Priestess Interviews - Storm Constantine
learned to string a sentence together. Writing all through her childhood and teens, Storm embarked
upon a full length work in her 20s, which was the first of the Wraeththu trilogy – The Enchantments of
Flesh and Spirit. These books were ground-breaking at the time, as nothing like them had been seen
before in the fantasy genre. Mature, and sometimes challenging, in their approach to magic and
sexuality, the Wraeththu books have never been out of print and have amassed an army of loyal fans. As
well as writing twenty five other books, set in different worlds, in the past five years Storm has
written six more books set in the world of Wraeththu, published in America through TOR and in the UK
by Immanion Press.
Introduction: In 1999, Storm talked with Caroline Wise about founding an Iseum, since she was drawn
to the principles and aims of the Fellowship of Isis and felt that her own magical group would benefit
from being affiliated to the FOI. The Lady of the Flame Iseum was inaugurated in 2000, and since then
Storm has offered training courses and events covering a variety of magical subjects. Specialising in
Egyptian Magic, energy healing and Pop Culture Magic, the Iseum has gone from strength to strength.
Storm has recently begun to offer correspondence courses, for those who find travel difficult or live
too far away from the Iseum base. The Correspondence Course in Egyptian Magic has proved very
popular, and Storm plans to offer more of these courses when time permits.
Storm also writes non-fiction books on magic, such as the seminal work on the Egyptian feline
goddesses, ‘Bast and Sekhmet: Eyes of Ra’, (Hale, 1999). She has recently released a new title through
Megalithica Books, (an imprint of Immanion Press), called ‘Sekhem Heka’. This presents a new system of
energy healing, derived from Seichim, that also incorporates aspects of Egyptian Magic in the form of
rituals and pathworkings.
Lady of the Flame Iseum can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://www.ladyoftheflame.co.uk
Interview by Joy Birch, Lyceum of Isis of the Thames
Biography: Storm Constantine, administrator of the Lady of the Flame Iseum in
Stafford, in the Midlands of the UK, has been interested in magical and spiritual
matters all her life. Even as a child, she had a great affinity for the world of the
unseen. Her vivid imagination, and propensity for playing in make-believe worlds,
eventually evolved into her becoming a story-teller, right from when she first
Interview: When did you first become aware of the Fellowship of Isis?
In my 20s and early 30s, I didn’t have much to do with the pagan community.
I worked magically with a group of people but we kept pretty much to
ourselves. Then, through my writing work, I met Andy Collins, who introduced
me to Caroline Wise, and I learned about the Fellowship of Isis.
How did you come to join the Fellowship of Isis? What were its 'selling
I’d always been somewhat sceptical of organised groups, as I’d had some
rather unpleasant experiences with them when I’d first started studying
magic seriously. I’d learned a lot, but the dynamics of the groups had been off-putting. However, what
drew me to the FOI was its lack of dogma and its willingness to embrace all paths, within sensible
moral constraints. Neither were its organisers set up like little demi-goddesses, hung up on their own
egos. I liked the idea of being able to practice as we chose and not having to conform to rules drawn
up by someone else and their vision of spirituality. After all, it’s a very personal subject. The pros of
membership were the network of Iseums, Lyceums and members, who could swap information, offer
help and so on. So, all the good points of an organisation without the bad. I discussed it with Caroline
and decided to join up!
I felt also that this ‘official sanction’ of our working group would be helpful when we were running
courses and so on. People want (or should want!) some kind of assurance that the training/information
they’re going to receive is of a certain standard. The FOI is well respected, so people would know
they weren’t going to be ripped off or short changed.
Can you tell us about the inauguration of your Lyceum? I understand that there were some
dramatic and difficult decisions the day it was founded. (Storm - I saw you wrote with enormous
emotional maturity about this somewhere on the web - I was really impressed at how you came to the
decision to carry on that night).
The inauguration was somewhat dramatic, yes! Caroline had come to my home to perform the
ceremony and all the members of my group were present. We were sitting after dinner, sharing a
drink before we got started, and a neighbour came to tell me she’d found one of our cats dead in the
lane behind our house. He’d been run over, which was odd because no one can drive fast along that lane.
