patch with his wee ones, pressing sun warmed cherry tom’s into chubby upturned paws.

 ( Vintage Niko with one huge cuke circa Hobbit House gardens)

(Vintage Niko with one huge cuke circa Hobbit House gardens)

We are, by and large, divorced from our food sources, from the land we live on but, can you imagine the impact a small garden in every backyard, patio or porch could make? Leslie shared a story about a woman who rode her bike up the driveway and parked, dug something out of her pack and extended her hand revealing a potato. She said, “I want you to show me how to plant this.” Wonderful she wanted to learn, but sad she didn’t have a clue as how to. Another woman visited Leslie’s garden and pointed to a flourishing stalk and asked what was the plant. When she replied, “That’s potato”, a confused look spread over the woman’s face, like “Wait, I don’t see any potato, I see a green blooming thing here.” That potatoes are tubers and have both above and below ground growth was a shock.

  (Red Bliss Potato: www.bonnieplants.com)

(Red Bliss Potato: www.bonnieplants.com)

Don’t feel badly if you are among those lacking tuber savvy, most of us are. Few of us grew up with backyard gardens. Fewer still grow one today. You have only to look around your neighborhood to prove the point.

I can think of no down side to tending a small backyard plot: for a minimal effort you have fresh food you can vouch for that is as local as one could wish, costing a fraction of what it would to go out and buy (after the first year of investing in getting the space up and running), the thrill of watching green things you've nurtured grow- think of all the learning and life lessons along the way: the rewards of honest efforts, understanding the life cycle, the connection to seasonal living and change, how to care for living things, the value of self-sufficiency, the pleasure of eating delicious, non-treated produce, the joy of sharing bounty with friends and neighbors or creating an extra revenue stream with the overage………

My relatives relied on what they grew to feed them out of necessity. They survived on what they planted, raised, foraged, or hunted. Today we have the luxury of deciding from many options how we will nourish ourselves. Even so, a grass roots return to the basics is underway all over the planet. Back to simpler lifestyles, to controlling where we get our food from so we know what goes into it. From faster, cheaper, less healthful and easy to conscious, mindful, invested, sustainable, restorative. We pull forward from the past what works while planning ahead with visions of safer, healthier, wiser collaboratives with the land and all its residents be they human, animal, mineral, or green allies. We are at a precious turning point- for the earth’s well-being and our own. What will our children, and theirs, inherit from our mis-steps? What can we do to repair the many devastating repercussions of our choices?

Questions like these can overwhelm, but don’t have to. Any one of us may not be the savior of this beleaguered world. Any one of us may not have all the answers. But each of us can grab a trowel, a few seeds and plant for a new beginning, one season, one yard, one person at a time.

  (me in my first garden in So. Cal. @1986)       Blessings of the Green & Wild    Deborah Fay

(me in my first garden in So. Cal. @1986)


Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay

Diary of an Earth Daughter: A Visit w/ Valerianna Claff of RavenWood Forest

My visit with Valerianna Claff, artist, educator and steward of RavenWood Forest Studio of Mythic & Environmental Arts is one I'm eager to share with you. I first learned of Valerianna when Donna Johnson, a wonderfully talented coach I worked with some years ago, gifted me her evocative CD, Breath & Bone.  Though our paths had crossed on Facebook, it was only at our mutual friend, Jen Parrish-Hill 's wedding, that I had the good fortune to meet in person and visit with Valerianna, and also had the added pleasure of hearing her sing live at the reception.

Valerianna's talents are diverse; she describes herself first as an artist, with a B. A. from Colby College, and M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design and with exhibitions all over New England and beyond to her credit.  Brimming with her creations, both residence and studio reflect their forest home with natural object vignettes adorning nooks and crannies, window sills, shelves, tables.  She has spent twenty + years as an educator at Clark University in Worcester and has in private practice held numerous workshops, retreats, circles with healing, mythic and storytelling themes for women and her various communities. 

 The allure of visiting her wilds to see firsthand what she, as caretaker of RavenWood Forest/ resident studio artist (and her spunky housemate, Rhune Bear) were up to these days, was enough to set me on my way to the foothills of the Berkshires, known locally as "The Happy Valley". The drive was scenic and serene and my overnight visit was a feast for eyes and spirit. 

Tune in below to our podcast. Valerianna tells of how her manifesting rituals delivered her her home and The Forest Viability Enhancement Grant that funded her studio build. We weigh in our womens' journeys, the power of place, sacred healing and connection to land. A Rhune Bear cameo appearance + more. 

On the road to Chesterfield...

A welcoming entry.

Chief Guardian of RavenWood Forest, Valerianna's Maine Coon Cat, Rhune Bear.

Vignettes of beauty and nature fill Valerianna's home and studio.

