Dugan, Ellen 1963–
Dugan, Ellen 1963–
Born September 14, 1963; married; children: three. Education: University of Missouri, Master Gardener, 1999. Religion: Wiccan. Hobbies and other interests: Working in her perennial garden.
Home—MO. E-mail—[email protected]
Practicing witch; also teaches gardening at a community college.
Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2003.
Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2003.
7 Days of Magic: Spells, Charms & Correspondences for the Bewitching Week, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2004.
Cottage Witchery: Natural Magick for Hearth and Home, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN.), 2005.
Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of Mabon, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, MN), 2005.
Herb Magic for Beginners: Down-to-Earth Enchantments, Llewellyn Publications (Woodbury, MN), 2006.
The Enchanted Cat: Feline Fascinations, Spells & Magick, Llewellyn Publications (Woodbury, MN), 2006.
Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick, Llewellyn Publications (Woodbury, MN), 2007.
How to Enchant a Man: Spells to Bewitch, Bedazzle & Beguile, Llewellyn Publications (Woodbury, MN), 2008.
A practicing witch and a clairvoyant, Ellen Dugan centers her religious beliefs largely on nature and her love of gardening. She is a Master Gardener who finds spirituality in the herbs and flowers she grows in her perennial garden, and she loves to teach students about plants in classes she conducts at her local community college. Dugan shares her knowledge of Wicca and what she calls natural magick in her many books, which are often aimed at those who are curious about or just beginning their exploration of witchcraft. Dugan strongly believes in passing on her knowledge in an uninsistent, nonthreatening way. She does not wish to impose her beliefs on anyone but is eager to share what she has gained through a closer connection to the natural world.
Her gentle, intuitive approach to witchcraft may be a result of her personal experiences growing up. She understands that others can at times be threatened by what some consider pagan beliefs because she went through a difficult period herself for many years. In an interview for Ghost Village, she recalled her early days of discovering that she had psychic powers. "My psychic abilities came roaring out when I was a teen," she said. "They caused me a lot of problems and quite frankly scared me to death at first. My parents hated it when I talked about it, and it usually landed me in a lot of trouble. So I shut my mouth, squelched the visions down, and tried to ignore them. None of which was successful. I could read people by touch and feel their emotions. I had precognitive dreams and if I accidentally touched someone I would ‘see’ pictures. While this was quite the cool party trick with my friends, I also lost a lot of friends because of my accuracy, and it frightened a few teenage boyfriends away."
Dugan's parents were Protestants and had a difficult time accepting what their daughter was going through during the years when her abilities were uncontrolled. It was not until she was in her twenties that she resolved to get a handle on her powers and to study witchcraft. She continued in her interview: "I studied magick along the way, took a few classes on Psi development, and bought and memorized a Tarot deck. I started working the local psychic fairs as a sort of challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could truly read strangers. The tarot cards were a sort of opening and kept the clients calm. (Many people don't like the idea of having a psychic taking a stroll through their head.) Working the fairs was a great learning experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it and best of all, I was pulling out information; names and images just by holding their hands, and the clients were blown away. Validation was, at the time, a beautiful and positive thing for me."
What appealed to her about Wicca was its connection to the earth. As a child, she had always been most at home wandering through a garden or forest. Dugan combined her two loves; she earned her Master Gardener certification from the University of Missouri in 1999 and began to use her knowledge of plants to her advantage. "If Wicca is a nature religion," she wondered in an interview with Jill Johansen in New Worlds, "then why not work with as many natural items as I could get my hands on, or grow in my own gardens? Natural magick is traditional and a much more practical and cost-effective use of spell casting." She began calling herself the Garden Witch to her students.
As for becoming a writer, Dugan initially had aspirations of writing contemporary romance novels, but she never managed to sell any of them. Finally it dawned on her to write about what she knew best. Citing such witchcraft authors as Claire Nahmad, Scott Cunningham, and Doreen Valiente as inspirations, Dugan told Johansen she also liked the style of the late Erma Bombeck, who "was honest and hilarious." Her first book, Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up, is aimed at getting readers "to put the nature back into their earth religion," she told Johansen. School Library Journal contributor Christine C. Menefee reported that the author "offers succinct and useful information" with "good-humored flair."
Complementary books by Dugan include Cottage Witchery: Natural Magick for Hearth and Home and Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick. The former brings the practice of witchcraft indoors while still being conscious of the natural world. Dugan advises readers to use herbs and other natural products to, as she told Johansen, "create an enchanting and wonderful environment for loved ones and themselves." Dugan stresses in all these books that witchcraft is to be used to enhance one's life and never to impose one's will on others. She adhered to the "Rule of Three," in which Wiccans believe that anything a person does comes back to them threefold. Thus, if someone manipulates another person for selfish reasons, he or she can expect three times the negative consequences. At the same time she repeats such warnings, she believes that anyone can perform natural magick if he or she has a loving heart and open mind.
Dugan's writing is easily accessible to teenage readers, and in the case of Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens she writes directly for this audience. In a chatty style, she introduces young audiences to witchcraft, which she notes is nothing like what one might see on television programs such as Bewitched or Charmed. For example, witches have absolutely nothing to do with the Devil or evil spirits. In fact, she devotes an entire chapter to emphasizing one's moral obligations as a practicing witch. Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg predicted that "this will have great appeal among readers with esoteric interests, particularly the fantasy crowd." "Her wise-woman tone and gentle guidance will help nurture budding natural witches," advised Elaine Baran Black in School Library Journal.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens, p. 1757.
California Bookwatch, August, 2007, "Llewellyn Publications."
Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Dina Komuves, review of Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick, p. 96.
New Worlds, March-April, 2005, Jill Johansen, "An Interview with Ellen Dugan."
Publishers Weekly, April 28, 2003, review of Elements of Witchcraft, p. 66; February 14, 2005, review of Cottage Witchery: Natural Magick for Hearth and Home, p. 72; April 9, 2007, review of Natural Witchery, p. 48.
School Library Journal, April, 2003, Christine C. Menefee, review of Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up, p. 195; July, 2003, Elaine Baran Black, review of Elements of Witchcraft, p. 140.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2006, Lorraine Squires, review of Elements of Witchcraft, p. 392.
Ellen Dugan Home Page,http://ellendugan.covenspace.com (April 10, 2008).
Ghost Village,http://www.ghostvillage.com/ (May 17, 2006), review of Herb Magic for Beginners: Down-to-Earth Enchantments.
News from Nowhere,http://www.newsfromnowhere.org.uk/ (April 10, 2008), review of The Enchanted Cat: Feline Fascinations, Spells & Magick.
Pagan Book Reviews,http://lupabitch.wordpress.com/ (December 29, 2006), review of The Enchanted Cat.
Spiral Nature,http://www.spiralnature.com/ (May 8, 2003), Mike Gleason, review of Elements of Witchcraft.