I’m afraid that, due to my own unforseen personal issues, I will no longer be able to edit the Pagan Friends Webzine for the foreseeable future. As nobody has yet volunteered to take over the editorial position, I regret to inform you that the webzine will be on hold for an unknown period of time.

My many thanks to all the writers, artists and readers who, over the past year and a bit, have made this project such a success.

Rebecca L. Brown (Beary)

We’re delighted to welcome you to the one year anniversary issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine! We’re celebrating bringing you a whole year of great articles, interviews, poetry and more with a fantastic Beltane issue, including content from Jessica Howard, Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq. and a beautiful selection of photography including work byBenjamin J. Kirby, Carlo Vella and Cai Thomas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our webzine throughout the past year as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Many thanks to all the friends, contributors and behind-the-scenes helpers who have made it possible for us to keep producing the Pagan Friends Webzine.

Thanks, as well, to everyone who entered our Ostara craft competition. We had some great entries and it was really hard to pick out just one, but we managed it in the end (just about!). And here it is:

Winner of the Ostara Craft Competition:
'Munch Egg' by Ira Dracona

We really liked the idea of making a bird egg and thought a budgie was a really original idea; thanks Ira!

And here are a few of our other favourites:


An interview with the Pagan Friends Forum’s Jess

Celebration: Our one year anniversary special feature!


Honey Cakes, By Suzannah Defoe


Astro-Theology: A New Way of Interpreting the Bible, By Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq.

Rose & I Go To See The Fairies, By T. Fox Dunham

Gypsy Love Cards, By Jessica Howard

Astroflash Monthly Horoscope for May 2012, By Flash Silvermoon


Five Plant Poems, By Hilary Sideris



Treadwells Events

What’s On Elsewhere

Want to contribute to our Summer Solstice issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Summer Solstice issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it.

For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

Home of 16th Century Cupuchin Friars in Sintra, Portugal
Photography by Carlo J. Vella

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Jess

How did you discover your path, and how did you know it was right for you?

For me it started when I was a kid, before I knew what paganism was; I was the kid that would mix spells and potions from things I found in the garden, who believed that God was a woman, that you could achieve things with the power of your mind. When I was 13 I read an article in a magazine from a real life witch, and that’s when I first discovered Paganism. Since then it snowballed. I instantly knew it was right for me; it incorporated everything I had believed from a young age. As a solitary pagan, I have never been trained under one particular tradition, and I have never really found one that I thought ‘Yeah, I want to stick with this!’ So my path is very eclectic, with a strong emphasis on working with nature and self-improvement.

Did you grow up in a houshoad that had pagam/spiritual leanings?

Not at all. My parents aren’t particularly religious, but the school I attended was very Christian.  Whilst Christianity was a religion that made me uncomfortable, as it just didn’t seem right to me, it taught me how to form a bond with divinity through hymns and prayer, which is very important to me.

Have you ever done/experience anything Pagan related which has scared you?

When I first started practising rituals and spell casting, I was quite young, and eager to jump straight in, so I did a lot of work without knowing fully what I was doing. In hindsight I had nothing to fear, but at the time sitting a candle lit room invoking the Goddess was pretty scary. The only real occasion I can recall ever being really scared in was when I was doing some crystal scrying one night during a particularly powerful full moon; it was all going fine, when suddenly I saw a man’s face, so strong and vivid and a voice clear as day saying ‘Beware the man with the moustache’. It really unsettled me for a couple of days afterwards, as I’ve never had a vision so strong or so ominous.

Do you wander from your path? And what brings you back?

I lead quite a busy life, what with work and all the volunteering I do, and sometimes it is quite easy to stray from my path. Sometimes I find that I don’t have the time to even say a little prayer in the mornings. Sometimes stress draws me from my path; I never lose faith, but I always feel guilty about not being as dedicated as I should, or want to be. Sometimes it is hard to get back on the path, but I find that eventually I will feel the pull so strong I just slip back into it. Other times, I need some sort of impetus. There are three main ways in which I bring myself back which always seem to work; I read a pagan book or watch a pagan-related film (sometimes even Buffy The Vampire Slayer is enough to ignite my passion again, as unrealistic as I know it is). Another thing I do is go for a long walk in nature, if I can, to St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester; it has a pretty powerful ley line running through it and I’ve had some amazing experiences up there. My other guaranteed technique is to browse the pagan friends forum; with a wealth of information and friendly people with tons of experience to share, I can’t help but feel inspired by my friends.

have you faced negativity about your path life from friends, family, employers, neighbours, etc ? and if so, how have you handled it?

The main prejudice I faced was at high school, when I was first exploring my path. Being excited about it, and it being a small school, it soon got around that I was pagan. Even my own friends laughed at me for it, which was hurtful; being so young, and having your beliefs trashed for the first time is not an easy experience! It lead me to creep into the closet for several years, until I reached university and met other like-mided pagans. It gave me the confidence to come out into the open about it, and through my openness meet other pagans in my area. My boyfriend laughs at me about it, but that is just because he loves any excuse to wind me up! At the end of the day he is very accepting.

Paganism is something I have broached with my family, and not to successfully; the believe it is all a bunch of nonsense, and so whilst they know I am very into ‘new age stuff’ they don’t really know the extent of it!

I tend to keep my beliefs quiet at work too, after a bad experience in a previous job. I was 19, at university, and working at a call centre for a bit of extra money. My boss noticed the pentacle around my neck, and asked me if I was a devil-worshipper. I replied no, and told her that my nan who was superstitious had bought it for me to protect me when I went off to university, hoping that would be the end of the conversation. It wasn’t, and she then proceeded to tell me and everyone I was working with in the call centre that she went through a ‘phase’ when she was a teenager and studied demonology extensively, and that I was most definitely a devil worshipper. I was so mortified that a boss could take this sort of attitude and behaviour with one of her employees that I couldn’t fight back or defend myself. I left the job a week or so later, but now tend not to wear a pentacle necklace to work; I have a small, silver pentacle ring I wear which is discreet and very few people pick up on.

do you have daily rituals? or is your pathworking more kind-of as and when?

I would love to have daily rituals, and I always start them with the best intentions; and then I find that life kind of gets on top of me and I end up abandoning them, so my pathworking is very much as and when. I do make a point of talking to my Goddess every day, but otherwise I am constantly having to look for chances to perform any sort of working; for example, when making dinner I tend to fuel whatever I’m cooking with a specific intent as I’m stirring it, or if I’m sat in the park on my lunchbreak eating a sandwich, I will leave a bit of it under a tree as an offering. I am currently looking to work daily meditation into my routine, even if it is just ten minutes before bed, as I feel it is something I have been neglecting recently, and meditation is a big part of my personal path.

do you follow the wheel of the year?

I do follow the wheel of the year, and even though I try to plan them days , sometimes weeks, in advance, they still sneak up and take me by surprise! Being a solitary pagan means that sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to keep on top of these things, but just recently I have discovered other pagans in my area and we have begun spending Sabbats together, which is great. However, if I am celebrating it on my own, even if I am short on time will at least light a candle and say a little prayer.

Is there a Sabbat that holds most meaning for you?

My favourite sabbat is Imbolc; I feel empowered by the thought of new beginnings. Also, it is the first of the fire festivals, and my element is fire, so I always feel drawn to it.

how do you normally celebrate it?

I have always celebrated Imbolc as a solitary. If I have the time, I like to go for a walk and gather any bits of nature I can find to decorate my alter. Then I decide on a goal, something I want to achieve that year, and do a ritual to honour the coming of Spring, and ask for blessings in my specific goal, make an offering and then have a merry little feast and leave a candle burning. The alter usually stays up for the whole day. However, if I don’t have time to do anything ritualistic, I will usually just light a candle and meditate on the meaning of Imbolc, give thanks and ask that the Lord and Lady continue to bless me with their presence in my life.

do you have any working tools, crystals, herbs, oils, etc or practices you would call your favourites?

Whilst I am a person who relies on visual stimuli and triggers a lot, I don’t really own that many tools. I still use the same wand that I made when I first started practising in all my rituals and workings, except for the Sabbats when I use a more decorated one I made at a workshop at Witchfest one year. My favourite tool is probably my amethyst pendulum; it took me so long to find a pendulum that I felt I could actually connect to, so it is really special to me. And I couldn’t live without Lavender Oil; it’s a godsend for someone as clumsy as me!

Where do you go to find sacred space? Do you have a favourite location to be in?

Unfortunately there aren’t many secluded outdoor spaces near me, so I tend to create sacred space for workings in my room, and when I’m not working I keep a clear quartz point pointing clockwise on the windowsill to help keep the positive energy flowing. My favourite location, however, is St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester. I went to university in Winchester, and spent a lot of time up here, watching lunar eclipses or meditating or just wondering around. I found out just after I left Winchester that there is a pretty big ley line running through it, which explains a lot! I haven’t managed to find the time to go back there since I left university, which is a shame, so I am hoping to find the time this summer.

Ever been anywhere you didn’t want to stay because it’s vibe was wrong? Any weird happenings?

Not anything to really talk about. I’ve had the whole bad-vibes thing when walking into certain buildings and found that I had to leave as soon as possible, but that is about the extent of it.

What’s your “take” on fate?

I believe that we all choose our own fate. But if we ask our Gods and Goddesses, they will show us the way that is best for us; for example, casting a spell to attain a certain job, only to find out a couple of days after the interview you didn’t get it. To me, that isn’t that your spell didn’t work, that is divinity intervening because they know there is something better waiting for you. If you don’t want divinity’s help, then don’t ask for it, but I reckon I have been a lot better off in life for it!

Has your Path developed/changed over the time you have been Pagan? If so, How?

My path has changed so much over the years, it makes me proud to look back on and see how far I’ve come. When I first started out, I was very Wiccan; the thought of cursing and hexing scared me out of my mind, just the names of certain deities had me trembling in my shoes, and to be honest, I didn’t really know of any other paths or traditions. Since then I have definitely become more open minded and better read. Wicca, although still an influence, is not a major influence of my path anymore. I have thought about and questioned karma and the nature of healing and hexing and reached my own conclusions, and some of those deities that I swore I would never work with have become my patrons. The more I studied, the less I feared, and the more I learnt the more I wanted to know.

Who and/or what in the Pagan World have influenced you most?

Those people who have influenced me the most along my path have been the everyday pagans; my pagan friends, and members from the pagan-friends forum. It is so inspiring to hear and read and see for myself the way that they incorporate their beliefs into their everyday lives, to really see what is possible and what I could achieve for myself if I just studied and practiced and believed. Whilst I find authors are a great source of knowledge and inspiration, they lack the personal touch that you get through friendships, and I think that is one thing that really spurs me on.


Thanks to everyone who sent in photographs of themselves celebrating; our favourites were from the Pagan Families and Friends of West Michigan group.

The group’s next gathering will be on the 6th May; visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pffwm for more details.

Honey Cakes

By Suzannah Defoe
I don’t know about the rest of you but for me honey cakes are an essential part of any celebration. Little wispy fluffy pieces of honey buttery goodness that melt in your mouth go well with any hot or cold drink and are easy to make, transport and of course share! The recipe that follows is my own personal favourite adapted from fairy cakes but please feel free to embroider upon and change to your heart’s content.


175g unsalted butter (preferably softened).

175g caster sugar.

175g self-raising flour.

3 medium free-range eggs (beaten).

½ teaspoon baking powder.

2 Tablespoons mead (or milk if making for young ones).

3-4 tablespoons of honey.

This is enough to make 24 small cakes or 12 larger muffin sized cakes.

Begin by heating your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and arranging your trays with cupcake/muffin liners. I find it useful to also make sure all my ingredients are out on the work surface before I begin. Take the butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat them together until the mixture is smooth. You can do this by hand if you prefer but it’s perfectly acceptable to use a mixer. Using a sieve sift the flour and baking powder down onto the wet ingredients. Try to keep the sieve at a fair height above to give your cakes a lighter finish. Stir in the flour and add the mead (milk) and stir again. Your mixture should be smooth and fairly thick.

Spoon the mix into the cake cases so they are about half way full giving them room to rise. Bake them in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller cakes and 15-20 minutes if you are using the bigger muffin cases. Keep an eye on your cakes so they don’t get overcooked. Ideally they should feel firm but spongy when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Turn them out onto a cooling rack.

While the cakes are cooling heat the honey gently either in a saucepan or in the microwave. You aren’t aiming to cook the honey just make it a little runnier. Use a cocktail stick to put several small holes in each cake and then slowly and gently drizzle over the warm honey. Your cakes are now ready to be eaten. Enjoy!

Forest floor
By Cai Thomas

Astro-Theology: A New Way of Interpreting the Bible

by Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq.

[Author of The Royal Arch of Enoch: The Impact of Masonic Ritual, Philosophy, and Symbolism. http://www.robertwsullivaniv.com, http://www.facebook.com/theroyalarchofenoch. Release date: May 1, 2012]

In my new book, The Royal Arch of Enoch, I present a “hot button” subject. It is analyzed in Chapter III; it is an Astro-Theological interpretation of the Bible.  I also forge a nexus as to how this interpretation is symbolically carried on in both blue lodge and high degree Freemasonry.  These concepts stem from what are often called “The Mysteries” or “The Ancient Mysteries” which hold that religion is, in a nutshell, the anthropomorphization of the sun, the moon, the constellations, and heavenly bodies.  In other words, the characters in the Bible are not real, flesh and blood people, but are rather symbols representing the sun, the moon, the zodiac, and the cosmos.

Chapter III of The Royal Arch of Enoch begins,

“The Ancient Mysteries were practiced from approximately 6000 – 4000 B.C.E. in some form (perhaps earlier) to 379-395 C.E. when Christian Emperor Theodosius I outlawed the Mystery Religions; the Egyptian Serapeum, the Library of Alexandria, and the Temple of Apollo at Delphi were destroyed while Nicene Christianity and Roman Catholicism replaced (or appropriated) the Mysteries and became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.  The Mysteries consisted of two primary schools: the Egyptian and the Druidic.  From where these traditions come, likely a lost civilization – Atlantis, Lemuria – is left to speculation and open to suggestion.  The Mystery Schools contained initiatory rites where select neophytes were disseminated wisdom through a system of degrees; the truths or knowledge imparted was not available to the general populous and great lengths were taken to ensure the wisdom of the Mysteries was sequestered from them.  It was through the Mysteries – exoterically called “religion” – that mankind was guided, swayed, if not manipulated.  Once a candidate was initiated into the greater Mysteries he could not divulge the knowledge that was imparted to him, usually through allegorical symbolic metaphor. The Druidic Mysteries dominated the British Isles while the Mysteries of Egypt were naturally practiced on the banks of the Nile.  The philosophical symbolic teachings of both the Druidic and Egyptian Mysteries will now be explored.  The Egyptian Mysteries influenced and informed Judaism, the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the Greco-Roman Dionysian/Bacchus cults – all of which predate Christianity. Comparatively, the Persian Mysteries of Mithraism as contained within Zoroastrianism were intertwined with the Egyptian/Greco-Roman Mysteries and ultimately became the Sol Invictus cult which in turn became Roman state-sanctioned Christianity.  These mystery traditions also found their way into Islam seemingly as the worship of the planets – namely Venus.  The Mysteries contained two schools: one exoteric open to all, one esoteric known only to the initiated few.  The incorporation of the Mysteries into the first state backed “non-pagan” religion was enough to create the Mysterion – the Sacred Mysteries of Christianity – or occult Christianity, within which the true symbolic meanings of Christian religiosity and eschatology were contained.  This point was echoed by church father Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-ca. 215 C.E.) who stated Christianity had, like the Pagan Mysteries, two schools: one for neophytes and one of secret knowledge transmitted to “a small number, by a succession of masters, and not in writing.”[Footnote]  Christianity following the Mystery tradition caused the learned church father Origen Adamantius (ca. 185-254 C.E.) who was a student of Clement of Alexandria to declare:

“The existence of certain doctrines which are beyond those which are  
openly taught and do not reach the multitude is not a peculiarity of
Christianity only, but is shared by the philosophers.  For they had
some doctrines which were exoteric and some esoteric.”[Footnote]

Paul the Apostle (of Tarsus, ca. 5-67 C.E.), in the forth chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians, speaking of the simplest facts of the Old Testament, asserts they are an allegory.  Both Origen and Pope Gregory I (a/k/a Gregory the Great) held that the Four Gospels were not to be taken in their literal sense; and Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296/298 – 373, a/k/a Athanasius the Apostolic) admonishes us that “Should we understand sacred writ according to the letter, we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies.”[Footnote]  In other words if we take the Bible – or any holy scripture – i.e. the Qur’an, the Vedas – literally, we are committing sacrilege and offending God.  In this vein it should come as no surprise that each of the Abrahamic faiths contains its own mystery tradition where the true meanings or teachings were concealed in symbolic allegory: the Mysterion within Christianity, Kabbalah within Judaism and Sufism within Islam. The impact of Sufism upon Masonry will be discussed in The Royal Arch of Enoch.  Christianity incorporates all the elements of the Pagan Mysteries only with new names assigned: Isis became Mary, Osiris transformed into her husband Joseph, Horus/Mithras/Bacchus/Dionysus/Apollo morphed into Jesus Christ[Footnote], etc.  One must bear in mind that many – if not all – of the dramatis personae of both the Old and New Testaments are not real people, but rather are astronomical/astrological or astro-theological allegories based upon the sun, the moon, the planets, and their movements through various constellations or relation to the stars or other celestial bodies or arrangements.  As will be seen, Freemasonry also incorporates elements of these Mysteries as a vessel or preserver of the ancient Mystery Schools.  In turn some Masonic historians traced masonry to the Essences (ca. 2 B.C.E. – 1 C.E.), a mystical Jewish sect allegedly responsible for the creation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes incorporated many elements of modern day Masonry such as different levels of initiation and vows of secrecy.”

These concepts are not “new” and I am not the first Mason to present this information. Other Masons that spoke on this controversial subject include Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833), Albert Pike (1809-1891), Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990), Albert Churchward (1852-1925),  and Albert Mackey (1807-1881). However I am the first author to link these concepts which are to be found in The Book of Enoch or I Enoch, a sacred text left out of the Bible.  The influence of this book upon the high degrees of Freemasonry is the primary subject matter of the of The Royal Arch of Enoch as it presents a previously undiscovered historical anomaly.  It should also be pointed out that the influence of the Mysteries on the Abrahamic Faiths, namely the mysteries of Egypt, fascinated a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher in the seventeenth century.  On Kircher I explain:

“Amun Re/Ra, later Horus – the spiritual, not material sun – was also the “risen” deity representing the sun as it “rises” in the east every morning bringing life, salvation and divine light to the world.  In the morning the sun (Amen Ra/Re, Horus) is “born again” as the supreme “Holy Father” defeating the darkness of the night (Typhon), at high-noon at its apex it is a youthful son/sun at full strength, and at evening the sun enters the ghostly underworld beneath the western horizon becoming a “Holy Ghost or Spirit”; the sun thus has three distinct phases: growth, maturity/strength, and decay.  To the Egyptians the sun was a symbol of immorality – it died each night only to be born again in the morning reaching full strength at noon.  This is where the concept of the divine trinity of  “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” derives from within Christianity – from the Egyptian – as accepted by Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher (1602 – 1680);  the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible.  Kircher was a Jesuit honored with the title “master of a hundred arts” who published numerous works on oriental studies, geology, and medicine.  Kircher, a hermetist-cabalist, continued the Renaissance tradition of interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphs as symbols containing divine truths; the hieroglyphs on the obelisk of Heliopolis to Kircher contained the fore-runners of Christian symbology including, among other things, the sun placed over a Christian cross seemingly crossifed or crucified.  Although one finds frequent reference to both Hebrew Kabbalah – its Sephirot – and Christian Cabala in his works, Kircher condemned the practice of cabalistic magic.  He published, among others, Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta, Obeliscus Aegyptiacus, Obeliscus Pamphilius, Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs, Prodomus coptus sive Aegyptiacus, Rituale Ecclesiae Aegyptiacae sive Cophititarum, Sphinx Mystagoga, sive Diatribe Hieroglyphica, and Turris Babel. These texts were the first real studies of Egyptian hieroglyphs and forged a nexus between the Egyptian religion and Roman culture; the Egyptianizing of Rome itself in other words. (insert b/w frontispiece with caption: Frontispiece of Athanasius Kircher’s Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs, 1665, featuring an eye in the triangle inside a cabalistic sun – as God – as the source of knowledge surrounded by nine angels.  A cosmological sphere sits below it representing the heavens while two Persian Magi stare in awe. The magi on the right contemplates the 47th Proposition of Euclid – the future emblem of a Masonic Worshipful Master.)  In Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652- 1654) Kircher compared Christianity to the religion and mysticism of Egypt arguing that Christianity’s origins were born out of the Egyptian Mysteries; he also believed that Moses and Hermes Trismegistus were one and the same. At the end of Oedipus Aegyptiacus, just after the hymn from the Pimander with which he concludes, Kircher places a hieroglyph enjoining secrecy and silence concerning these sublime doctrines. And, in effect, in this survival in seventeenth-century Jesuitism of the most enthusiastic type of Renaissance religious Hermetism we have something like another of those esoteric channels through which the Hermetic tradition is carried on, which perhaps explains why Mozart could be a Freemason as well as a Catholic.[Footnote]   Kircher assisted Gian Bernini in the erection of an Egyptian obelisk in Rome’s Piazza Navona near the Fountain of the Four Rivers as a symbolic gesture to Christianity’s true occult origins.  The symbolism of an obelisk – associated with the spiritual solar energy Amun Ra/Re –  was well known to Kircher.  Regarding the divine trinity Kircher concluded that the Egyptian solar winged orb represented the Egyptian scarab beetle with its wings spread; it symbolized the beetle rolling it’s dung ball from east to west infusing it with it’s new seed – life, just as the sun by rising in the east and setting in the west infuses the earth with life and fertility.  Kircher also equated the Holy Trinity to occultism as inherited from Egypt and practiced by famed alchemist Paracelsus (1493-1541): the Holy Trinity was fire, water, air – three elements found on earth but not earth themselves.  They were salt, mercury, and sulfur: the “Holy Trinity” – God – the universal seed of nature. This occult alchemical philosophy was adopted by Germanic theologian, mystic, and sage Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) who called the Trinity The Three Witnesses, by which the Invisible is made known to the visible, tangible universe.”

Within the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the “Sun/Son of God” – the light of the world – who is assisted by twelve apostles. The twelve apostles are the twelve houses of the zodiac that assist the sun on its annual journey.   The break down of the apostles and their respective zodiacs are as follows:

1. As Aries the Ram is the first house of the Zodiac, so is Peter the first leader of Christianity after Christ.  He is fiery, impulsive, yet changeable – he is the rock upon which Christ founds his New Church of the lamb. Etymologically the name “Peter” comes from the Greek “petra” meaning rock.

2. Taurus the Bull is the dogmatic Simon Zelotes – he who is concerned with property and finance – who rebelled against the payment of taxes. Taurus is admonished by God’s Sun: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…..”. Economically it is the sign of Taurus from where the term “bull market” originates.

3. Gemini the Twins is James the Lesser – intelligent but incapable of independent thought. Slow to accept the teachings of the solar messiah, but became an eloquent preacher of the church in Jerusalem and an active evangelist.  Astrologically the city of London, England is aligned to Gemini; its Great Fire of 1666 was predicted by English astrologer William Lilly (1602 – 1681) in 1652.  His hieroglyph shows twins – as London – burning. (Insert Lilly engraving with caption: The Great Fire of London of 1666 showing Gemini/London burning. It was published in 1652 in William Lilly’s book Monarchy or No Monarchy in England.) The English monarchy rules from St. James Palace/Court of St. James as an esoteric homage to Gemini.

4. Cancer the Crab is Andrew the home-body who dwells with his brother Simon Peter (a/k/a Peter). His first thought when he discovered the Messiah was to run and fetch his brother.

5. Leo the Lion is John; as Leo is ruled by the sun so then is John the most inspired and the most beloved of Christ’s apostles.

6. Phillip is Virgo: always precise, calculating, enquiring yet practical.: the decans of Virgo.

7. Libra is Matthew the even minded tax collector who uses the scales to weigh and collect money.

8. Judas Iscariot is Scorpio the Scorpion, the deadly backstabbing traitor who delivers his deadly sting or “kiss” shortly after the autumnal equinox sending the sun of God into death or winter. The “30 pieces of silver” that are paid to Judas in return for his betrayal are an occult reference to the moon and the 30 day lunar cycle.

9. James the Greater is Sagittarius, the wise teacher who along with the other two fire signs – Peter and John – are the most anxious to spread the light of Christ’s solar church.

10 Bartholomew – Nathaniel is dependable Capricorn in whom “there is no deception”.

11. Thaddeus – Jude is Aquarius, the social liberal who sought better living and working conditions and an overall better “state of being”. He interrogates Jesus at the Last Supper as to how Christ would manifest this.

12. Pisces the Fish are Thomas.  The two fish represent both the positive and the negative: just as Thomas believes and is courageous one moment (positive), he doubts the next (negative).  While believing Christ is the messiah he is best known for disbelieving the Resurrection; as such he is a “doubting Thomas”.

The Bible seems to document this symbology based on a phenomenon known as the Precession of The Equinoxes.  Based on the Precessional cycle the earth moves backwards one degree every seventy two years through each house of the zodiac which gives rise to the concept of solar ages, where the sun remains in each sign for approximately 2000-2100 years.  Thus we have the Age of Taurus, the Age of Aries, the current yet waning Age of Pisces, and the coming Age of Aquarius. The Royal Arch of Enoch documents how the adoration of the sun in each of these ages gives rise to the respective religion born out of that age.  In conclusion, one could argue that the Bible is a solar astrological calendar or sun dial more similar to the Mayan calendar than one may initially think.

About the author: Robert W. Sullivan IV is a philosopher, historian, antiquarian, jurist, theologian, writer, and lawyer; The Royal Arch of Enoch is his first published work and is the result of twenty years of research.  Mr. Sullivan received his B.A. from Gettysburg College in 1995, having spent his entire junior year studying European history at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University. He received his J.D. from Widener University (Delaware Campus) in 2000. He studied International Law and Jurisprudence at Trinity College, Oxford University.  Mr. Sullivan is a Freemason having joined Amicable-St. John’s Lodge #25, Baltimore Maryland in 1997; he became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1999, Valley of Baltimore, Orient of Maryland.  A lifelong Marylander, he resides in Baltimore.  

Copyright Robert W. Sullivan IV, 2012. 

Courroux, Switzerland
Photography by Benjamin J. Kirby

Rose & I go to see the Fairies

True Story

By T. Fox Dunham

As the spring weather comes, I feel the earth’s energy renew my fractured body. In the warm air, the sunlight, the renewing energy of thunder showers, I find rejuvenation. The summer. The spring. These are my times and tides. When winter bullies back into the year, I hide in my fox den and hibernate till the sun comes home.

The seasons have their spirits just as the land. They grow old as the year turns and are born again just as I am. Their children seed the hills, the forests, the tundra, and the seas. They have been given many names—elves, sidhe, erls, kami, the golden ones—and they exist in every folk tradition, often with condign natures. They are the fey. And they are with us.

In my journeys, I have encountered the wee ones—though some are not so small. It is hard not to encounter the folk. They live in most corners and caves, in oak caverns and behind the clay pots on our porches. Shamans encounter these beings as we step into the other world, and they act as guides or tricksters or lovers, all with vital lessons and often fun chaos. They walk in the layers of this world just as we do, and when the conditions are right, when states align, you might even be fortunate enough—or unlucky—to see them with your own physical eyes, real and material. I have seen them in this reality three times in my life sans the aid of shamanic transition. That’s when I knew I’d never be alone.

When I was 20, I went for a stroll at the end of April with an old girlfriend, whom I’m pleased to say became a good friend to me after our love did not survive our maturing. Rose couldn’t win a height contest with a caterpillar standing on its back legs—a little thing, sweet like a violet. The wind blew her hair curly dark. She loved to sing country sings, but she feared anyone hearing her. Once, she let me listen to a tape she’d recorded. I couldn’t tell the difference between her and a professional star. We deny the world much beauty when we don’t believe in ourselves.

My hair had grown back, all blond and curly after chemotherapy. For the three of you who follow my eccentric essays, you know that I’m a cancer survivor, as I often remind you. I professed high spirits and magick, but really a part of me had grown old so fast. I had seen so much, lost so much, even my love, and after I survived my rare cell type of lymphoma, I became a very dangerous thing: a wild fox searching for meaning, for justification to the suffering I had witnessed.

The magnolia trees wore white dresses along the canal. Their white hands fluttered to the trails, carpeting the grass with powdered sugar. I asked Rose to take a walk with me, into the wood behind the canal. I fetched my doctor’s bag filled with my magical wares, including a bag of fennel seeds. I had a special offering with me and a jar of milk.

We crossed over the still canal on a fallen oak. You could still spot hunks of coal that had fallen from barges that horse teams used drag up the canal. My grandfather brought me here to fish often through my life, though they’d stopped stocking it this far up. Carp ruled the shallow waters, fish who would torment my fishing and once even snapped my fly rod. Clever fish are carp. If you ever need wily advice and the fox aren’t coming out, summon a carp spirit. It’ll probably cost you some fomented mulberries.

We walked the opposite trail, the place where four years ago a tick crawled from the bordering wood to drink of my healthy blood. The 1990s were an era of over-development in my area, the coming of the stagnant armies of condos. Construction devoured the farmer’s fields, the woodland, the open spaces. This concentrated the deer populations or drove them off, and the ticks exploded onto the residential area. I was one of many to suffer in the bloom of lyme disease. Poison sumac masked the bull’s eye rash. I remember it so clearly now. When finally found two years later, the disease had wrecked my body, and the treatment triggered my lymphoma. This was a difficult place for me to go. I didn’t blame nature. I blamed the greed of the construction companies who devoured with little consideration of the future.

We crossed through the threshold, through the portals in the sticker bushes and brambles. We followed the trail along the ferns and sycamores and to the creek that split the wood. As we traveled deeper, you could sense the pressure of the forest building, pressing down on you. This is the deep heart of the trees. Every forest has one. It is where they dwell.

The ground sloshed under our shoes. Yellow sassafras grew high in the tall grasses on the edge of the bog. The mocking birds sung in three notes. The earthy smell of rotting wood cleared my head. We came to a tree stump. I knew this was the place. My third eye, my compass, felt it sync.

“Shhhh now,” I said to her. “We wait until the sun goes down. It’s the time in between. The ‘tween places. This where the fey traverse our world. They dance along the shore between the ocean and land.”

The sky ignited in pink, painting the clouds. I could feel the alignment in my chest. I opened my doctor’s bag and removed my wares. I came without any real intention. I just wanted to pay my respects, say salutations. I’ve always felt closer to their world than ours, probably one of this reasons this world has done so much to reject me. In chalk, I drew several symbols on the face of the stump. I called to them in several names. I tossed the fennel seeds into the far bog. Then I made my offering, my sacrifice.

Sacrifices, offerings to fey and gods are often in traditional forms such as golden bread or white milk or burned herb. There is a deeper magick in intent, in a true sacrifice of something that will not return. My gardening teacher would often give the last cigarette out of her pack when she knew it would be some time before she’d refill. This was her sacrifice, and it held meaning, intent. I’d written poem, deeply personal words. I wrote the simple verse on paper, then with a lit incense stick, I burned it on a small cauldron of sand. In my mind, I sung the words. This was my gift, and I’d never write the words again. This was my sacrifice. Then, I poured the milk.

We waited for a time as the sun set. I played my little flute. The energy shifted, and I felt it was time for us to travel back. As I gathered my wares into my doctor’s bag, Rose froze. Her face cracked. I’ve seen a similar look from people in dark places when we’d hear something knock. I followed her gaze to the base of the stump. At first, I thought they were lightning bugs giving us a spectral show, flying low to the ground. As I studied them, their bodies materialized. They had legs and arms. They stood even shorter than Rose. A group of them huddled around the given milk soaking into the mud.

You smile. You grin so wide your face muscles ache. And it fills your heart with a golden light. They were the sidhe, going about their business. The veil had lifted. We could see them with our eyes. I’m not sure if they’d traveled to us or we to them. I might have thought myself mad if Rose hadn’t pointed them out first.

“Sweet Bride,” I said, naming my deity.

“Do you see them?”

I nodded.

Rose darted through the wood. She ran like a hare. Concerned, I chased after her. She followed the trail in the dark, running to the distant lights, the haven of blind civilization. I finally caught up with her, and we left the wood and walked back to my apartment.

We didn’t talk about what we’d seen. It gave her quite a shock. She wasn’t ready to believe. She held the light so close to her heart, the pagan faith, but she hadn’t accepted it as real. She still lingered in the ‘tween places. What had affirmed my world to me had frightened her, and we never spoke about it.

I hope that it planted a seed in her soul just as it had nurtured mine. Magick lived in the world. We had suffered for something true. The fey walk among us.

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA—author and historian. He’s published in over 100 international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham

Gypsy Love Cards

By Jessica Howard

The Gypsy Love Cards are a divination process I encountered when reading Cassandra Eason’s ‘Ancient Wisdom’. I had not long been studying paganism when I picked up the book for a couple of quid in my local Woolworths, and so for a beginner I felt it was an easy way to ease myself into divination. It was the first form of divination I really tried, and even after all these years and having spent time studying practises such as tarot and pendulum divination and scrying, I still count it as my favourite method of divination. Yes; as you will see, it is easy enough to pick up, but once you have practiced for a while and really get to know the cards, you will find the depth you can take a reading to is truly fascinating.

