Margaret Cahill is a publisher and founder of The Wessex Astrologer, distributor and mail order company founded in 1996 and specialised only in Astrology and closely related areas. Margaret will visit Watkins Books on MAY 26 at 6pm to talk about her book Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged My Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an inspiring manual for cancer patients. Diagnosed with cancer, Margaret found it easier to think it all through in public through a blog. We asked her about her spiritual journey, her practice and the books that inspired her the most.
Meet the Author is a series of short interviews prior the author’s talks at Watkins Books.
W: Is there any event or encounter in your life that you consider a stepping stone in your spiritual journey?
M: Yes, definitely. In 1987 I met an amazing lady called Ambika. At the time she was a bramycharian monk hailing from South Africa but living in Reading, near to me at that time, and I started going to her for private yoga classes. We shared a ‘what next?’ feeling about life and quickly became firm friends. When my parents died in 1993 she stepped in as my surrogate mum and she has been there for me ever since. She is now known as Swami Ambikananda and she is the founder of the Traditional Yoga Association. (You can read more about her here if you want to). She features very strongly in my book as she is one of those rare people who tells the truth even when she knows you don’t want to hear it. She is my dearest friend and the first person I go to in a spiritual crisis.
W: Which books have influenced your life the most?
M: Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. Who hasn’t been affected by that? It got me started on astrology when I was about 8 and turned into my vocation as a publisher.
The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach. A lovely book. I was entranced by his writing and wanted to learn how to dissolve clouds. Until I discovered that the small ones disappear in a few minutes anyway.
Creating Money by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer. A customer suggested it to me when I was going through a very difficult time, and although I had read a lot of books about creating your own reality this was the one I read over and over again. The title is somewhat of a misnomer but reading the book so many times helped me to make massive changes in my life.
The Power of Empathy by Arthur Ciaramicoli and Katherine Ketcham. Another lovely book. I don’t think there is enough empathy in everyday life and I think everyone should read this book.
The Crystal Singer series and the Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. The Crystal Singer going out to sing to mine the crystal ranges fitted perfectly with the chanting I was doing with Ambika. I love the whole concept of other worlds and space travel.
Likewise, the concept of telepathic communication with the dragons, and in fact all animals, which we know exists but she takes it a whole new level.
Dark of the Soul by Liz Greene. I have always been interested in what makes people tick, and this book concentrates on the astrology of the most troubled minds. I locked myself away for an entire weekend and read it from cover to cover. It is still one of my favourite astrology books.
W: Do you have a daily spiritual practice?
M: I’d love to say that I get up and do yoga every morning, but I don’t (sorry Swamiji!). However, I do tend to wake up early and make use of the time either practising Mindfulness (as I breathe in I am breathing in…etc) or chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which is something I learnt about while I was having chemo. I have the chant on my phone and if I am in the car alone I play it on the way to work. Or actually almost any time I am alone. If I am with people and feel the need then chanting in my head works just as well. It is also my screensaver on my computer. Both of those practices are my port of call during the day when it all gets a bit too frantic.
W: What is your idea of happiness?
M: I think it is a moveable feast. The obvious thing that springs to mind (for me!) is laying on a sun lounger on a cruise ship with a really good book, and I guess you could also say a lot of similar things like a sunny day, no money worries, good health… I could go on. But seriously, I think true, deep happiness is a fleeting moment that gives you the most amazing glow inside, and that can happen anywhere and in any circumstance. When it does happen I think it can fuel you for a very long time and become a treasured memory that can be revisited at any time.
W: What empowers you in your daily work and life?
M: A feeling that I haven’t finished what I came here for yet. That certainly kept me going when I was being treated for lymphoma. And I think that the process of trying to find meaning in everyday life helps to keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities, which in turn leads to more opportunities.
W: Any advice to give to Watkins Magazine readers…
M : Enjoy the moment. Understand that where you are now is the result of the path you have been following so far. If you don’t like it, now is the moment to change something!