Homely tools.

Nothing compares to the cheer & warmth of a wood fire.

He knows I am there but...

Rabbit.  Rabbit.

Rhu & Valerianna play hide and seek.

Off we go across the snowy drive for a tour of RavenWood Forest Studio of Mythic & Environmental Arts.

Valerianna. (artist selfie).

In, please.

Mixed media Grandmother sculpture Valerianna crafted.

Studio view.

earth daughter val reindeer pic.jpg

A Spiritcloth by Jude Hill.

 Coming attractions- Summer at RavenWood.

Keeper of the Woodland.

Gourd Valerianna made as a ritual/manifesting/dreaming vessel as described on the podcast. 

Rhu indulged me, finally!

With thanks to my hosts, caretakers of this snug woodland treasure, Valerianna & Rhu, and with good wishes that your work and mission will carry on for many generations to come.

To add one of Valerianna's fine art watercolors or Whisper Stones to your collection, follow this link to her Etsy Shoppe, RavenWoodStudios



From ravenwoodforestblogspot.com


Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay


Diary of an Earth Daughter: Where Niko Began

Niko is home for spring break and we decided to take a daytrip back to the towns where he was born and lived for the first year of life. He hadn't ever seen the area, having spent most of his growing up years here in North Andover. So Steve and I, Niko and Silvana trekked out to Leominster and Athol, Ma. to share the stories of his entry into the world and tour him by a couple of our fonder memory spots. He enjoyed being in the mountains and woods and taking in a change of scenery from his usual urban surroundings at UMass Lowell.  

I hope it filled in the chapter of life with some visuals and now a few memories of his own.

Leominster Hospital (UMass Memorial Health Alliance) -Where the D'Onofrio family began. February 26, 1998, 2:25pm.

Murals, Downtown Gardner- we moved from the Cape to this area due to a job opportunity in this town for Steve.

St. Mary's Monastery in Petersham, a community of Roman Catholic Benedictine monks living a contemplative monastic life. I did a couple of silent retreats here. As a new mom having moved to a region where we knew no one and had to grow a community from scratch, I found the option to overnight here in solitude a welcome respite from the challenges of new motherhood. Sitting in the small chapel (no longer here) listening to the monks perform services largely in Gregorian chant, with time to catch up on rest, read, journal were savored experiences that I am grateful for.

The Benedictine nuns of St. Scholastica Priory with whom they share their property reside here. Guests could take meals privately in a gorgeous dark paneled library while the nuns ate in their dining hall. Prayers and readings drifted through the closed door and added a peace to mealtimes.  

The Country Store in Petersham. Special to us for the bitter February night we ventured out to the store to enjoy an evening of live folk music by the cheerful pot-bellied stove. A gent offered up his rocking chair to a very rotund me. Quirky with lots of down home charm back then. Now the stove is a pellet burner in the back room, menu items include lots of locally grown, vegetarian and vegan options. Delicious.

An updated back room with pellet stove. Cozy as ever.

Petersham center.

Our first home in Athol.

House Number 2.

At Bearsden- conservation land I hiked often while carrying Niko and after he came along.

French King Restaurant, Erving. Long time vegetarian before carrying Niko- but found after a difficult deliberation that my body needed animal protein. This was the place I began that process. Back to my former eating habits these days.

It was a sweet family outing. So happy it came together and we were able to share this time together. 


Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay

First of "Spring" Celebration Sale Weekend Now!

With the time change this weekend and Full Storm Moon on Sunday + 2 NEW SACRED MISTS  it feels like time to celebrate! So all weekend we are having a 10 % off sale at the Magic Apothecary. 

Why Use Sacred Mists anyway?

Therapeutic grade Essential oil mists are much more than a pretty smelling room accent. In fact, they are super(she)ro energyworkers: they act as space holders and energetic containers when used in ceremony, ritual, counseling, coaching, healing or meditation work. They also lend a particular vibration to your auric field and physical place when used for personal or professional occasions. They can disperse, undo, dissolve, free up that which is bound, shed that which is no longer useful, send packing that which is no longer desired.

They bring their magics to you via their unique botanical properties and personalities to yield powerful blends of aromatherapeutically based healing agents, transformational tools, and can align you specifically to what they are crafted to embody. By entering through your olfactory system, they deliver immediate results without the need to assimilate, digest or penetrate skin. This makes them a superior ally to add to your spiritual & well-being toolkit.

The mists also make thoughtul and empowering gifts to those with whom you live, love, companion and work. The Archetypal Sacred Mists are unique birthday gifts and can be a meaningful contribution to any rite of passage ceremony, transition celebration or life change acknowledgement.  A sale weekend is an ideal time to stock up!

