Featured Altarist – Heather Dakota

Heather Dakota of Wyrd and Wyld Publishing

When did you build your first altar?  Did you think of it as an ‘altar’ at that time?

It seems that building altars has been with me forever. When I was a kid, I built natural altars in the woods working with twigs, wildflowers, and leaves. I definitely didn’t know I was building altars.

As a witchling, it was all pretty innocent.

Do you share your practice with others or do this as a solitary practice?

My altar practice is a bit of both. I have my own private altars where I talk with the ancestors and my guides, and altars to call specific desires into reality.

Then, I also create altars for all of my Book Witching clients. Each one is very sacred. It allows me to cast spells and call in support for whatever a client is needing in the moment.

I visit my personal altars and client altars every day to leave offerings and make magick.

I also believe that as soulful business owners, our websites, blogs, newsletter, and social media accounts are online altars for the world. They are ways to call in your audience and the people who need what you’re offering.

Abundance altar

What has been an unexpected delight in altar building?

Altar building has deepened my relationship with the Ancestors and my guides. It’s like going over to a friend’s house for tea or calling someone on the phone. We’re never alone with an altar.

How frequently do you build altars? 

Some altars are long-standing, like my ancestor and guide altar. It stays up until the energy needs to be refreshed. I choose the renewal time by intuition. My client altars are built as soon as the client says Yes to Book Witching.

When I’m calling something in or releasing something, I work with moon or seasonal energies. 

What beliefs or ideas influence your altar building?

I believe that altars are for calling in and/or releasing energy—portals to other realms and the magick of the Universe.

I open the altars (portals) in a clockwise direction and close them in a counterclockwise direction.

New Moons are for calling in energy or raising energetic vibrations. For instance, an altar to release a book into the world would be done on the New Moon or waxing moon cycle because we want the energy to increase. Full Moons, though a powerful time, signal a waning time and decreasing energy.

It’s also very important to me that I say ”work with” altars and the items on the altars, because “using” them implies that there is nothing given in return. I leave offerings every day to the benevolent spirits who assist in making magic.

I don’t remember when I started this, maybe it has been always, but I never take photos of working altars. I take photos after I’ve released the energy, or the altar is being refreshed. Intuitively, it feels sacrilege to photograph them.

An overview of one of Heather’s altars

Can you share an outcome or two from using Altars in your life?

Oh goodness, where to even begin?! I have called in lovers, homes, weather, and careers through altars.

I keep a small altar by my computer of blue glass (symbolizing water and flow), mahogany obsidian for removing negative ions from my computer, Amazonite for voice and Labradorite for seeing beyond the reality of the situation.

When I left my creative manager position at one of the big publishing houses to pursue helping people self-publish. It took a while to get things going, so I supplemented my income being a VA (virtual assistant).

I could feel the energy of that waning, so I set up an altar for my next move toward Book Witching full time. I asked the typical questions: Do I continue trying to make things work or do I get a corporate job (which I didn’t want to do)?

I visited my ancestors/guide altar daily leaving offerings for help and support and sent out spells and sigils at the altar I specifically set up for this task.

Within two weeks of setting up the new altar, I had two people contact me out of the blue to help them with their books. I hadn’t advertised or told anyone I was going to do this. It was an amazing confirmation of magic and trusting myself!

The desk altar

What items tend to show up repeatedly when selecting what you will place on your altar? (A specific photo or animal guide?  A cross or goddess statue? Tarot card?)  Do you have a reason or guided approach for your selection process?

Choosing what goes on an altar is always intuitive and each one is different. There is always a reason for the choice, but the why isn’t always clear. I’m okay with that. 

My ancestor’s altar has images of my healthy and well ancestors, as well as soul ancestors, like Georgia O’Keeffe. The guides who are often on this altar are Raven, Coyote, Owl, Snake, Yarrow, Rose, Turquoise, Rose quartz, Ammonite, and Petrified wood.

My altars have changed over the years to become simpler. I don’t have as many altar items and rarely feel like I need more. Now, I tend toward natural elements a dandelion flower, a leaf, or a found feather. When the purpose of the altar is completed, I give them back to the earth for composting and transmuting the energy.

Do you listen to music to help prepare you when you plan out an altar or while you are building?  If so, can you share some favorites?

When I set up an altar, I’m completely attuned to the other realms, so I find any societal noise distracting.

Where was the most unusual location you’ve placed an altar?

The most unusual place I’ve created an altar was at 10,000 ft in the mountains of northern NM. I wouldn’t exactly call it an altar as much as an offering.

Opening a portal is a responsibility that I take seriously, so I wouldn’t create an altar and just leave it.

Do you follow the seasons or another system/set of holidays/moon cycles that impacts when and the type of altars you build?

There are a lot of little altars all over my house. I create one at the changing of each season, so following the Wheel of the Year sabbats and esbats. These are usually in the living room or kitchen. Then, I work with the moon’s cycles for calling in support and benevolent help or releasing thoughts, habits, and launching products.