Yes, these cards are mainly used to divine matters of love. However, once you become acquainted with them, you will find that you will be able to read on matters of friendship and family too.

All you need to use Gypsy Love cards is a pack of regular playing cards. It is important that you use the same pack for every reading, and use them only for reading if you wish to build a strong bond with the cards and enhance your readings. Although it is considered bad luck to read the cards concerning your own romantic situation, I have found that it has never done any harm. Readings for friends have also been very successful. Remember, you are not attempting to tell the future; the true purpose of the reading is to use your natural intuitive powers to being all the hidden factors to the surface and discover the best way forwards along a rarely smooth path.

All credit goes to the amazing Cassandra Eason for the interpretation of the cards; I highly recommend you checking out any one of her books.

The Method:

Shuffle the cards and lay out three rows of three cards, one row below the other and the next below that. Turn them one by one, row by row, read them separately, then as a row, and then put it all together to get a complete reading.

Row 1-The Cards of Your Relationship: These three cards concern your current or projected relationship as it is now and any questions or doubts you may have.

Row 2-The Cards of Outside Influences: These cards talk about the influences of others in a relationship or potential relationship, such as an opposition or pressures to marry or have children, and can be the hardest cards to interpret in my opinion.

Row 3-The Cards of Suggested Action: These three cards offer you the way forwards.

The Love Card Meanings:

(Note: These have been modified to reflect the original meanings and to take away the purely fortune-telling aspect that can deny personal choice).

The Suits:

Diamonds-Practical issues in a relationship, such as money or domestic arrangements.

Hearts-Emotional issues, such as passion, jealousy, trust and loyalty.

Clubs-Communication issues in love or the relationship.

Spades-Not bad luck, but challenges or changes. These can arise from the natural development in a relationship, such as whether to move in together or have a family, to unexpected pregnancy or illness that can seem to herald the end but in fact can offer new opportunities and a new path.

The Joker-Listen to other peoples instincts rather than listen to others advice or the old solutions. Take a step into the unknown.


These talk of new beginnings and a new approach to an old problem.

Ace of Diamonds-Try new practical arrangements. If you are single, you may find a new relationship begins in a shared activity.                                                                                                                                Ace of Hearts-You may need to learn to trust someone again, despite previous heartache. Or it may be time to begin a new stage or a deeper commitment in the relationship.

Ace of Clubs-You may be uncertain about how to communicate with your partner and need to trust your instincts; you need a new perspective in an old problem.

Ace of Spades-You may find yourself facing a major change, but be confident and see the positive advantages.

The Numbers:

Twos-Balancing things within a relationship. Sort out your priorities, make any choices necessary and accept that you cannot keep everyone happy all of the time.

Threes-Expansion, whether taking on more responsibilities or moving on to a more permanent level of commitment, which means extra input but promises a deeper happiness.

Fours-Take a chance and don’t let the desire for security prevent us from trusting someone and taking a risk. We may be risking the loss of material benefits or rejection, but it is a risk worth taking.

Fives-Accepting that lie and people are rarely perfect and no letting temporary illusion or boredom destroy the benefits or potential positive qualities of a relationship.

Sixes-Harmony and idealism, and not only the outer calm but the inner peace or need for it. It is not a time for action, but for enjoying today and resolving any minor differences.

Sevens-Dreams and searching for something more that life in material terms. This can be a time for discovering what you really want in a relationship and beginning  to make some of your dreams come true.

Eights-Responding to set-backs or limitations. They are full of movement and change,  escaping from negative factors or people that may be bringing undue pressure.

Nines-Place of one’s own identity and separate needs in a relationship and suggest only if you are strong and happy in your own life can you fulfil the needs of others. It can also indicate that one or both partners may be pressurized by demands and needs a little space.

Tens-Completion, total commitment and fulfilment. Whether the card represents a period of material security, contentment in the home, emotional joy, communication on a deep level or making a major decision, when it appears in a reading you can be sure that you are doing the right thing and your relationship is on track.

Astroflash Monthly Horoscope for May 2012

by Flash Silvermoon

The Beltane Fires kick off the lusty month of May on the first of the month. The Eve is also celebrated as we will do here at Moonhaven in Melrose. Earth Religions worldwide enjoy this time of feast and frolic to coordinate with the raising of the sap in nature which extends to our own warming desires and aspirations. A great time for us all to raise the fire within for whatever purpose we mjght require.

In 1976, I had the honor of meeting an Ancient Native Wise Woman by the name of Mello Rye  who shared a May Day ritual with a group of us which I have enjoyed over the years.
She told us to go to the ocean at dawn and as the sun is rising, the group should stand at the water’s edge and stamp our feet all together chanting Awak – nia over and over, this is to awaken the Earth Mother to stand up for Herself and feel the support of Her people.
This is a simple ritual practiced  in one form or another by indigenous people all over the world feel free to enjoy and share.

By May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, the moon will be full in Scorpio which always promises a level of intensity for many of us spiritually and emotionally. We are also experiencing an intensification of changes in the electromagnetic field of the planet, which as I have described in last month’s Astroflash, has been more challenging to us all including our animals.

With the Sun in Scorpio’s opposite sign Taurus, we are once again invited to contemplate our values and what we hold most dear and how does this motivate us to run our lives. The Full Scorpio Moon says, ” Very well, then, how are you willing to transform your beliefs and life to support the times economically, emotionally and  how do you use or misuse power and resources?” Important questions that we all must ponder to make all our lives work better. Because these are fixed signs, the energies may feel more rigid and they are. The issues that I bring up are likely to flare up in one way or another, personally and or globally at this time.

Word to the wise, it is always better to meet the challenge of the changes as you begin to recognize them brewing even if only incrementally rather than wait for the roof to fall on your head. By meeting these shifts before they are full blown you have the gift of meeting the issues on your own terms rather than having them foisted upon you with no alternatives when it is too late.

With Mars in Virgo opposing Chiron in Pisces, the asteroid of the wounded healer, we are being invited to find material ways to make changes that particularly move to preserve and heal our water.With Neptune and Chiron both in Pisces, it will be all about our water for a long long time.
In case you haven’t noticed, the devastation daily being poured into our oceans from  the never healed BP gusher and  hundreds of other oil spills globally and the radioactive leakage from Fukashima, we are in trouble and whoever is in office is going to have to make this a priority. [After I wrote this part, the news  broke through about a huge oil spill in Russia.] When will the oil lobbies take their collective feet off the auto industry and let them economically make the cars that Tesla designed that didn’t need petroleum? Just maybe that time is coming soon as power becomes decentralized. I’m telling you, It’s all in the stars!

As I and many of have said over the last 2 years, there has been a major cover up about this contamination and with a Scorpio Full Moon, the veil will be lifted and is being lifted as we speak. {today Apr 24 right after I wrote this the first BP engineer is being convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying thousands of posts that showed the BP leadership KNEW that  triple the amount of oil per day was leaking into the ocean, see ABC News! Finally somebody in the mainstream is also crying FOUL for BP spending $82 billion to hype the Gulf as being safe as far as food and touristry rather than paying the locals back for destroying their lives and lands not to mention the rest of the world that will inevitably suffer.

Before a healing can begin in earnest, the Powers that Were need to publicly announce and agree that these problems exist thereby ending a media blackout so folks keep your ears to the ground and your eyes to more liberal news to hear the real stories as they trickle out.

Starting in June, I will resume doing musical Full Moon rituals to Heal the Waters here at Moonhaven . Last month we joined with Soulfire4theGulf  to do a series of ceremonies to Heal the Waters of the Gulf which was a global initiative with great result. See their website http://www.turtlewomenrising.com for more info. We were most proud to be involved with such an incredible project and if this turns you on, know that this was just the beginning and  as this movement builds you will see notices on this site and my own.

Remember that no matter how dark these times get, this world runs on vibration and the more that each and everyone of us can become energetic beacons of positive thought and action the more quickly that we can elevate and co create that critical mass to make the kind of world that we want to live in. There’s more to it but that simple and sometimes not so simple practice will keep you being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Saturn will be retrograde in Libra all month and Pluto will be retrograde in Capricorn and these two intense celestial bodies can really effect the global theater. When planets are retrograde, their energy has to move inward before it manifests changes outwardly so for better or worse, the fever pitch of revolutionary zeal may  slow down for a bit and simmer. Mars is out of retrograde in Virgo so we can expect some wordy saber rattling but not as much “action” as we were seeing some months ago when Uranus and Pluto were in a tighter square with each other.
In a way, this is good because these pauses during retrogrades allow us to integrate and digest the  transformations that seem to fly into our lives jet propelled.

On May 15 til June 27, lovely Venus turns her back and goes retrograde in order that we re evaluate our relationships or our desires for them. Because Venus is in Gemini, this can be a great time for integrating some deeper communication and reviewing past decisions so that more understanding and fulfillment is possible. Talk, talk, and more talk and you will find yourself in the middle of a happier day.

A fun exercise to do with  your partner is for each of you to draw up a Top Ten Turn On list [this needn’t be sexual but can include sexual things too.] You may be delighted by the  things you discover to enjoy together. Have some fun with this we all need to lighten up and enlighten up about now.  Good news is that Venus and Saturn are trine which is a flowing relationship so that some relationships are liable to find an even greater security as a result. Very important under that aspect not to let your love become stale and joyless. Make that list and check it thrice and find out if your honey is naughty or nice!

This IS NOT a great time to begin a new relationship unless you don’t care if its a permanent one as you will simply not have all the information needed to choose the appropriate partner.  If you are just looking for a fling do your thing but don’t look at a Maserati and expect it to turn into a station wagon just because you have a bond OK!
Be that all as it may, it is never the wrong time to OPEN YOUR HEARTS WIDE and that is precisely the energy that will help us all move through these times with more grace and fluidity.

Holy Light Waves gang we are due for a Solar Eclipse on the New Moon in Gemini on May 20. These Eclipses can be quite profound and can signal major shifts personally and politically. Energetically we will be getting a major download of reshaped energy and information. I have noticed that many wars have begun and ended on Eclipses and this can be a time of beginnings and endings. The energetic spiral of change that we are weaving grows ever tighter and hence faster and such times herald this quickening.

Embrace the miraculous as it is quite possible that we will see miracles in many realms this year that we heretofore believed were impossible. We are quantum leaping and if you were to ask someone in 1950 about some of the things that we use everyday like Cel phones etc, they would have told you that you were crazy so, stay open for the miracles as they are coming.
We may also see some intense seismic upheavals near Japan, the West Coast, and  weather or other difficulties in Texas too as this eclipse will connect strongly in these areas.  If you live near those areas it would be good to have a plan for how to contend with potential Earth Changes and for all of us, stocking up on special items and medicines that you want to be sure to have is a good idea just in case.

According to astrologer Stephanie Austin, this Eclipse is conjunct the Pleiades Star Cluster which is venerated in many Ancient cultures. This will surely result in  some amazing and magical occurrences and a major time of reseeding a new consciousness. If you want to hear more about the amazing beings from the Pleiadies you can Utube The Pleiadians and listen to many beautiful videos. As some of you know not all on Utube is worth  viewing so if you find one that doesn’t ring true click it away. Astrologer Barbara Hand Clow also writes some great volumes on the subject as well.

To maintain your balance during these rapidly changing times treasure and seek moments of peace and serenity when you can find them and create them for yourself  as often as possible. Spend time in nature and with loved ones of the two and four legged variety and try to spend your free time with those who bring out the best in you and support the positive new beginnings in your life.  Many alternative healing techniques can give you relief from stress and pain. Be aware of  people who will vampirize your energy and leave you feeling empty, you deserve more and you will serve your best interests by sharing with those who give back. Obviously with illness and age that isn’t always possible but you do get what I mean. Remember its time for more balance…Saturn in Libra demands balance and so does your body, mind, and spirit.

See my suggestions below that are all available at Moonhaven Magical Rocks and Things in Melrose that will offer you healing, serenity and elevation.

Aries – There’s no stopping me now with Mercury and Mars moving forward. I have some Big Plans and I finally have just the right time to put them into place. Seems like I have been spinning my wheels a bit lately and haven’t been in sync either so I may need to recalibrate this brain with the rest of the planet so I can move forward more effortlessly and harmoniously with others. I just love Spring, it brings out the best in me and lifts my spirits just by looking out my window. Flash you did say the sap would be rising didn’t you, well….let her rip!

Taurus – Move over Aries  cause this is at least partly my month and I want to revel in every sensuous moment, every morsel, every warm breadth. The glowing growing greenery that blankets my home and yard evokes such a feeling of happiness and satisfaction that even the difficult things feel better. As the immortal Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” and lately too much works too fine for me. While expansive Jupiter is in my sign, I am really not feeling much like curbing anything but I suppose after awhile, I will have curb everything but my enthusiasm.

Gemini – Oh it’s gonna be my birthday soon oh yes it is, and I’m gonna have a party, uh huh and I’ll invite all my friends and I will  live in a social whirlwind. With Venus in my sign and then going retro right back again, I will be the life of the party. Hmm, this loving little Gemini had better not put too many partners on her dance card or she will find that her popularity might work against her if they all find out about each other. I know this might be all well and good for the single Gemini’s [aren’t we all at least doubles] but if you want to maintain your relationship, it might be best to encourage some role playing and short trips to kick in some variety.

Cancer – I just want to know one thing, why is my system so damn intimate with the planetary process? I mean I don’t mind sharing  some vibes here and there but these earthquakes and tornadoes more than rock my world. Can’t wait to start swimming so I can feel the water in a real way. The waters, they rock me in their arms and clear my energy field of all the junk that I so often pick up from my environment. OK so I’m a psychic sponge. Not much to be done about that but the water is my friend and cleans me up again. Frogs call to bring the rain and fill the Mother where She wanes.

Leo – Not a lot happening for me on this map but I will take my fire where I can get it. Fortunately I am a most creative soul and there is just enough juice out there to make my love light shine. Believe it or not this fixed old lioness is finding new ways to awaken a few interests. Don’t be surprised if you see some new project with my name on it that screams Leo front and center don’t dim the lights!

Virgo – Don’t complain if I am a little grumpy and fidgety at the beginning of the month because both the Moon and Mars are near each other in my sign.Some people thrive with a bit of chaos but it just drives me crazy. I need some order in this asylum we call life. I suppose if I were a groovier type of person I would enjoy this unbounded  more liberated energy but maybe that just isn’t me. With so much in Pisces, my opposite, I feel like I am on  a growth edge asking me to once again let go a little more and to free my mind, and as those funky Divas said, and the rest will follow!

Libra – Damn, I look at the news and my It’s Not Fair Button is pushed to the edge.
I know that somehow that old Karmic Wheel spins true but once in awhile I would like to see that Cause and Effect relationship in front of me and see things set to right.
I also know that sometimes we better be careful what we ask for because that might just be a movie we won’t want to watch in 3 D. I know that I am usually not so serious but its just how I feel right now. Might make me feel better if I knew that someone else felt this way too.

Scorpio – I am feelin’ full of Moon this month I am tellin’ you and it’s actually kind of nice. New love and feeling a new way of loving has got me singing with the radio and putting a spring in my step. Is it just the Spring? I don’t think so but I haven’t felt this relaxed in awhile. The weight of the world somehow got yanked off my shoulders and what a gift that is. I know that I am safe with some special people and that I can  really share my dreams and aspirations without fear or their resentment. What a world I live in! I hit the jackpot never mind the lottery.

Sagittarius – Send in the cavalry. Oh wait, I am the cavalry. How scary is that! Somehow, I am supposed to know just how to navigate this crazy ship of life but nobody gave me a good map or even AAA. My moral compass is pretty good but the rest feels more lost at sea. Thankfully my faith is strong and deep down I do feel like everything will work itself out just fine but between here and there  is a whole lot of territory. More meditation will  give me a more solid  sense of myself and that is just what I need. Somebody give me a piece of smokey quartz the size of a basketball.

Capricorn – By the time 2013 rolls around, I am going to have the cleanest karma
on the planet. This transformation biz is not for sissies and it can be so much easier to just keep my head down and keep a low profile but I know that we are coming closer and closer to a time when I will have to choose which side of the fence I want to support. I feel a sincere desire to become more of a leader and less of a sheep and I am going to find a way to create that opportunity.

Aquarius – Nice to feel so unencumbered. I know this is only momentary but I will take that big release when ever I can. Its time for all of us to run on something other than caffeine and adrenalin. I must confess that I like  the buzz and I would have to be asleep to not notice the increasing intensity all around me. These are the times that  we were born into and on some level we chose this period of metamorphosis, there I go again getting all philosophical but that’s me feeling full of Aquarian Age inspiration.

Pisces – Pleiadians, I hear your music on the meadows, and your whispers as I meditate. I know that help is near and that we are all in this together. I can see kindred spirits everywhere that I look and many others who have worn a cloak that rendered them invisible are standing up and clarifying the mission plan. How to piece that together with life as we know it, now there’s the rub?  I know that I feel most free when music is moving through my fingers on one instrument or another and that is my way to create a link to that wonderful interstellar grid.

Through My Monthly Astroflash,  I have endeavored to offer more gender neutral astrology to speak to all sexual preferences and identities.
If you know your Rising sign, your personal reading will be more accurate if you read the passage for that sign as well as your Sun sign.
For deeper questions and readings of an Astrological or Psychic nature, feel free to call 352 4752432 for an apt.or contact me through my website www.Flashsilvermoon.com

Modalities To Help Yourself Through These Changes:

For both animals and humans, Flower Essences [Greenhope Farm Essences] are a good source for healing as are Gem Elixirs and I use and make them. Stones and crystals are also a great support at this time particularly those of a more grounding nature like smokey quartz particularly the elestial variety, hematite,carnelian, raw ruby, agate and jasper to name a few. In preparation for these more challenging times, I have made Gem Elixirs called The Shift 2012, Earth Changes, Aura Cleanse, Lithium Quartz, Profound Ground, Fiery Wall of Protection,  Raise the Vibe aka Lemuria Rising and the newest, Deep Peace and there are others. Many are having great results and the animals in the Sanctuaries that I tend to are loving them. They have no scent so they can fly under the radar if need be. Get in touch with me on my website if you like or at my shop here at Moonhaven in Melrose.

Visit Flash’s blog, ‘Flashes of Insight’ at: http://flashsilvermoon.com/category/blog/

Five Plant Poems
by Hilary Sideris

Visit Hilary at http://www.hilarysideris.com for more of her work.



Ground to powder,
swallowed with
an equal dose

of clove & vinegar,
you chill my wronged
heart’s heat,

keep fever at bay,
sway my daft mind
to right thinking,

mitigate lust, draw
out my weeping
ulcer’s pus.


Adam-like, you
rise from muck,
a human form but

full of Satan’s luck
& contrarian charm.
If a person suffers

in the neck, back,
arm, let him ingest
that part of you

& hang what’s left
over his bed, Saint
Hildegard said.


On a field of you so
green it seemed blue,
Saxon battled Celt

& lost—your darker,
bitter end is what smart
soldiers steered clear of.

Nero ate your blanched
bulb & chartreuse
Vichyssoise stem,

your hula fringe,
but couldn’t mend his
madness or marriage.


Charm against shipwreck
& lovesick ex: old wives would
steep a gargling tea ten hours,

pour your warm oil in aching
ears, snap the hysteric out
of it with one deep whiff.

Great War nurses in a pinch
smeared you on leaves & moss
they wrapped wounds with.

I tie you to crossed sticks
at a crossroads so he’ll
forget me & move on.


Joy grew wild on
Greek mountainsides,
a two-lipped, pinkish

flower easing an aging
matron’s sighs. Pliny
advised a poultice of

your leaves for sprains,
scorpion & spider bites.
Bald men applied your

balm to sun-baked scalps,
your hardy, hairy stem
giving them hope.

Treadwells Events

For more information on any of these events, visit the Treadwells Website.
2 May (Wednesday)
Floralia Beltane Rite
with Introductory Lecture
With Caroline Wise and Friends

The Roman festival of Floralia, held in honour of Flora, the Goddess of Flowers, took place between 27th April to 4th May. Many European Beltane observances come from it: Flora’s echo is in the May Queen and the garlands of flowers worn in modern Beltane celebrations. Tonight is a talk on Flora and Beltane followed by a Beltane ceremony in her honour, welcoming the coming summer and the flowering of the land. This event is suitable for beginners and those experienced in ceremony alike. Beginners to ritual especially welcome. This evening is led by Caroline Wise, an arch-priestess in the Fellowship of Isis who runs events in the UK, Germany and the USA. For the last 30 years she has been working in discovering and celebrating the goddesses of London. She returns to Treadwell’s by special invitation.

Price: £10.00 Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm (please note early start time)
5 May (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:
A Guided Teaching Walk for Aspiring Hedge Witches
Natasha Richardson

Knowing your herbs is an essential skill in the path of the hedgewitch. Natasha Richardson leads seasonal walks to help you learn just this. She identifies native plants that are important in British folklore and in herbal medicine in this two-hour foraging walk in a part in Central London. Along the way Natasha will share stories, superstitions and also some basic biochemical facts about each. A lively speaker, she is both a hedgewitch and medical herbalist with her own established practice, Rowan Remedies. This walk concentrates on herbs which flourish in May.

Price: £8.00 in advance Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure, Regents Park tube station.
9 May (Wednesday)
Madame Blavatsky:
Magician, Radical, Feminist
Gary Lachman

Say ‘Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society’ and we think of the mystic East; yet Blavatsky’s roots lie rather in the western esoteric tradition. She synthesised Eliphas Levi, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Mesmer, Paracelsus and Neoplatonists into a thrilling mix. And though she worked with spiritualists, she declared herself a magician, able to command elementals and not merely be a medium for the dead. She also espoused left-wing politics, allying with progressive, even radical movements. To top it off, she was a woman, a female in a world where the male magician was the norm. See this amazing character in a new light. Gary’s forthcoming book is Madame Blavatsky:the Life and Times of the Mother of Modern Spirituality.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start
16 May (Wednesday)
An Important Byzantine Grimoire
Ioannis Marathakis

Tonight we meet the grimoire which is the father of the famed Key of Solomon. The Hygromanteia is an incredibly important magical text which has languished outside of Western awareness due to its being Greek, but is now at last properly identified and brought to the Western European audience. Editor and translator Ioannis Marathakis comes to Treadwells to bring this wondrous grimoire to life in a breathtaking slide lecture. For all who are enchanted by the books of spirit magic, planetary magic, seals, sigils and angelic beings: this night’s for you. Copies of the book will be on sale.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start
21 May (Monday)
Bohemian Occult Subculture in the 1890s:
Artists, Actors & Writers of the Golden Dawn
Christina Oakley Harrington

The Order of the Golden Dawn is an icon for modern occultists: it’s the late Victorian ceremonial magic organization which created the template for subsequent Western mysteries, Kabbalah, Celtic mysticism, and even Wicca. The 1880s to 1920s saw an occult renaissance, sudden and powerful: historians stress the founders’ connection with freemasonry, giving the impression that it was a club of old Establishment men. In fact, the Golden Dawn was driven by a bunch of young creatives – friends working in ad hoc collaboration. Meet these young bohemian women and men, and be inspired. Christina Oakley Harrington repeats this illustrated lecture at the request of those who could not attend the sold out performance last autumn. Early booking advised.
Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

30 May (Wednesday)
The Triple Goddess:
Her History, Ancient and Modern
Prudence Jones

When is the earliest appearance of the threefold goddess in history? What does it mean to modern pagans who speak of the Moon, and the Goddess of Nature as ‘Maiden, Mother and Crone’? Why should you sing the praises of a Cambridge scholar named Jane Ellen Harrison? Prudence Jones answers these questions and more, in a lively scholarly talk. By the time you leave, you will know why and how the triple goddess lived, and lives again. If you’ve ever gazed at the moon, done a magic spell, or secretly worshipped a goddess, this night is for you. Prudence Jones is a writer and commentator on European Pagan traditions and associated spiritual systems, especially Wicca and astrology, though she began as an academic philosopher at Cambridge. A past president of the Pagan Federation, she is co-author of History of Pagan Europe.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 pm start

6 June (Wednesday)
Learning the Tarot:
Foundation Course for Beginners
Sue Merlyn Farebrother

Learn to read tarot with a gifted, experienced teacher. In an active lively class, progress from basics to more complex classic tarot, grounded in mystical symbolism. Includes homework, handouts, and backup support. By the end of the eight-week course, students can do basic readings and use tarot in meditation. Tutor Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been reading tarot for 30 years. The class runs for eight Wednesday evenings, starting 6 June.

Price: £160.00 (£80.00 deposit, balance due on first night) Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm start

What’s On Elsewhere:

5th May 2012, 9.30am

Cardiff Beltane Bash Spring Fayre

The President’s Lounge, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Stalls to include local artists, crafters, pagan supplies, complementary therapies, tarot/oracle card readers and more.

6th May 2012, 20.00

Tales For The Turning Year: Beltane

Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff

Bring in the May, for summer is a-comin’ in and winter’s gone away-o, so there’ll be another night of stories and songs to celebrate the turning of the seasons. Tales of May Eve goings-on and much more from Cath Little, Blanche Rowen & Mike Gulston, Richard Berry, Elinor Kapp, Kate Hibbert, Viv Small, Nimrod Jones and possibly more tbc. A whole evening’s entertainment for a mere three of your earthly pounds.

Welcome to the Pagan Friends Webzine’s Ostara issue. What with moving the Pagan Friends Forum to a new location and preparing for the Beltane One Year Anniversary issue, we’ve found that this issue is a little smaller than usual; but don’t panic! With content including articles from Jess Howard, Nathan Correlli and T. Fox Williams, a recipe from Fred Cairns, poetry from Suzanna Defoe, Karie McNeley and Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney and more, this issue may be small but it’s still perfectly formed.


Ostara Egg Decorating Competition

          (Blowing Eggs For Decorating)

One Year Anniversary Beltane Celebration

Dream Work: The Basics, By Jessica Howard

The Old Ways, By Nathan Correlli

Ostara Crystals, By Beth Holtum

Regular Features

Ostara Moonlore, By Liz

Plant For Spring, By T. Fox Dunham


Easter Ledge Pudding

Irish Stew …in the Name of the Law and Herb Bread, By Fred Cairns


When Realms Collide, by Linda Gibson


Night Poem, by Suzannah Defoe

The Oak And Holly King, by Audrey “Stormy” Haney

A Night Like This, by Dania Ratiba Aldeek

A Dummy, by Dania Ratiba Aldeek

My Little Room, by Dania Ratiba Aldeek

Bugging Me Insectually, by Karie McNeley

The Sleeping Poet, by Karie McNeley

A New Couch And A Rainbow, by Karie McNeley

Haiku, by Rebecca L. Brown


Treadwells Events

Want to contribute to our Beltane one year anniversary issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Beltane issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it.

Since our Beltane 2012 issue will be the one year anniversary of the webzine’s creation, we’re especially keen to include  material relating to celebration; why not send us your photographs and stories relating to celebrations, especially from over the past year, to be included in our special Celebrating 2011-2012 feature?

For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.


The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.


Ostara Egg Decorating Competition!

Get your paint brushes ready and dig out those paints; we want to see your decorated Ostara eggs and other crafts!

Simpy upload pictures of your work to our Facebook page or tag us in your photo (alternatively, if you don’t have Facebook, e-mail your pictures to our usual submissions address and we’ll put them up for you).

Our favourites will be included in the Beltane issue, along with a feature interview on the people who created them.

Blowing Eggs For Decorating

To prepare your egg for decorating, use a needle to make a hole in each end. Then, with your egg over a bowl, blow (not suck!) into the egg at one end to force the egg filling out. If nothing comes out, you need to enlarge the holes a little more. Don’t waste the egg; you could use it, for example, to make an Ostara cake.

Of course, if that sounds like too much hard work you can boil your egg to paint it instead!

One Year Anniversary Beltane Celebration

Since our Beltane 2012 issue will be our one year anniversary we want to do something special to celebrate the best of 2011 and 2012. We’re asking our readers to send us photographs, stories and images from your Pagan events and celebrations over the past year. Our favourites will be featured in pride of place in the Beltane issue.

To enter, simply post your stuff onto our Facebook page or e-mail it to the usual address.


Dream Work:  The Basics
By Jessica Howard

For thousands of years, dreams have played an important role in our lives  and our society . Artists and writers use them as a source of inspiration, some use them to help divine answers to important questions, and for many they provide an escape from the mundane trappings of ever day life. In our dreams, we can be anyone and do anything, and whilst it sounds straight forward, the dream world is a deep and complex mystery. The scientific  study of dreams is known as Oneirology, with the earliest examples of dream interpretation coming from clay tablets dating back to the Sumerians in 3100 BC. They divided dreams into two categories, ‘good’ dreams which were sent by the Gods, and ‘bad’ dreams sent by demons. The Ancient Egyptians defined three categories of dreams, those in which the gods demanded some devotional act, those that contained warnings or revelations, and those that came about through ritual. They believed that dreaming was the best way to achieve divine revelation, and even went so far as to build shrines and special dream beds in which one would sleep in to receive messages of comfort or divine advice. The Ancient Greeks also believed that dreams were messages sent by the Gods, or even Gods themselves visiting the individual, and also used dreams to help them in their practice of medicine, sending people to specific temples where they would sleep for up to several weeks until they had attained the dream that would help them back to health.

During the Middle Ages, dreams took on a darker instance and it became common belief that they were visions sent by the devil to convince an individual into temptation, and that they were even portals through which the devil and other demons could take over one’s mind and fill it with corruptive thoughts. This was a belief mainly championed by the protestant leader Martin Luther. However, some prominent Catholics such as St Augustine opposed this view, believing  that dreams were an important part in influencing the path that their lives took.

On average, a person sleeps for 8 hours a night, and during those 8 hours we enter a dream cycle roughly every 90 minutes, each one lasting anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. So, that adds up to nearly five hours a night in a pure dream state, and over a year that adds up to seventy six days a year spent in the land of dreams. Now, if nature has taught us anything, it is that evolution disposes of whatever does not serve some purpose. So if we spend 20% of our time each year in a dream state, it must be important, right?

Of the many thousands of dreams you will have throughout your life, each of them serves one or more of six purposes:

•To release the mind from the mundane world

•To give a symbolic view of our current lives

•To offer spirit contacts

•To teach

•To solve problems in our lives

•To show us the future

But where does all this dream material come from? Unfortunately there is not a universally accepted definition of dreaming. It is widely recognized that dreaming  occurs most commonly during REM, also known as Rapid Eye Movement. This is the sleep state that is closest to our waking state, but something called REM atonia prevents us from getting up and wandering around as we would in our waking lives. The release of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine is completely suppressed, meaning that a person’s motor neurons are completely unstimulated, thus avoiding potentially dangerous movements of the body. However, in NERM states, (Non-Rapid Eye Movement), the muscles aren’t paralyzed as they are in REM sleep, but luckily dreaming in this state is very rare.  As of yet, nobody knows where in the brain that dreams originate, whether there is more than one point, or what function dreams actually serve to our body or our minds.

However, studies have pin-pointed that the actual information presented to us in our dreams comes from one or more of the following seven sources:

•The collective unconscious

•A past life

•Various spirits or entities

•Genetic memory of your immediate family or ancestors

•The time you spent in the womb before birth

•Your childhood or earlier adulthood

•Your present and current life

Of course, some of these are scientifically debateable, but nevertheless cannot be ruled out as possible sources.

Studies have also shown us that there ten distinct types of dreams that each of us will most likely experience throughout our lifetimes. These have been pinpointed as:

• Psychological Dreams-These dreams often depict  bodily functions; for example, the classic having sex dream, or feelings of aches and pains, urinating, pregnancy and so on.

• Vigilant Dreams-These are dreams that often contain images that directly involve changes in the environment of the space around you. For example, someone slamming a door shut in the next room; at the same time you hear a loud ‘bang’ like a gunshot in your dream. The actual waking world affects your dream.

• Problem Solving Dreams-These dreams present a symbolic solution to a problem, and often occur during times of confusion or stress. It is these dreams that obviously give the best divination readings.

• Residual Dreams-These are dreams that contain the events of the day you just had and tend to be very mundane, like a recap.

• Contrary Dreams-These are dreams that present the opposite of the feeling that we fell asleep with; for example, during periods of deep sadness we may dream of laughter and joy. These dreams are designed to bring about emotional or spiritual balance.

• Transformation Dreams-In these dreams you change the course of the events unfolding in the dream into whatever you want it to be. For example, someone is chasing you in your dream, and then suddenly you stop and command your assailant to stop chasing you. He does, and so you have changed the course of your dream, and subconsciously changed fear into courage within your own mind.

• Wish Fulfilling Dreams-These are dreams in which your wishes manifest, i.e, winning a certain persons heart or owning the car of your dreams, etc. Although these dreams are designed to bring us pleasure, they also stop us from becoming consciously obsessed with things in the material world. You ‘live out’ the fantasy in the dream and so it does not affect you as much when you wake.

• Recurrent Dreams-In these dreams the same images recur over the span of several nights, or even throughout a person’s life.

• Nightmares-We have all had nightmares. These dreams often still affect people after waking and are presented to instil courage. When having a nightmare, you must try to gain control and turn it into a transformational dream by conquering the horrific image, as these images are often symbolic representations of a problem that you are currently facing.

• Insight Dreams-These are dreams in which images that are new or unknown to the dreamer present themselves in a profound or symbolic way. An example of this type of dream would be dreaming that a certain potion with certain ingredients will cure an illness, then applying the same formula in the waking world to find that it does indeed work.