You know how sometimes you just have that ‘special cat’? Well, Raphael was one of those; somehow too
beautiful and intelligent and sensitive to survive long. I’d always known in my heart he wouldn’t be
around that long. Just looking at him sometimes had made my heart ache. But even with that suspicion,
it was a terrible shock when he died the way he did and at that time. As I work mainly with Bast and
Sekhmet, I have a strong affinity with cats and cat goddesses. Caroline said to me she’d understand
if I wanted to postpone the ceremony. I remember retreating to the bathroom, still in floods of
tears, and thinking. ‘Thanks a lot, Bast. You really looked after him, didn’t you!’ It would have been so
easy to give in to that resentment and to have said, ‘No! I won’t do it then’. Instead, I somehow drew
myself up straight and thought, ‘I can affirm this, and in the face of this sorrow still have the
inauguration. It’s important, not just for me, and above my grief.’ I had to face the fact that people
lost cats all the time, and they weren’t into witchcraft or Egyptian feline goddesses. I could look upon
it all as some kind of divine price or just a horrible coincidence. Perhaps I would never know which, but
the Iseum was being founded for a very good reason, and I felt it was my duty to go ahead.
I think that the bond that was created between all of us that night was strengthened by Raph’s
death. I can still remember every detail of that night with absolute clarity. It was extremely moving.
Can you tell us about your Lyceum?
The Iseum was inaugurated in the autumn of 2000, although the group had existed for long before
that. We’ve had a lot of members over the years. Some people tend to come and go, as they attend
the courses and then hive off to do their own thing. Others just come for workshops and so on. The
core group consists of around 8 people. We try to get together for the season rituals – when everyone
can usually come – but also work in between on various magical projects. Also, if someone needs to
perform a working for any reason, we’re all there like a shot!
We all enjoy experimenting and creating, and the group helped me create the Dehara system over a
few years. This is what you might call a ‘Chaos Magic’ or ‘Pop Culture Magic’ system, in that it’s based
on fictional material, in this case my Wraeththu novels. This is similar to how the Cthulhu system grew
up out of H P Lovecraft’s stories. These systems are just as effective as anything that claims to be
‘old’. You are working with archetypes, creating god forms that perform specific functions and so on. I
look upon gods and goddesses as ‘masks’ humans put on the life energy of the universe, because it’s
easier to interact with a face than a formless idea. The dehara are new masks for this energy. I
wrote a book for the first three tiers of the system, (Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana, Immanion Press,
2005), and will eventually go back to work on the rest. I want to investigate space/time magic for
What do you like about working in groups?
The thing I like most is the sense of community when you perform a ritual together and get results.
This might just be a rite of celebration or else something more serious to help someone in trouble.
But those moments when the group is truly in unity, their will focused on the same thing, are amazing.
It gives you a glimpse of just what we might be capable of as humans if we could only work together
more. Magical ritual breaks down barriers. It’s very difficult to stand and work properly in a bona
fide circle, clad in impenetrable armour and delusions. At those times, you can – or should – only be
yourself, and that is surely the best time to learn. As I grow older, I realise more and more how
little I know. Sometimes I think I know less about myself now than I did 20 years ago, but then I
look back and can see that although I’m more aware of things that need working on, I’m actually in a
much stronger position to deal with these things. Awareness is the key, and I have my magical group to
thank partly for that. We’re all undertaking our own journeys and can lend a shoulder to lean on when
The other thing I really enjoy is when we’re creating new systems and practices, using our
imaginations and creativity. The Dehara system is a product of that, and we had great fun working on
I understand that healing plays a big part in your Lyceum. Can you expand on this?
A few of us are also Reiki teachers, and I’m working on a new system called Sekhem Heka, which is
based on a system similar to Reiki called Seichim. My system is geared more towards people of a
magical persuasion, rather than people who are simply into the New Age aspects. Members of the
Iseum are helping with that through creative visualisation and so on. We enjoy creating new rituals.
The system incorporates ritual and meditation work, focused on the Egyptian neteru. I have a
personal distaste of ‘New Age Fluff’, which unfortunately dominates a large proportion of the
Reiki/energy healing scene, and I’m seeking to redress that. Sekhem Heka might have magical – and
perhaps even fantastical in a visionary sense - elements to it, but I’m keeping it sensible, and making
sure people know it’s new and ‘made up’, not channelled from some arcane priestess. It seems to me
energy healing has lost some respectability over the years as flakier ideas are introduced into it.
Although I truly appreciate the flexibility and fluidity of the systems, and the fact you can create
your own models according to your preferences, I also think it’s important such systems are accepted
by the medical profession. This is simply because it’s so helpful to people undergoing treatment for
cancer and so on, and quite a few NHS hospitals now have Reiki or similar healers helping voluntarily in
chemo aftercare. However, claiming that pink dolphins from Atlantis came to you in your sleep so you
could channel a system created in Ancient Lemuria that is the “only true” healing system, or
whatever, is hardly likely to endear that system to doctors and nurses. Whoops, I’d better get off
Is your work temple-based or do you also interact with the Goddess in the landscape?
