As soon as you get published in a significant way, you inadvertently become something of a public figure, which in turn makes you a seemingly easy target. This is especially true if you're writing about witchcraft because the esoteric genre does tend to attract its fair share of nutters!
Lots of people pick up a Mind, Body, Spirit title out of sheer desperation - they are not happy with their lives and they are looking for something to make it better. Fair enough. Many of those people find a new sense of empowerment and personal responsibility within the pages of my books and columns etc, and they go on to lead productive lives. That it the point of Wicca - it is about taking charge of yourself and your own personal happiness, while doing harm to none.
However, there is always the odd nut-job who will instantly blame the witch if their spells are not effective in the way they want them to be. This can lead to some rather negative author mail, from demands that you write a spell especially for them, or that you cast the spells on their behalf, or even that they meet you for some kind of private consultation. I don't advocate meeting with strangers just because they have read your work, unless it is in a safe environment such as a publishing event, book signing and so on.
I have had my fair share of author mail and reader feedback over the years, not all of it positive. Now I'm not saying that I want everyone to sing my praises and tell me they love my books, but nor do I want people blaming me for the fact that their life isn't working. Unfortunately, the latter does happen from time to time and while I do sympathise with someone who is struggling, it is not my responsibility to fix someone else's life. Your life is your own responsibility, not mine.
One of the downsides of having been a columnist with the same publication for so many years is that people always know where to find you. During my time with Spirit&Destiny I have had readers contacting me to ask for magical advice or querying the effective substitution of one spell ingredient for another and this is all positive interaction that I am happy to participate in. But I have also had negative interactions too, from someone who demanded I hex her husbands lover and interfering family, to emails laced with pornography and death threats. Needless to say, this is unacceptable interaction and I do not respond to such communications.
It isn't just emails either. Disgruntled people have actually gone so far as to telephone the magazine (or visit the Bauer office in London!) and start ranting at my editors, deliberately trying to throw a spanner in the works. One particularly nasty woman even accused me of causing her father-in-laws heart attack! Another spiteful man said that he'd been cursed by me. I can do without this kind of ridiculous spite and a good editor will always defend her writers, as was the case at S&D. I think the bottom line is that there are some resentful individuals out there who just want to try and tear other people down.
Certain individuals think that they can cast an influence over my editors and place a black mark on my life with their childish ranting and raving, but of course, it doesn't work that way and so they either slam down the phone or are helped from the building by security. They are left more disgruntled than ever, while I am left somewhat bemused by the entire episode!
Casting an influence is much harder than it seems and I am the only one who can cast an influence in my life and career, because that is the very essence of personal responsibility and Wiccan ethics. That is what I have been teaching for 20 years! But some people refuse to learn the lesson.
It is just another reason why I am not sorry to have left the magazine behind. Having my column with them for so long was making me a sitting duck - I prefer to be a moving target and keep folk guessing, so they never know what I am going to do next. I have taken the target down.
Now that my time with Spirit&Destiny is over, I feel I can move forward in a new direction, building up a brand new platform of psychotherapy publishing. No-one knows who my editors are anymore, so they can't simply pick up the phone with a fabricated accusation whenever they have had a bad day, or can't get their own way. Nor can they try piggy-backing on my work and dropping my name to my editors, because my editors remain unknown to them.
Casting an influence over anything is an adept magical skill that takes years of practice to perfect. And those who can do it are likely to be well protected from having it done to them! All I can say is this; I will always protect my assets, including the work I do for various publishers and the good name I have with editors. The spitefulness of others is just not enough to derail my life as a writer, a counsellor or anything else I choose to be.