Interpreting Dreams:

When it comes to interpreting dreams, there are two types of symbolism. There is the Universal Symbology and Personal Symbology. Universal symbology is that which is unchanging; things that remain true for all of humankind throughout the ages. This includes colours, numbers, forms and sexual identity. These come from the super-consciousness and are therefore timeless. A list of these can be found in Raymond Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft.  And of course, there are countless of books and websites dedicated to deciphering dream symbolism; however, it may be best to read several interpretations as you can’t trust everything you read on the internet!

Then there are the personal symbols, ones which are specific to you. But how do you discover what these are? Well, there is only one way and that is to record your dreams and study them. Keep a notepad and pen by the side of your bed, and the minute you wake up record your dreams, whilst they are still fresh in your head. Pay attention to details; colours, sounds, etc, as all these could be little signifiers to whatever it is our dreams are trying to show us. Also pay attention to the people in your dreams; for sometimes they may not actually be other people, but representations of different aspects of our selves that we need to confront or are being called in to question.

It is also an idea to keep a general diary of the events of the day; for example, you may discover that drinking wine evokes dreams of flying, or produces wish-fulfilling dreams or nightmares rather than any of the other particular forms of dreams. It is a long process, and it will take time to build up your own dream dictionary, so stick with it. Do it for one week, take a week or two off, then continue for another week, as not to tire yourself out.

But most of all, do not underestimate the power of dreams.

The Old Ways
By Nathan Correlli

We are of the Old Religion, and sired of Time.

For too long the people have trodden a stony path that goes only onward beneath a sky that goes only upward. The Horned God plays alone in the glade, for the people are scattered in this barren age and the winds carry His plaintive song over deserted heaths and moors and into the lonely grasses. Who knows the ancient tongue of the Moon? And who still speaks with the Goddess? The magic of the old Gods has withered in the dragon’s breath; the old ways of magic have slipped into the well of the past, and only the rocks now remember what the Moon told us long ago, and what we learned from the trees and the voices of the grasses and the scent of flowers. Among the people there are those who speak with the Moon and dance with the Horned One. But a true Pagan is rare these days; deep and inscrutable, recognisable only by their own kind, by the light in their eyes and the love in their hearts, by the magic in their hands and the lilt of their tongues and their knowledge of the real.

There are many the world over who worship the Earth Mother and the Sky Father, the Moon Goddess and the Little People in the mists on the other side of the veil. There are those who worship the Goddesses and Gods of Nature, whether by observation or by study, whether by love or adoration, or whether in the sacred rites with the Moon or the great festivals of the Sun.

Many suns ago, as the pale dawn of reason crept across the sky, man grew out of believing in Gods. He has yet to grow out of disbelieving in them. He who splits the Goddess on an existence against non-existence dichotomy will earn only paradoxes, for the Gods are not so divided and neither are the magic lands of the Brother of Time. Does a mind exist? Ask, and they will tell you “yes” but seek them out and they will elude you. They are in every place, and you’ll see their works in all places, but you will not see them. Existence was the second-born from the Mother’s Womb and contains neither the first-born nor the unborn. Show us your mind, and we’ll show you the Gods.

Come with us and the Gods themselves will be our love.

Logic is a closed ring, and the child does not validate the Mother, nor will the dreamer validate the dream. But tell us of your Goddess as you love her, and the Gods that guide your works, and we will listen with wonder, for to do less would be arrogant. The heart of man is aching for memories only half forgotten, and the Old Ones only half unseen. We’ll write the old myths as they were always written and we’ll read them on the rocks and in the caves and in the deep greenwood shade, and we’ll see them in the storm clouds, and in the evening mists, and we’ll hear them in the rippling mountain streams and the rustling of the leaves. We have no wish to bring differences together; differences are like different flowers in a meadow, and we are all one in the Mother.

We hear our teachings in the wind and feel them in the stones and the Moon will still dance with us. For a long time the Divider has been among the people and the tribes of man are no more. The sons of the Sky Father have all but conquered Nature, but they have poisoned her breast and the Mother is sad for the creatures are dying and the night crawls on. A curse on those who have sought only to conquer. But not of us, for they curse themselves, for they are nature, too. They have stolen our magic and sold it to the mindbenders, and the mindbenders tread a maze that has no outlet for they fear to go down into the dark waters, and they fear the One who guards the path.

Where are the shrines? Where do the people gather? Where is the magic made? Where are the Goddess and the Old Ones?

Our shrines are in the fields and on the mountains, in the stars and in the winds, deep in the greenwood and on the rocks where two streams meet. But the shrines are deserted, and if we gathered in the arms of the Moon for our ancient rites to rule the Mother’s land and claim rights of ownership on the Mother’s breast, and make laws of division and frustration for us.

We can no longer gather with our Gods in a public place and the old rites of communion have been driven from the towns and cities ever deeper into the heath where barely a handful of heathens have remained to guard the old secrets and enact the old rites. There is magic in the heath far from the cold grey society, and there are islands of magic hidden in the entrails of the towns behind closed doors, but the people are few, and the barriers between us are formidable. The old religion has become a dark way, obscure, and hidden in the protective bosom of the night. Thin fingers turn pages of books while the sunshine seeks in vain for his worshippers in his leafy glades.

We are the lone figure on the seashore; we are those who worship in the vastness of a mountain range, and those who sing the old chants in the lost valley far from the metalled road. We are the wanderer, and equally the prisoner. We are too, the circle dancers in the light of the full moon, with the great festivals of the sun, and the gatherings of the people. We will build our temples in the towns and in the wilderness, give them to the Goddess for her children’s use, and we will replant the greenwood as it was of old for the love of the dryad’s stillness, and for the love of our children’s children.

We must create a place wherein everyone shall be free to worship the Gods and Goddesses of nature, and the relationship between the worshipper and their Gods shall be sacred and inviolable, provided only that in their love for their Gods they do not curse the Gods of another.

It’s not yet our business to unmake the laws of regression, and, with the Mother’s love, it may never become our business for the shifting tides of dogmatism are at last already in ebb. Our first work, and our greatest wish, is to come together, to be with each other in our tribes for we haven’t yet grown from the Mother’s breast to the stature of Gods. We are of the Earth, and kinsfolk to all the children of wild nature, born long ago in the warm mud of the ocean floor; we were together when, beguiled by the pride of the Sky Father, and forgetful of the Mother’s love, we killed their earlier-born children and polluted the old genetic pool. Man once looked with one eye on the two-faced God when he reached for the heavens and scorned the Earth that alone is our life and our provider and the bosom to which we have ever
returned since the dawn of time.

Our lore has been encrusted over the ages with occult trivia and the empty ramblings of the lost and egotistical. The occult arts are in a state of extreme decadence; astrology is in a state of disrepute and fears to confront the statistician’s sword; unfamiliar creeds oust our native arts and, being as little understood as our own forgotten arts, are just as futile for their lack of understanding, and more so for their unfamiliarity. Misunderstanding is rife. Disbelief looms black on every horizon, and fools abound on the blood of the credulous; it has no place in the heart of the Pagan.

We were old when the first alchemist was a child.
We have walked the magic forest, bewitched in the old Green Things.
We have seen the One become Many, and the Many in One.
We know the Silver Maiden of the moonlight and the sound of cloven feet.
We have heard the pipes on the twilight ferns and we’ve seen the spells of the Enchantress, and Time, stilled.
We’ve been into eternal darkness where the Night Mare rides beyond the edge of the Abyss, and we know the dark face of the Rising Sun.
Spin a spell of words and make a magic knot.
Spin it on the magic loom and spin it with the Gods.
Say it in the old chant and say it to the Goddess.
Say it to a dark well and breathe it on a stone.

Here, then, is our task: to make magic in the name of our Gods, to share our magic where the Gods would wish it and to come together in the ancient festivals of birth, and life, and death and of change in the old rhythm. We will do all in our power to bring the people together, to teach those who would learn, to learn from those who can teach.

When the streams flow clear and the winds blow pure, and when the stones tell of the Horned God and the greenwood grows deep to call back her own; then our work will be ended and we will return to the beloved womb of the Old Ways.

Ostara Crystals
By Beth Holtum

To me, Ostara is a time of year when I can’t find enough room on my altar for all the goodies I’ve collected to celebrate the return of the Sun. From pictures of new shoots and flowers I’ve photographed on dog walks, to potted plants … but I’ll always find space for some crystals 😉

Citrine has it’s place for it’s bright, yellow colour, reminding me of the warmth of the Sun, and it’s cleansing power to revive and regenerate my energy, just as the rays of the Sun are starting to.

Aventurine I choose because of its green sparkle – like light-reflecting dew on new leaves, and for its boost for growth and optimism.

Moonstone brings the joy of new beginnings, and for reflection on the cycles of life, and the turning of the Wheel of the Year.

Sugilite – rich, deep purple goodness that it is, has the energy to kick start plans into action, moving me out of the air space of winter, full of long evenings to think what I could do in the year ahead, and on to the earthly time of Spring, when those plans have to opportunity to materialise.


Ostara & Spring Equinox Week MoonLore
By Liz

Monday 19th March 2012 – Ostara & Spring Equinox Eve,
3 days to Dark (New) Moon,
The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, in Pisces.
Mondays are usually all about peace, sleep, healing, compassion, friends, psychic awareness, purification, and fertility,
while Moon in Pisces should fetch dreaming and nostalgia and memories close to mind today.

Tuesday, 20th March 2012 – Ostara & Spring Equinox Day,
2 Days to Dark (New) Moon,
The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, in Pisces.
Tuesdays usually fetch to the fore matters of sex, passion, courage, aggression and protection,
while Moon in Pisces would indicate that today is a great day for psychic abilities, instincts and intuition.

Wednesday 21st March 2012,
1 Day to Dark (New) Moon,
The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, in Pisces.
Wednesdays are normally all about study, travel and divination,
while Moon in Pisces today tells us it’s a great day for spiritual endeavours, social networks, and building on like-minded contacts.

Thursday 22nd of March
Dark (New ) Moon, in Aries
Thursdays are normally all about cash, investment, generosity and growth
While Dark (New) Moon in Aries today would indicate a good time to start things, but that they will be short-lived.
If folks seem more introverted or argumentative than usual today, treat them gently, or rise to it at your peril.

Friday 23rd of March
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Aries
1 Day after Dark (New) Moon
On Fridays, the emphasis is usually on Love, Friendship, Reconcilliation, and Beauty
While Moon in Aries today warns us of rapid changes afoot, and a trip all around the houses just to get from A to B.

Saturday 24th of March
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Taurus
2 Days after Dark (New) Moon
Saturdays are usually all about Longevity, Exorcism, Endings, Homes and Houses
While Moon in Taurus should be fetching out our search for the sensual, and appreciation for the finer things in life today.

Sunday 25th of March
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Taurus
3 Days after Dark (New) Moon
Sundays are usually all about Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection
While Moon in Taurus today gives us the heads-up that anything we start now will be sticking around for a long while, and that it will increase in value.

Planting for Spring

By T. Fox Dunham

Along the East Coast of the United States, my current fox den, we hardly knew this winter. He came as a lithe spirit, carrying little snow in his bag, giving us reprieve from his older brother of last year. His brother of last year blew on us six Nor’easters, as is the common parlance for a turning blizzard that hangs over the coast, drawing energy from the sea.

Though I worry over the lack of meltwaters feeding the reserve, and I’m sure stronger conservation measures will be required, spring comes early this year. I am energized by the spirit, by the nascent life just under the soil ready to burst, to reach high through ancient will to the sun, to call forth again in simple cycle the basic foundation of our vivacious, living world.

Anon, I will be off to the local nursery, to seek out my young herbs for my windows. I no longer have the joy of open ground. I once had old gardens at historic sites where I could run free—herbs and shrubs and peach and quince trees. About this time I’d be in the greenhouse, helping prepare the little ones for the rows while listening to Clannad. Over time, through my own experience and the teachings of others, I developed ceremonies, both agrarian and spiritual, in the commencement of gardens. I share these now with you.

We celebrate renewal in our life cycle, in our holidays, our ceremonies. It is the essence of what we are as a pagan people. We are born of this life cycle and recycle many times in its matrix. We celebrate this now, as the summer furnace ignites and starts to churn, the conflagration of life that starts as a candle.

A popular tradition is the ceremony of Spring Cleaning. This is an airing-out, the relief of our forts fortified against winter. This is healthy for body and spirit. Negativity settles in the home when there is little circulation. It gathers like a black syrup, hardens. To recycle and renew, we must first clean the soil of our own beds. I have found this is best done with a two-pronged method of meditation and metaphysical means. Sea salt and lavender sprinkled around the home has a cleansing effect. It’s best to open all your windows, encourage a strong breeze to blow through. This draws out the ichors encased in the place. Smudging is an old tradition in these lands—the burning of a sage stalk, often using a feather to spread the smoke. A vacuum may then be used to clean up the remaining particles. Then prepare yourself a sage bath or incense. Meditate and envision a bright light cleansing you. Release your burdens. Be free.

Now, sans my gardens, I am confined to what garden guides term as Zone 6, as I’m sure are many of you. I will confine my essay to the use of pots, which is still of use even to those with the luxury of long, dark beds of rich soil at your guidance. I say guidance because we only guide nature and request it to grow to our design. Most of us are confined to flats in brick and steel buildings, but we still might draw soil from the earth and take it with us. In time, we will evolve to turn city buildings into green platforms, to purify the air and grow extra food. As long as there is sun and rain, so a plant will exert will and grow. This is a vital source of our life, our essence.

All born of the same root,

From singularity to weed and knot to singularity again,

The old light that shines to darken only to shine,

Lanterns hung in window and roof, medallions to keep us.

I prefer clay pots. They feel good to the touch, can hold temperature, moisture, yet they breathe. These pots are inexpensive and biodegradable. My herbs love them. Their spirits can spread out. It’s always best to cleanse the pots before planting. Plants are just as vulnerable to disease as we are, especially young ones. If you’re working in a hot greenhouse, treat it with hospital, sanitary conditions. A disease quickly spreads to all the young ones. Wash the pots with soap and water, dish detergent works well. Add a little sage or sea salt to the mix, then rinse them properly.

I go to a local nursery to find my herbs for the summer. I prefer this to growing from seed, as it saves time and can be difficult in an apartment. Professionals with experience staff nurseries, and often they have magick of their own, though they don’t call it that. It is better to go through nurseries than commercial chain stores. Plants often bought through places like Walmart are infected with disease and die soon after. When I search through rows of herbs, I use my left hand to feel above them, the energies. Left hand I use for receiving; the right hand, transmitting. It’s best to touch them as little as possible, for the concern of passing disease to the kids. I like to find the smaller ones, the ones excited for the chance to have a fulsome pot of soil in which to spread out. I plant herbs, the usual mints: Rosemary, lavender, sage, mint, lemonbalm. I also do umbels like fennel and coriander. These I find are also easiest to grow in zone 6.

Picking your growing spot will define the life of the plant. Sunlight nourishes the plant. It’s the most important factor when selecting location. I was blessed with windows with a morning eastern exposure. They’ve made such a difference. As I told a new friend last night, find the windows with the best sunlight in the morning, and that’s your best bet. Enchant the area. Burn a little incense on the spot. Place transparent, fey emblems in the windows. Paint symbols or verse or spells into the wood or scribe them on the pots. There are many ways to enchant a growing space, with words or music or light.

I put down an old blanket to transplant. It’s easier for cleanup. It’s best to do this in the morning to give the plants a full day of sun. I prepare my pots first, filling them with potting soil. I place a little gravel or even glass balls in the bottom of the pot if I want to improve drainage. It really depends on the plant. Also, adding sand might be helpful. It’s best to research the plant first. Carefully pull out the young plant from the container. Usually, its roots will mass and unite the dirt. It helps if the soil is damp. Tease the roots, pulling apart the fibrous clumps. Try not to tear the roots, but if you do, don’t worry; young plants are robust. Place them in the soil and cover the roots, then clean the leaves of soil. You’ll feel the love, the excitement as soon as those confined roots touch soil—all that room to spread out in. They burst. Water the soil. It takes a few days for a moisture level to build in the soil. Listen to your plants. They’ll tell you when they’re content, excited. You’ll see their growth.

These plants are medicine in chemical and in spirit. We bring them into our homes to give us life and light. If we listen, open ourselves to their ancient wisdom, we will find renewal and a new future.


Easter Ledge Pudding (Dock Pudding)

A traditional dish in Cumberland, Yorkshire and the Lake District which is served during the Easter period with lamb.


3 handfuls each of young bistort and nettle leaves
1 handful each of dandelion and cabbage leaves
120g pearl barley, soaked and drained
120g oatmeal
60g butter
8 eggs
1 onion
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
Fat for frying

Wash and chop all of the leaves into a large bowl. Mix in the onion (chopped) and pearl barley, then season. Place the mix into a muslin cloth bag, shape into a rounded pudding shape and tie the excess cloth to seal. Boil for around two hours in a saucepan of water.

Hard boil four of the eggs, chop and allow to cool. Then, beat together the remaining four eggs and the butter. Mix in the boiled ingredients and the oatmeal then add the chopped hard boiled eggs and mix thoroughly.

Shape the mixture into small, flat cakes and fry in a frying pan for a few minutes before serving.

Irish Stew …in the name of the Law
By Fred Cairns

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s Irish Stew Recipes. Here are two of mine.

When I left Belfast in 1973, my Mum gave me her recipe for Irish Stew.
I have since seen a number of Irish Stew recipes, some of them in magazines. There seems to be a general thought that Irish Stew is fair game: anybody can create an Irish Stew recipe, even if they were brought up in Beverly Hills and never lifted so much as a wooden spoon in their lives. Or even tasted Irish stew. Or even seen a picture of it.
One recipe which struck me as particularly pretentious used mutton chops for the meat – presumably the author wasn’t aware there were other cuts of mutton – and used Guinness as stock. Perhaps it would have been more Irish if they had added green vegetable dye. Or a lock of Michael Flatley’s hair. Others seem to have heard Tom Lehrer’s recipe for Hungarian Goulash, and think it applies equally well to Irish Stew. It does not.


8 ounces of Stewing Meat – Shin of Mutton or Hough
1 ounce of butter
1 ½ lb of carrots
1 ½ lb of onions
3 lbs of potatoes
1 pint of water or stock
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of grated nutmeg


Cut the meat into half-inch cubes.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter and braise the meat. Reduce the heat as low as it will go. Peel and chop the onions into half-inch cubes. Add them to the saucepan. Peel and chop the carrots. Add them to the saucepan. Peel and chop the potatoes into half-inch cubes or smaller. Add them to the saucepan. You may stir the mixture at this point or you may leave it alone if the heat is low enough. Add the stock, and add water until it is not quite covering the vegetables and potatoes. Add the salt. Simmer on a very low heat for as long as possible. Irish stew was traditionally prepared in the morning and left unattended on a turf fire. Modern cooking ranges produce a more intense heat, even at the lowest settings. If your range is too hot, simmer it for an hour, and then take it off the heat for an hour. Stir it well. Then simmer it for another hour. When the potatoes mush and lose their individuality, it can be served. Add the Pepper and the nutmeg, stir and serve.

Chose the potatoes carefully. Waxy potatoes are not good, and will take forever to go to mush. Floury potatoes are much better. My personal preference is for King Edwards, but we have had reasonable results with Romano.
Beware that these measurements are British Imperial, but approximate. An American pound varies from a British pound, and tablespoons also vary. Use your own judgement.

The Vegetarian Version

Out of sheer cussedness I became a vegetarian and finally decided to update the Irish Stew recipe.


4 tablespoons Olive Oil
Scallions (spring onions) to taste
Garlic to taste
1 ½ pounds of carrots
1 ½ pounds of onions
2 stalks of celery
1 large leek
3 pounds of potatoes
1 Teaspoon of Mixed Herbs
½ teaspoon of Basil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Picquante Pimenton to taste
Hungarian Paprika to taste
1 Tablespoon of Ground Nutmeg
7 ounces of “RealEat” Vegemince (half a bag)


In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil. Peel and chop the carrots and braise them. I have had better results when the carrots are cut lengthways before being chopped. Smaller pieces of carrot gives the stew a more carroty taste. When the carrot has been braised for five minutes, turn the heat down as low as it will go. Coarsely chop the garlic and add this to the carrots. Chop the onions finely and add them to the mixture, and stir. Chop the scallions and add them. Chop the celery and add it. Clean and chop the leek and add it. Stir the mixture. Add the spinach. I use frozen leaf spinach, and I add about five lumps. This is probably two ounces of spinach. Finely chop the potatoes. Add the potatoes and stir the mixture. Let it simmer dry for a few minutes, then add the stock, the basil, the mixed herbs and the salt. It is best to add the salt at the same time as the potatoes. Add enough water to nearly cover the vegetables. Let this simmer for an hour. Turn the heat off, stir, and let the mixture simmer in its own heat for an hour.
When the potatoes lose their integrity, add the Vegemince. We have tried various vegetarian meat substitutes, with varying results. My wife objects to quorn substitutes in stew. TVP varieties give a better texture. Now add the nutmeg, the paprika and the Picquante Pimenton. Large quantities of nutmeg can have a mild hallucinogenic effect. That is up to you. When all the vegetables are well stewed, serve hot.

Herb Bread

By Fred Cairns

1lb strong Wholemeal flour
1lb strong white flour
1 tablespoon Dill
1 teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon Marjoram
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 pint skim milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried yeast

Warm the milk to hand heat. Add the dried yeast to ¼ pint of warm water and leave to quicken.
Measure out the flour and the herbs and spices and mix together. Add the sugar and honey and mix them in. Add the salt. When the yeast has quickened, add this to the mixture, and add the milk. Knead the mixture into a stiff dough, adding flour to thicken or water or milk to thin. Add a thin layer of oil to the surface of the dough to stop it drying out, and place in a bowl in a warm place for an hour or an hour and a half., until it has doubled in bulk. Knock back and separate into loaf tins. I use two large, two small. Replace the loaf-tins in the warm place and leave for a similar length of time.
Use a moderate oven, about 200 degrees Centigrade. I give my bread twenty minutes before swapping the top and bottom loaves in the oven, then another twenty minutes. Cool on wire racks.

I find our airing cupboard is a good place to rise bread, so long as nobody leaves the door open. That’s right, I’m talking about you. Yes you did. Well who did then?


When Realms Collide
By Linda Gibson

Abby loved Ostara, it was one of her favourite festivals. Apart from scoffing chocolate eggs, she loved the fresh scent of the earth, and new growth blossoming everywhere.
She had made an altar at the foot of a Weeping Willow tree in her garden. Abby always left offerings to the Lord and Lady, and treats for the Faeries to thank them for their guidance, friendship and help with her dad’s garden. Everything he grew was the best in the village, and it was all thanks to the Faeries tending to the plants.

Tonight as a special treat for Ostara, Abby left a tiny glass of honey – a favourite of the Fae – and a nice green apple, cut through the middle to reveal a star-shape like a pentacle in the middle. She left them at the altar, and then recited a charm and sang a little song that she knew the Faeries loved. She realised she was being watched, but not by the Fae.

‘Matt, will you quit spying on me. It’s creepy!’ she said to her next-door neighbour.

At eighteen, Matt was a year older than Abby, and they had quickly become friends when Abby’s parents bought the cottage ten years ago. Matt liked Abby because she took him for who he was, not at all surprised with his Goth look. She never judged anyone. Abby knew Matt had a heart of gold and would help anybody, and those in the village were used to him.

‘I wondered what all of that racket was!’ teased Matt. ‘You know I love to watch you work, I can feel the energy coming from it. It’s wicked!’

‘It’s better when I work alone,’ said Abby. ‘Sometimes they appear to me, and I don’t want to lose that gift, or their trust,’ she explained.

The next morning, as a way of apology, Matt gave Abby a clear quartz crystal for her altar.

‘Thank you Matt, it’s beautiful. The Fae will love it,’ she smiled.

‘You’re welcome,’ smiled Matt. He hesitated for a second, before asking Abby ‘do you really see them, Faeries I mean? I know a lot of people believe in them, but I don’t know if they really exist.’

‘Yes I do see them Matt. They exist, but only show to very few people. And it’s a rare privilege that has to be held sacred to those they trust,’ Abby explained.

Abby walked the mile long journey to college alone. It gave her time to ponder without interruption, and to think of rituals and workings she could use. She didn’t notice anything unusual at first, but then she began to notice that people were behaving very nervously. They were very jumpy and shouting out in surprise at something.

‘What the hell was that? It’s ugly, whatever it is!’ yelled a man nearby.

The same scene greeted Abby when she arrived at college. To say it was chaotic was an understatement.

‘What’s going on?’ Abby asked when she saw John Simmons from her lecture group.

‘Don’t you see them? I don’t know what was in that joint Dave gave me, but I’m seeing Faeries and Elves and the weirdest creatures I never want to clap eyes on again! And I don’t mean Disney type. This is the last joint I smoke.’ He ran off before Abby could reply.

Abby’s blood ran cold. She had thought that there had been more Fae than usual showing up, but they should never be visible to everyone. Something was very wrong.

She ran home, giving the excuse of a migraine. When she got home, waiting for Abby in her bedroom was her Faery guardian, and the exquisite creature was extremely anxious, flitting about the room.

‘Bramble, what’s happened? The Fae are being seen by everyone!’

Bramble flew close to Abby’s ear so she would hear her.

‘Someone has carelessly used a charm, and it’s torn a hole in the portal between our realms. If it’s not closed quickly, it will destroy both of our worlds. The Realms should never mix, ever. You must find a way to close the tear, and destroy the spell so it can’t be used again. Our Queen has put her trust in you, she said you have more powers than you know,’ said Bramble.

Abby panicked. ‘Where do I look?’ she whispered.

‘Trust your instincts Abby. Ask the Old Ones for help, they will guide you.’ Then Bramble flew off before Abby could ask more questions. Abby went to her altar and lit a candle to help her concentrate. Once she was sat in a comfortable position, she began to meditate.

‘Old Ones guide me; show me how to save the Realms. I can’t do it on my own. I need your help, please!’ she pleaded.
Suddenly, Abby’s mind filled with images, jumbled at first, but then clearing. She saw a young man, Paul Booth that she knew from college, and he held an ancient looking Book of Shadows. He was sat in a clearing, Abby recognised the woodland. Paul sat in the middle of a salt pentagram and was surrounded by a circle of candles. Abby caught a glimpse of the page he was chanting from.

Abby heard a male voice, barely more than a whisper, in her mind.

‘Read the chant backwards, and cleans the clearing with Rosemary and Sage at the same time.’
Abby knew where Paul lived, and could catch him before he left for noon lectures if she ran. He was just stepping out of the front door when she arrived.

‘Where’s the book Paul? Abby asked frantically.

‘What book?’ asked Paul, surprised.

‘The Book of Shadows you used in your ritual when you were in the woods. You don’t know what you’ve done, do you?’ cried Abby.

She made Paul bring the book with them, while Abby explained everything on the way to the woods. He admitted experimenting with his grandmother’s Book of Shadows. Paul was devastated by what he’d done, and he promised Abby he would ask his grandmother to teach him the craft under her strict supervision.

Abby felt energy surrounding her in the clearing. She felt the presence of the Old Ones at her side. Her confidence soared. She read the chant backwards out loud as instructed and heard them chanting with her. She scattered Rosemary and Sage all over the ground at the same time. The energy built to an almost unbearable level. Suddenly, the tear became visible, and Fae of all kinds rushed through to the other side. Then the tear was surrounded by a golden glow and began to close. The light faded and the tear was gone.

‘You’ve done it!’ whispered Paul. ‘That was awesome.’

‘Never tell anyone what you’ve witnessed, about my powers or about my path,’ warned Abby.

‘I won’t,’ he promised. ‘I wouldn’t want to cross you with that power behind you. Besides, I may want to pick your brains, and I don’t want anyone to know I’m a Witch either.’

Later that night, Abby left an extra offering of honey for the Faeries at her altar on Paul’s behalf, as a way of apology. The Fae had a surprise of their own. The Queen herself had appeared and thanked Abby for her help, something that Abby would never forget.


Night Poem
By Suzannah Defoe

The moons light shines down on us turning our breath silver in the frosty air,
As the waves crash down darkly against the shore.
Songs mingle, voices soften and laughter ebbs as the fire spirit flickers against the night.
Witches gather, joining hands, joy on their faces and in their hearts.
Frenzied stomping and leaping trace lines in the glistening sand as
Life jolts electric through fingertips that brush in the dance
Energy courses in the circle, hands held high in supplication
Cries and music lift to the stars
The sun rises on bodies sleeping where they fell.

The Oak And Holly King

By Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney

For more poetry and artwork, visit Audrey at Visions of a Pagan.

In summers months a fight does come
for the oak king with his mighty sword
does fight his brother the holly lord
for right to sit upon the throne
his brother Holly does not win
and at the underworld sleeps within

when leaves turn gold and then fall down
to rest upon and turning ground
The oak king upon his throne
watches as the winter comes
that soon it will be time to fight
when he does hear the hounds of night

Now rests the trees of his gentle kin
are sleeping in the ground within
and lord of oak now knows its time
from underworld his brother climbs
The evergreen of holly bright
brings back the holly king to fight.

The holly lord bows to his brother
he will not bow to any other
lifts up his sword of winters rest
and plunges it into his brothers chest
His hounds of night do howl and bark
as the oak kings face turns dark

And so he falls to the underworld
to heal and rest while in the winters cold
the holly lord is now the king
and on the throne sits there within.
and toasts with mead his brother gone.
and sings aloud the yuletide song

For joyful times winters season bring
to ready for the start of spring.
and when the sun does rise once more
and brings his rays on winters floor
the oak king will rise again
and from his brother  will then reign.

By Audrey 'Stormy' Haney

3 Poems by Dania Ratiba Aldeek

A Night Like This

A Dummy

My Little Room

Dania aged 23, is a poet, she lives in Stoke, Staffordshire. She graduated from university in July 2010. Her poetry has been published on various websites and for the first time in Prototype magazine. She also is hoping to go into translation and eventually write poetry in Arabic.

A Night Like This

The window after hours
in all it’s chilly condensation.
Matted with midnight glisten.
Staring into;
pupils widen to pierce dusk’s cast.

Above, a wire that runs through.
The juice that streams
to bring artificial service and spark.
That intersecting intrusion
blitzing through nature’s scene.

smoking and soulless.
Vehicles that whir;
their cages skid on.

came a sudden silence;
enveloping stillness.
And the peace grew and became
the size of all outside.

A Dummy

Religion isn’t my rationale.
Allah hu akbar.
I put a dummy in your mouth,
transcended the torment.

I cancelled His perpetual wisdom.
Washed away that logic and lifestyle.
Let me stifle the voices.

My Little Room

Silhouette slide shows
paint the wall with past.
In the darkest corner,
the parental appliance is on.
Their spluttering,
As I resonate in my little room.

3 Poems by Karie McNeley

Bugging Me Insectually

The Sleeping Poet

A New Couch And A Rainbow

Bugging Me Insectually

the mumbling bumblebee buzz
distorts the kaleidoscope fly eye
and traps it in the shoddy web
of the black and the widowed
sticky like caterpillar feet
crawling in millipedic hundreds
for the mosquito-larvae
growing quick like maggots
in a bath of decaying grasshopper

The Sleeping Poet

I sleep like a brick
every night in my
tired twin bed.

My pillows fall,
my head hits
the wall hard,

but I do not wake
and my bard brain
dreams of poetry.

A New Couch And A Rainbow

soft, rough
and all the in-betweens.
a lit candle,
the flame vibrant,
gives the couch,
an almost unrecognizable glow.
shimmery highlight
on the left arm
of the Queen’s seat,
softly dented
with the wear and tear of use,
as it beholds
this gorgeous weight,
airy, delightful,
or not.
so unclear
that the clouds,
have deemed her person,
and her personality,
and they say she,
does not match the sky.
eyes she says,
have enticed her.
as she sips
her fine glass of wine,
though experts
would probably
call it otherwise.
they are nots:
not satisfied
not sorry.
this new couch
gives her hope.
the wick burns away slowly,
melting a delightful,
onto the floor,
where it splashes accidentally
onto her bare foot
causing a jolt,
a bump of the table,
a tiny yelp of pain,
a drop of a wine glass,
a hurried panic,
a falling candle,
and searing flames,
burning for three hours,
until there is nothing left.
not even the grass
except for the expression
on her face.
once content
but now forgotten,
as naked neighboring eyes,
lay rest upon the remainders,
where only dirt,
and not pointing an inkling more,
towards anything that lie there before
the new couch
and the rainbow.


By Rebecca L. Brown

Dawn breaks on the mountains
Flows down into the valley
Pools around the trees.


Treadwells Events

20 March (Tuesday)
Interview with a Magician:
Krzysztof Azarewicz
In Conversation with Christina Oakley Harrington

Krzysztof Azarewicz has been studying and practising Thelema for nearly twenty years, and tonight talks about his experiences on this path, starting with his early experiences in Poland to his years here in the UK. Krzysztof is an active member of the Ordo Templi Orientis and an ordained priest of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. He founded and heads Lashtal Press, which publishes in Polish books by Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. We are delighted he has agreed to join us here tonight as part of our series, asking long-term esotericists what it is really like to live a magical life, with its rewards, challenges and evolving perspectives.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

27 March (Tuesday)
Interview with a Witch:
In Conversation with Christina Oakley Harrington

What is it like to be a Wiccan priest? How does a person’s life start down that path, and what does it feel like some twenty years down the road? The experiences and adventures that make up the spiritual journey are individual, and this series is dedicated to speaking to individuals about their personal life stories and their own outlooks. Tonight’s interviewee is known by the name Merlyn. He founded the Witchfest annual gatherings in Croydon, and some years ago founded Children of Artemis. He has been in Wicca for over 20 years. Tonight we ask about the lived experience of being in the Craft, and how it’s evolved as a way of life, as well as talking about what it was like for him as a beginner.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

28 March (Wednesday)
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram:
Mini-Workshop Evening

An evening working one of the core individual rites of the Western ceremonial tradition.

