About Miles Batty
About the Author
Miles Batty was born in Birmingham, England, and has lived in England, Wales, Canada and the United States. He first discovered WitchCraft in 1974, and began serious study of the Craft a few years later. He became ordained Wiccan clergy in 2001, and served as a Coven High Priest for four years. Mr Batty lives in North Carolina, with his girlfriend, Heather, his ball-python familiar, Muladhara, and assorted dogs, cats and frogs.
Interview with the author
I was recently interviewed by fantasy/romance author Sabrina Luna, about my background and the creation of my book "Teaching WitchCraft: A Guide for Teachers and Students of the Old Religion".
Here's the text of our discussion. Enjoy!
Sabrina: Would you please tell us a little bit about your background in Witchcraft?
Miles: I've always been interested in nature-oriented spirituality, even before I knew what that meant. As a child raised in a nominally Christian household, I was fascinated with trees spirits, fairies, things like that, and thought that going to Church on Sundays was not the right place for me.
My first exposure to WitchCraft was in 1974, when I was 12. My older brother had gotten a job at a metaphysical store in Montreal, which was run by a Gardnerian Coven. He was invited to Sabbats and such, and started bringing home books on the Craft, pentagrams, athames and such, and when I saw these things, something very big went *PING* in my head. **this means something** it said, **pay attention to this!** So I did.
My brother lost interest in the Craft shortly afterwards, and gave me all his regalia. I devoured everything I could find, but as a young teenager in the '70's my resources were limited. It wasn't until 1985 that I met "real" Witches, and was introduced to the world of rituals, candles and pagan festivals.
My first "official" teacher was Ariana Lightningstorm, one of the people to whom the book is dedicated. From 1985 to today, I've been active in the Pagan community, whether in Maryland, Colorado or North Carolina. My library has grown (laughs), and I read and absorbed as much as I could - a good part of it by osmosis. As my experience in the Craft grew, so did my expertise, and I served as a Coven High Priest from 2000 to 2005. I have written and performed rituals and initiations, offered advice, counsel and mentoring, and officiated as clergy for several Sabbats. And, of course, taught lessons in WitchCraft.
Sabrina: Why did you want to write a study book for students & teachers?
Miles: Easy - because there wasn't one before! (laughs) I've attended several "Wicca 101" courses over the years, and a lot of them went like this: A Priestess decided to teach a bunch of newbies about the Craft, so she digs around in her books and notes, and comes up with a list of topics to teach. Great so far! Then as the classes progress, a dynamic shift occurs - either people lose interest and quit showing up, or the syllabus is incomplete and the class loses focus, or the teacher gets an inflated ego and promotes herself more than the Craft. I've seen these happen time and time again.
So what was needed, instead of a bunch of good information in a dozen books, was a single reference book that offered a comprehensive course syllabus with study questions and exams. This way the class stays focused, they have a set lesson outline, and the teacher can say exactly what the lesson will be about eight months from now! And since I hadn't seen such a book before, I decided to write one.
Sabrina: What makes your book different from other books on the subject?
Miles: My book is different because it allows teachers to present a solid, full class syllabus, with study questions and such, allowing students pretty much everything they need to know to be able to call themselves competent Witches.
I try to distinguish fact from fiction, explain how society's perception of Witches altered the practice itself, and distinguish between "Old WitchCraft" and "Wicca". And more importantly, I hope, I get the young Witch to explore her own thoughts and feelings about it, and what it means to BE a Witch, not just to learn about it.
Two inspirations for the book were the "Wicca 101" course list suggested in Amber K's "CovenCraft", and Buckland's "Complete Book of Witchcraft". But unlike those, mine offers a fleshed-out, easy to read text that breaks the subject matter down section by section, with study questions that encourage the student to examine her own feelings about what she is learning.
Besides being a group-oriented classroom textbook, I wrote the book so that a solitary student can sit down with a copy and learn the basics of the Craft. Of course, I heartily recommend the classroom setting! As I mention in the book's introduction, a teacher using the book as a syllabus should NOT just recite the words on the page. I'd like to see the classroom get involved in the lesson, offering different perspectives of the subject matter as the class progresses.