BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

A lively discussion of ancient and modern Pagan literature -- including children's books, graphic novels, science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries -- along with interviews, author highlights, and profiles of Pagan publishers.

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Interview: Vanessa Kindell



[Here, we sit down for a quick interview with Vanessa Kindell. A member of the Temple of Sumer and the Gnostic Temple of Inanna, Kindell discusses the cuneiform divination system she is currently developing.]

BookMusings: How did you come to Sumerian polytheism, and what do you find so appealing about it?

Vanessa Kindell: Ultimately it was a long series of synchronicities that led me first to Inanna and then to the Cuneiform tablets and the rest of the pantheon. BookMusings: If you could correct one common misconception about Sumer and Sumerian polytheism, what would it be? 

BookMusings: If you could correct one common misconception about Sumer and Sumerian polytheism, what would it be? 

Vanessa Kindell: That would definitely have to be the idea that it has anything at all to do with space aliens. It doesn't, nor is there really any room for that in the tablets unless you start ignoring what they actually have to say and just start making things up. 

BookMusings: What is The Gnostic Temple of Inanna, and how did you come to be a part of it?

Vanessa Kindell: I started it. It's essentially a really pompous name for my local coven at the moment, though there's a long-term goal of opening a Ziggurat in Columbus. 

BookMusings: You are currently working on a divination system based on cuneiform. First, what inspired you to create it?

Vanessa Kindell: Divination is a large part of my practice, but so much of the systems that exist don't really feel Sumerian enough to me; and given that the most common form of divination in those days involved animal entrails, which conflicts with my connection to Ki, I simply decided to make my own in a form that's very much like something the Sumerians might have come to with. 

BookMusings: Second, how does the system work? Are the tiles laid out in particular patterns? How did you determine what each cuneiform piece meant?

Vanessa Kindell: The entire system is based on the Kabbalah. The tiles are arranged according to the tree of life and each one's position then tells you its context. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. The meanings of each piece are based on a combination of the literal meaning of the sign in Sumerian and the meaning of its corresponding position in the Kabbalah. 

BookMusings: How do you go about making the tiles? Was there some trial and error, or did the production process work right away?

Vanessa Kindell: Right out of the gate I knew I wanted to make them out of clay to look like little Cuneiform tablets. The actual process used to create them was actually rather simple to put together and I had a friend help me figure out the best way. It started out much more elaborate, but we ended up going with something rather simple in the end that I could easily see the Sumerians having done if they had thought of it. At some point into the prototyping process I realized a couple of the Sumerian words I had choosen used the same Cuneiform sign so I ended up having to go back and pick different words, but I think it ended up working out well in the end. 

BookMusings: Where will people be able to find the cuneiform divination set once it is complete? 

Vanessa Kindell: I'll be selling the booklet which includes instructions on making your own tiles as well as complete kits with handmade clay tiles included in limited numbers on the website of my blog Butterflies and Incantations once they're ready. 

BookMusings: What other projects are you working on?

Vanessa Kindell: This divination system is going to be one of the components in a book I'm working on detailing the process of initiation into the Sumerian path as I practice it. I also have my aforementioned podcast and blog.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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