If you are starting out in ceremonial magic, and want to get some in-person experience, this evening is for you. This night teaches you the LBRP (as it is fondly called) from start to finish, with lots of practice and coaching, so that when you go home, you can incorporate it into your practice if you so wish. The tutor is a longstanding magical practitioner grounded in Western ceremonial, ritual magic and esoteric kabbalah.

Price: £10.00 Time: 7.30, runs until 9.30 pm

29 March (Thursday)
Rescuing Manuscript Diaries:
Secret Lives from History
Irving Finkel (British Museum)

Other people’s diaries are simply wonderful and important and they usually get thrown away. What are they? Chronicles of truth from real people. The speaker will consider how and why this under-appreciated side of human life and endeavour is so often disregarded, and discuss his plans to form a National Repository to rescue unwanted private diaries for the long-term future when they will be treasured as gold dust. Irving Finkel, in addition to being an assistant keeper at the British Museum and a published author of children’s books, is a passionate advocate for the collection and preservation of personal diaries and journals: see the Independent, the Mail and the BBC. An inspiring and entertaining speaker, so we promise you an unforgettable night.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

31 March (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:
A Guided Teaching Walk for Aspiring Hedge Witches
Natasha Richardson

Knowing your herbs is an essential skill in the path of the hedgewitch. Natasha Richardson leads seasonal walks to help you learn just this. She identifies native plants that are important in British folklore and in herbal medicine in this two-hour foraging walk in a part in Central London. Along the way Natasha will share stories, superstitions and also some basic biochemical facts about each. A lively speaker, she is both a hedgewitch and medical herbalist with her own established practice, Rowan Remedies. This walk concentrates on herbs visible in March.

Price: £8.00 Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure, Regents Park tube station.

31 March (Saturday)
Sigil Magick:
A Half-day Intensive
Mark Smith

Making sigils is a way to ensure effectiveness, maximising the techniques developed from Austin Osman Spare to Pete Carroll to hypnosis. This day takes you through the origins, essential qualities and mechanism of the sigil: from intent to inscription to implantation in the unconscious, with the creation of belief and bypassing the conscious censor. The techniques of sigilisation are explored in theory and will be implemented in practice. This is an afternoon for the chaos magician who wants a focussed treatment of this key tech, and for anyone interested in the nitty-gritty of results magic. Mark Smith is a longstanding chaos magician, a professional drummer, and a qualified hypnotist with an established practice in that field. His workshops receive rave reviews.

Price: £25.00 Time: 1.00 pm to 5.30 pm

31 March (Saturday)
Witchfather, Gerald Gardner’s Bio
Book Signing
Philip Heselton

Come by the shop this afternoon to get your copy of the long-awaited biography of Gerald Gardner by Philip Heselton. Entitled Witchfather, this biography is issued comprehensively in two volumes, includes much about the ideas and experience behind Gardner’s Wicca and its formative precursors in the early twentieth century. Philip Heselton is a much-loved author who has shared with many pagans his research discoveries in smaller talks and lectures over the years: here’s the final result! Join us for a glass of wine, a cup of tea, some cake and an informal chat. Pick up your copy of the books and Philip will gladly sign them for you.

Price: Free Time: 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm, stop by anytime

3 April (Tuesday)
Beacons of Belief:
Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England
Dr Michael Bintley (Oxford University)

They say that pagans are tree huggers, and so it is fitting that tonight’s talk is on the importance of trees and woodland in the beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons and their Norse neighbours. He uses current interdisciplinary approaches to sources, so you will be treated to Old English and Old Norse texts, Anglo-Saxon art, sacred landscapes, and ritual objects. And, he argues that the veneration of the tree did not cease with the adoption of the cross; indeed, the shift from paganism to Christianity was a case of gradual assimilation rather than sudden abandonment of old ways. Mike Bintley (Oxford University) wrote his doctoral thesis on ‘Trees and Woodland in Anglo-Saxon Culture’, and has also taught medieval literatures at University College London and Birkbeck. We welcome him to Treadwell’s for the first time.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

4 April (Wednesday)
Your Own Hypnosis and Trance Induction:
Hands-on Techniques for magical practitioners
Mark Smith

A practical evening teaching hypnosis methods to self-induce trance states and to work on unconscious mind patterns, in your magical practice. Techniques will enhance visualisations and pathworkings and intensify your ritual workings — whether you work in chaos magic, shamanic journeying, general meditation or witchcraft. Practical exercises through the evening mean you can immediately apply these methods. Repeated dates due to popular demand. Mark is a professional clinical hypnotherapist, professional drummer, gym addict and chaos magician. An outstanding opportunity from someone with experience and skill.

Price: £10.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start, runs until 9.30 pm

10 April (Tuesday) and following Tuesdays
Traditional Folk Herbalism:
Introductory Course
Natasha Richardson

Learn the basics of herbal medicine from a qualified herbalist who will combine lectures on principles and methods with in-class practical sessions on making basic preparations and potions. Aimed at those with a calling to the hedge witch or cunning man, this course is full of the rich culture of traditional remedies, underpinned by an holistic approach to healing. Independent work will include research, finding plants, and doing home preparations. Tutor Natasha Richardson is a qualified medical herbalist with a deep love of plants and nature, who has a private practice as well as five years working with Neals Yard Remedies. Eight Tuesday evenings. Price includes materials and handouts.

Price: £170 (£80 deposit, balance due first session) Time: 7.00 to 9.00 pm

16 April (Monday)
Stage One in the Alchemical Opus
Paul Cowlan

Whatever your angle on alchemy the Nigredo is where it all begins. The dusky flight of the Raven, the intractable stubborness of the Toad, the snarling aggression of the Bear. It is the prima materia, deep down in the dark earth; the scrambled, depressing rag-bag of indeterminate qualities which forms the lead which is to be transmuted into solar gold. Paul Cowlan this year gives a series of four lectures on the four main stages of the alchemical work, with particular reference to the pictorial imagery, and its relevance to the personal quest. This is the first. Paul Cowlan has been working in spiritual alchemy for over twenty years. A lucid and engaging speaker, he is a Treadwell’s favourite for his lectures unpacking the symbolism and meanings of spiritual alchemy from its vivid image codes.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

18 April (Wednesday)
Transmitting the Sacred Fire:
Transformation and Identity in Austin Osman Spare
Michael Staley

A fervent, compelling mystical and magical vision burns at the heart of the art of British occult artist Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956). First articulated in The Book of Pleasure, it continuously developed throughout his lifetime’s work. In this illustrated talk Michael Staley explores Spare’s mysticism and magical vision, using drawings and paintings which communicate it especially clearly, and drawing upon his mature writings of the late 1940s and the 1950s. If Spare intrigues and compels you, then this night’s for you. Michael Staley is the founder of Starfire Publishing, who last year published two early sketchbooks by Spare as Two Grimoires. An enthusiastic collector of Spare’s art, and immersed in Spare’s work for many years now, Michael is particularly interested in how this work resonates with other mystical and magical traditions.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 pm start

23 April (Monday)
Waking the Dead in the Middle Ages:
The Tales the Graves Tell
Dr James Holloway

Stories of the walking dead are common in medieval literature, from romances to saints’ lives. Ghouls, ghosts and vampires were said to return from their graves to terrorise the living. But how much did ordinary people actually believe these tales? Can the odd items found in some medieval graves shed more light on these beliefs? Join James Holloway for a tour of some of the stranger burial practices of medieval Europe, and learn about the archaeological evidence for belief in the dangerous dead. Dr James Holloway studied archaeology at Cambridge University, and remains fascinated by the strange things that people are willing to do to dead bodies.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 pm start

26 April (Thursday)
Fr. Achad’s Rite of Isis
A Thelemic Rite Performed

Tonight offers an opportunity to see a Thelemic ritual performance containing pentagram and Hexagrams rituals, litanies, chants, and is performed by four temple officers in full robes, and a temple space appointed with a full complement of Egyptian nemysses, candles and magical weapons. The Rite of Isis was composed in 1914 by two of Aleister Crowley’s magical students in a Canadian Lodge of the O.T.O and was performed there that year. The authors drew heavily on Crowley’s writings, most heavily Rites of Eleusis. It is not in print to the public and has almost never been performed before an open audience. Tonight is ideal if you wish to take a closer look at Thelemic ceremony. Due to space constraints, numbers are limited.

Price: £15.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

28 April (Saturday)
Sigil Magick:
A Half-day Intensive
Mark Smith

Making sigils is a way to ensure effectiveness, maximising the techniques developed from Austin Osman Spare to Pete Carroll to hypnosis. This day takes you through the origins, essential qualities and mechanism of the sigil: from intent to inscription to implantation in the unconscious, with the creation of belief and bypassing the conscious censor. The techniques of sigilisation are explored in theory and will be implemented in practice. This is an afternoon for the chaos magician who wants a focussed treatment of this key tech, and for anyone interested in the nitty-gritty of results magic. Mark Smith is a longstanding chaos magician, a professional drummer, and a qualified hypnotist with an established practice in that field. His workshops receive rave reviews.

Price: £25.00 Time: 1.00 pm to 5.30 pm

29 April (Sunday)
Mysteries of Beltane:
Intensive Day Course on Symbol, Folklore, Magic
Suzanne Corbie

Spend the day immersed in the ancient pagan festival of Beltane, or May Day. You will be treated to folklore, traditional customs, inner spiritual meanings — and for ways in which it is celebrated in the present as well as in the past. It includes illustrated lecture, handouts, exercises, seminar discussion, meditation and some traditional craft work. A ceremony completes the day. You will leave with solid knowledge and experiental workings which you can bring to your personal life. Ideal if you love folk customs, or if you are studying as a pagan. Suzanne Corbie is a practising Wiccan Priestess with over 37 years’ experience. She brings a wealth of information and personal insight on native British folk customs to this workshop.

Price: £35 (£20 deposit, balance due on the day). Time: 11.00 am to 5.30 pm

30 April (Monday)
An Unbroken Pagan Path?
Dr. Aidan Rankin

Shinto, the traditional spirituality of Japan, appears to be an unbroken pagan path that meets the needs of an urban, technological society. Here in the West pagans are connecting to their own ancient spiritual cultures – also urban people. Tonight’s speaker outlines the basics of Shinto which, like other paganisms, can be seen as monotheistic, polytheistic or neither. Also like other pagan religions, it is indigenous, with very specific Japanese cultural and ecological roots. Sp does it have to be ethnocentric? The issues and challenges of Shinto also apply to Druidry, heathenism, Wicca and all western paganism. A talk for all thinking pagans who are concerned about how we think about religion. Aidan Rankin is a researcher on spiritual and esoteric matters. His most recent book is Shinto: A Celebration of Life, and he is now working on Jainism and science.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

2 May (Wednesday)
Floralia Beltane Rite
with Introductory Lecture
With Caroline Wise and Friends

The Roman festival of Floralia, held in honour of Flora, the Goddess of Flowers, took place between 27th April to 4th May. Many European Beltane observances come from it: Flora’s echo is in the May Queen and the garlands of flowers worn in modern Beltane celebrations. Tonight is a talk on Flora and Beltane followed by a Beltane ceremony in her honour, welcoming the coming summer and the flowering of the land. This event is suitable for beginners and those experienced in ceremony alike. Beginners to ritual especially welcome. This evening is led by Caroline Wise, an arch-priestess in the Fellowship of Isis who runs events in the UK, Germany and the USA. For the last 30 years she has been working in discovering and celebrating the goddesses of London. She returns to Treadwell’s by special invitation.

Price: £10.00 Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm (please note early start time)

5 May (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:
A Guided Teaching Walk for Aspiring Hedge Witches
Natasha Richardson

Knowing your herbs is an essential skill in the path of the hedgewitch. Natasha Richardson leads seasonal walks to help you learn just this. She identifies native plants that are important in British folklore and in herbal medicine in this two-hour foraging walk in a part in Central London. Along the way Natasha will share stories, superstitions and also some basic biochemical facts about each. A lively speaker, she is both a hedgewitch and medical herbalist with her own established practice, Rowan Remedies. This walk concentrates on herbs which flourish in May.

Price: £8.00 in advance Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure, Regents Park tube station.

9 May (Wednesday)
Madame Blavatsky:
Magician, Radical, Feminist
Gary Lachman

Say ‘Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society’ and we think of the mystic East; yet Blavatsky’s roots lie rather in the western esoteric tradition. She synthesised Eliphas Levi, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Mesmer, Paracelsus and Neoplatonists into a thrilling mix. And though she worked with spiritualists, she declared herself a magician, able to command elementals and not merely be a medium for the dead. She also espoused left-wing politics, allying with progressive, even radical movements. To top it off, she was a woman, a female in a world where the male magician was the norm. See this amazing character in a new light. Gary’s forthcoming book is Madame Blavatsky:the Life and Times of the Mother of Modern Spirituality.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

16 May (Wednesday)
An Important Byzantine Grimoire
Ioannis Marathakis

Tonight we meet the grimoire which is the father of the famed Key of Solomon. The Hygromanteia is an incredibly important magical text which has languished outside of Western awareness due to its being Greek, but is now at last properly identified and brought to the Western European audience. Editor and translator Ioannis Marathakis comes to Treadwells to bring this wondrous grimoire to life in a breathtaking slide lecture. For all who are enchanted by the books of spirit magic, planetary magic, seals, sigils and angelic beings: this night’s for you. Copies of the book will be on sale.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

21 May (Monday)
Bohemian Occult Subculture in the 1890s:
Artists, Actors & Writers of the Golden Dawn
Christina Oakley Harrington

The Order of the Golden Dawn is an icon for modern occultists: it’s the late Victorian ceremonial magic organization which created the template for subsequent Western mysteries, Kabbalah, Celtic mysticism, and even Wicca. The 1880s to 1920s saw an occult renaissance, sudden and powerful: historians stress the founders’ connection with freemasonry, giving the impression that it was a club of old Establishment men. In fact, the Golden Dawn was driven by a bunch of young creatives – friends working in ad hoc collaboration. Meet these young bohemian women and men, and be inspired. Christina Oakley Harrington repeats this illustrated lecture at the request of those who could not attend the sold out performance last autumn. Early booking advised.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

30 May (Wednesday)
The Triple Goddess:
Her History, Ancient and Modern
Prudence Jones

When is the earliest appearance of the threefold goddess in history? What does it mean to modern pagans who speak of the Moon, and the Goddess of Nature as ‘Maiden, Mother and Crone’? Why should you sing the praises of a Cambridge scholar named Jane Ellen Harrison? Prudence Jones answers these questions and more, in a lively scholarly talk. By the time you leave, you will know why and how the triple goddess lived, and lives again. If you’ve ever gazed at the moon, done a magic spell, or secretly worshipped a goddess, this night is for you. Prudence Jones is a writer and commentator on European Pagan traditions and associated spiritual systems, especially Wicca and astrology, though she began as an academic philosopher at Cambridge. A past president of the Pagan Federation, she is co-author of History of Pagan Europe.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 pm start

6 June (Wednesday)
Learning the Tarot:
Foundation Course for Beginners
Sue Merlyn Farebrother

Learn to read tarot with a gifted, experienced teacher. In an active lively class, progress from basics to more complex classic tarot, grounded in mystical symbolism. Includes homework, handouts, and backup support. By the end of the eight-week course, students can do basic readings and use tarot in meditation. Tutor Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been reading tarot for 30 years. The class runs for eight Wednesday evenings, starting 6 June.

Price: £160.00 (£80.00 deposit, balance due on first night) Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm start
Outside events

Our workshop space is sometimes used by other groups for their events and meetings. Here below are upcoming events by outside groups. Treadwell’s Bookshop is not the organiser for any of these — we are simply the venue and have no involvement beyond that. Please contact the organisers directly if you have any questions or wish to sign up for any of these below. And. you wish to hire our space, just give us a ring for a quote.

23 March (Friday)
Temple of Levanah

An evening meditative circle led by Chris and Vivianne Crowley. It draws on Western magical tradition, Wicca and Buddhist practice and is open to those of all paths. Spiritual attunement, honouring Goddess and God, and developing visualisation, insight and healing. More on their web page. Please write in advance via BMDeosil@aol.com.

Price: £8 Time: 7.15 pm for 7.30 pm start

22 March (Thursday)
The Druid Order (A.D.U.B), Open Introductory Evenings
Alternate Thursdays through the Spring

The Druid Order is well known for their public ceremonies, most notably the Midsummer rites at Stonehenge, performed in distinctive long white robes. Throughout the year, they hold open evenings for those who wish to learn more about them. Druid Order 020 8659 4879. Future dates: 19 Apr, 3 May, 17 May, 31 May, 14 Jun, 12 July.

Price: £5.00, just turn up. Time: 7.30 pm

9 April (Monday)
Thelema One-Day Conference
“Save the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu”

A one-day conference in honour of the Reception of the Book of the Law, organised by a Greek non-profit organisation, to save the site in Cefalu, Italy. Readings and talks. Speakers confirmed are Paul Feazey of Lashtal, Anna Apostolidou, Michael Staley of the Typhonian Order, Peter Grey of Scarlet Imprint, Katerina Kerasoti. Note: the day of this event is Easter Monday. Full details and booking instructions on the website.

Price: £20 in advance via Treadwell’s

Welcome to the Imbolc issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine, our special interview edition. Read on for interviews with Alaric Albertsson, Flash Silvermoon, Jodine Turner, Belle Dimonte, Christopher Penczak and Oberon Zell, plus our usual great selection of articles, poetry and fiction!


An Interview With Christopher Penczak

An Interview With Oberon Zell

An Interview With Jodine Turner

An Interview With Alaric Albertsson

An Interview With Belle Dimonte

An Interview With Flash Silvermoon

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Beary


Imbolc, by Jessica Howard

Spring Cleaning, fire lighting, and saining compulsions, everyone?? Then it must be that Imbolc time of year again!!!, by Liz

Belchite, Zaragoza, SPAIN, by Charles Vella

The Art Of Pathworking: Invoking The Egyptian Gods, by Judith Page & Ken Biles

Sacred Sexuality, by Katrina Messenger

Regular Features

Imbolc Week Moonlore, by Liz

The Way of the Modern Bard: Imbolc: My Birthday Week, by T. Fox Dunham

The Sepiroth Part Three, by Simon Cash


Music Review: Kenny Kline, Ghosts of the Delta, (Review by Johnny Blake)


An Imbolc Story, by Linda Gibson


Imagined Worlds, by Danielle Clark

The Bride of Spring, by Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney


Bridget’s Song, by Celia

Want to contribute to our Ostara issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Ostara issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it. For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.

An Interview With Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about your path and how it has developed over time? How would you describe your current practices?

I consider myself a Witch and would simply describe my practice as Witchcraft, knowing that gives me a lot of freedom to do as I feel called to do. I started out as a skeptic, but open minded, leaving Christianity behind after twelve years of Catholic School. I wanted to believe and experience something, but was very distrustful. After some searching in eastern spirituality, a long time family friend and mentor revealed to me she was a Witch, and became my first informal teacher, before taking me to her own teacher, Laurie Cabot. I studied in the Cabot Tradition. At the time it was not for formally organized, so without a clear community other than the general pagan community of Salem, I began practicing in a small coven, which developed into a larger coven, local to my home. My mother and sister were involved. I assumed more of an active role in the coven, and found myself teaching some meditations and leading rituals. That lead to my first formal classes. From then, I’ve added and adapted whatever material has fit into my world view. While firmly rooted as a Witch, I’ve studied forms of core shamanism and Celtic Shamanism, Theosophy and the New Age light work and ascension traditions associated with it, Ceremonial Magick and various forms of healing, including Reiki, Herbalism, Flower Essence and Crystal Therapy. I try to understand experience things, and see how it fits into my own unique synthesis, and while i share my process and theories, I try to encourage my students and readers to find their own synthesis.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to yourself as you were when you started out, what would it be?

I don’t think I have an answer to this. Everything unfolded just as it should and I don’t think I would change anything significant.

Q. Has there been one particular event or experience which has affected your path more than any other?

I had an out of body experience in the fourth grade that was jarring, and a ghostly visitation of my Great Aunt after she died in the tenth grade, which everyone dismissed as fantasy, but once I learned magick, they were understood and their significance guiding my spiritual quest made more sense. My first circle and spell and my first psychic healing were also pretty pivotal in shifting my experience of reality and our role and responsibility in co-creating it.

Q. Have there been any people or groups who have been especially inspirational to you?

Absolutely. On a magickal level, my first teacher was Laurie Cabot, and her very public life of service is very inspirational. I’ve found great inspiration and humor in the writings of Aleister Crowley. Though I don’t think we’d be fast friends in life ,I love that he kept climbing, and was very real about his choices, faults and failings on the path, even if he didn’t always see them as such. My first yoga teacher, Stephanie Rutt, continues to be an amazing inspiration on living a sacred, spiritual life. My partners Steve and Adam are also amazing inspirations in my life.

Q. To what extent are your beliefs and practices a part of or affected by your everyday life? Do you believe that something has to be separate from the everyday to be sacred?

Absolutely not. I think the everyday is sacred and the sacred should be experienced every day. At first, such divisions are helpful because they help establish boundaries and keep a person functional in normal society. It’s good to have a clear boundary of rituals, start-middle-ending, with grounding and banishings appropriate to the ritual. My day has several different rituals to it, a morning devotional or prayer with intentions set, and evening meditations if not ritual is planned. But between those, I try to see everything like an expression of the divine, even the tough stuff. Particularly the tough stuff. I try to make my decisions through a Witch’s eyes and not sacrifice my spirituality in business or personal life, but see them all interconnected.

Q. In what way are your sexuality and your spiritual path inter-related?

Well, I think Witchcraft is a path of life force, and sex has a big part involved in life force. I think being a gay man, or anyone in the GLBT community, has a different perspective than most people, being more on the edge of society. While homosexuality is getting more accepted in mainstream society, being someone who is polyamorous as well, it’s another facet that keeps me on the edge of society, and gives me a different perspective. Some see it as a disadvantage, as occult traditions of the past were fixated on gender roles and sexual polarity, making many of the GLBT feel excluded even from the occult traditions. But history and folk lore show that there was a role for same sex oriented lovers in the ancient pagan religions, and there is again now. Many of my own students and clients identify as GLBT or Polyamorous, and come for training or counseling from someone who understands their perspective. I’m also involved in two different queer pagan organizations, a small circle in New Hampshire called The Circle of The Sacred Thyrsus and a larger queer men’s festival, Between the Worlds in Ohio (http://www.betweentheworlds.org). Our own Temple of Witchcraft also has a queer mysteries ministry in our Gemini Ministry, but my husband Steve Kenson runs it. I’m not directly involved, but support his work.

Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring pagan writers?

The same advice that my composing teacher gave me when I was in music school, with a slight variation. He said, “Everyday, put notes on paper.” I would say, “Every day, put words on paper, or on a computer file.” I try to write a little bit everyday. When I don’t, I get quite out of sorts. I need that create expression and outlet. I can’t be one of those writers who writes very intensely for a short period of time, then doesn’t write at all for weeks or months. I think also learning the business of publishing is very helpful. Understand what you are getting involved in, and realize that you can’t really make a full time living just writing. Those in my role have to teach, tour, do private session and travel to make a living at it. Publishing is changing so much now, there are many different options besides traditional publishing houses. Make sure you choose the one that is right for you.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on several different things. My main focus is working on developing the health and foundation of the Temple of Witchcraft, through it teaching material, fundraising and charitable work. For writing, I’ve got quite a few books in the works. In production is my newest books, The Gates of Witchcraft which comes out in February. It’s a book on trance techniques, an expansion of the eightfold path of British Traditional Wicca. I have a more mainstream book comparing the work and mission of three religious pioneers – Buddha, Christ and Merlin. I have a grimoire and path working book on the Morrighan for the fall, and a book of Qabalistic poetry at the end of the year. Just in the pure writing mode, I’m writing a book on ancestral magick and a book on cauldron magick. I also have a series of short books on spell crafting for the more practically minded.

Christopher Penczak is a witch, teacher, writer and healing practitioner. For more  news and writing from him, visit his website http://christopherpenczak.com/ 

An Interview With Oberon Zell

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about your beliefs? How has your path changed since you started out and what advice would you give the person you were back then if you could?

Well, as for my beliefs, I’m Pagan to the core. I believe that everything is alive, and everything is interconnected. I believe that Spirit (i.e. consciousness, Divinity, sentience, magick…) is actually the Quantum Field (called “the Force” in Star Wars), and that it is the underlying foundation of the cosmos—“the light behind the projector.” As Obi-Wan Kenobi says: “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Thus the perfect analogy for Spirit is water, which is all the same throughout the universe, and only appears distinct when it is in some sort of container.

For Spirit, those “containers” are our individual “selves,” as well as the personae of all other living beings, including non-corporeal vortices of consciousness, such as forests, biomes, Devas, Elementals, Gods, and of course, Gaea herself; the “anima mundi” of our living planet. And the best-known name for the overall field of Divine Consciousness is Mother Nature. So you could call me a Pantheist, a Panentheist, a Polytheist, and a Monist. That is, I experience what has been called “God” as an immanent quality inherently manifest in every living Being, from a single cell to an entire planet—and likely the Universe Itself.

How has my path changed over the years since I started out? Well, it’s just gotten deeper and deeper as I continue to explore, experience, and learn. My personal Mission Statement as I formulated it 50 years ago is “to be a catalyst for the coalescence of consciousness.” My work is towards the Awakening of planetary consciousness: Teilhard de Chardin’s “Omega Point.” And that has not changed over half a century. I am an Initiate of the Mysteries: I know what lies beneath the surface of the world. I know the end of things, and their beginnings; and they are the same. The Wheel turns.

What advice would I give my former self? Have boundless curiosity. Study and explore everything, and leave no stone unturned as you delve the depths of the arcane and mysterious.

Q. I’ve read that you were the first person to apply the term ‘Pagan’ to the emergent nature religions of the 1960s; how do you feel about how the modern use of the term ‘Pagan’ has developed since then?  

Yes, that appears to have been the case. Certainly I seem to have been the first (in 1967) to claim that term as a self-identification, rather than as a perjorative to be leveled at others: “Us Pagans” rather than “those Pagans!” At the time, I felt that the word “Pagan”(Latin meaning “of the land”) encapsulated all I held dear in religious matters: ancient myths, magicks and Mysteries; pantheons of gods and heroes; traditional folklore and customs of all my favorite holidays; the “Pagan Splendour” of ancient civilizations such as Greece and Egypt. The “Old Religion” of forest and field. And most of all, a deep kinship with Nature and Her cycles and seasons. There was also the feminist aspect—Goddesses and Priestesses (only Pagan religions have Goddesses and Priestesses), and the empowerment of women (my prescribed antidote for all the ills of human society since the Patriarchal Revolution).  Also, while the monotheistic Abrahamic religions are by their nature exclusivist (One God; one “Chosen People”), Paganism is all-inclusive: we are all Children of the same Mother, and all are welcome at Her table.

How has the term developed since I first claimed it in 1967? Well, Paganism as “indigenous folk religion” is not identified with any specific scripture or founding prophet, but is rather rooted in the mythic history of the People—everyone’s “Ancient Ways,” as it were. As this new Pagan renaissance is being adopted by millions of people worldwide, it has become very much a “Roots” phenomenon of reclaiming our collective lost legacy. So it has developed political aspects—especially in formerly oppressed countries such as Latvia, Iceland, Lithuania, etc. which have lately embraced Paganism as a nationalist revival of the pre-Christian religion of their ancestors. And with its emphasis on rebalancing the divine Feminine with the divine Masculine, and empowering women as Priestesses and Avatars of the Goddess, Paganism has become the obvious spiritual path for feminist women worldwide.

And as environmental consciousness has been spreading, creating a new vocabulary to reflect a new ecological paradigm, Paganism is claiming a new appellation as “Green Religion.” And through all this, since I first took up the term 45 years ago, it has retained its essential meaning of “Nature Worship.” I think it’s fabulous that the term has not been diverted or corrupted in all these years as a vast worldwide movement has grown up around it.

Q. Why did you decide to co-found the Church of All Worlds? Could you tell us a little bit about the church and how it has changed over time?  

I was always drawn to religion and spirituality. My earliest reading was children’s versions of the Greek myths, and I participated fully in the rituals and pageants of my family’s Congregational church. But as I studied the Bible and the history of religions, I came to realize that the whole Biblical mythos was really about a particular God, Jahveh, and His “Chosen People”—the Jews. Their origin in the Garden of Eden, their fall from Grace with “original sin,” their captivity and Exodus from Egypt and Babylon, their elaborate and arbitrary rules and laws designed to keep them distinct from those “other people”—the Pagans. And their hope of a future Messiah and Redemption. And of course, in the New Testament, we get the story of that Messianic salvation, and the founding of a new branch off the old tree.

But all this was not my story, nor the story of my People, as I am not Jewish. Indeed, my own ancestors were those “other people” that the Biblical protagonists were constantly being warned to not be like! Now, in my personal literary Odyssey, mythology led naturally into fantasy and science-fiction, where I started assimilating and considering alternative paradigms. And when I was a 19-year-old college freshman, my favorite author and mentor, Robert A. Heinlein, published a sci-fi novel called Stranger in a Strange Land, which hit me like a bombshell, opening up the possibility of creating a new Church—an entire new religion, in fact—that would be meaningful to me and others like me: the Church of All Worlds.

After five years of being a more-or-less “underground” secret water-brotherhood, CAW came out publically in September of 1967, claiming a religious identity as “Pagan.” We received our Incorporation papers on March 4, 1968, and immediately opened a temple on Gaslight Square, St Louis, with a coffee house in the basement, and began holding classes in Pagan Philosophy, as well as a book-study program we called the “Human values Course.” We mapped out the criteria for a 9-Circle “Progressive Involvement Program” (PIP) leading to ordination, which I began publishing in the first issues of Green Egg magazine (starting March 21, 1968).

Like all things, the real-life CAW has also grown and evolved over the past 50 years—for this April 7, 2012, marks the 50th anniversary of the first time that Lance Christie and I shared water, became water-brothers, and dedicated our lives to actualizing that Vision—a dedication from which neither of us has ever swayed. CAW has been a do-it-yourself religion, where we could create the kind of church we wanted to belong to, inspired by the best of the teachings and philosophies of other religions, as well as myths and legends of the past—and the future (in the form of science fiction).

The CAW Tradition embraces several concepts drawn directly from Heinlein’s novel, SISL, as well as others we have assimilated over the years. These include: Immanent Divinity (expressed in the phrase “Thou art God/dess!”); Water Sharing (affirming our kinship with all life, as well as a deep interpersonal bond); Reverence for the Earth and Nature; “Grokking” (a “Martian” term from SISL meaning “drinking”—deep empathy and compassion in which one’s own identity merges with the essence of another); Ritual (and social) Nudity; Polyamory (expanded “families” of multiple lovers and intimate relationships of all kinds); legally-ordained Priestesses as well as Priests; The Wheel of the Year (seasonal cycle of 8 solar festivals); and Inclusiveness.

As for how CAW has changed over the years, it has been cyclic, with periods of expansion and periods of contraction. We have come to think of these as “Phoenix Phases.” The first was while Lance and I were in college and grad school (1962-1967), when it was a “secret society” we called ATL (eventually standing for “Association for the Tree of Life”). The first “Phoenix Resurrection” began in St Louis in 1967, when we came out in public, and really took off once we were incorporated and opened our first temple in 1968. This phase lasted until 1976, when Morning Glory and I pulled up stakes and moved to the West Coast in a refitted school bus to live off-the grid in a Hippie homesteading community where we raised living Unicorns. Others of our Nest soon followed, and in our absence, CAW Central in St Louis fell apart.

CAW’s 3rd Phase—(the “2nd Phoenix Resurrection”) was in California, from 1978-2000, during which CAW really took off worldwide, even incorporating in Australia, and Green Egg became the foremost Pagan journal. That phase too came to an end at the turn of the Millennium, when our Ohio BoD systematically dismantled everything we’d built, excommunicated me, and attempted to dissolve the corporate entity.

During that period, exiled from the Church I’d founded, I concentrated on creating and marketing my sculpture series of altar figurines for Mythic Images (www.MythicImages.com), started writing books, and created the Grey School of Wizardry. And then in 2005, in California, we initiated the 4th Phase (the “3rd Phoenix Incarnation”), where we are completely restructuring the Church from the ground up for the new Millennium. Green Egg is now online at www.GreenEggZine.com, and the new CAW website is being constructed at www.CAW.org.

The Sacred Mission of the Church of All Worlds is to evolve a network of information, mythology and experience to awaken the Divine within and to provide a context and stimulus for re-awakening Gaea and reuniting Her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the evolution of consciousness.

Unlike nearly all other religions CAW is not mired in nostalgia for a Paradise Lost; we are actively engaged in helping to save the present world as well as working to actualize a visionary future.