Heather’s Samhain altar

Heather,  as someone who has a long history of building altars, how do you see its impact on your Spirit?

Altars help me connect more deeply with universal Spirit. It has given me an appreciation and gratitude for the threads that connect all Beings both seen and unseen.

We are connected to, not separate from or superior to all life.

How or does your culture show up in your altar building?

I am of Irish and Jewish ancestry. I’m learning more about each culture to incorporate into my spiritual practice. For me, creating altars seems to have less to do with culture and more to do with intuition.

The beautiful bee tattoo Heather has on her forearm.

What difference do you notice on your physical body when you treat it as an altar with sacred adornment?  Do you experience an emotional shift when you put on certain clothing for ceremony? 

This is a great question! When I adorn myself as an altar, I feel powerful, and not in the “taking” way our society defines it. I am empowered and sovereign as a Being of the Universe.

My adornments are a turquoise ring, a spider ring, and a black cloak. It’s very shadowy and mystical, and it feels authentically me. Both of my rings are enchanted with magic.

However, I also believe that we are the magick. It is within us, so adornments or witchy cloaks aren’t necessary to work with Universal energy.

Heather’s beautiful rings.

What has been the biggest shift for you since building or using altars in your life?

I’ve been doing this so long I don’t really notice a shift. It’s simply part of my life. I enjoy it when the ancestors or my guides call me to the altar for a chat. It makes me feel infinite and that I have an important role to play…in other words, I belong.

Heather, I’m curious, did you build an altar in preparation for your recent state to state move or have an altar set up that you chose to move and relocate as soon as you arrived?

I created an altar for our recent move. It was a small altar that I carried with me in an old Altoid tin. It held an image of Hawk (perspective and soaring), Ganesh (remover of obstacles), Amethyst and obsidian (protection). It was one of the easiest and best moves I’ve ever made (and I’ve moved a lot)!

One of Heather’s travel altars.

Let’s learn more about your book coaching and publishing business. So many people want to create a book and are unsure about so many facets of it. Your offerings can help them…

Book Witchery!  Business Alchemy! There is so much amok amok amok goodness here. How good does it feel to be a witch – out there supporting other magickal humans -utilizing your skills from that perspective?  As you live in your own Soulful business – how long were you ‘in it’ before you really felt totally authentic in it.  i.e. no patriarchy capitalistic undercurrent yelling at you…

I’ve been a witch my entire life—talking to the fairies, trees, and wildflowers as a kid. However, I grew up in a Catholic household, so I kept the magick in the broom closet so to speak. 

I didn’t come out of the Broom Closet as a true and practicing witch until I was 50 years old. Let’s just say, I lost friends and even some family members don’t really like talking to me. Oh well! Their loss.

To me being a witch is being a human being having a spiritual experience and a spiritual being having a human experience. Yes, we are all different and have different stories and beliefs that shape how we interact with our reality.

Thank the Goddess for beautiful and wonderful diversity. Magick is my way of working with Divine and Elemental energies to support others and myself.

This includes every aspect of my life, including gardening, cooking, my health, home, herbal remedies, family, friends, and of course my clients and course participants.

A client of mine found out that I was doing magick behind the scenes and told me I had to share that part of my process. That’s when I went from Book Coaching to Book Witching.

As far as patriarchy, capitalist bullshit…I still feel like I’m “in it.” It’s so difficult to extricate yourself from the mind bending that society has done to us, but I’m learning and pioneering a new way of being in business. That’s what Business Alchemy is all about.

Heather’s sweet Dragonfly ink

You and I are both book witches of sorts – paper, binders, leather covers – I love all my books – just as necessary in some ways as Nature.  You take it to the Mastery level however – you help budding authors conjure in the best ways – their written works.  To help our readers understand, explain your Book Witch offerings please.  Wand to the ready – go!

Book Witching is all about helping suppressed and marginalized voices pull off their cloak of invisibility. My soul jumps for joy every time:

  • I hear the voices hiding in the shadows of influencers.
  • Those who feel invisible are seen.
  • Someone silencing their voice sings loud and proud.
  • A suppressed or marginalized voice shines their light. 

In the past six years of Book Witching, I’ve helped 20 books come into being and hundreds have taken my Book Witching courses. I’ve called in Inner Book Guides to help the writers dig down to the golden nugget of their ideas, support their writing, and hold them through the editing process.

When I take over in the design phase, there is a deep exhale. Then authors begin the task of creating their online altars and marketing strategy with guidance from me.

We keep it simple with little rituals and spell casting throughout the entire process, which is tailored to work for each individual client’s wants and desires. When was the last time you were able to want what you want without judgment? 

My clients have had their books hit number one on Amazon’s bestseller list and even one NY Times Bestseller. Many of my clients have won local and national book awards. It really depends on what the client really wants.

Then, we magick it into reality! 

