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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Researching the Occult

When I was a kid, we took a family vacation to Salem, Massachusetts. We visited all the usual sites, did the tourist thing. But when we got to the old cemetery, something strange happened. The sky darkened and the wind started howling. It was as if someone turned on the special effects to make our visit creepy and atmospheric. Since that time, I've always been fascinated with witches, psychics and anything supernatural. Only I didn't feel informed enough about any occult subject to use it in any of my books. 

About a year ago the bug bit me again. I started wondering what if (don't all our story ideas begin there?) a psychic wanted to get out of the business after a bad experience. Only someone—or something—wouldn't let her. To be authentic, I decided to do some research. I started with my local occult store and learned they offered classes. After purchasing several books on psychic powers, I signed up for the next available class series, which happened to be on witchcraft. In the meanwhile, I wrote Spirit of Seduction, my first paranormal romantic suspense story. 

My husband, who works at a jail, voiced his interest since he is tasked with documenting and investigating occult-type findings at the jail—as in the discovery of satanic contraband items or Santeria altars found in cells, for example. So he took the class with me. 

One class led to another, and another. We're now fairly well versed in everything witchcraft, but we still have a long way to go. What we discovered has impacted our lives in many ways, from making new friends to taking up the practice of meditation to shifting our views on life, death and the universe. 

We learned that witchcraft was not at all what we thought. Real witchcraft, that is. It's not the Hollywood version of green-faced women flying on broomsticks. It's actually a pagan spiritual path, one that includes magic, divination and responsible stewardship of the earth. 

My point is that as writers, we often find ourselves having to deeply research many different topics. And we never know where that path will take us. Have you ever started learning about a subject only to find it wasn't at all what you thought? 


Wendy Soliman said...

How interesting. That sort of thing fascinates me but I'm totally ignorant about it. Makes me want to follow your example and take classes.

Thanks for sharing and good luck with the book.

Maureen A. Miller said...

I applaud you for your research efforts. My grandfather was born in Salem and the town and its history always fascinated me.

I've had to research lobster'ing and I've discovered that there is nothing romantic about it! :)

Wynter Daniels said...

Wendy - I knew very little about witchcraft and Wicca until I began the classes. It's pretty fascinating stuff!

Wynter Daniels said...

Cool, Maureen. LOL - lobstering looks pretty brutal!

JB YNN said...

I researched crime scene was about as gross as I'd anticipated.

Wynter Daniels said...

JB - my sister-in-law was a cop for a long time and did crime scene processing for several years. ICK!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Geez, you guys are much more exotic than I am. I research police procedures... Oh, and flora. Well, wait, I did a lot of research on Morroco for a mystery (that has yet to see the light of day, but I've been busy). That inspired a real longing to go there for myself. You know, to research smells.

Wynter Daniels said...

Marcelle - Travel for research can be tax deductible! Yay!!

Shirley Wells said...

Wynter, I would love to take those classes! I know nothing about the occult, but I find it fascinating.

Wynter Daniels said...

Shirley - Many cities have such classes. I stumbled upon the place that offers them when researching local occult shops!

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