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Trader of the Month: The Imaginary Raven

We spoke to Andrew Orchard our Copyeditor at Pagans of the North about his latest endeavours!

Tell us about your business:

I began my professional creative journey in 1994 when I started my first graphic design and illustration business straight out of college. In 2007 I started Black Orchard Photography and for four crazy years I was photographing alternative models, burlesque performers, musicians and actors all over the country.In 2011 I was burned out and fancied a change of pace so I decided to learn leather bookbinding. Within weeks I was selling the books on my social media profile and being asked to make other things from leather. Black Orchard Leather was born and I've been making bags, satchels, books, journals, belts and much more for the last 13 years. I found out recently that my great grandad was a saddler so I must have inherited his genes.Since 2011 I've also worked with stained glass, copper, wood, lino printing, mixed media art and sculpture. Being creative drives me and there are so many more crafts I want to learn – but not enough time! I worked from home until recently but I kept acquiring new equipment and needed more space so I now have a studio inside a 1930s converted cinema.As my interest in Paganism has grown over the last decade I've felt drawn towards making more things which fit the Pagan lifestyle. I've started to make wands, bowls, grimoires, tarot deck cases, potion bottle pendants and much more. I'm building my inventory all the time with new ideas and also taking commissions on special custom projects.The things I've been making recently didn't fit comfortably on my existing website so I decided this new venture needed its own home; it was time to set up another website to feature all my new creations. It took a while to think of a suitable name but while out walking in the woods, 'The Imaginary Raven' popped into my head and I knew it was the one.

What is your Pagan path?

That's an interesting question. I suppose I don't really have a specific Pagan path. I definitely feel a connection to the passage of the seasons and the way the Wiccan practices respect mother nature. I feel most grounded when I'm walking amongst the trees.I'm as eclectic with my interest in Pagan traditions as I am with my creativity. I love witchcraft as much as I'm fascinated by ancient folklore, Norse symbolism and Druidry. I'm obsessed with crystals, herbs, trees, tarot, dowsing and spell craft and I regularly wander through the woods chatting with my spirit guides. I'm an empath and I'm absolutely certain I've lived many past lives; I feel such strong connections to periods in history and places I've never been to before.One of the most appealing things to me is that Paganism offers the freedom to pick and choose the things which resonate with me the most without judgement. I need to be free to do what I want when I want because I don't follow rules very well.

What's next for your business?

With The Imaginary Raven I'm working towards building a new following of like minded folk who  appreciate my new creative direction. I'd love to eventually make my living creating things like grimoires, potion bottles and beautiful handbags with intricate nature related designs. Ultimately I want to be able to make what I really want without compromising my creative direction just to please the mainstream. I've always loved writing. It's taken me 50 years but I'm finally working on my first book which I'll be illustrating myself and self publishing. I'm definitely going to start a good old fashioned blog to ramble about my creative journey in a more long form and permanent way than social media can offer. Call me a Luddite but I've long held off entering the world of video due to my lack of confidence in front of a camera. I'm now at the age where every day counts so I'm taking the plunge and starting a YouTube channel to document my creative adventures. It's never too late to show those young 'uns how it's done!

What advice would you give to other Pagans?

My simple advice would be to follow your heart and surround yourself with the things you love the most. Read and learn as much as you can because knowledge is power!

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