Q. In 1970, you wrote the ‘The Gaia Thesis’. Could you explain what it was about to our readers? Have your thoughts on what you wrote there changed or developed over time?  

My version of “the Gaea Thesis” (originally titled “TheaGenesis: the Birth of the Goddess”) came out of the most powerful revelatory Vision of my life, on Sept. 6, 1970 (three years before Lovelock published his more famous “Gaia Hypothesis”). In that Vision, I traveled down the river of my DNA through all my ancestors back to the very first fertile cell from which all life on Earth has descended. And then I reversed direction, watching that cell proliferate into the myriad life-forms that spread through the ancient seas and across the barren lands to form a vast living planetary biosophere.

And I realized that this was the very same process of embryology in which every living organism arises initially from a single fertilized cell (a zygote) which divides, multiplies and differentiates into the trillions of diverse cells, tissues and organs that comprise an adult organism such as ourselves—all cells sharing the same protoplasm and DNA, like pouring a pitcher of water into many cups. For no matter how many times a cell divides in the process of embryological development, all of its descendants continue to comprise a single unitary organism. “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny.”

Thus I saw the entire biosphere of Earth as a single vast organism—whom we have always known as Mother Earth. And at that point, in my Vision, as my consciousness floated high above our beautiful blue and green world, She opened Her eyes, looked into mine, and said: “Now you know Me.” And I wept with joy as I replied: “I shall ever serve You.” And I have, ever since.

I think the biggest change in my thoughts on all this in the 41 years since that Vision is that I initially attributed the function of being a cerebral cortex for planetary consciousness to humanity, and thought that the Awakening of Gaea would occur through some kind of universal telepathy.  But ten years later I came to see the whales as the more logical candidates, with their vast brains, their sonar senses and singing. Humans I now view mote as the reproductive system—Gaea’s spores, as it were—whose ultimate purpose will be to seed the cosmos with Her spawn.

Only thing is, over the past 200 years of whaling, we have been performing a lobotomy on Gaea’s brain. Now it seems to me more likely that the Awakening might occur through the medium of the global Internet as we continue to link up more and more efficiently towards direct neural interface in virtual reality. And I think that this prophesied year of 2012 may see the Dawn of that Awakening…

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the Living Unicorn Project and your investigations into the existence of mermaids in Papua New Guinea?  

The Living Unicorn Project came about through Morning Glory’s and my researches into myths and legends—especially those of mythological creatures, which has always been a fascination for both of us. Back in 1975—while we were still in St Louis—we decided to write a book on mythological beasties we would call “Creatures of Night Brought to Light.” So we started researching and collecting everything we could find on various critters into folders.

A year later, while we were teaching at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, I came across some information in the college library on experiments done in the 1930s by Dr. Franklin Dove, a biologist at the University of Maine. Researching horn development, he discovered that if he united the unrooted proto-horn buds in the skin of the forehead of a new-born bull calf, the resultant horn grew straight and perpendicular as a single medial horn. Dove’s work and our other research validated the historical existence of Unicorns as actual animals of various horned species produced by a secret process of animal husbandry which was lost and rediscovered several times over four millennia.

So we found ourselves faced with the question: Should we just write about all this in our book, or should we attempt to replicate Dove’s experiments and produce actual living Unicorns? Well, being the sorts of magickal folks we are, we just had to do it. We moved to the country, built animal facilities, and began searching for the proper stock to replicate the beautiful Unicorns seen on those famous Renaissance tapestries (which we believed depicted actual animals). We found the right stock in long-legged Angora goats, which we bred. And at Spring Equinox of 1980, our first Baby Unicorn was born! We named him Lancelot. The process worked perfectly, and a single horn soon sprouted from the center of his forehead. And the rest is Mystery!

The next few years were insane for us, as we travelled all over North America touring Renaissance Festivals with the famous “Living Unicorns” (for soon we had several more). It was during that period that I first adopted the robes, staff, and persona of a Wizard. Eventually we leased the exhibition rights for four years to the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus, who took them worldwide, and this contract bankrolled our next adventure: the search for Mermaids in the Coral Seas!

The great Mermaid Expedition was in March of 1985. We recruited a bunch of CAW folks, became certified SCUBA divers, hired a dive boat and a professional underwater film crew, and set off for New Ireland—an island just northeast of New Guinea—where ethnologists had reported seeing unknown sea mammals that natives called pishmeri (“fish-women”), describing them exactly as Mermaids, with woman-like breasts and fish-like tails.

That was quite an adventure, which culminated with the killing of one of these gentle creatures by someone on a Japanese tugboat that was there to collect a raft of logs cut from the island’s forest. I examined the corpse, performed an autopsy (she had been shot), took the head for further study, and determined that the creature was an endangered Indo-Pacific Dugong. With prominent humanlike breasts and a lovely whale-like fluked tail, it was clear that this animals was the real-life basis for legends of Mermaids. But it was a tragic ending to the adventure.

And we eventually did write the book whose idea started it all: A Wizard’s Bestiary (New Page, 2006). All these stories (and many more) are told therein!

Q. Why did you decide to launch the Grey School of Wizardry? How did you decide what to teach there?  

I have always been interested in teaching and education. At the same time that Stranger in a Strange Land came out, a new comic book premiered called The Amazing X-Men. The core setting was “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters,” which appealed immensely to Lance and me, who had always thought of ourselves as some kind of mutants anyway. It was very much a toss-up for us whether to found a church or a school; but we ultimately decided that the need for a new religion was more immanent, so we poured our energies into creating the Church of All Worlds and put the idea of a school on the back-burner to percolate.

I minored in Education in college, studying experimental new systems of education such as Summerhill, Walden II, Waldorf Schools, and Montessori (my first wife became one of the first Montessori teachers in America). After Grad School in Psychology, I enrolled in Harris Teacher’s College, where I earned a Teacher’s Certificate. I then proceeded to teach public school for a few years, eventually expanding my teaching experience to include pre-school, high school, and college—as both a teacher and a school counselor.

As the Pagan community grew, I became concerned over the lack of available training for our kids. Most groups were Wiccan or otherwise derived from the model of magickal lodges like the Masons and Golden Dawn, and really had no place for kids in their secretive adults-only practices. But the Church of All Worlds was different, based on a tribal village model, and had always included the whole family. So I worked to create kids’ programming for Pagan festivals, a kid’s supplement to Green Egg, and other kids’ activities and training in CAW.

And then came Harry Potter, and I realized that the world might finally be ready for a real-life school of magick and Wizardry. At the same time, I received a commission from New Page books to write a “Boy Scout Handbook” of real magick and Wizardry for the “Harry Potter Generation.” Gathering together a couple dozen mages, sages, teachers, elders and wise ones I’d come to know through decades of publishing Green Egg, I formed the Grey Council, which became an advisory council in the creation of my first book: Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard (New Page, 2004). Our assignment was to create the manual of magick we wished we could have had when we first set out on this Path.

In the process of writing the Grimoire, I intended to refer my (presumably young) readers to online schools where they could continue such studies. But I soon discovered there weren’t any open to youths, and none that weren’t specifically religious. Wizardry, however, is not a religion, but a secular calling, like science or philosophy, and I had no wish to use this work to proselytize or recruit readers into any religion—including my own. Therefore it became apparent that I would have to create my own school for which the Grimoire would be a foundational textbook—just as I’d created my own church 40 years earlier.

And so I did. I started talking this idea up around the magickal community, and soon I had a brilliant website designer and several teachers on-board. I designed the school along the same lines as the Grimoire, with seven grade levels and 16 color-coded Departments for the various types of magicks and studies—all at an apprentice level (graduates would be certified “Journeyman Wizards”). I wrote all the initial classes, assignments, and exams for each Department, did all the artwork for House/Lodge crests and Department logos, designed the Penkhaduce logo symbol (created initially for the Grimoire), and conceptualized pretty much every detail, including student and faculty application forms and transcripts.

And on August 1, 2004, the Grey School of Wizardry opened its virtual doors to a rush of eager new students of all ages. Now, more than seven years later, we have 30 teachers, 900 students in 40 countries, and several graduates to Journeyman status. I am very proud of the Grey School!

The motto of the Grey School is Omnia vivunt; Omnia inter se conexa (“Everything is alive; everything is interconnected”)

Q. As a result of your work at the Grey School of Wizardry, you have been called ‘the real Albus Dumbledore’; how do you feel about that? Would you say that there are many similarities? Do you think that you make a good teacher?  

This is, of course, amusing. I’d always thought I would like to be the real-life Charles Xavier (only without the wheelchair). But I find Rowling’s Dumbledore to be an admirable character, and his aphorisms and wisdom correspond with my own views, so I’m certainly honored by the comparison. After all, Wizards of history and legend have often been teachers and mentors of young heroes and kings, pretty much as modern professors. And I am the Headmaster of a real-life School of Wizardry!

However, this inevitable comparison does have its downside, as it leads many to assume that the Grey School is just a “Harry Potter” spinoff, ripoff, or wannabe, which it certainly isn’t! We are concerned that people hearing that comparison might not take the School seriously.

As to whether I make a good teacher, I think that would have to be up to my students and apprentices to say. Certainly they seem to be very happy with the Grey School! But regrettably, my considerable administrative duties and my writing (numerous more books since the Grimoire…) have pretty much pre-empted my availability to actually teach directly any more.

Oberon is a transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. Visit his site http://www.oberonzell.com/ for more information on him and his many projects.

An Interview With Jodine Turner

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about your path; how did you first come to it and how has it changed over time?

I began studying the Western Mystery Tradition in 1992 with a Scottish/Welsh teacher named R.J. Stewart. It included priestess training, Tree of Life teachings, Sacro-magical work, and inner visionary working, among other things. It is a tradition that is land based spirituality and often with Celtic influence but not exclusively by any means. I felt like I had come home to something very familiar. My interests and training further down the road included Sacred Union of the divine masculine and feminine, especially as embodied in the archetypes from esoteric and mystical Christianity of Mary Magdalene and Jeshua. When I began to write novels about the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea, who is to me, the evolutionary force of embodied love, I knew I would one day find a path that would provide the practical instructions in exactly how to embody love. I found that path through the spiritual system called Adorata, founded by a modern mystic, the Italian born Tiziana DeRovere. Adorata is the path of embodying love and uniting the feminine and masculine within. So I have retained my consecration as a priestess in the Western Mystery Tradition, I still practice that, and I have also expanded into Adorata. I am a certified teacher and spiritual coach in this path and have entered the initiation to ordination.

Q. Are there any deities which you have a particular affinity for and if so why do you think that is?

The Goddess of the Stars and the Sea, who I write about in my novels. She is an ancient Goddess and She emerges from the energies of the direction West, that of the stars and the sea, cycles and tides, and the power of Love. I didn’t particularly think of Her as ‘Mary’ initially, but Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) is Her foundational name which gives rise to such deities as Isis and Mother Mary. I am also drawn to the Dark Goddess of death and rebirth, of the direction North, as well as the Black Madonna. Probably stems from my Scorpio nature, as I am comfortable in the depths of the psyche, the depths of mystery and mysticism, and of the archetype of rebirth.

Q. What kind of influence does your path have on your day to day life? Are your practices very closely integrated into the rest of your lifestyle or do they stand outside of the everyday as something sacred?

When I first began with the Western Mystery Tradition, learning and functioning as a priestess was something I did outside of normal daily life. But it was so core to who I am, and the practices so achingly familiar, that over time I became what I practiced – a priestess – versus merely doing workings or rituals. That is not to say I don’t participate in ritual or ceremony or prayer. I do. But I also find my daily life to be an initiatory journey, a Mystery School of sorts, where my spirituality is blended into my living.

In Adorata, my path is totally a part of daily life – living each moment with awareness of the love inherent, and of the interplay of my masculine and feminine, is second nature to me now.

Q. Has there been a moment or an event which has been especially significant to your path?

I would definitely say when I went to Chalice Well, the holy well in Glastonbury (Avalon) England. I had several surprising and spontaneous visions while seated beside the well. A sort of spiritual emergency, or spiritual deepening. From that I came to know the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea who deeply inspired my writing and my life. I felt a kinship and affinity for Glastonbury that I have not felt on any other place. Most of my novels take place there. I had the opportunity to move there for 13 months. I met and married my husband there also.

Q. How does your path inspire or affect your writing? Do you think that you would still be a writer if your beliefs were different?

My goal is to embed my stories with meditations, techniques, and sacro-magical workings so that those who are interested may find them. I try to provide a transmission of energies, and a direct initiatory experience for readers to undergo as the characters undergo them. I hope to help others learn how to embody love through the stories I write.

Q. Do you have any advice for other aspiring pagan writers? If you could have given yourself one piece of advice when you started out, what would it be?

Stay true to yourself and the people you want to write for.

Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call Book One

My novel has won four awards, the most recent being an award winning finalist in USA Books ‘Best Books 2011’ New Age fiction.

Humanity is in the midst of the greatest crisis in their evolution. Sharay is the one chosen to show the way forward and  help humankind move through the fear and dark times of today’s world. Born into a lineage of priestesses in modern day Glastonbury, England, Sharay’s way is blocked by her jealous Aunt Phoebe, who uses black magic against her to steal her fortune and magical power. When Phoebe commits Sharay to a psychiatric ward and accuses her of murder, Sharay struggles with the temptation to fight Phoebe’s vengeance with her own. Through the ancient Celtic ceremony of Beltaine, Sharay experiences profound sacred union with the Welshman Guethyn, who shows her how to open her heart. But Sharay must learn to transform her hatred for her aunt in order to claim the mystery held deep within her cells that will allow her to fulfill her destiny and prove that the ultimate magic is the power of love.

Book trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G3Jst5VHQo

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Flame-Destinys-Jodine-Turner/dp/1934606294/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323468296&sr=1-1

Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic Book Two

Born into a lineage of priestesses in modern day Glastonbury, England, Sharay is chosen by the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea to help humankind move through the fear and chaos of today’s world. To do so, she has to face her grief, loss, and her own dark side. Her way is blocked by her jealous Aunt Phoebe, who uses black magic against Sharay to steal her fortune and her magical powers. When Phoebe accuses her of insanity and murder, it’s the elder, eccentric wizard Dillon who sets Sharay on the Celtic ‘Imram,’ a quest designed to awaken her magical abilities as a priestess. And it’s Dillon’s grandson Guethyn who shows Sharay how to open her heart in the Beltaine Ritual, the ancient Celtic ceremony of sacred union.   Hunted by the police, stalked by a demonic Tracker conjured by her aunt, and torn from everyone she loves, Sharay struggles with the temptation to fight Phoebe’s dark powers with her own. She must transform her fear and hatred for her aunt in order to uncover the mystery held deep within her cells that will allow her to fulfill her destiny – a secret only she can discover. When separated from Guethyn’s protection, Sharay continues on her Imram alone, in this spellbinding conclusion to Carry on the Flame.

Book trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLIj1AqHCgA

Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934606332/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=radicaltransf-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=193460633

Jodine Turner is an author of Young Adult/Adult magical realism, visionary fiction, and fantasy. She is also an Adorata Practitioner in the spiritual path of embodying divine love and balancing the feminine and masculine within; as well as a therapist, consecrated priestess, and deacon in the Gnostic Church of Mary Magdalene.

Jodine has made several trips to England, Scotland, and Ireland, where she visited and researched many of the ancient sacred sites. She then fulfilled a dream by moving to the UK. While living in Glastonbury, England, the legendary Isle of Avalon, Jodine met and married her husband. She published Journey Through the Mists of Avalon, a book of shamanic visions and poetry. Upon her return to the US, she began writing the Goddess of the Stars and the Sea series about priestesses who have lived in Glastonbury down through the ages to today.

The novels carry keys to embodying love, and are an adventure filled initiatory journey into the Mysteries of the Goddess. Each novel is a standalone read and magical practices are embedded in the story. First in Jodine’s series is the highly acclaimed The Awakening: Rebirth of Atlantis, followed by the award-winning The Keys to Remember. The third in the series, Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call Book One, is an Award-Winning Finalist in the USA ‘Best Books 2011’ Awards. Carry on the Flame continues in Book Two Ultimate Magic.

Jodine presently lives in Oregon with her beloved husband Chris and their three magical cats who go by the codenames of Mojo, Minnie, and Pumpkin.


Website  http://www.jodineturner.com

Blog  http://.www.visionaryfiction.blogspot.com

Twitter   http://www.twitter.com/JodineTurner

Facebook Author page    http://www.facebook.com/JodineTurner.Author

Amazon.com Author page  http://www.amazon.com/author/jodineturner         

Goodreads    http://bit.ly/k1PPbJ

An Interview With Alaric Albertsson

Q:   How did you first become interested in the Anglo-Saxon tradition? What was your first experience of the tradition?

I think it is important to emphasize that there are different ways to approach Anglo-Saxon Paganism.  Each way draws its inspiration from early Anglo-Saxon culture, but they are all reconstructions and vary considerably.

When I was first introduced to Anglo-Saxon gods, I did not even know they were Anglo-Saxon.  At that point in my life, my exposure to non-Christian religion had been limited to the Classical mythology I had studied in high school.  This was back in 1970-1971, before the word “Pagan” had been widely adopted.  The Pagans I initially met did not use that term.  They called themselves witches, and referred to their deities as the “witch gods”.  It wasn’t until several years later, after Weiser Books released Ray Buckland’s The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft, that I learned most of these “witch gods” were in fact Anglo-Saxon deities.

Those witches were deeply focused on magic, but it was a folk magic that I (now) think was cobbled together from many different sources.  We used ordinary playing cards for both divination and spell casting.  There was a sort of initiation, but spirituality was little more than an afterthought.  I don’t remember much devotional practice.

In 1972, I moved across the state.  After that it seemed that most Pagan people I met were Wiccan.  I was soon initiated into a Wiccan tradition but, as I said, in the mid-1970’s I learned that the “witch gods” I had been introduced to were Anglo-Saxon, so I began to study pre-Christian English culture and religion.

Q:     In what ways is the Anglo-Saxon tradition different from other forms of ‘heathenry’?

The pantheons are slightly different from one Germanic culture to the next.  The Anglo-Saxons do not appear to have acknowledged Loki, but they have a goddess of spring and beginnings (Eostre) who was unknown to the Scandinavians.  The Wanic deities (like Freyr and Freya) were known to the Anglo-Saxons, but were not widely worshipped.  The gods and goddesses are perceived differently, too, but I think these perceptions are largely the product of time rather than place.  Norse and Icelandic lore reflects a later period in history when the men of the north were the last people remaining true to the old gods of Europe.  Thus the Norse god Odin is perceived as a warrior-king with only a passing resemblance to the Anglo-Saxons’ Woden, even though it is the same deity.

Tribalism is an important aspect of Anglo-Saxon Paganism.  I think this is a significant difference between Saxon practice and that of other forms of Heathenry, such as the Icelandic practice of Ásatrú.  The Ásatrúar have their kindreds, but this social organization is more optional for them.  The inhíred (household) is very important to the Saxon.  A solitary Saxon is rather like a motherless child, wandering alone, without the support of his or her kinsmen.  This Saxon emphasis on tribal community is the legacy of a culture that developed around the firelight of the communal meadhall.

Q:     Are there any deities which are particularly important to you and if so why?

Ing Fréa, the Lord of the Elves and god of growing things, has watched over me for most of my adult life.  As for why, you would have to ask him.  I would like to think that he has seen something within me worth nurturing.  In recent years, at Ing’s insistence, I have developed a closer relationship with Woden.  Again I would not presume to say why, but I have a suspicion that Ing wanted me to connect more with Woden for guidance in my writing.

Q:     How have your practices developed or changed since you first started out?

I have been Pagan for more than forty years, so my practices have changed quite a bit.  Initially I was introduced to a form of polytheistic witchcraft that focused almost exclusively on magic.  Later I became involved with Wicca, so there was a lot of circle casting, calling quarters and similar things that I have since discarded.  In some ways I have returned to the simpler Paganism that I originally embraced in 1971, but with more emphasis on spirituality.

In my home we have two altars; a general household altar, and an altar specifically honoring our ancestors.  I pray to my gods and my ancestors every day, but there is no complex ritual involved in this, I just stand before the altar and speak with them.  Earendel meets once each lunar month to honor a god or goddess with a húsel (a simple ritual of offering or sacrifice).  I am a member of the Neo-Pagan organization Ár nDraíocht Féin and, as an extension of my spiritual work, I have recently organized an ADF protogrove in an attempt to foster more spiritual community in the region around my home.

As for magic, I work primarily with runes, galdor and herbs (including essential oils).  Of course I use the 29 runes described in the Old English Rune Poem!

Q:     In 2003, you co-founded the Saxon inhired Earendel; could you explain what that is and why you decided to do so?

Inhíred is an Old English word meaning “family” or “household”.  The inhíred can be what most non-Pagans think of as a family – with Mom, Pop and the kids – but it is more likely to include other people who are united by an exchange of oaths.  Many contemporary Pagan groups (such as covens) serve a similar function, but the tribe is particularly important to Saxon Pagans.

Scott and I founded Earendel after being released from our obligation to our former household.  We had moved nine hundred miles, so we obviously could not practice with the folk we had left behind.

Q:     Where would you suggest any of our readers who are interested in the Anglo-Saxon path go for more information?

Without meaning to sound immodest, I would first recommend my own book, Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan.  I wrote the book specifically for people who are new to Pagan practice.  I think any Pagan person will find something of value in its pages, but of course it is a particularly valuable resource for Saxon Pagans.  I also recommend Bates’ The Real Middle Earth and Branston’s The Lost Gods of England.

There is a Yahoo website, saxonpagans@yahoogroups.com, for people who are interested in exploring Saxon traditions.

Q:     If you could give yourself as you where when you started out one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would tell myself to invest heavily in computer technology!  Seriously, I think I would tell myself to look closely at an author’s or speaker’s sources.  I used to accept a lot of nonsense as factual information just because it never occurred to me that people would make things up and pass them off as facts.  Now I’m much more discerning, and I know enough that I can usually separate the wheat from the chaff without much difficulty.  But new Pagans, trusting authors and speakers to be honest, are often misinformed, and I was victimized as much as anyone.

Q. Is magick an inherent or necessary part of the Anglo-Saxon tradition which you follow?

Magic is not necessary to follow the old ways. I try to emphasize this in my books. The Anglo-Saxons believed in magic, but it is not something that everybody practiced. In pre-Christian England, magic was the province of the Saxon druids (drýmenn) and witches (wiccan). The same is true today; there are many Saxon Pagans who have never studied magic and who never cast spells.

I mean real magic, of course. There is a difference between magic and prayer, although an accomplished drý or wicce will often use both magic and prayer simultaneously. Real magic is a skill like any other, and its place in a Saxon inhíred is the same as that of other skills. It is nice if somebody in your group can work magic, but it is not necessary for everyone to do this. An inhíred (or coven, kindred or demos) will be stronger if its members exhibit a variety of skills. In Earendel, for example, we have more meduwyrhtan (mead-brewers) than drýmenn!

As for myself, I love magic. I wrote Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer because I enjoy working with runes and herbs, and I wanted to share these skills with others. But Pagans who do not have an interest in magic or a talent for it should not feel that they are missing out on anything essential. There are many ways to serve the old gods.

Alaric embraced polytheism in the summer of 1971, and has never looked back! Over the past four decades his personal spiritual practice has developed as a synthesis of Anglo-Saxon tradition, country beliefs, herbal studies and rune lore. Visit http://www.alaricalbertsson.com/ to find out more.

An Interview With Belle Dimonte

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your path and how you arrived at it? How has your path changed over time?

Well, Paganism was something that I always practiced, every since I was a little tot, but I just didn’t know that’s what it was called. I just did my own thing, enjoying Nature and stars and listening to the world around me, looking for inspiration in it. But then I had a formal introduction to Paganism. About 2 years ago, when I was fourteen, I decided I wanted to write fantasy novels after reading Le Guin’s Earthsea series, and I knew that there were people to practiced magick and so I wanted to read their books so I could understand how to talk about magick more correctly in my stories. Mostly I wanted to glean magicky vocabulary from the books (casting spells, casting a circle, summoning, et cetera). I think the first book I got was just a basic one on Wicca. As I began reading…I was amazed. This was me. This was everything that I had been doing. These were my beliefs. And there were actually lots of others who were doing it. It was a wonderful feeling. I read every single book on Wicca/Paganism/Magick that all my nearby libraries had, and now I’ve been meeting lots of people who are like me. There’s huge communities of Pagans out there, and I’d never known until then.

Q: In what ways do you currently practice?      

Right now I would define myself loosely as a Nature Pagan with affinity for the Romano-Celtic pantheon. That definition is always changing. I mainly look into Nature and worship it, and the Deities and spirits I perceive within it, directly. My way of being spiritual is trying to be aware of what’s around me, and aware of Nature. I like to feel connected to the heartbeat that runs under the ground. If I can smell the air and correctly predict a coming storm, I feel that I am one step closer to spiritual bliss/peace because I am getting better and better at melding myself with Nature.

When I first began “getting serious” about my faith I followed Wicca closely, but over time I’ve drifted away from Wicca and instead have focused more on revering and enjoying Nature. I used to be uptight about spells and sabbats and performing rituals properly, but now I notice some sabbats come and I don’t even do anything except light one candle and watch the sky. I find that taking a walk in the light of dawn and observing the frost on the edges of leaves is a much more spiritual experience than performing a set ritual.

The moon is important to me; I follow her through the night sky every month and try to match my sleep schedule to her cycle so I can see her each night: id est, staying up later and later while she’s waxing to see her rise and waking up earlier when she’s waning to glimpse her at dawn. I also light a lot of candles. I like to write by candlelight because it feels more cosy—like the Spirits are hugging closer to you and are more involved with you. I’m also into herbalism and gardening; I experiment with brewing tea and growing different types of plants, and I have fun with that.

Q:  Are there any deities which are especially important to you and if so why? How did you first come across them?      

Since I follow the Romano-Celtic pantheon, my favourites are a mixing of the two branches…       Diana is my favourite, and I came to Her through my intense interest in and love for Roman history, Roman religion, and anything and everything to do with Romans. (I’m the only teen I know who says they want to be a Classics Professor when they’re adults.) I feel very close to Her because She’s the goddess of the moon, and the moon is always a powerful influence in my life. Throughout the month I’m very much aware of Her place in the sky, Her phases. I love the three days that the moon is nearly full/full/a little less than full because it’s then that Her presence is strongest. I’m actually working on a poetry collection devoted to Her right now.

Aside from Diana, I worship Cernunnos and Cerridwen, and I came to Them through my interest in Britain and British history. I feel the powers/presences of Them running through the grass and around the trees; and I try to walk with Them, in Their step, following what They’re showing me. I do engage with Them in more ritualistic fashion than I do Diana; for example when I light candles or bless a meal I always invoke Cernunnos and Cerridwen. I feel quite close to Cerridwen, especially on dark nights when Diana’s gone; Cernunnos is to me more of a mysterious figure but I enjoy feeling Him in a bright summer wind or among the leaves of a sun-roasted aspen.

I also adore faeries. I seek them in forgotten groves, flower patches, and old creaky houses. I’ve never seen one yet, but eventually I hope to. Anything with a faerie on it will interest me. I’m especially drawn to Britain’s strong faerie traditions/connections; eventually I’d like to seek faeries there for myself (I live in North America.) I know part of finding faeries is letting them come to you, so I keep my house and myself presentable (neat) in case little winged visitors ever want to come. I always leave a small cup of milk and honey outside my doorstep for them, just so they’ll know they’re welcome here. And of course I try to keep my garden a tidy place for faeries to play in!

Q:  How do your path and your beliefs affect your day to day life? Do they influence your writing, and if so how?

Day-to-day, my faith affects how I look at things. Since Nature is my main focus, I try to be very aware of and sensitive to what’s going on in the Natural world around me. I try to appreciate and notice the “little things”, like frost on flowers, or a bit of pink in a sunrise, or the shades of blue in stars. I also focus on being open to the universe’s “flow”, when I think the Gods might be trying to tell me something or show me a way that is *not* what I was expecting but might be something better…They just did that for me recently; They steered me down a path that was completely opposite from what I’d intended, but I think this path will turn out to be better than the one I’d originally thought was right.

My faith enters my writing heavily because I write mostly fantasy (my two novels are still unpublished, however) and fantasy features witches, wizards, magic(k), wyverns, faeries, and lots of other things that often turn up in Pagan literature, so I draw upon my own personal spiritual experiences for the experiences of the characters. Nota bene, however, I think my fantasy is *not* offensive to Pagans through its depiction of magicians and their Craft because I *am* a Pagan, and I wouldn’t write something that’s stereotypical and offensive in its depiction.

Writing is a spiritual experience for me. I can only write when I feel motivated intellectually, spiritually; in all aspects. I rely very heavily upon Nature for my inspiration both in a literary and spiritual sense. Cold, wintry, mountainous weather makes me feel incredibly spiritually alive and aware, so that’s when I can write what I consider to be good fiction. I get completely stopped up by writer’s block in summer.

Q: How did you first come across paganism and pagan beliefs? Does paganism ‘run in the family’?      

Haha, I’m the only Pagan around here! The first of my kind and hopefully not the last. My family doesn’t practice Paganism but they’re very accepting and welcoming of my different beliefs, so that’s nice. I intend to teach my children—if I have them—the art of herbalism and gardening, watching the sky for hints of storms, paying attention to the Natural world around them, et cetera, but they don’t have to continue it. I’ll just share it and let those who’re interested partake.

Q: Do you have any advice for other aspiring pagan writers?      

Oh, goodness…usually I tell people not to take writing advice because nobody knows anything, but we can talk about general advice surrounding writing and not actually advice on how to write. My general advice would be:

·         To be a writer, you actually have to write. When you get a plot idea/character sketch/story idea, *write it down*. Don’t schmooze around in coffee-shops pondering *what* to write. Just *write.*

·        Because you’re Pagan, utilise that. There are lots of magazines specially for Pagans or that concern Pagan topics. Send work to as many of these as possible to establish yourself in your community. The Pagan literary community is generally friendly and helpful—I’ve made many connections through publications in such magazines.

·         Read other people’s stuff. Yeah, seems boring, I know, but you get good ideas to work with. (Note that I didn’t say to steal other people’s ideas! Just use them as inspiration. Or fodder.)

·         If you don’t feel like writing, don’t force it out. (I think telling writers to keep writing even when they don’t feel like it is like telling someone with the flu to run a triathlon.) Take a break, go for a walk, and seek inspiration elsewhere until you feel like working again.

·         Buy a very good dictionary/thesaurus and keep them right beside you at all times. You will need them. They also make good surfaces for parking teacups and convert into weapons should burglars break in.

·         Analyse a book that you really like. How does the writer convey the characters’ emotions? How does the plot develop? What style is the writer using? Is he/she employing any literary tricks/technique to achieve a desired effect? You can apply your discoveries to your own works.

·         Never, ever give up. Ever. Just because one editor rejects you doesn’t mean the whole world is crashing down. Look outside. Sky’s still standing? Yep? Okay, send your work to someone else.

For those further interested in my ramblings, I wrote an article on writing advice and put it up on my website here:  http://belleofmountains.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/a-not-at-all-serious-discussion-of-writing/

Q. Do you think that the act of writing could, in itself be used in a magickal or ritual way? If so, is this something you have ever experimented with?

I *do* indeed think writing itself and the act of writing have value in magickal practice, because to write, you pull out of the air and out of imagination something that has the power to move, motivate, to inspire, to make people cry, laugh, sing, affect them inside, in spirit. You string words that are alone meaningless into something that has meaning and that takes on a life outside of you, and this work acts upon the universe independently once you’ve let it go, and you infuse your intent into your writing and send a part of your spirit out into the world with it, sort of like a spell in itself. People say they’re “spellbound” by a great story; well, perhaps they really were! Writing has Power in it that many might not realise—good stories will haunt you, or inspire you, or follow you for years, if the writer really knows their Craft. Pun intended and unintended.

In the past I have combined rituals with writing, back when I still did rituals. After lighting candles and summoning the Elements/Gods for the evening I would sit and write by candlelight with a quill-pen, and it seemed what I wrote then was more fluid and lucid than anything else I’d written before or have since. As I mentioned I don’t do rituals much anymore, but I still light candles and write by candlelight (I like to invoke my divinities silently). Still, Nature is the best place for writing. It seems writing energy and inspiration is more easy to access when you’re away from the city and the distractions of modern life—no cell phone, no computer, there’s nothing to do but write!

Q. To what extent, if at all, do you think that writers in modern times have taken on the roles which oral storytellers and bards would once have had? Do you think that the two are comparable? (Perhaps television has now taken over that role…)

I think that the roles of writer and bard have always been intertwined and still are today, though now, you’re right, TV’s mostly taken over for the classic wandering troubadour. But TV aside, I think  writers have always been bards and oral storytellers and vice versa, just now writers know how to actually *write down their words* so that gives their title of “Writer” more weight than that of Bard. Many ancient troubadours and bards were illiterate but were still “writers” in a conceptual sense because they *were* composing stories, lyrics, and verses. Look at Guillaume de Machaut from the 14th century. He was very much a writer/poet *and* a bard at the same time because he set his poetry to music and performed it for the courts.

A modern writer is still very much a bard—everywhere you can find CDs and tapes of writers reading their own work, so we’re in effect still singing our stories (I sing of wars and a man…) huddled around a digital fire.

Q. Is there a piece of writing you’re especially proud of? Could you tell us a little bit about it and why it makes you proud?