Heather – Master Book Witch

Heather, you help your clients define and build their own effective business council – you empower them to trust in themselves – tell us who or what has empowered you?  Where does Heather go to refill her personal well? 

This was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn. I believe we are our own best business advisor with the help of our Inner Business Council. We may need technical help or to learn how to do something, but we don’t need help taking aligned action. We know what to do. We have to trust ourselves more and ask the right questions.

REST seems to be a dirty word in our society. If we aren’t being productive, going 100 mph, making a million dollars, upscaling our business, or buying the latest and greatest, somehow, we’re not worthy. We’re running a race and don’t know where the finish line is, so we keep running. No wonder as a collective we’re depressed and stressed out.

I had to unlearn these societal norms. My worth is not caught up in being productive or making a million dollars. I am worthy simply because I am.

Practically speaking, I head into the mountains. I am deeply restored doing nothing but communing with nature. Several days completely unplugged, sleeping under the stars, and walking in the woods fills my well.

It’s my dream to have more days unplugged than I have plugged into society. I think Thoreau had the right idea.

You are moving towards achieving some special goals in the clear and near future.  What does your dream piece of land look like?  Who is on it?  What plans do you hold for it?

Oh, the land, the land. This has been a dream of mine for almost 30 years. I had a prophetic dream when I was 27 years old, living in a tipi in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

I’ve been looking for this land ever since. The land is a mountain meadow, tucked into a wide valley with a deep lake. 

The dream showed me that this land will be a sanctuary for the “wanderers.” Those who are looking for nurturing and nourishment. 

During my Quest a few years ago, I was shown that this will be a village of sorts where women who are in transition (divorced, single mothers, etc) artists, and writers can come to fill their wells or finish creative projects.

I imagine myself as the last wyld witch. They’ll be a rumor going around of this witch in the woods, but you’ll have to follow the breadcrumbs to find me. haha

I’m inches close to the land that I will caretake. If anyone has 5 to 10 acres that sounds like this, let’s chat! 😉

For so many social media has become or always has been a blessing and a curse – the ultimate sun moon dark light shadow dance – in a few months you are removing your brand and business off social media completely I believe and returning to a website and e-newsletter based business.  Please share with us how this decision feels good to you.  Do you have markers in place to help you gauge that shift is meeting your business needs?  I ask as I think so many are on the precipice wanting to jump and join you.   

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with social media since I started back in 2005 or so. It’s a great way to feed the ego, but then you get addicted to the likes and comments.

I found that I was spending a lot of time on social media (about 10 hours per week)—thinking about posts, creating images, and then actually posting. I would much rather spend that time nurturing my clients and course participants.

My last day on social media will be the Winter Solstice, December 21st. It is an ending and beginning.

Word of mouth marketing has been my best marketing tool, so I’ll be upping that game quite a bit. Doing the best job I can for my clients and creating a magical newsletter that people look forward to every week. This may be the slow way of doing things, but I’m okay with growing organically and in a way that feels right to me.

I have plans for a lot of snail mail. I’m all for saving the post office! 😉 

You have launched your own publishing house – Wyrd & Wyld Publishing and refer to it as a hybrid. Tell us more.

I wanted to give authors a chance to have their authentic voices heard, which they won’t get in Traditional Publishing. As soon as print-on-demand made it easier to self-publish, I was out there giving it a go.

With my new publishing house, Wyrd & Wyld Publishing, you get all of the help that you would in traditional publishing and get to keep control over your sacred words, as you would in self-publishing. And of course, you get an added dose of magick to bind it all together into a book you’ll LOVE.

Throughout my 20-year career in traditional publishing, I worked in all areas of the publishing process from idea generation to writing and editing to design.

I’m one of the few book coaches and only Book Witch who can take a writer through the entire self-publishing process. I’m a one-stop shop. There is no need to look for an editor or a designer. You work with only me from idea to published book + marketing.

Bonus question #1 if you dare:  Favorite curse word?

My favorite curse word is FUCKER. I also sometime curse in French, just because it’s fun.

Bonus question #2 if it applies for you:

What is a favorite sacred tattoo you rock on your bodies altar or favorite piece of jewelry you wear to help create your feeling of sacredness?

My favorite tattoo is my family tattoo. My sons and I all have the same tattoo in the same place. It’s really cool. But I love sacred tattoos, so I have a bunch and a bunch planned.

The Family Tattoo of Heather and her sons.

Bonus question if you dare: #3
What would you take your younger self by the shoulders and looking straight in the eyes say to her?

I would tell my younger self to trust your intuition and yourself. YOU have all the answers.

Finally, how can women find you locally and online? 

I can be found in Eastern Washington and online at

www.heatherdakota.com & www.wisewomancollective.com,

and on Instagram until December @heather_dakota

Heather Datoka – Book Witch

All images within this interview are copyright of Heather Dakota.
Enjoy them, let them inspire you, please don’t share them without honoring who created them. Thank you.

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