We are introducing 2 brand new mists plus offering 10% off the entire apothecary collection. Enjoy, and let's welcome that extra sun and moonlight, shall we? 



NEW Mists:

Steady & Ready Sacred Mist-

Steady & Ready is a creation made with the intention of adding a little grace to help you cope with the mad world in which we live. When life seems to be topsy turvy and you aren't sure which way is up or out, this would be an excellent time to reach for Steady & Ready. This Sacred Mist is intended to surround you in a vibration that will reach down on a cellular level and bring restorative grounding and resilience. Steady & Ready can assist when you are preparing for an anticipated challenge or in the event you are surprised with a sudden turn of events or unexpected upheaval. It is the strong shoulder and strength that smoothes over such times. In addition, it can aid you when you find it difficult to settle your mind or feel restless, when you need a break from yourself (!) or life in general.
A pure, therapeutic grade essential oil blend of: Balsam, Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Lavendar. Fixed with alcohol. 

Listing is for 2oz. amber glass spray bottle

Rebirth Sacred Mist

Rebrith Sacred Mist is designed to align you with the deeper truths and aspects of self that wish to come forward and be brought out into your life. It can act as a companion to help hold sacred space for shamanic journeys, soul retrieval work, shamanic dismemberment rituals, therapeutic rebirthing work of any kind. It can encourage one to be brave when riding through the birthing/death passages of life and willing to rise above or rise from what once was. An empowering blend of therapeutic grade essential oils, Rebirth calls one back to wholeness and greater self-realization. Use this mist to encourage new beginnngs, fresh starts and to make deeper and lasting connections with your Sovereign Self. 

This Sacred Mist is appropriate to include in your Spring Equinox, Easter, Ostara, Passover and other celebrations focused on rebirth, hope, renewal etc.

A pure, therapeutic grade essential oil blend of: Ylang Ylang, Olive fruit oil, Lavandin oil, Geranium, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Spearmint, Lemon, Cypress, Davana, Lime, Ocotea, Jasmine, Blue Tansy, Rose. Fixed with alcohol.

Listing is for 2oz. amber glass spray bottle.

Heart Sacred Mist

This Sacred Mist is inspired by and created in honor of friends Z (Don Dickel) and Rebecca Nelson, partners at HeartStone House in Hampden, Maine. My family and I were planning our first trip up to visit and I wanted to make a spray as a gift for them. Tuning in to them and their sanctuary, warmth was the feeling that wished to be expressed through the blend. Orange is who first raised its hand to be included and when researching various meanings, I discovered its age-old associations with generosity and gratitude – two qualities that couldn’t have been more spot on for this duo. Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley add, “Orange brings peace and happiness to the mind and body and joy to the heart…”. Having the main oil decided, the accent additions came together and include: lavender, cinnamon bark, geranium and frankincense.

This sacred mist is meant to evoke the feeling one has when she rolls up to a friends’ home for the weekend and knows she will be enthusiastically welcomed, well nourished, and cared for by those who find joy in giving of themselves graciously, and who charm a space with their own brand of magic, love and creativity. One leaves full of fond memories, contented, and reminded that good folk do indeed exist in this world and that you are lucky enough to know at least a few of them.

Gift this Sacred Mist to those whom you wish to celebrate, appreciate and honor. Appropriate for those needing warmth, kindness, upliftment, encouragement, strength, comfort, to be reminded of basic human good heartedness, generosity, good will, friendship, love, romance.

A pure, therapeutic grade essential oil blend of: lavender, orange, frankincense, cinnamon bark, geranium.

Listing is for 2oz. amber glass spray bottle.


View the entire Magic Apothecary collection here.

Root & Awaken Set (also sold individually)

Every season offers a chance for reinvention, renewal, reflection. We root down our intention seeds into the core of our awakening dreams. As soul gardeners, we claim our new beginnings and tend them until they come to life. Clear it out, leave it behind, get right with yourself, start fresh.

Begin by spending some time considering what seeds you will commit to tend and how you will go about that. Start with Root and spray yourself into sacred space, then write, sing, speak, or dance out your intentions. Add a second layer with Awaken, and let the spray raise you into a place where you can vividly imagine these intentions alive and real in your life. Repeat this process daily for a full moon cycle or at least 21 days to instill what you are working for into your psyche and subconscious. After your initial round, evaluate where you are, and if needed continue until your cycle is satisfied.

This listing features 2 2 oz. sprays:

Root contains: Ylang Ylang, Scotch Pine, Atlas Cedar,White Fir, Angelica, & Juniper therapeutic grade essential oils, distilled water, fixed with alcohol.

Awake contains; Geranium, Sesame seed oil, Cyress, Marjoram, Ylang Ylang, Helichrysum, distilled water, fixed with alcohol.

Blessings of the Green & Wild

Deborah Fay