Of my own writing? Well, I’ve recently had published a modest poetry chapbook titled Res Primae, which is available directly from my publisher The Moon Publishing & Printing. http://moonpublishprint.com/catalog/index.php?route=product/product&filter_name=res primae&product_id=114 It’s a collection of my first poetry, and I’m proud to be able to say that I’m 16 and I’ve had a chapbook published; I don’t know many others who’ve done that. I know of one other teen poet who had a chapbook published but even then he was older than I am. Plus, putting the chapbook together was fun; the editor and I have a good rapport because I write a monthly article on Nature spirituality/speculative topics for her magazine The Moon, so I was able to get pretty involved in the publication process. The cover photograph I took myself, and each chapbook is handbound by my editor for a personal touch. Recently someone asked me to autograph a copy for them—that was especially exciting!

You can find more from Belle at http://belleofmountains.wordpress.com/ 

An Interview With Flash Silvermoon

Drumming With Flash Silvermoon

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about about your path and how it has developed? What advice would you give to yourself as you were when you started out if you could talk to yourself then?

The best way that I can accurately describe  my path today as I know it is to call it The Rainbow Goddess Path.

Walking a Rainbow Goddess Path:

For me, there is nothing more important than my spiritual path which I am knowing and understanding more each day. I have walked this path for many many moons calling myself or being called a Witch, Shaman, Healer, Pagan, Goddess worshipper working with  Dianic Wicca,Yoruba, Native American, Feng Sui, Tantric paths and others. I finally recognize and have words for this path that I walk now and it is a Rainbow Goddess Path where we honor diversity with many traditions, not to water any down, but to embrace each unique part and hold Sacred that which resonates. This does not  include the appropriation of another’s culture and passing it off as your own.  For me this is a decidedly Womanspirit path yet one that goes beyond the Western European and Celtic styles that have been the mainstay of my Dianic Wiccan circles for some 20 years.

You might think that after working for 25+ years on the Wise Woman’s Tarot, which is among other things, a Global View of the Goddess, creating Womanspirit Rising 1990, which was the first Multi-traditional Women’s Spirituality Gathering in the South at least, or surely the creation of the Annual Wise Woman Festival which is in its 8th year should  have suggested that my spirituality had gone Global, had become larger than one tradition and that this was done by me with intention or moved through me by the Goddess.

Circle From The Wise Womans Festival

It is not unusual for my intellect to play catch up with my intuition. I essentially follow my inner guidance and do what appears to be my mission and then understand it intellectually later which is the opposite of how Western and mainstream folk go about their lives.  Being a double Pisces,I am content to swim through the cosmic waters in my own unique style and I rarely feel the need to define myself too tightly.

At this point though, it feels so important to not only claim this Rainbow Goddess Path that I walk and have also defined, but to embrace it so that I may experience it more fully and share with others of a like mind as well.  I have so enjoyed getting to know other Priestesses and Priests, Shamans, and Medicine Women whose spirituality, like mine, is as much a part of them as their own skin. It is refreshing for me to meet with others who coexist with me on the Mother who see the world through a similar and heartful lens.

Flash's Band - The Blues Sisters

As both a Dianic Witch and one who walks a Rainbow Goddess Path, our ways are more tribal and inclusive and do not bow to the traditions and expectations of the corporate world. We approach the world with a vision and a deep dream of peace and harmony as well as a desire for us each to become a progressive flash point for positive change, justice and healing.  Leadership is important yet we need to move away from the more hierarchical ways of most traditions and seek to empower the individuals which ultimately co creates a more powerful circle.

There’s no getting away from the fact that some of us , like myself have worked our entire lives serving as Priestesses and teachers and we just plain know more, however, that doesn’t mean we should hold onto that position for dear life and not teach others to one day be able to step up as well. As a matter of fact, if we do not, our magic and wisdom will die with us!

We Elders do deserve our space, honor and respect and we need to be conscious of our responsibility to help create the New World being birthed as the Blue Star whirls and swirls pitching us to and fro in this Cauldron of seeming Chaos.  It is no longer possible to”not know” where we are to place our energies. Ignorance is not bliss and we each need to find that magical space where we can be most in touch with the inner and outer Goddess as well as our personal Mission Plan.

If I could speak to little Flash when she was just a Flicker, I would affirm to her that she is wise and a very unique individual who knows how to follow her gut and that it will never fail her. I would tell her that as she does this, she will always know the right direction and that one day she will inspire and teach many women and some men how to honor the Mother and themselves.

Q. Has there been any one event or experience which has been especially important to the development of your path?

I had begun experiencing my spirituality as a teenager, opening to reading Tarot Cards, having out of body experiences and experimenting with psychometry, object reading. I had studied  the writings of Edgar Cayce, who shares my birth date, and many other metaphysical volumes but the one thing that dumped me head first into the deep end of the psychic pool was my connection with the spirit of Janis Joplin shortly after her death in Oct 1970!

I hesitate to share that fact because when you include a famous person, folks tend not to believe you but this is the Goddess honest truth. You can read the entire story in my new E book Janis Joplin and Me, 40 Years of Music and Magic  I finally felt like I could write this all down last year on the 40th Anniversary of her death. You can get it through my website http://www.flashsilvermoon.com and judge for yourself. Having a powerful spirit such as hers communicating with you on a daily basis will get anybody jump started I will tell you that. When I was a Witchlet of 20, I wondered, “Why me?”, but as a 61 year old Crone, I have come to understand exactly  why she came to me, and then it was time to tell the story.

As I became a feminist  in my early twenties and then a lesbian, Positive Magic and Witchcraft felt like just the thing for me. Marion Weinstein who wrote the book of that name was an early influence on WBAI radio in NYC. When Z Budapest came to town in 1975 bringing the first Dianic Wiccan Circle to New York, I felt like my sexual, political and spiritual world came together as we connected at Kay Gardner’s house at first as a part of the Susan B Anthony Coven and then as the new Amelia Earhart Coven. Days later I moved to North Central Florida and started the Elizabeth Gould Davis Coven which is still in existence here at my Sanctuary of Moonhaven in Melrose.  Z and I are still sisters all these many years later.

Meeting and working with Z Budapest was a life changing experience. She gave me a format for the spiritual path that I was seeking with Dianic Wicca and she is a most charismatic Priestess. The Women’s Spirituality Movement at large owes a huge debt of gratitude to Z for her work as an organizer,Priestess and author.

Q. You have been called a ‘Spiritual Renaissance Woman’; what do you think this means and do you think the term applies to you?

Yes, when I look at my website and work at balancing the projects in my life, I see the many worlds that I inhabit, I can definitely see myself in that light! I am a Priestess, psychic, astrologer, stone healer, animal communicator and vibrational healer [which encompasses crystals, gem elixirs,flower essences, starlight elixirs, aroma therapy, Reiki, grid keeping and making, weather work, and sound healing]. I work with Feng Sui and other methods to clear and effect change in homes. I teach, am a published author, radio personality both guest and host of my own weekly talk show every Wed 8:30-9 Pm EST called “What the Animals Tell Me” http://www.internetvoicesradio.com LIVE on Wed and Archives anytime, anywhere too this is a station with Global Reach. This is one of the ways that I am able to help the beloved animals. I also volunteer as an Animal Communicator and Healer at Junglefriends Primate Sanctuary and EARS Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary which is mostly Big Cats whom I adore and some bears and others too. Soon I hope to work with the Elephants at a local Sanctuary and more horses too.

Lastly, and originally firstly, I am a musician and perform and record. I have 2 CD’s available of rock, blues, worldbeat, funk and jazz. I have  been performing since I was  13 in the folk clubs o NYC and then rock venues all over the country. More about that later

Q. To what extent does your path inspire your music? Does your music affect your path and if so in what ways?

Well, I am a very spontaneous person even though I can be very organized when it comes to recording and somewhat in performing and my spirituality feels that way as well. I don’t like a lot of rules and boundaries so I really enjoy playing and writing all kinds of music. I can perform spontaneous Space Music at the drop of a hat to wrap around one of my guided visualizations and draw people into the outer realms for healing and relaxation or play this same type of music and shape shift with the dolphins and whales and guide them away from the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I had Full Moon music Circles to do that for about a year. The animals really love this stuff too.

After an afternoon of teaching classes at the Wise Woman’s Festival or for some rally for Gay Pride or other Human Rights causes, I will gather up my Blues Sisters and we will tear up the place rockin’ and jamming til midnight and beyond with hi-energy rock, blues,world, funk and jazz so that we can all kick it hard and dance like dervishes to shake off the funk that can gather on us!

Because I am a Priestess and another Blues Sister Omi Aladora Ajamu are both longtime Priestesses of our own cultures, the music we create  is absolutely elevating and engages all 7 chakras. The other regular Blues Sisters such as Pandora, Denise and Alycin are all very spiritual women as well so we can all appreciate the energetic and healing magic of music.

I like to write music that is uplifting even if I have to share a difficult subject like Katrina, in my yet to be released song called N’awlins on my Mind. Here I started off with a mournful blues tune to describe the misery and rage and then turned it into a rap over Afro Cuban drumming to bring in many elements of African Music together honoring those lost. The song ends with a chant to Damballa Aweido the sacred ancestral serpent imploring  to retrieve these lost ones of the Diaspora.

“Don’t Leave them all alone,Damballa take them home…Damballa Damballa Damballa Damballa Aweido ” Each time I perform this one my body shakes and I know some of the lost are taken home.

Q. What does being an animal communicator involve? Are there any drawbacks to being able to communicate with animals?

I adore animals plain and simple and always have. Even when my practice did not involve animals specifically I did the occasional animal reading for my own animals sometimes as well as using my skills to find missing pets which is the hardest thing that I do. My Wise Woman’s Tarot even has a section on Reading For Your Pets!

After working almost exclusively for people for about 18 years or so I began working with animals in earnest partly because my own animals were aging and needed a more alternative approach than ordinary veterinary medicine. I had certainly begun learning how to communicate with them more deeply as my Shepherd Luna became paraplegic and needed me to help her get around. Her story is also in The Wise Woman’s Tarot. The big shift was when the Vet told me that my dog Spirit, who was only 1 1/2 Years of age, would maybe live another couple of years at best due to a heart problem. First I freaked and then I got busy and found a remarkable woman, Kay Cornish Mann, who indeed was very skilled as an holistic animal healer, and she was an ANIMAL COMMUNICATOR. We hit it off and began working on Spirit and then some of my others  and in this process, I also became an Animal Communicator and my healing skills grew and were greatly enhanced by learning from my mentor. By the way Spirie, or as he came to be called, Bear, a more grounded name, lived to be 13 years old.

What I know now is that the animals communicate with us and each other all the time and that we can become part of the conversation and have a much richer relationship or we can miss that depth of connection when we assume that they are “just animals.” Listening is the big part of communicating with animals and it means first and foremost to “expect to hear from them.” Our human chauvinism can keep us from knowing much more about their world which is quite beautiful and can teach us all a lot. This is true whether I am communicating with Daunte my tiger friend at EARS who didn’t pop right up and visit last week because he was hurting and needed a homeopathic for arthritis or when I am listening to my own dog Happy when she gives me that look to tell me that one of her cats is at the back door.

Sometimes I literally hear their voice inside my head telling me things or they may shoot me a visual or an emotion or all three. Treating them with Flower Essences, Gem Elixirs or Homeopathics is a joy as they often show healing and progress immediately unlike humans who tend to put up more blocks.

It is so amazing to see Duke the tiger lapping up Arbor Garden Flower Essence from my dropper and thanking me with big tiger licks all over my hands, he is a doll, or when the monkeys take the Lithium Quartz Gem Elixir spritz that I make and take it in their little hands and rub themselves all over and then ask for more. Sometimes as with Duke, I have been able to pull animals off the edge of death because I can hear what they need when the vets have given up and this is so fulfilling.

I am putting the finishing touches on my book about animals; Lifetime Companions: Love Never Dies, which deals with holistic healing, my adventures with sanctuary and other animals as well as my own and most importantly, reincarnation and our pets.

How could there be any drawbacks to this except for the fact that one cannot always save them all.

Come to my BLOG on my site http://www.flashsilvermoon.com for many many wonderful tales of Animal Healing and Women’s Spirituality too.

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the Womanspirit Rising circle and why you created it?

Great question and good story too. It was April 1990 3 AM and I was awakened by some deep female voice telling me,”Flash you must gather the women!” OK, OK I grumbled when I wake up.” No, now the voice commanded!” By this time my whole body trembled and shook. The Goddess Herself had a plan for me and I had best be up to the challenge. I had organized many circles and events but nothing like what I was about to undertake. Between 3 and 6 AM I got an Astrological fix on the date July 10 1990,Full Moon in Capricorn with all the outer planets making an aspect to Mama Moon. the place, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville Florida, and all but one of the Priestesses and co Priestesses. I wanted to create a Multi-Traditional Circle that wove together the many cultures of women on the planet, to activate all the Ancient Mothers, and so we did.

I figured that in order to have a really large circle cleansing the circle with fire and water would need a fire and water witch in each of the 4 directions to work simultaneously clockwise covering their quadrant so that  cleansing would not take the whole day. This also spread the power around and got more women involved and worked perfectly.

Without any big publicity in the papers or on line we manifested over 350 women of every age and style in this small college town with a simple black and white flier. Clearly the Goddess knew that it was time to empty the Broom Closet and activate the Divine Feminine. I also created a portion of the circle called The Ancient Mothers Speak and asked some 13 women to come dressed to represent as many different Goddesses and speak a few lines that I had written and it was absolutely stunning.

I had my friend Bahira, the Jew Witch and eclectic mix of Buddhism and New Age to call in the East, I covered the South as a Dianic Priestess, Georg Suzuki, Shaman of Native American and Japanese origin called in the West and I wanted an African Priestess to bring in the North but I didn’t know any.

This piece seemed most important and fortunately another friend told me that some Yoruba Priests had recently moved to town. I called the Baba and he referred me to Ayoka, the most serene being that I think I have ever met. She is a Priest of Yemonja, the Yoruba [Nigerian] Orisha [Goddess] of the Ocean and the Moon. She agreed to be the Priestess of the North and also call in the Ancestors and our group was complete.

Typically when you create an event you wind up waiting around for all the latecomers but not this event. The 4 of us Priestesses couldn’t even find a good parking spot 1/2 hr before Womanspirit Rising so we were high to start. I do believe this first  Circle was the most powerful that I have ever experienced and that is saying something.

Q. Your Wisewoman’s Tarot is a well-known and respected tarot; could you tell us about how you created it and your inspirations? Other than the Wisewoman’s Tarot, do you have a favourite tarot set?

Wow, The Wise Woman’s Tarot was a huge process and took me a mere 25 years. I did not originally plan on creating a new deck and book rather I thought that I was creating a good “How to book” that my many students had requested. There was this one renegade page called Visions for a New Deck and that little imperialist took over the entire project! Let me say contrary to Amazon.com, The Wise Woman’s Tarot is not out of print and is very available through my website.

As I have stated before, I tend to listen to Spirit for my instructions and follow them when so directed and such was the case with TWWT.  I started when I was around 26, a Maiden, and she was published on Oct 31 2002. I had worked with and taught the Tarot for some 6 years before beginning this project which actually turned out to be a life-work.

Because I have deep respect for the Tarot as a body of esoteric knowledge, I didn’t want to just slap a feminist wash over the cards or repeat what anyone else had done so I researched Global Goddess herstory for 15 years.

My process with choosing which Goddesses, Gods and Heroines to match with certain cards was a total intuitive process. I did not say to myself, let’s find a Native American for the 4 of wands or an Egyptian for the Universe[my card for the World] rather I allowed thousands of years of myth and herstory to wash over me til the right match bubbled up to take its rightful place in the Major or Minor Arcana. I wanted for this deck to make a space for all cultures at the metaphysical table and particularly to reveal the fact that the Goddess, Matriarchy and even Amazonism was a worldwide phenomena just as Patriarchy is today.

[hopefully not for long though]

This journey does not represent a desire on my part to live in the past but rather to update the Tarot, take it out of the Middle Ages, to give images that all races can relate, and to honor the Divine Feminine in all her glory. Some of the male deities that I show are prepatriarchal to offer a better male image and some are some of the good old bad boys of patriarchal culture like Rama.

I offer images of very familiar Goddesses like Isis, Kwan Yin, Hecate and White Buffalo Woman, Amateratsu the Sun Goddess that is still worshipped to this day by the Shinto of Japan orlesser known deities like Perchta from Germany, Sabulana from South Africa, Bochica from Colombia, Oshun from Nigeria, or Thorgerd from Iceland.   Something deep inside me pushed me onward through this seemingly never ending process of finding all the Goddesses and others to create this deck and then finding the right illustrator was quite a challenge but as you can see, Barbara Vogel perfectly executed my designs and text rendering a vibrant, potent and exquisite tribute to all these Ancient Ones. I wanted the images to be as powerful as the text and I believe she delivered just that. As I began using the  first  photos of the images in order to be able to finish  my writing about this deck I discovered that  one of the main differences in using my deck was that it connected me to Ancestral energies, past life energies as well as deepened my understanding of the Tarot itself.

Seeing all these images spring to life and being able to wrap my words around them was absolutely thrilling and totally inspired me to bring this baby out of the womb and into the world. This could have not been accomplished without the  support and  publishing by Tara Silverfox who midwifed this labor of love into manifestation.   It was Tara’s idea to give the book a spiral binding allowing it to be very user friendly and many other details that were beyond my energy at the end of this project. Tara also had the idea to have our own pouches created to hold the book and deck rather than putting  many dollars into plastic and cardboard packaging that would only grace the landfills. We also wanted the money to make these bags to go to women. Having lived in Afghanistan for many years Tara knew of a women’s artist collective called Parsa who had survived under most extreme conditions and we agreed to give them the job and they created the most gorgeous hand made ,hand dyed silk pouches. It felt so good to put the consciousness of TWWT into manifestation supporting women from around the world.   As far as other decks, I have enjoyed using The Secret Dakini Oracle, The Medicine Cards and the old standard Rider Waite Smith Deck. I add the word Smith to this deck as it was illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith who rarely gets the credit that she deserves.


Q. What are you working on at the moment?

I have quite a few projects simmering on the back front and side burners. I am doing more work at the Animal Sanctuaries lately. I will be working on a video to illustrate the many forms of holistic health care that can help the animals lead happier and healthier lives and not be bound only to drugs, in particular the primate and big cat sanctuaries. Some of my students are making a Documentary about my life and I am about to produce more recorded music both of the Space Music variety as well as  my Hi energy rock n blues music.I am hoping to be able to record some musicspecifically for the animals too.

I am seeking publishers for several books that are almost complete and are being finished as we speak.

Lifetime Companions : Love Never Dies about my work with the animals.   Flash Silvermoon’s Planetary Playbook and CD’s This is a good and progressive astrology book coupled with a series of Astrological Visualizations, Meditations and Rituals for the 12 signs of the Zodiac.   These guided visualizations will  be recorded with my multi keyboard/percussion Space Music to help each journey elevate and flow. The book needs to be re edited and I need to record the CDs for this to be complete.

Temple of Isis -This is my channeled remembrance of my life as one of the Priestesses Of Isis in the Temple of the Bells in Egypt Flashbacks – In process -My autobiography which highlights those fabulous 60’s and 70’s as well as my later years from a Woman Identified perspective – lots of fun to read and write. Tales from my well spent youth and the wise woman that I have become.   I would really love to work with Oprah Winfrey about raising consciousness around the lives of animals particularly how to communicate with them. So….. this was quite a project but as you can see  my plate is kind of full and I LOVE IT ALL!!


An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Beary

Who taught you, when, and what did they teach you?

Who hasn’t! I think the first people to teach me anything were, for the most part, family members. I’m not going to go as far as saying that there was a hereditary practice there (it isn‘t something I can prove or which I feel the need to), but when you’re learning from, amongst other people, your great grandma… I suppose the things I picked up from them were a bit of a mixed bag. I was generally encouraged to find things out for myself through trial and error with some gentle nudging away from anything dangerous or unlikely to work.

When I was a little bit older, I seemed to find ‘teachers’ everywhere. There were plenty of knowledgeable people in the Lincolnshire area and since I listened well and asked interesting questions, a fair few people were happy to take me under their wing to some extent. At the time, I wanted to learn everything I could and whenever I went looking for answers, someone seemed to be there to help me ask the right questions and nudge me towards some interesting experiments.

These days, I’d say that I still have a lot of ‘teachers’, although a lot of them probably don’t see themselves that way. I learn a lot from listening to what people have to say (and taking note of the things they don’t!), but also from what they do.

And I’ve learnt a lot from members of the Pagan Friends Forum, of course!

Did you choose your path, or did it evolve naturally? Do you find it changes as your journey continues?

I suppose that I chose the direction I’m moving in to some extent, but it feels very natural to be taking it, an organic progression rather than a series of choices. I’d definitely say that it changes over time; if you’d told me when I started out that this is where I’d be now, I doubt I’d have believed you!

Perhaps I’ll be saying the same thing in another ten or twenty years, perhaps not.

You have so much knowledge, yet are still young. Do you research on the Net, take courses, or gain knowledge in other ways?

I’m naturally nosy, so I like reading things people have posted up on the internet, but I’ve never really fancied taking a course as such and I‘m cautious about trusting things I‘ve read until I‘ve tried them out for myself. I’d say that most of what I know, I’ve learnt from asking the right questions, experimenting and from watching others.

I don’t think that reading or being taught, although it can help to point people in the right direction, can ever be a substitute for hands-on experience and giving things a go.

Having said that, there’s no better lesson than learning from someone else’s mistakes! I’ve learnt a lot from watching other people get things wrong…

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve encountered along your path?


There have been times when, as I’ve been experimenting or exploring, I’ve found myself being held back by my own preconceptions and limitations. I think finding ways to overcome or accept those limitations, and working out when to do which, has been one of my biggest challenges on my path so far.

Do you have a particular cherished memory from the early days of practicing the craft? Are there times that made you smile which you are happy to share with us?

I think the happiest memories are of experimenting with ‘guidance’ as it were, being allowed to do my own thing but with people on hand to advise or suggest.

I remember having a go at knot magick when I was very young and not being able to get the hang of tying the knots. In the end, someone took pity on me and showed me how. That may have been my first ever attempt at magick.

There were some other times, when I had first gotten into Chaos Magick which always make me smile when I remember them; I probably shouldn’t share those though!

What constitutes a really great day in Beary’s world?

Well, it’d probably involve less cake than most people would like to think!

I’m not sure really; maybe a trip out walking at the beach or the mountains with my usual little group, followed by some crafting and coffee. Cheese and cider might also be involved…

Is there any particular working tool in your collection you’d be lost without?

Not lost as such. The way I work means the things I use might make the job easier but none of them are essential. Of course, there are a few things which I’m especially fond of, most of which I’ve made myself (see below).

Do you have a favourite oil, or herb, or crystal, etc.?

My favourite oil is probably jasmine purely because of the smell. Either that or rose.

In terms of herbs, there are a few which I seem to end up using all the time. I’m not sure they’re my favourites, just really, really useful and versatile. Things like mint and chamomile. You can’t go far wrong with mint and chamomile.

I always used to say that I didn’t have a favourite crystal, but I’m a big fan of obsidian and tiger eye (or tiger iron) these days. I’ve got a tiger iron ball on my main altar at the moment which caught my eye and feels right there. That may just be me being attracted to shiny things though.

Have you made any items yourself?


My favourites are the ‘rosary’ which I put together and which hangs by my altar and a little ceramic head.

The ‘rosary’ is made up of buttons, beads and things which attracted me to them, each of which has a meaning in itself and as a part of the whole. Its one of those things which regularly seems to find it’s way into my hands when I’m doing workings or into my bag when I go out.

The ceramic head is one of those things which almost makes itself, where you look down and realise your hands have been doing their own thing. It was all made from one piece of clay, hollowed out in the centre and with an opening where the mouth and neck are. Its usually filled with a selection of herbs and other little objects, depending on what seems appropriate at any given time.

Received any special gifts?

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to receive several.

The most recent was a beautifully hand-carved candle made by my partner which was a Yule gift, which is sitting in the centre of my main altar. I love it because of how much thought and care went into both designing and making it.

I’ve received some slightly odd gifts too, everything from desiccated mice to human teeth. I suppose they were ‘special’ in a way, if a little unexpected.

Have you got anywhere you like to visit which holds special places in your heart?

Anywhere by the ocean or near mountains suits me fine.

But there are some places in the Outer Hebrides which I’m especially fond of, maybe because there you can have a combination of the two. There’s something very beautiful and tranquil about those islands. I hope to take a trip back there soon.

Tinkenswood barrow near Cardiff is another; there’s a peaceful atmosphere there. The last time I went there, it was early morning and there was frost on the tips of all of the grass; beautiful.

Ever been anywhere that you couldn’t stay?

Only very busy, crowded places. I start to feel as if I’m trapped or swamped, almost… over-written by all the other people there. It doesn’t happen in every crowd and on the occasions it has happened I’ve invariably been ill.

Have there been any moments where you thought to yourself “what am I doing, where am I going? Is this right?” etc  How did you overcome them?

I think everyone has moments like those. The trick is to accept that, yes, there’s always a chance that what you’re going to do is a mistake but there’s a chance that not doing it is as big a mistake, if not bigger. The trick is to trust your instincts.

And if it does turn out to be a mistake? Well, when you realise that, you’ll have learned something, and that’s what its all about for me. As long as you keep learning, you’re probably doing it right (whatever ‘it’ is).

Who have your most major influences been over the years?

My closest friends and working partners; the people I trust and spend the most of my time with. They’ve helped me to become who I am, although the verdict is probably out on whether that’s a good thing!

I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by intelligent, interesting and creative people for a large part of my life.

Any ambitions yet unfulfilled?

Plenty! And when I’ve fulfilled the ones I have now, there will be more I’m sure. Life would be boring otherwise, wouldn’t it? You have to have something to aim for.

If you had a time machine, what year would you go to, and why?

I’d go back into prehistory and have a nose around some of what are now major archaeological sites. I’m especially interested in Scandinavian prehistoric cave art at the moment and I’d love to know why it was created, what it’s original purpose was.

If you could have 3 dinner guests come over, who would they be, and why?

I know I should probably choose someone famous or ‘respected’, but there are three people who I see all the time and who I’d rather cook for and eat with than anyone else.

They know who they are, and at least two of them are probably going to be reading this at some point.

*Waves like an idiot*

Do you find that instinct takes over when you do workings?

Yes, a lot of the time it does. Sometimes, that can make working with me very interesting as I’m sure certain people will tell you.

You can talk to Beary and our other members, many of whom contribute to the webzine, by joining the Pagan Friends Forum!


By Jessica Howard

Imbolc is that time of the year when the days start growing longer and we welcome the sun back into our lives. It is a time of new birth and growth and renewal, and so deities honoured at this time include any virgin or Maiden Goddesses and deities of the hearth.


The Celtic Goddess Brigid is one of those most commonly associated with Imbolc. She goes under many names;  in Scotland she is known as Brìghde/Brìde, and in Wales she is known as Fraid, but because of Welsh pronunciation mutations, her name changes to ‘Ffraid’ in some places; such as ‘Llansanffraid’, which means ‘Saint Bride’s Village’ and ‘Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain’. Many stories surround her, and she is often referred to in relation to this; for example, some know her as Breo Saighead, which means ‘fiery arrow’,  and some refer to her as the “Exalted One” “Powerful One”, “High One” and even “Midwife to the Virgin Mary” and “Christ’s Foster Mother”. In her Celtic form, she is known to be the offspring of the Dagda and a poet.

Her importance was so much so that when Christianity arrived those converted still couldn’t let go of their beloved deity, and so she became Saint Brigit. Saint Brigit of Kildare, also known as Mary of the Gael, was known for her generosity and was a patron of learning and intellect;  many depictions show her carrying a ‘lamp of wisdom and learning’, and nuns at the monastery which she built keep an eternal flame burning in honour of this. Saint Brigit was also said to have the power to multiply things, such as butter, milk and bacon, to bestow sheep and other cattle, and to control the weather. Her feast day is celebrated on the first of February.

In the Celtic tradition Brigid is considered a triple Goddess; however, instead of possessing just one role in the popular ‘Maiden-Mother-Crone’ belief, there are in fact three Brigid’s all of the same age and all sisters. There was Brigid the Poetess, Brigid the Smith and Brigid the doctor, all patrons of their specific skill and so referred to as such. However, at the time of Imbolc many people call on Brigid as a general representation of the Maiden aspect of the Maiden-Mother-Crone belief. Also, whilst the Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect is generally associated with lunar magick and the cycle of the moon, Brigid is considered to be a solar deity, which is why she is celebrated at Imbolc.

Brigid is traditionally the Goddess of poetry, healing and smith craft, all practical skills that inspired wisdom and so also making Brigid a Goddess of intellect and wisdom. Cows are scared to her, and a popular Imbolc celebration includes pouring a quantity of milk onto the earth as an offering.


Aradia is an Italian Goddess belonging to the Stregheria tradition and is commonly called ‘The Queen of the Witches’. In Charles Leland’s 1899 work the Gospel of the Witches, she is said to be the daughter of Diana and Lucifer, and was sent to earth to teach the oppressed people magick to be used against Roman Catholic Church and the men who forced Christianity upon them.


Hestia is the Greek Goddess of the home and hearth and one of the three great goddesses of the first Olympian generation. Born of Rhea and Cronus, she had several siblings including Zeus and Hades, and is listed as one of the twelve original Olympian deities. Other Gods tried to court Hestia, but she swore upon the head of Zeus that she would keep her virginity. She received the first offering in every Greek household, but is seen as a very modest Goddess, sometimes depicted as sitting upon a simple wooden throne with just a white woollen cushion.

Lucia of the Light

A Scandinavian Goddess, Lucia of the Light is still a popular figure in Sweden today. A popular ritual to honour this Goddess involves  the eldest daughter of the household getting up as early as 5am and dressing in a white gown with a red sash around her waist and a wreath of lingonberry leaves and candles in her hair, who then brings coffee, Saffron buns and Ginger Snaps on a tray to her parents’ bedroom and waking them up with traditional Lucia songs.


Bast is an Egyptian Goddess who also goes under the names Bastet, Baast, Ubasti or Baset. The cat is sacred to her and she is often depicted as having the head of a cat. Originally she was depicted as having the head of a lioness, and was a fierce protector. However, with the emergence of Sekhmet, a very similar war-like Goddess with the head of a lioness, Bast took on a more gentle role and was depicted as having the head of a domesticated cat. She was seen as the protector of mothers and their children, as a cat protects its kittens, and thus evolved to be seen a Goddess of the hearth much like Hestia.


Ceres is the Roman Goddess of Agriculture. Farmers planted crops in her name so that would grow strong and healthy; in fact, the word ‘cereal’ comes from her name. Ceres was seen as part of a trinity with two other agricultural Gods, Liber and Libera. It was often thought good practice to sacrifice a cow to Ceres before the harvest, to give thanks for the crops that grew. It’s been said that Ceres is content with little in the way of sacrifices, as long as it is pure.


Vesta is another Roman Goddess, Goddess of the home and hearth. Associations have been drawn between her and Brigid, although she tends to have more in common with her Greek counterpart, Hestia. As a hearth Goddess, she was seen as the keeper of the sacred flame, and offerings were thrown into household fires so that she may show them the future.

Spring Cleaning, fire lighting, and saining compulsions, everyone?? Then it must be that Imbolc time of year again!!!
By Liz
Nearly all the folk I talk to lately are telling me they are busy clearing the clutter and chucking out the chintz, swabbing the decks, and taking stock, making changes, moving stuff around, and generally making like an OCD demon possessed with the dust pan and brush. The besom is busy and the polish is all getting used up. Yep, Yule is well and truly behind us for another year, the Great Wheel is turning again ever onward towards Imbolc, and Spring cleaning fever strikes us all again without even thinking about it. Sales of household cleaning stuffs are going on in all the supermarkets, trolleys are full of bin bags and dusters, disinfectant and bleach, window cleaners and fresh air sprays, pot porri and candles, vacuum cleaner bags and all that kind of thing, there are cars lined up at the council recycling yards with bootfulls of rubbish to unload, and the bottle banks are all full to overflowing, the dry cleaners and launderettes are busy dealing with everybody’s curtains, and duvets, in the electrical shops sales of carpet cleaning machines and pressure washers are on the up, and it seems like every household in the land is getting seriously purged.

But why do we do that?

What is it that makes us all into clean freaks every January end?

So I thought I’d look into where this tradition of Spring cleaning came from, and, as far as I can tell, it relates back to medieval times when the farmers would fetch their animals under their roof to survive the harsh winters. Before there were lush shag pile carpets invented for our cozy living rooms, floors would have been covered in rushes and straw, so once the sun had started to return to the land, the time known as the quickening of the year, the animals were sent back out, onto the grazing fields, often to give birth to their young, the soiled floor coverings from where the animals had wintered would be swept out over the threshold and burned upon a fire, and replaced with new so that part of the house was fit again for humans to live in.

Along with that came saining, the idea it was a good time to bless the house, to protect it, and the folks who live in it, so candles were lit to brighten the darkness further, windows were thrown open so the winds could blow away the cobwebs and the dust, and consecrated water would be splashed into the corners of every room to clean it physically and from the idea that water replenishes and gives life, it was believed to renew and refresh the energies circulating through the home.

Enough of this typing for now then, where did I leave my mop and bucket? The kitchen floor is calling…! I can’t help it, you know, it’s in the genes..!!!