Most of our work is temple based, although we do go outside when we can. Most of us live close to
Cannock Chase, which is a wonderful ancient landscape, and there are spots there perfect for ritual
work. We sometimes perform the seasonal rituals on the Chase in summer time, as we scouted out a
tree-ringed hilltop that has a wide circular space that’s just right for our purposes. There’s only one
path to this spot so the only other people who tend to go there are other pagans. We once ran into
another group there, but the place is large enough that we could each do our own thing. Quite a few
groups operate on the Chase – you’ll come across evidence of ritual work in many places.
Are there any particular goddesses that you are drawn to, who inspire you? Can you tell us
more about them and their aspects?
I’ve always been drawn to Ancient Egyptian neteru, and those associated with felines in particular. I’
ve worked for many years with Bast and Sekhmet, and these are the old friends I feel I can rely
upon. I work with new godforms, yes, and in some ways the modern interpretations of Bast and
Sekhmet are just as new, but there is still an ancient core to them, invested with power and
intention over thousands of years. You can draw upon that.
I have a great respect for the Egyptian neteru and don’t see them as in any way fluffy, as they are
sometimes interpreted. I also think they respect strength in those who work with them. Sekhmet, to
me, is the ‘big guns’, who you can call upon when a situation really needs some powerful assistance.
Bast I see as lighter in nature, perhaps more playful as a cat will be, but she is still catlike and
therefore perfectly capable of turning into a hissing ball of claws and teeth.
And which earthly priestesses and women are an inspiration to you?
The first book I read on witchcraft and magic that I felt had something really inspirational to say
was Starhawk’s ‘The Spiral Dance’. Although I don’t agree with all her views, I still think she
revolutionised witchcraft for women. The same goes for Diane Stein, who is a Reiki teacher and has
written an excellent book on the subject ‘Essential Reiki’. I do admire their work. From the old
school, I have to mention Doreen Valiente and Dion Fortune, leading figures in the creation of modern
As for people I’ve actually met, Elizabeth St George was very helpful to me when I was working on
‘Bast and Sekhmet: Eyes of Ra’ (Hale 1999), and I still use her wonderful invocations from the
pamphlets she produced on these goddesses. And of course, I have to mention Caroline Wise, who I
greatly respect for her sense and groundedness, and also her extensive knowledge.
And what do they mean in your life and writing? How do they help on a personal level?
I suppose because I’ve been into magic for so long now it’s become an almost invisible part of my
everyday life. I call upon goddesses unconsciously I think, and magic simply informs all that I do. It is
a comfort in dark times and a heady inspiration in times of light. I’m glad I found my path, and feel
pity for people trapped in small lives, with no awareness of themselves or others. Sometimes, the
path is hard, perhaps life is harder than it is for those not on it, but I don’t regret a moment of it, or
yearn for anything else.
And which earthly Goddess women and men are an inspiration to you?
Well, apart from the women I mentioned earlier, there are men who’ve played a great role in my
magical development. Andy Collins was and is a great teacher to me, and so is Paul Weston, who was my
first Reiki Master. Andy helped open my eyes to new perspectives of magic and to reach for higher
goals. Paul set me on the path of energy healing – and I couldn’t have wished for a more magical first
step to that path. My initiations with him were amazing, and subsequently I’ve tried to continue that
tradition with my own students, making the experience special for them.
How do you see the role, and importance, if any, of goddess-affirming networks like the FOI
in the world today? How can the Goddess make a difference on a global level?
I think that the FOI is probably more needed now than ever. The world is in a strange state of flux,
almost as if it’s teetering on a precipice, or more accurately, humanity is. It seems that society
grows increasingly more insane and unsafe, and people are seeking spiritual sanctuaries to escape
from it. Goddess-affirming networks bring an element of balance that’s sorely needed. We can’t hide
from reality; we need empowerment to change it. And that I see as the job of anyone who’s seriously
into magic. It might feel like we can’t make a difference, but we can all do our small bit, which
hopefully could build to a greater whole. The Goddess gives us the ability to view the world in a
different way. She has no dogma and does not promote violence and fanaticism – in fact quite the
opposite: tolerance, compassion and understanding.
As I said earlier, I’m suspicious of many organisations, and I’ve kept an eye on the phenomenon of
Pagan ‘churches’ springing up over the last twenty years. I don’t think this is a good way forward for
Paganism. We need to break away from hierarchies, rules and dogma; people using magic and paganism
to bolster their egos or a fantasy lifestyle. We do need co-ordinators though, and this is where a
network like FOI can help. Pagans do need a voice to make their views heard, and this voice has to
claim a certain amount of ‘respectability’. Clear, no nonsense, non-flaky opinions. The reason I joined
the FOI is because it embodied this ideal. I think it’s up to its members now to support, enhance and