Belchite, Zaragoza, SPAIN

By Charles Vella

Belchite, a village which dates back to 1,800 BC where a cave was uncovered, many wars were fought there including Napoleon and finally the bombing on September 1937 which destroyed the village. (dates may not be accurate)

The moment we saw the village, there was a feeling of sadness as you see the whole village in complete destruction where around 5,000 people perished. Some claim to be able to hear the sounds of crying and war planes heard flying over the village.

“No more kids walking down the streets, no more jotas (spanish for a type of dance and song) to be heard by those which our parents used to sing”

Saint Martin, at the entrance of the church you see the above saying in Spanish. My heart sank as I read this and as I sat at an entrance of a house where which only two walls were left standing, I pictured the children laughing and running down these now deserted and ghostly streets, the sadness of the many lives that were taken was overwhelming.

The village also attracts quite a number of ghost hunters. It is claimed that the sounds of fighter planes can be heard in the dead of night. Recorded sounds were passed on to professionals for analysis and came up with more extraordinary sounds on the tape.

A haunting voice is heard saying”There is only one life” Sounds of children can be heard and voices being carried through the air along the deserted streets. The cross (above right)  was where all the dead bodies were gathered and in that hot ghastly afternoon day, the smell of slowly decaying bodies was becoming to much to bare and the burning began.

Beltiche – A haunted ghost town with a remarkable history. The last habitant living there was in 1960 after Franco went back on his word after  telling the survivors that they would be given a free home to live in.

Investigations are still being conducted. Who knows what ghostly proof someone will come up with. Come and spend the night in Belchite, you may end up going home with a ghost story!

Invoking the Egyptian Gods

By Judith Page &  Ken Biles

Call upon Isis for boundless love, invoke Sekhmet for protection, summon the jackal god Anubis when seeking to end one thing and begin another. By combining elegant rites with an evocative description of each deity’s myths, Invoking the Egyptian Gods invites you to begin a soul-level transformation and awaken to your own strength, power, and divinity.

This book is both spiritual and practical. Not only will it be an aid to the advanced practitioner, it will also be a valuable learning tool for those who are just beginning to practice invoking.

Throughout the book, you will be calling on many gods and goddesses based on ritual invocational rites. There are very few times in ritual when you do not invoke gods. But, before you can invoke a god, you must first know just what it is that you are invoking. Each chapter is accompanied by a brief outline explaining the meaning and purpose behind each invocation. Our invocations and meditations are not empty verbalism; they greatly enhance and enrich our lives as we enter into the realm of the gods.

Working with the energies of different Egyptian gods can be powerful and enlightening and can also restore a sense of calm, balance, and harmony within. There are many ways you can work with these ancient gods, and many reasons for doing so. For example, you may be faced with an upcoming event in your life for which you could use some support and encouragement, and connecting with a powerful god can help bring these elements to aid your situation.

The goddess Bastet and the god Khonsu both possess curative qualities, and depending on your circumstances, invoking them will help channel the healing process. Whatever connection you make, you may find that the association is in itself very healing and empowering.

Sometimes there are situations where you have lost or given away your power to someone or something. Invoking particular gods can help connect you with inner forces, thereby establishing boundaries and restoring assertiveness.

By the act of invoking, you are communicating with the god using words, thoughts, and feelings, and you are open to receiving any messages.

Through invocation we are also attempting to reveal how an ancient Egyptian would interact with a god. Using the ancient Egyptian language, you will “summon” or “call up” the god through the use of speech.

Why in Egyptian, you ask?

The Egyptians claimed the gods, or Neteru, gave their language to them directly from the Spiritual World. Like all languages, ancient Egyptian has similarities and roots shared with some other ancient languages. However, it was believed that the very sounds that make up the language are themselves “powers,” and that claim should not be dismissed lightly.

We already know sound has the power to break glass and pulverize rock. Sound is used to break up kidney stones within the body, without the need for surgery, and sound can make us feel happy or sad, well or ill. The power of sound is undeniable. We know that the very matter of the universe resonates with vibration.

Why then wouldn’t it be possible that the universe we know is created by sound, which, in its most basic definition, is just a vibration? It is our hope that future generation of scientists may yet discover that sounds are powers in their own right. According to Jerry Clifford Welch, author of Hebet En Ba: the Egyptian Mystical Rites, “Egyptian ‘divinity’ may very well still ‘speak’ the Egyptian tongue,” and may very well be listening to our utterances! It is through these utterances that we will connect with the gods.

The Word Neter and Its Meaning

When the term “gods” is used regarding the ancient Egyptian religion, it is a misrepresentation of their term Neteru. The Egyptians gave the name Neter to the great and supreme power, the “One God,” that which made the earth, the heavens, the sea, the sky, men and women, animals, birds, and creeping things, all that is and all that shall be. They felt that to know this One God was to know the many faces and qualities of this entity, and the more they learned of these faces, the closer they got to the divine origin. This One God was self- produced, independent, invisible, eternal, omniscient, almighty, and immortal. Although this One God was never represented, the functions and attributes of his domain were represented in the many forms of the Neteru. The difference between the conceptions of Neter, the one supreme God, and the Neteru, the gods, is best shown by an appeal to Egyptian texts in the pyramid of Unas it is said to the deceased:

‘Thou existest at the side of God ‘(un-k ar kes Neter).


Stories and gods were essential to explain events and situations that could not otherwise be explained, or to give divine right to someone or something. New gods were encountered as the Egyptians traded with new cultures, and by combining two or more Neteru together, they found a better match for their needs at that time. This is not unusual. One only has to look at the changes Christianity has gone through in two-thirds of that time. It is a normal part of history that people change, and so do their spiritual needs.

The Egyptians simply adapted their Neteru to best fit the needs as they saw them. Understanding this will help you to retain your focus on the Neter, and not on the name used.

Invocational Rites

In ancient Egypt, the priests of the temples performed daily invocational rites to the statues of the Neteru. These rituals were elaborate, and were held in the morning, at noon, and at night. In the morning, the ritual was designed to awaken the Neter, feed it, bathe it, and clothe it, while the evening ritual was designed to put the Neter to bed. Clothes, food, drink, and incense were all essential parts of the invocational rite, and each rite was several hours long with lengthy litanies read.

In these modern times we do not have the time to complete such exhaustive daily rituals. We would never leave the temple or shrine! Thus, we have developed invocational rites, which distill the essence of the rituals of the temple, so that we can honour the gods in a similar way to the ancient Egyptians, and experience and develop a relationship with the Neter while still maintaining our daily routines. Practically all invocational rites use a few basic principles that are, in fact, truths in themselves—principles that work upon their intended subjects, even though you may not yourself be able to hear or see the “sense” of it all! Many traditions of “magick” today still use such rites—for example Kabbalah, which means “receiving”—most having been arrived at independently by cultures from different continents and ages in history. These principles should be accepted as simply working methodologies, rather than anything to “believe” or “believe in.”

All Invocations occur within a sacred space that can be metaphysically drawn or created by the practitioner for the occasion, invocational rites and erased or banished to “release” the powers to go on with performing the work the rite requested of them.

The ancient Egyptians were known to have employed a sacred space within their rites, where the gods were invoked—called upon and asked to manifest themselves. This was done via ritual through the invocation of the First Time (Zep Tepi), which, according to Jung, was seen as an existence outside of this reality.

In later times, the four deities, or Neteru, that represented the equivalent of the four quarters—Tuameutev (east), Amset (south), Qebsenuv (west), and Hapi (north)—were invoked to guard a sacred space. Aleister Crowley, an influential English occultist, mystic, and ceremonial magickian and member of the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, states that “To ‘invoke’ is to ‘call in’ just as to ‘evoke’ is to ‘call forth.’” This is the essential difference between the two branches of magick. In invocation, the macrocosm floods the consciousness. In evocation, the magickian, having become the macrocosm, creates a microcosm.

As already discussed, the universe is the “macrocosm” and the body is the “microcosm.” Hence, the top of the head corresponded to the top of the universe, the North Star. Ascension macrocosmically through the heavens (often numbered as seven) to the highest heaven corresponded to ascension microcosmically of the fire-snake (Kundalini), the primal source or power that usually lies dormant in the noninitiate.

According to the philosopher Iamblichus in his treatise, Theurgia or On the Mysteries of Egypt:

‘It is through evoking higher spiritual powers by

means of rites of Supernatural Magick that humans

come to true realization of what they are in essence:

eternal spiritual entities.’

There are two primary methods of invocation, the first being the traditional Western method that is devotional and the second being the Egyptian method whereby the personality of the god form is awakened from the beginning by the invoker.

We must learn to recognize the connection and not create it. The connection is always there; we are just unaware of it most of the time. Day-to-day issues and concerns distract us from feeling the connection.

Don’t worry if nothing seems to happen. Mastering invocation takes time and practice, and everyone has the ability. Once you get to the point where you do recognize the connection to Deity, make your mind perfectly still and open to the divine, call out to the god or goddess you wish to invoke, and feel a shift in the connection when he or she answers.

As Ken Bales rightly says, “When you invoke a god or goddess, you are invoking part of yourself. You are communicating with that part of you that is divine.”

This book is only the tip of the pyramid, as so much more has yet to surface. A lot of rituals and invocations are purely ceremonial with no intent of reaching out to the god. Our work is an elegant way to approach an Egyptian god. It is also to the point, and truthfully written. We have held nothing back.

Many invocations that have been written are so cosmetically perfect, offering you only a façade and never really getting in touch with the chosen god.

We have attempted to understand the spiritual and aesthetic aims of the ancient Egyptians. In short, we have endeavored to reconstruct their creative process. Clearly, it is possible only partially to succeed in doing so. We may have an idea of what it may have been to perform invocations to the ancient gods, but as much as we try, we must accept that these were people working against a background very different from ours. We cannot put ourselves in their place, even with the help of the knowledge we have collected about their civilization.

As you utter the names of the Neter, invoking them into your space, be mindful that you will be contributing to the ever-rippling waters that will serve as a free-flowing river for others to immerse themselves into. Let us leap directly into the powerful undercurrents of Egyptian magic and be changed forever. Let us venture into a hidden realm where true gnosis and healing can be found. By invoking the deities of ancient Egypt, you create a “stargaze” whereby you can enter into other dimensions, receive messages from the Netter, and become one with the gods once again.

Invoking The Egyptian Gods

Judith Page & Ken Bales authors of Invoking the Egyptian Gods published by Llewellyn Worldwide ISBN 9780738727301

Sacred Sexuality

By Katrina Messenger

I gave this sermon to a mostly non-pagan Unitarian Universalist church in 2005.  It generated quite a lively talk back discussion period.  The overall message however is as important for pagans as it was for this liberal congregation.

It often feels kind of risque to discuss Sacred Sexuality.  So for me to publicly admit to being a practitioner carries with it the risk of trivializing my message or worse disparaging my reputation.  It is a risk worth taking because understanding how Sacred Sexuality can be pathway to the divine is much too important for us as a community.

Because Sacred Sexuality can be such a loaded topic, I feel like I need to start out with some definitions. Some of the following are from my Merriam-Webster dictionary, the rest however are the output of my own fevered imagination.

Sacred: Dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity, e.g. a tree sacred to the gods; worthy of veneration, i.e. holy; entitled to reverence and respect – not secular or profane; and lastly highly valued and important.

Sex: Noun – Male/Female; biological designation; Verb – consensual exchange of life force energy. (My words)

Gender: Behavioral, cultural & psychological traits associated with one sex, Man/Woman/Transgender.

Sexual: Associated with sex (sex as a verb) or with the sexes (sex as a noun).

Sexuality: State of being sexual; condition of having sex or sexual activity.

Well to look at the above, we could say that sacred sexuality is sexual activity that is dedicated to a deity, that is holy, that is entitled to reverence and respect and is highly valued and important.

Dr. Loraine Hutchins, a dear friend of mine who happens to also be a national expert on the subject, defines sacred sex as “a set of beliefs and practices which seek to heal the split between mind and body, the erotic and the religious, and to bring them together, through daily practices and ritual.”

I define sacred sexuality as sexual acts, rites and practices that seek pleasure, healing and spiritual growth.

Although definitions are helpful, we also need to comprehend why sacred sex is important, why it matters in a world like ours that has seemingly gone mad.

For most of us, what we experience as sexual energy is more accurately life force energy.  We modern humans spend a great deal of our time blocking, suppressing and repressing our life force energy. And it turns out that sex is one of the few areas where we may allow our life force to flow unimpeded.

And if we could find a way to remove these blocks and obstacles, we could harness our life force in ways that could potentially change not only our lives but also the entire course of human history.

A small illustration of this potential is the practice of muscle testing.   Muscle testing involves measuring the change in a body’s energy field in the presence of a potential allergen.  My acupuncturist used muscle testing to determine my body’s reaction to wheat or pollen.  I would hold out my right arm as my as I held the wheat in my left hand.  The relative muscle strength of my arm was compared to when I held nothing at all. If I was weaker, bingo, I was allergic to the substance. Although not widely used, it provides a quick answer and can be used in grocery store aisles as well as medical offices.

So now, let’s expand the concept.  What if we each had the ability to check in with the flow of our own life force energy?  What if we could do the equivalent of muscle testing on everything that we encountered in our lives?  What if we could determine that this option increases the flow, while this one dampens the flow of energy?  And what about whether this job or this home, or this freeway design or this person or this food or this political candidate increases or decreases my energy flow.

Expanding it further, what if you became sexually aroused whenever you were engaged in your true life’s work or whenever you engaged in habits that contributed to your growth and evolution?  What if you had an orgasm when you met your soul mate or simply acted in accordance with your deeply held values?  Maybe that is bit too much, but what if we were guided by the flow of life within us and not by our fears, not by our prejudices and not by our projections?  What if every one was guided that way?

Man, what a concept, and the sad thing is that it is almost unimaginable.

So how do we heal and grow towards that ideal?

Well one path is through sacred sexuality practices.  Sacred sex practices can literally be a tool of evolution, healing and ultimately global change.  If it were only that easy; as with everything, the reality is much more complex.

Most traditional sacred sexuality practices in wide use today are based on some of the same principles as a traditional Wiccan ritual called the great rite.  The great rite involves the ritualized sexual joining of a man and a woman either physically or symbolically using a blade and a chalice.  In many Wiccan traditions, the link with ancient fertility rites is unmistakable. It is one of the reasons that in some circles, Wicca is referred to as a fertility cult.

Similarly, today most sacred sex practices are popularized via images of what Dr Hutchins calls the “romantic tantric-couple embracing on a New Age greeting card” motif.  And many sacred sex groups embrace this image just as feverishly as many traditional witches hold on to the great rite.  They both espouse the man/woman dyad as the singular model of sacred sex.

However to restrict sacred sexuality to such trite images and limited applicability does nothing to truly heal the mind-body split, nor challenge limiting beliefs such as white supremacy, patriarchy, economic exploitation, and the global concentration of wealth and resources.  We have to better comprehend the larger role sex plays within modern culture.  We need to grasp the potential pitfalls that exist when we try to go up against the prevailing wisdom of any of the big three.  What are the big three?

Money, sex and power are the three-legged stool of modern culture.  They are areas of human experience littered with land mines, quicksand and deep dark caverns of shame, fear and regret.  We have to be careful when we march into these areas because we often unwittingly recreate within new practices, the very problems we intended to resolve.

So sacred sexuality, like cooperative economics and power sharing, can be revolutionary but they can also be repressive.  We can use these progressive ideals to turn the world on its head, to build bridges and communities, and to personally grow and heal. But we can also use them to uphold, and maintain the status quo.

What we need is a richer vocabulary, respectful dialogue and safe places to truly share and evolve our understandings, experiences and interactions in the realms of money, sex and power.

Ultimately, studying the sacred sexual practices handed down to us is not enough.  We must also bring our critical consciousness; we must bring our discernment.  We must recall that money, sex and power are all political.

So we need to approach sacred sexuality with our eyes, along with whatever other orifices we prefer, open and alert.

Sacred sexuality has traditionally been based on a heterosexual dyad, employing gender and sex polarities to symbolize the eternal dance of the universe. Few, if any, even considered same sex lovers.  And usually the practices targeted at same sex couples embraced polarities that resembled hetero role-playing.  So the reigning model was, pretty much, heterosexual couplings.

Most of these practices were also not about self-love or masturbation. Even solitary eastern practices, which employ techniques to delay or eliminate ejaculation, often frown upon any direct physical stimulation as if the body itself was somehow profane.

Even given these limitations, many seekers have found these ancient practices and principles both enriching and healing.  But for some seekers, the seeming lack of diversity can often be experienced as daunting, non-inclusive even unsettling.

Thankfully, modern practices have been developed that embrace the realities of a far more diverse spectrum of sexual variations, orientations and preferences.  Many of the most exciting of the modern practices are being developed within queer and women only spaces. Many began with a critical analysis of traditional practices and then quickly evolved into creating what is called oppositional communities – places where people can heal from the ravages of oppression.  They are a long way from the ideal, but it is in these communities that some of the most revolutionary practices are emerging; practices that offer the promise of integrating the erotic into the overall healing of our diverse communities.

Yes, money, sex and power are all political. But each of them can also be transformative, healing and spiritual, even sacred.

There is a saying we quote frequently in the craft, “All paths are one.”  It is our way of acknowledging the validity of all the world’s religions and faiths, including atheism and humanism.  We are obviously not the only ones who feel this way, but because it is one of our central precepts, we are able, for the most part, to cherish the diversity that exists amongst Wiccan practitioners.  This is not to say that we do not suffer from fundamentalism and forms of orthodoxy, it just means we have the ability to invoke this principle quite readily into most debates within our path.

So the question remains of why do I call sacred sexuality, a pathway to the divine?  Besides acknowledging it as a legitimate spiritual path, it is also an invocation of one of Wicca’s most sacred principles – that the earth itself is sacred.

So what does the sacredness of the earth have to do with sexuality?  We witches generally honor the ancient elements as sacred – Air, Fire, Water And Earth.  It is our inclusion of earth that defines us as an earth-based religion.  This is in contrast to the earth as inert view, which carries with it a concept of the body as corrupt or somehow lower or lesser than mind or spirit.  This is important, because we do not just honor the elements universally; we also honor them in a very personal way as breath, passion, tears and flesh.  To name the earth as sacred means our bodies are also sacred.

This ultimately leads us to honor and appreciate our physical bodies, and this includes our sexual needs, urges and hungers.  Sacred sexuality is one of the ways we honor and celebrate our flesh.  We do not see our physical bodies as simply shells that we cast away at death so we can ascend into the sacred summer land.  We declare where we stand as sacred and embrace life as a gift in and of itself.

We also recognize and honor the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth – so the body is also not held above spirit.  We seek to heal the split between mind, body and spirit. One area where the mind/body/spirit split can be healed is within human sexuality.

Sexual orgasm is literally the closest we get as living beings to glimpse the eternity of creation, to gaze into the eyes of the nameless one and reconnect with source.

The practices of sacred sexuality allow us to walk the edge of this sacred blade, and to remember, heal, grow and evolve as a result of that connection.  We do not have to die to experience the summer land; we only have to die a little.

As we climb the steps into the temple of love, we need to realize that to be human, to be alive at all, is the Goddess’ greatest gift.  And to be sexual is to approach the magical doorway into the realm of the gods.

Thank you.

©2005 Katrina Messenger

Katrina Messenger

As a Wiccan mystic, Katrina works extensively with mythology, dreams, ritual and trance as a means of self-exploration, self-healing and self-evolution. She believes that any attempt to change the external world must be paired with the inner work of a personal spiritual practice.

As a healer, teacher and priestess, she believes that everyone has a unique purpose and can walk the path of sacred vocation.

Please visit her website: http://www.katrinamessenger.com/

Imbolc week MoonLore
By Liz
Wednesday, 1st February 2012, Imbolc Eve,
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, leaving Taurus and entering Gemini. Being a Wednesday, the emphasis will be on study, travel and divination, while Moon in Gemini would indicate that things begun now could get easily changed by outside influences.
Thursday, 2nd February 2012, Imbolc
The Moon will be Waxing, and in it’s Second Quarter, in Gemini. Being a Thursday, the focus should be mostly on money, growth and generosity, while Moon in Gemini today should warn us to expect the unexpected.
Friday, 3rd of February 2012
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, still in Gemini. Being a Friday, the focus should most likely be on love, friendship, and beauty, while Moon in Gemini today would indicate it’s a time for fun and games.
Saturday 4th of February 2012,
3 days to go before Full Moon The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, leaving Gemini, and entering Cancer Being a Saturday, the focus will most likely be on homes and houses, while Moon in Cancer today should stimulate emotional bonds between people.
Sunday, 5th of February 2012,
2 days to go before Full Moon The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Cancer Being a Sunday, the spotlight will be mostly on healing, protection and spirituality while Moon in Cancer today means the focus is most likely to be on homes and houses.
Monday 6th of February 2012, just 1 day away from Full Moon
The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, leaving Cancer, and entering Leo Being a Monday, the focus should be on peace, healing, compassion, cleansing and fertility, while Moon in Leo this day should draw attention to self ideas, and one’s own initiative should come to the fore.
Tuesday 7th of February 2012 The Moon is Full, in Leo,
Being a Tuesday, the focus will most probably be on Sex and Passion, also protection and being brave while full Moon in Leo gives us the heads-up that folk may be a little bit full on and over the top.

The Way of the Modern Bard: Imbolc: My Birthday Week

By T. Fox Dunham

This is my birthday week. I was born in this body on Feb 2nd 1978. This is Imbolc, the day of new life beginning that was conceived at the winter solstice. This is the day of Brigid, Bride, my patron goddess. I am a Bard.

I write my essay this month with love for my extended family—if not of blood then soul—and my readers, and of course the patroness of Pagan Friends, its motivator: Rebecca Brown, whom I love to call Bearsy.

I write this day of the Awen, of the Bardic soul and the ways of a Bard. Much of what I’ve written is supported by historical fact in legend and records, the few that have survived the great assimilation of the Dark Ages. Some of this is also my modern interpretation and creation of a role for Bards in the modern world. We are needed now more than anytime before.

A Bard is a healer.

The traditional association of a Bard is a wandering minstrel, a storyteller, plucking lute strings as he or she captivates crowds with ancient ballads or stories. Often, this is a purely entertaining role, a component of folk culture. The Bard travels from village to village, sharing stories, communicating old themes and educating as legends and stories are often charged to do. Then they pass out their coin box, and mayhaps they find a warm bed for the evening with favorable company.

The role is very much a part of Bardic work, and it’s one of the enjoyable sides to it. Some of the moments of light in my life have been sitting on a park bench overlooking a waterfall, playing old Celtic songs on my flute and singing while a crowd gathers to listen and join in with their own stories. The barriers between strangers break down, and the people united by my song and story discover that they were all friends just waiting to be mutually introduced by my fusion of word and music. This is how I best describe myself. I am a cynosure. I bring people together: by word of story for those of you who read my work; by shared love and cause by those of you who have joined my crusades in real life and Second Life; by those who spend their evenings fighting orcs in my online gaming guilds; and by you writers and artists who have become a part of my cadre as we mutually support each other. I speak fondly of you all with a name. You are the fox cubs. You are one of us.

There are three paths for a Druid to follow: Druid, Ovate, Bard. Each differs in magickal method and role in the natural and human world. Each is represented by one of the prime trees and Oghamic letter. As a Bard, I am a Druid. I am a Celtic shaman who works with spirits, animism and some ritual magick. As a Bard, I focus my work and energy on the Awen. This is not translatable precisely into English. It is Welsh for the artist’s soul, but it is so much more as I will explain. I am represented by the Birch tree or Beith on the Oghamic alphabet. As Bard, I work with energy of art: story, song, poem, painting, any kind of creative pursuit to better the soul and the world. This can be expanded to any use of art, even in medicine, physics or police work. Where art is used to heal, this is the use of the Awen organ.

A Bard’s role is as a healer, and we use our Awen and art to heal ourselves, people, animals and spirits in nature, the land and the world—all worlds. This can be applied in many ways. A therapist using art therapy to heal is working with Bardic energies. An author composing a poem about their feelings of loss is using Bardic energies. Art has served society as the domain of emotion, spirit. We sing in choir in church. We protest on the street with chanting. We play drums in shaman circles. We write plays and perform in theaters. Art is the voice of the soul. And it is in our sciences as much as it’s in our paintings and literature. Scientist using imagination to paint the stars in the sky use the Awen as much as the sculptor.

I use my Awen to heal and inspire, to build and grow. I am a Bard. I have educated school children at the museums where I worked with story and song. While enduring months of daily radiation for my lymphoma, I told stories to the other patients to provide comfort and life. I used my skills to bring people together with my non-profit agency to educate about violence, rape, trauma and brought victims in to safety, to let them know they were not alone and that they could heal themselves and renew. I also established events for art and poetry to help people find expression. I did this in real life and in Second Life, doing programs to renew the spirit and raise money for charities. I continue my work now helping authors and artists develop their voice and showing them how to submit their work for publication. I congratulate you, my beloved friends, who have recently been published for the first time. I always believed in you, and you’re going to astonish the world with your spirit.

A Bard as a shaman also walks the spirit worlds, the ones that parallel and intersect. In my healing work, I have provided a spiritual component to the work of doctors who heal the body and therapists who heal the mind. It is important that we recognize our place, and that we don’t play the role of doctor or therapist. Often, spiritual healers can coordinate with other specialists for the patient’s best therapy. I often travel to the inner wilderness with my fox at my feet, leading me, guiding me, pawing in the bum when I am reluctant.

Part of my work has been to walk with other people and guide them to their own healing. A soul is just as fragile as the body. It is spun of glass and trauma in life can break shards from it. The common term is The Shattered Soul. Sometimes trauma can be so great that the soul shatters entirely. The mind and body continue, but the spirit is trapped in stasis. This is often the case for children who suffered severe abuse. In most cases, the adult can’t remember beyond a certain age as if their past had been cut away. I use meditation techniques to change my state of consciousness and shaman technique to travel into the otherworld. I guide my ward, giving them instructions on how to travel into the well and down into the earth, into ourselves to the land our soul roots, where the spirit is the terrain and the spirits who dwell there. There are many techniques, some in the books I’ve listed below. There, using their Chakra visions, it is a delicate dance of give and take, signs I see and signs they share with me as we traverse the land, seeking out the source of their trauma and reuniting their souls. There is a cave there, The Cave of Lost Children. It is a forlorn place, and I have only been there a few times. The sorrow is so great there that it wounds the spirit. That is often the final destination of journeys. Now there are signs and elements I cannot speak of. You only know them if you’ve been there, and they must be kept secret as verification that the otherworld journey is legitimate, binding and salubrious. I’ve been doing this since my youth, since I died in the hospital and came back that Samhain, and I am still amazed and delighted when my ward speaks the signs to me.

Let me write a caveat here. As with any healing work, it is important that it be undertaken by a trained healer. I’ve had teachers guiding me since my early youth, and I have been responsible and taken steps to ensure my safety and the safety of my ward. As in gardening, I am patient, gentle and I follow the signs and indications of those I am taking care of. In this role of singing back their soul, I am merely a guide, a translator. They are conducting the sessions. They are pursing their own healing. We are but servants to this process. People heal themselves. It is vital that we follow at their course, and it can never be forced or rushed, even if that means they never seek healing. It is the way it must be.

The Awen is the soul of art. I think of it like a cauldron, bubbling and boiling in my chest and stomach. Those are the energy centers of art’s creation, where the energy points in the throat, mouth an head are where the art flows in a current. The Awen is the source of creation for Bards and artists. It is its own type of soul joined with the other spirits that exist in us in choir. It is the well of inspiration. Ever feel inspired in your stomach? Ever sing and feel like your song is pouring from the middle of your chest? This is the seat of the Awen.

The Awen is a living thing, an entity with identity and individuality. It is akin to a garden, composed of many rose bushes and herbs and fruit trees but unified in single organism; thus it has many features and components. Like a living thing, a garden, it requires care and nurturing. You feed your Awen. You exercise it, get it into shape. You read new poetry and books. You seek out art. You experience life and love. You open yourself to the world and feed your Awen. You exercise it through your art, preferably once a day. I have my writer foxes doing 100 words a day to keep their Awen toned like exercising a muscle.

Authors are often chained to capricious spouts of inspiration, often unreliable when deadlines are due. By growing and maintaining your Awen, you have inspiration on tap, at the ready to draw from for any project. At any time, with ‘of course’ an acumen in crafting techniques, I can drink a cup from my Awen and write any story required of me. This is the source of life, and through the Awen, we can heal a wounded world.

I close this essay by saying that this is only a basic synopsis of the Bardic way. I have not gone into detail about the history of Bardism and its role in the past. And I’ve spoken of my own interpretation and application in the modern world. What I’m doing is effective, and I have been blessed with the gift to aid people in healing themselves. I am only a humble guide.

As I referred to at the beginning of this essay, Bards are associated with playing song and telling story. This is our paradigm of output. The Bard emits, broadcasts, and those around him or her listen, act to input. This act and the creation of the art transmitted is only the final manifestation of Bardic work. The first thing a Bard must learn truly is how to listen without disturbance or interpretation. To become a Bard, you must first learn how to hollow yourself into an empty vessel, receive words and song and emanations of the worlds into yourself. People will tell you that you are an amazing listener and will often seek you out on buses or the oddest of places and tell you their life stories. They will be surprised by the confidence they feel in you, only after just meeting you. This is a sacred trust and can never be violated. They fill you with themselves, their spirit and emotions. And often, you heal them not with words or acts; you provide remedy just by listening, by being there. One of the axioms I learned in my travels is that you can’t tell anything new to someone about themselves. You might bring attention to it, but they always knew already. A Bard’s primary duty is not to produce. That is an aftereffect, something that aids communication. The holiest charge of a Bard is to listen.

For this is why I write and sing and nurture and grow. This is the greatest healing magick in the worlds. And I share this with you all on my birthday week—and this might be my last year as could be next year. I still live under the threat of my cancer, and as it is an aggressive lymphoma, I have often been warned that I can never be consider cured. I have lived so deeply, and I am blessed that I have the time to express the visions of my heart in my writing to you. This last year alone has been extraordinary, having over seventy stories accepted for publication on myriad international forums. And I have been wounded so deeply through love and lost so much, yet I am a pilgrim of love and seek now the healing that I might be whole again.

I give these words to you, the most efficacious healing magick granted by the gods. These words were the greatest gift I could give in all my battles—and I have walked through wounded souls laid out in sand and seen so much loss and hurt and shattered souls. I was born with an intolerance to watch suffering. I cannot endure it, and I must help. And I was given these words:

You Are Not Alone.


This week on Feb 1st, the DailyLoves online journal is publishing one of my stories, The Summer Married by T. Fox Dunham. I wrote it as my birthday gift to all of you, and I ask you to read it and then pass it on. Send it to friends and family and strangers and spirits through email and links on your blogs and Facebook and Myspace. Help me transmit it to the world. It is a short tale of two strangers who find each other in the radiation-oncology ward and fall in love. Then they must decide to chance the hurt of losing the other. I lived this. My story ended differently. I give it to you. It is my Bardic gift of healing. I ask that you help me pass it on.


The Sepiroth, Part Three

(Part One & Two were featured in our Samhain and Yule issues)

By Simon Cash

The third section of the Sepiroth are past another veil or barrier, and some schools of though see this veil as a Sepiroth in itself. If viewed as a Sepiroth then it is named ‘Da’ath’ and is situated in the middle column above Tipareth. It is the junction between the ‘Ruach,’ the body of the conscious self and ‘Nesmach’ the Higher or Spiritual self. To coin a old phrase ‘As above, so below.’ Or if a human body is superimposed onto a map of the Kabbalistic tree of life then the lower 7 Sepiroth are the torso and legs, and the highest three the head and brain. Physically it corresponds on the human body to the throat and the neck,and to to Air-the windpipe and voice box.
It could be argued that while Tipareth is the balance point of the Sepiroth then Da’ath is the unification of all the Sepiroth
A alternative viewpoint of this Sepiroth is that it is another veil or barrier, ‘The Abyss.’ as Crowley termed it. Crossing the Abyss is the goal of many Ceremonial Magicians as it its believed that successfully crossing the Abyss results in unification with the Higher Sepiroth or Superanials as they are sometimes called. It is the ‘Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.’ A word of caution here. The Abyss is guarded by the entity Chronozon who’s purpose is to disassemble the Magician on one side of the Abyss and reassemble him or her on the other, However if the Magician is not 100% certain of himself in all ways then the consequences both in the physical and mental realms of the Magician can be disastrous. So whether this area is a Veil or a Sepiroth the dangers of Da’ah or the Abyss are very real and must not be underestimated. Its interesting to note that while Ceremonial Magic has formalised the ritual of crossing the Abyss. Many other schools of Magic have a very similar ritual, which yields the same results. The Tibetan Chod ritual. The symbolic murder and rebirth of the Freemason ceremonies. All work on the premise that from death or a symbolic death we are reborn as better people. Or that the only way to access all of the brains power is to kill the body.

The Superannials.

In numerical terms, counting down then the 3rd Sepiroth is called Binah, Binah is known as ‘Understanding.’ (as opposed to Chokhmah as ‘Wisdom.’) What is the difference between Wisdom and Understanding? Well I like to use this basic analogy. ‘Wisdom is knowing a Tomato is a fruit. Understanding is not putting it in a fruit salad.’ Or that Understanding is the application of Wisdom. Of course the meanings are much more complex than that, as Binah can also mean contemplation and reflection. Associated with the number 3 and the threes of the tarot, the three of Disks, preparation and instruction for the preceding task. The three of Swords, beware, take stock (or contemplate) your relationships. The three of Wands, there is a third way, a compromise. And the three of cups, a choice presents itself. All these cards represent in one way or another a period of contemplation. However contemplation is useless without the knowledge behind it. And this is where Chokhmah comes in. Chokhmah is the repository raw data, the unread book or unaccesed files on hard drive. But travelling upwards as we are it is the place where we shed the last remnants of our ego and our personality before communing with Kether. So depending from which direction you approach Chokhmah is is the sphere whey you loose or gain the core aspects of your present personality and ego, the ‘Ka’ that makes ‘You’ unique. It is the place where all knowledge can be gained within the blink of a eye. A place certainly where some of the more physical rules such as perception of time and gravity do not exist. The place of the Askiatic Records maybe? The first Sepirot is called Kether, it is not the end of the Universe according to the Kabbalists, there is more beyond. But Kether is where we will stop here. A place of pure light and energy, the godhead. As incomprehensible to us as material beings as our existence is to a fish. The Kether is a place where the rules do not apply, they do not apply because they are not important, those conceits have been stripped away by the journey upwards. It is associated with our comprehension and perception of ‘God’ in the Abraham manner. In a more eastern manner Kether corresponds with the Crown Chackra. It’s debatable and up to the individual practitioner to decide whether Kether is ‘God’ itself or just communion with ‘God’. It’s certainly true that Kether allows us to ‘See ourselves as God sees us.’ Which may account for some of the confusion. How we deal with this vision and revelation is up to us. Kether ‘reflects’ itself down though the four worlds of that make up existence. On the ASSIAH, the YETZIRAH, the BRIAH and the ATZILUTH, so its qualities differ depending on which level of existence you choose to view it from. Suffice to say Kether is vital to us, but also incomprehensible to us, unless we have learnt and heeded all the lessons from the other nine Sepirot
Its always struck me as strange that the three superanials are represented in a triangular formation instead of a vertical line, as to me any information must be tempered though understanding.

With the three superanials as with all of the other sepiroth its important to understand the Kabblisitc reasoning behind them, while they could be seen as a metaphor for Genesis; ‘In the beginning there was nothing.’ The realms beyond Kether the ‘En Sof.’ ‘And there there was God.’ Kether ‘And then there was the word’ Chokhmah. Its interesting to note that at this stage of our scientific development we are just coming to the understanding that energy can create matter. The Kabblistic magicians look upon the letters that represented each Sepiroth as a form of energy. Another case of the men in the white coats finally catching up with the men in the robes. But it also requires a understanding of the mindset, And of how the Hebrew alphabet works in a different manner to the English alphabet we use on a daily basis. Where with English the letters have no symbolic meaning on their own and are just components to make the words work. In Hebrew it is almost the other way around the letters are more like Glyphs which have a meaning on their own and their meaning is changed when used to make words. (There is a reason for this the direct descent of Hebrew Glyphs from Egyptian Hieroglyphs). So the Glyph or letter which represents a certain Sepiroth is like the stone or seed of a fruit and the rest of the meanings and attributes the flesh which builds up around the seed.

Added to this is the manner than many separate practices have built a table of correspondences onto the 10 Sepirot, with varying degrees of success. I used the example of the 3’s of the tarot fitting well with Binah, and they do, but some of the others, have been forced on to fit. Tarot and Kabbalistic magic are at the end of the day separate schools of thought, even if they can and are practised by the same people. In conclusion its important to remember the Kabbalistic tree and the Sepirot is a map and not the journey, It can guide and point out stopping off points and important landmarks, But the journey itself is unique to each person. But with all journeys we start at the beginning at home, in Malkuth and travel onwards and upwards experiencing and exploring each stopping off point taking the lessons learned from that station on towards the final destination.

Music Review: Kenny Klein: Ghosts of the Delta

By Johnny Blake

OK, so we were sent this bunch of songs in the size of an EP. The artist is Kenny Klein and the album name is called Ghosts of the Delta. I’m not a professional music journalist, but I am a musician myself. This is just my interpretation of the album, to help people get an idea of whether the music caters to their taste or not.

First and Foremost, this is music written by a pagan, but the music itself is not designed for pagans or rituals exclusively. By this I mean that it doesn’t have ambient synth loops, or Nordic chants, or ritual rites turned into lyrics, or shamanic drumming among other things you would expect… nope, this is something much more raw; the blues of all things!

When I first starting playing this, I instantly thought of the new breed of blues players, such as Seasick Steve and Hugh Laurie (yeah house makes music too), but Kenny takes it further, adding in elements of folk, jazz and even some country & western. This style mash-up that is ever so common in up and coming music that it’s almost cliché, but does not sound forced in Kenny’s music, which believe me, is difficult to do. I don’t know how many musicians were involved in the making of these songs, but the instruments are well played and whoever is playing knows their repertoire; these are no Mumford and Sons ‘’we try to be folk but are just an indie band with acoustic instruments’’. The band orchestrates well, with a variety of instruments and a secondary singer popping in and out as a song progresses.

The track titles are as follows: Barleycorn Blues, Diana’s Moon, Finn MacCool Blues, The Gathering, Ghosts of the lower 9th Ward, Jugband blues, My Pagan Girl. The pagan element of this album comes within the lyrics and the theme or story of certain songs, though some I don’t think are even pagan (hence you don’t have to be pagan to like this). Other songs are more obvious with their pagan lyrical content, such as The Gathering (which is about an outdoor ritual) and My Pagan Girl (the lyrics to this are rather light hearted and funny in some places as well as being a love song by definition).

The production on these songs is about as good as DIY music can be. The instruments are all balanced in the mix and particular sections are louder when they need to be (solos). It gives the impression that it went straight from recording onto the MP3, the jazz element means there are some accidentals (they’re not mistakes for all non-musicians reading) which shows a more expressive side to it that you’ll never hear on mainstream radio, the majority of songs have a straight up bluesy I IV V chord progression. Either way, the ‘organic’ sound definitely works.

Overall, you don’t need to be pagan to like this, nor will being pagan mean that you’ll automatically like it, so Omina and Moonsorrow fans approach with an open mind! However any blues fans should definitely check this out, or anyone who is a fan of the styles I mentioned, this is a well written easygoing bunch of songs. Kenny Klein doesn’t seem to have any of these songs up on youtube, but I found this pretty cool video in my search with him in it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLJL1Fb2AoU&feature=related

An Imbolc Story

By Linda Gibson

Emma loved Imbolc because it meant that spring was just around the corner, and the days were getting lighter. She loved the glade because not many people new it was there. It was sacred and a magical place. Emma spent endless hours meditating, and spent precious time alone with the Lord and Lady, leaving offerings and giving thanks to the Fae for looking after the woodland. Already, there were Snowdrops, wild Daffodils, and because the winter had been so mild, there were Bluebells starting to show!

Bright sunlight filtered through the trees, bathing the glade in a golden haze. A light breeze began to play around Emma’s face, and lifting her hair around it. Then she heard a hint of a giggle, and from the corner of her eye, Emma saw her. In a gown made out of Snowdrops, a Fairy flitted around Emma, teasing her.

‘Hello, Bell. I know it’s you,’ said Emma, please to see her tiny friend. Emma had been able to see and connect with the Fae since she was a baby. Bell had been her guardian since she was five years old. Now Emma was seventeen, her gift was getting more powerful. Suddenly, she felt a strong tug at the ribbon that held her ponytail secure. She knew it wasn’t Bell, because she was in front of her giggling louder. An Elf appeared, grinning, and holding the ribbon out triumphantly.

‘Thank you Thistle, you love this game, don’t you,’ she laughed as he skipped away. Then Emma had the sensation of being in another place, only she hadn’t moved out of the glade. She had been given the gift of seeing the Fairy realm. She could see everything more clearly, and her senses were heightened. The glade was truly beautiful and magical. It must be kept secret and protected.

After leaving an offering under a tree, and floating a tea-light on the stream, Emma made her way out of the glade. She was startled to see a group of people, several who looked like tradesmen, and two in suits. Emma hid behind a large Oak trunk and listened to their conversation. Her heart thudded with shock. The men in suits were talking about clearing the ground and knocking the whole woodland down, including the glade. They wanted to build a group of luxury houses there. She ran home shaking in tears. That night, Emma cried herself to sleep. They weren’t going to destroy the glade; she had to stop them, but how? Only a few of Emma’s friends knew she was a witch and of her gift. She could trust them not to say anything. They agreed to help her save the glade. After college while Emma research for an assignment, she was surprised to get a visit from Bell. Bell never came to her at home unless it was urgent. She told Emma that Emma would have to show the men that the glade was special and sacred, the Fae would help her.

Sure enough, the men were still there, drawing up rough plans. Emma had three of her friends with her, and the men shouted at them to clear off. Emma and her friends ran to the glade, and the men charged after them.

‘What do you think you’re doing, I told you to clear off!’ shouted one of the suited men. ‘ I heard you this afternoon, saying you were going to tear this woodland down, Well this glade is sacred, it’s a Fairy glade, it needs to be kept secret. You’ll destroy a portal to the Fairy realm,’ said Emma.

The man started laughing at her.

‘You’re away with the Fairies girl, you’re barking mad! Fairy realm! I don’t know what drugs you’re taking, but I’ll give you one last chance to go before I throw you out of the woods.’ Just then, Emma raised her arms above her head, and started chanting again and again. The air seemed to wobble visibly, startling everyone around her. Then it cleared, and dozens of tiny Sprites, Fairies and other Fae flew up to them. Everyone could see what Emma had been shown earlier by Bell. They gasped at the beauty of the place. Then an ancient man in white robes appeared and whispered to the man who threatened Emma, and placed his hands on his temples, showing him the true nature of the glade. The man started to cry.

‘I’m so sorry, I thought you were mad. Just kids mucking about! We can’t build here lads. There are other sites we can use. You tell no-one about this, you here me, no-one.’ He turned to Emma and smiled.

‘That’s one hell of a talent you have there, young lady.’ Then they left the girls alone with the Fae.

Emma and her friends hugged each other, pleased with their victory.

‘I thought we were going to have a nasty fight on our hands,’ said Emma. ‘This glade must stay secret, so the Fae can live in peace. Please don’t tell anyone about it,’ she pleaded. The friends agreed, still in awe at what they’d witnessed. They all kept their promise.

Copyright© Linda Gibson.

Imagined Worlds

By Danielle Clark

Belief can unfold many worlds,

Mystical realms of dragons and elves.

In the beauteous night the moon does arise

To quell the fury of the day.

In one such world I met a man

With eyes of glimmering jade,

He crept within the shadow’s bounds

My gaze he did evade.

At last one midnight he emerged

With a song of soft woven silk

To immerse my soul with regal love and

A whispered promise of eternity.

After years these dreams have faded

Into a dusky mist,

Yet that voice calls from the forgotten realm;

“But this was a kingdom that lived.”

Danielle Clark is a UK-based creative writer best known for her poetry but also has published short stories, articles and Q&A columns on various topics. Most recently she has won third prize in the Baskalier anthology poetry competition for a piece about the sad condition or world is in.

The Bride of Spring
By Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney

Old lady winter Caileach crone.
be gentle now give up your throne
for maidens come through winters born
a new queen is coming in the morn

Dear bride of spring with gentle sun
soon your reign will be begun
Her gentle features of a child
dancing free among the wild

Birds sing their joy upon the ear
they know deep down that spring is near
among the vales the simple grange
Animals sence the suptile change

soon milk will flow from natures breast
The start of life will now be blessed
for bride of spring will soon mature
to mother summertime once more.

You can find more of Stormy’s poetry and artwork at http://visionsofapagan.blogspot.com/

Bridget’s Song

By Celia

Bridgit’s Song

Words and Music by Celia © 2012 Red Granite Goddess Publishing/ASCAP http://www.celiaonline.com

Verse 1:

Goddess Bridget Peace Weaver,

Healer, Poet, Queen.

Melt the snow and bring the spring.

Verse 2:

Saint Bridget Gold Bender,

Keeper of the Flame.

Blessed Imbolc.

We Sing Your Name.


We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

Goddess Bridget.

Keeper of the Flame.


Bridget so beautiful

Bridget so powerful

People of all paths will gather round to sing your name.

Bridget so beautiful

Bridget so powerful

People of all paths will gather round to sing your name.

Welcome to the latest issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine; we hope you have a fantastic Yule this year! We’ve been working hard since Samhain to put an extra-special issue together for you with features by Mogg Morgan, Judith Page and Vincent Ongkowidjojo, poetry by Yvonne Cunningham and much more.


An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forums’ Own Midori

An Interview With Jodi Lee


Egyptian Demons & Magick, By Mogg Morgan

Theft of The Seven Ankhs, By Judith Page

The Sepiroth From The Bottom Up (Part Two), By Si Cash

The Origins Of Christmas Traditions, By Jessica Howard

Essays & Extended Features

Futhark: The Celtic Link, By Vincent Ongkowidjojo

Blood Bones and Fur: Personal Experiences of Working with the Remnants of the Dead, By Charlotte Rodgers

Regular Features

Yule Moonlore, By Liz

Renewal Magick at Pennsbury for Yule, By T. Fox Dunham

Tools, Tricks & Ingredients

Resin: Frankincense, By Rebecca L. Brown

Secrets of Asgard, Vincent Ongkowidjojo An Instruction in Esoteric Rune Wisdom, Reviewed by Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

Fiction Review: Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner

Reviewed by Rebecca L. Brown


True Beauty, By Linda Gibson

Sápmi Story, By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn (Summer Shudder)

Poetry Corner

Forgotten Cycles, By Yvonne Cunningham

Steal Into Winter, By Maggie Koger

Walking Down Sunday Roads, By Maggie Koger

Yule, By Kenny Klein

Tears, By Karie McNeley

Beaten And Blemished, By Karie McNeley

A Poem, By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn (Summer Shudder)

Want to contribute to the Imbolc issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Imbolc issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it. For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.

An Interview With The Pagan Friend Forum’s Midori

Q: Did you choose to follow Druidry or did it choose you?

I have been fascinated by Druids since I first saw News features about them at Stonehenge at Summer Solstices. This was either the Ancient Druid Order or another of the Fraternal Orders (Christian, Freemasonry types), long before the Hippies and the Festival movement started. I didn’t find Pagan Druidry until 1995, although I started in Gardnerian Wicca in 1966.

Q: I know you refer to your path as Druwitch, so what parts of Wicca still influence your path today and which parts have you rejected, and the same with Druidry please.

Nowadays there is very little Wicca in my path, I tend more toward Witchcraft alongside the Druidry. What happened was I saw the interweaving of Wicca and Druidry, and decided that they would blend well, so I stripped away the formal rituals of both systems and the God and Goddess forms, and took it back to absolute basics, the reverence for Earth, Sea and Sky, making my deities Mother Earth, from whom we came and to whom our bodies return, Father Sun, without whose warmth and light the Earth would be just a dark, frozen rock, and Sister Moon, who controls not just the oceans, but the tides of fertility itself. These form a Triad, (take one away and life ceases to exist) and Three is the sacred number in Druidry. I also venerate the Ancestors, and work with the Spirits of Place.

Q: How long have you folowed a Pagan path?

If I really look at it closely, I have had a Pagan outlook since I was a small child, although I didn’t become conscious of it unti I joined the Coven. I was always happier out in the woods and fields, observing animals, birds and plants, than going around with others of my age. I was always the ‘odd’ one, preferring animals to people.

Q: Who and what have been your greatest influences?

The Land has been my primary teacher and infulence, along with my first teachers in the Coven, all passed through the gates of the Otherworld now. Latterly, my Druidic influences have been Philip Shallcrass, Emma Restall Orr and Professor Ron Hutton, along with the many friends I have made along the way.

Q: How does your health affect your Path?

In the last four years my health has collapsed in a big heap  . Cataracts have stopped me driving, which has prevented me attending public rituals, Fibromyalgia has weakened me, and consequently I am in permanent pain, especially in damp and cold weather. Just to add to the mix, there is IBS, which means I can’t stray far from a loo, high blood pressure and Cholesterol, and I’m currently waiting on tests fro a possible cardiac problem. It all puts a decided crimp in my activities  . I like to perform ritual out of doors, so it is inconvenient, to say the least!

Q: How do you feel the portrayal of Paganism has change over the years?

It has changed immensely. When I started in Wicca, there was no Internet nor mobile phones, books on pagan subjects were like rocking horse manure!  To get hold of books you had to either get up to the esoteric bookshops in London, or obtain them through organisations such as the Golden Dawn Society. (Plain brown wrapper jobs!). Wicca was still very much ‘underground’, it was only fifteen years since the repeal of The Witchcraft Act, so we kept our heads firmly down! It was hard to find a Coven, let alone gain admittance! I was lucky enough to have a friend who introduced and sponsored me.

Nowadays Paganism is ‘out’, there are books everywhere you look, Websites abound, Psychic Fayres come regularly to your area and Complementary Therapies are thriving. Wiccans and Druids appear on TV, it is just a total reversal.

Q: What memories of your Path do you cherish the most?

Too many to list, but a few are, my first Coven meeting, the three Initiations, attending a Druid camp in 1995 and finding I’d come ‘home’, skinny dipping with another bunch of Druids one summer, Pagan camps in various places, interfaithing, Moots, watching sunrises, eclipses and stars, meeting up with old friends.

Q: What would you like to do again, given the chance, and what would you like to avoid?

I would like to have travelled farther and learned a lot more, don’t think I would change much if I could do it all again, maybe avoid a few of the people who have spread gossip about me, not sit in the nettles during a skyclad ritual, and not set my robes smouldering on a quarter candle!

Q: Who have you most admired along the way?

I have great admiration for Professor Ron Hutton, his writings, teachings and lectures at Pagan events, along with his TV appearances, I just don’t know where he finds the time! Philip Shallcrass, who kept going despite personal tragedy and Emma Restall Orr, who has struggled against ill-health for most of her life, but is still active in Paganism.

Q: Do you have ambitions with regard to your path once you move house and your health issues have improved?

Oooh! Tough one this. I would maybe like to start a group if folk would be interested in the way I do things, or maybe write a short book on Druwitchcraft, but all is fluid, so I can’t commit to anything right now.

Q: Is there a favourite place you like to spend time if you could? (sacred sites, etc.)

There are places I love, Danebury hillfort, Avebury, Swallowhead Spring, Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring, Kingley Vale, Devil’s Bridge, Elan Valley, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, North Cornwall, Tintagel, Boscastle, St. Nechtan’s Kieve, Rocky Valley, (mostly I can visit only in memory now) I would have loved to travel in Japan, to see the Shinto shrines and gardens, etc.

Q: What’s your favourite way of celebrating Yule? (if money/time/ health were no object?)

Wow! Let me think… I would like to gather all my Pagan friends together on coaches and take everybody to a Roundhouse for a couple of days and nights of feasting and entertainment, somewhere where the neighbours couldn’t complain about the noise!

Why not visit the Pagan Friends Forums to chat to Midori and our other members?

An Interview With Jodi Lee

Jodi is a writer, editor and the owner of Belfire Press . You can find out more about her work by visiting http://www.sacredtriskele.net or http://www.jodilee.ca

Q: Tell us a little bit about your spiritual path; what was your first experience of paganism?  

When I was twelve, I spent two weeks with my uncle’s family. During that time, I picked up one of his books, which I could never remember the title of… but it spoke of magic, spirituality, witchcraft and the old ways. About a month after I went home, my uncle passed away suddenly. Within hours of receiving the news, many family members mentioned visitations, that he had come to them, perhaps to say goodbye.   He had visited me, telling me he’d be okay and I shouldn’t worry about him, and from then on, I began reading anything I could that covered any pagan or paranormal topic.   It wasn’t a surprise to my family, in the least, when I came out of the ‘broomcloset’ either. My gran had a wealth of herbalist knowledge passed to her from her mother and grandmother. My grandfather’s sister was highly psychic, particularly attuned to the members of her family. His grandmother had charms and recipes from her family in Ireland – I think I came by it all honestly.

Q: How has the path you follow changed over time?

In my early days, I kept it all secret, never telling anyone what I was reading. I followed every ritual and spell to the letter, timing and ingredients had to be just so. Now, I’m lucky if I have time or remember to give a passing nod to the Lady when she rides the sky. I’ve become less and less focused on the minutia, and simply give more of myself and my heart, I know now that my faith is far more important than whether or not I have sage or blessing oil!   I’ve also become more and more eclectic as time goes on. When I first began studying, it was mostly a Greek pantheon I gave homage to. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, a small voice whispered in my ear: “I’m Rhiannon.” I began researching the name, and the related pantheons – Welsh, and the other Celtic deities. It was like coming home, for sure.   And I ended up naming my daughter Rhiannon, too.

Q: In what ways is your everyday life affected by your beliefs?  

Not a day goes by that I don’t read or research something to do with rituals, mythology, the Celts, even when it’s something small.. and I try to find those teachings in the day to day things, even to the cleaning of the house and preparation of meals. I try to do and keep things as presentably as possible so as not to dishonor my ancestors, or my patrons. I never noticed until I was already well into my thirties, but I even fold the linens in threes. In half, in half, in half – and then in thirds.   The moon and solar cycles play a large part as well. In the summer we plant our container garden corresponding to the moon, and harvesting accordingly. Although I have ‘the touch of death’ when it comes to growing plants, my youngest is doubly gifted with the green thumb I lack. To make up for that, I blend teas and herbals with the harvested greens and flowers, either those she’s grown or those that we wildcraft. This year we had a fantastic harvest of wild bergamot, and with a bit of black tea and lavendar, we’re going to have a marvelous Earl Grey for Yule breakfast!

Q: Do you encourage your children to follow the same path as you, to find their own or a mixture of the two?

I’ve always encouraged the girls to find their own ways, as did their father who is atheist. When Rhiannon was young, she had a deep interest in the protestant church, then briefly in the local baptist church. After a very, very brief visitation to a pentecostal gathering, she has found her path as pagan.   My youngest, Carrie – she was casting circles in the backyard before she was four, before she’d ever seen one done. Although she had a brief flirtation with the United Church where we live, it turned out she was there mostly to argue philosophy with the Bible school teacher. That lasted all of half a morning… she’s just always been on this path, I think right from the day she was born.

Q: Your Yule chapbook is now available; can you tell us a little about the chapbook series? What made you decide to release them?  

Ah, yes! That little ebook has created quite a bit of excitement here. The girls have been thrilled to watch the numbers at Amazon. They know what I do for a living, of course, but this is the first time they’ve been involved as well. We’re all thrilled that there are going to be more kids out there that will have fun with the activities and recipes.   Two years ago, the chapbook series started out as a project for the three of us to work on together, as a way to teach them more of our path, and to help share what they’ve learned and what we do as a family. Being a pagan family was all new to me – my family may have been saturated with the customs etc., but they were always practicing protestants. Quite WASP, actually. When the girls were young, I was at a loss for the what and the how – we no longer had access to the library I had studied in, and at the time we weren’t connected to the internet. It wasn’t until 1999 that we began to connect with other local pagans (to my shock!)… Anyway, the girls and I were talking about it and we all seemed to come to the same idea, why not take what we’d started with Sprites Pagan Kids (on my website) and expand it for the sabbats!   And we did. So far we have Yule finished and published, and Litha was released as a handmade chapbook about 18 months ago. I’ve got it formatted now for e-books, and hope to have it available through the same venues as Yule soon.   Imbolc is in the final tweaking stages, and should be available around January 1st. After that, the sabbats will be released about six weeks ahead, until we wrap up at Samhain next year.

Q:Could you tell us a little bit about your own Yule celebrations?

Has there been a particular Yule which is more memorable than the rest?   We haven’t really had that many Yule celebrations as a family, in the larger scope of things. Although I stepped out of that closet in ’97, it wasn’t until after the girls and I were on our own that we really began celebrating Yule separately from Christmas. Before that, I was focused on Christmas celebrations with the family (I have a large family that used to gather together, sometimes up to 35 people), and Yule was also my wedding anniversary. Between 1999 and 2002, I also had a small gathering with the grove, usually just an exchange of cards and the imbibing of a great deal of coffee.   Now though, we celebrate with our grove, Glas Celli. There are about ten of us, give or take… We welcome the return of the Sun, and honor the Lady as she prepares to rest until spring. A version of the ritual we used as a sample for the Yule ebook is performed, and our HPs will follow that with a prayer from the Ceisir Serith’s A Handbook of Pagan Prayer. Then it’s on to the feast, which is pretty traditional except for the lack of turkey. Everyone gets turkey with their extended families, so we tend to go for ham or roast. We all share the cooking duties: HPs generally provides the meat and potatoes, the girls and I do the veggies and salads, and other members provide the rest.   If we haven’t all exploded from over-indulging, we let the little ones into the gifts. This year we have two babies celebrating their first Yule, so we’re all quite excited.

Our most memorable Yule though… it was a combination Yule/anniversary/life celebration. 1994 – my then-husband and I had been married for a year, and it had been a very hard one on both of us. He’d lost a job, I was at home with two babies (Rhiannon was preemie, and delayed in her development) and pretty much exhausted. We had money enough to last until the end of the month, but that was it.   The day of our anniversary – Yule – he received a job offer that really opened up our options, and lifted the stress we’d been under. Well, most of it. He loaded us into a car, and we went shopping… the first time the girls had seen the stores all lit up and shining. Rhia picked out presents for herself and Carrie, and then we picked up pizza.   At home, I cast a circle and we ate inside it… we’d received a blessing that night. Despite everything that’s come since, that will always be my favorite Yule.

Egyptian Demons & Magick

By Mogg Morgan

Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt

is an exploration of the role of “demons” in Egyptian magick and acts as an introduction to my use, together with fellow adepts of “The Companions of Seth”, of techniques from the Egyptian exorcism cult known as “Zar”. The Zar cult is a folk magical tradition from the Arabic world, principally Egypt and Sudan; that makes use of music and dance to “exorcise” intrusive spirits or Djinn. I first learnt of the cult from I M Lewis’s classic study of Ecstatic Religion a study of shamanism and spirit possession, so naturally my interest was drawn to piece a book by Jan Fries that detailed the foundation myth of the Zar tradition, as originating in Pharaonic Egypt.

Over the last few years several new highly technical academic studies have yielded yet more useful ritual information and indeed some corroboration of many assumptions in my own book. Robert Ritner is an Egyptologist whose work has become increasingly well known amongst the practitioner community as a vital source on ancient magic. Since the 1980s the academic study of magic has been revolutionised by people like Robert Ritner.

In a new essay Ritner further unravels the details of Ancient Egyptian demonology and shows how it eventually emerged as the driving force of Egyptian magic. One cannot get very far in this study without encountering the god Seth, who so often provides the archetype of the demonic entity. “The trickster character of Seth is well-known, but his ambiguous qualities can be shared by other gods.” Thus in a dramatic text well known as The Contendings of Horus & Seth, the underworld deity Osiris threatens a demonic attack against the other gods in the celestial tribunal if they do not hurry and make a decision. Or consider the action of Sekhmet as plague goddess particularly associated with the liminal space between the old and new year, sending forth her deadly seven arrows.

Hatayw, Shamayw and Akhw are common names for demons in the Egyptian language. I’ve transcribed this in the easiest way for the practitioner, the ‘w’ should be pronounced as a vowel – oo as in new; I give the computerised transcriptions in a footnote.

Hatayw is often translated as ‘Knife bearers’, ‘murderers’, ‘night spirits’ depending on the content.

Shamayw are ‘wandering demons’.

Akhw variously as ‘undead’, ‘transfigured dead’, ‘ghosts’.

Ritner’s essay concentrates on the Hatayw. In Late Egyptian language the term shortened to Hawet, Demotic Hayet, Coptic Shayet all meaning ‘inspiration’, ‘exorcism’, ‘doom’, ‘fate’, ‘fury’, or ‘curse’, depending on the context.

In the final millennial of ancient Egyptian history, in the seventh century bce, these could become personal protectors and are then called Pa-na-hatayw or Nas-na-hatayw (both meaning “he of the slaughtering demons”). In Ptolemaic Thebes there was a full-blown cult of the Hatayw (genies) that had its own dedicated prophet (hem neter). Later still one finds the syncretic deity Tutu (twtw), popular in the oases, whose name means “image” of the “collectivity” of disease bringing demons. Magical practice often does involve interaction with disease entities of one kind of another, one sees this very clearly in late the origins of Hindu Tantra and Kaula.

Although “the Egyptians did not live in terror of their gods’ capricious whims nor was Egyptian theology fixated on the vindictive or jealous nature of a god in the manner of Genesis 20: 5” even so healing spells often paired demons and gods together as possible disease causing entities.

The late Egyptian tale or Report of Wenamon has an episode in which Hatayw is, translated as ‘frenzied’, and used in a significant way: “when he sacrificed to his gods…the god seized one of his noble youths, [a medium] making him frenzied, so that he said: “Bring [the god] hither! Bring the messenger of Amon who hath him. Send him and let him go.”  Now , when the frenzied youth continued in frenzy during this night, I found a ship bound for Egypt, and I loaded all my belongings into it. I waited for the darkness, saying: “When it descends, I will embark the god also, in order that no other eye may see him.”

Hatayw is also used in the account of the Bentresh Stela, a monumental inscription of the Persian times although falsely ascribed to Ramesses II, presumable to give it extra authority. In this regard it is similar to the pseudo authorship of  magical texts such as Testament of Solomon. The stele contains a long tale of the relationship between Great King Ramesses and the distant princedom of Bakhtan, perhaps Bactria on the Pakistan/Afghan border. After a successful diplomatic exchange between the two kingdoms, they cement the relationship with a marriage of the Bactrian prince’s sister, she becoming one of Ramesses many royal wives. Years later news arrives from the young queen’s homeland that a mysterious malady had seized the body of her  younger sister Bentresh and she that  is possessed by a spirit (akhw).

Ramesses summons learned priests from the Theban House of Life attached to the temple of the moon god Khonsu. One is dispatched to Bactria to investigate and reports that the princess Bentresh is indeed possessed by a spirit and that he is an enemy with whom one could fight, although the priest needs a special object to finish the job. A statue representing a special form of Khonsu (Khonsu-who-determines-fate) is duly dispatched from the temple to Bactria.

After a very long journey the “god” arrives and prepares to make a magical  protection to cure the stricken princess. Then the spirit speaks to Khonsu: welcome in peace, great god, who expels disease demons! Bactria is your home, its people are your servants, and I am your servant! I shall go to the place from which I came, so as to set your heart at rest about that which you came for. May your majesty command to make a feast day with me and the prince of Bactria. Then the ‘god’ motioned approval to his priest, saying let the prince of Bactria make a great offering before this spirit.

While all this was happened the prince and his soldiers were very frightened, but they did what was required, organised a great feast for the entire day and at the end of it the spirit departed and the princess was cured.

The technique of animating statues with divine entities is a core technique of Egyptian magical practice. The way the statue indicates its desire usually involves some kind of forward or backward movement, rocking or change of position.

The story is almost identical to the foundation myth of the modern day Zar cult. It again shows that the “exorcism” in antique magick does not involve violent expulsion of a spirit, at least not as the preferred option. “Exorcism” is much more of a dialogue or transaction which in this instance ends in a wild party that all participants, including sick person undoubtedly enjoyed.

Both texts, the Voyage of Wenamun and the Bentresh Stella use a similar technical magical word for the process of expelling the demon. This is the Hatayw – which has connotations of frenzied, fury but also ecstasy leading to kathathis. It can be something one casts against another, or a power that possesses the magician bestowing the ability to conjur and prophesy. From earliest times in the Old Kingdom Egypt it denoted a class of disease entities but later, in the twilight of Egyptian culture, it meant the magician’s power to enchant and conjure. It is from this base that the technique passes westwards into the grimoire traditions of Europe and eastwards into the religious impulse that in about the 8th-9th ce became Kaula and Tantra.

In the Companions of Seth we are exploring and reviving many of these same techniques. I have also benefited much from the corporation of others in my workshops at Pagan gatherings that used Khemetic, postmodern versions of the same techniques. We are adapting traditional but simple Arab rhythms, blending them with late classical Egyptian magic from the Hermetical and Magical Papyri.

1   Morgan (2011) 2   Lewis (1971) 3   Fries (1996) Seidways, shaking, swaying and serpent mysteries. 4   Ritner (1993) The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, Chicago 5  Ritner, R (2012) “An Eternal Curse upon the reader of these lines ..” pp 3-? In Kousoulis P, (ed) Ancient Egyptian Demonology, Peeters.

6   Op cit p3 7   Other sources on demons: Te Velde LA I (1975); Meeks in Carelli, P; Vennus, Athribis, No 141 pp135-7 8   Computer transcription: xA(y)tyw = hatayw, pA-nA-xty-wy = pa-na-hatayw, Axw &  axw = Akhw (capitals for variation in spelling), SmAyw = shamayw 9    See Pestman RdeE 25 (1973) 10   Ritner op cit p 5 11   See for example amuletic decrees (a complete example is given in Supernatural Assault. 12   Col 1/39 & 40 13   Ritner (op cit) says the word translated as youth can also mean mediums and could even be a Semitic loan word meaning seer ( ‘ddn) 14   Lichtheim, M (1980) Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol III The Late period p 90sq. New translation in Simpson, W (ed) Literature pp361-6  col 611 35-36 15   See also BAw for magical power

Theft of the 7 Ankhs

By Judith Page

From my childhood I was fascinated by Ancient Egypt, the mystery of the pyramids, the lone Sphinx and the never-ending ever-changing colour of the river Nile. It is said that if you fall into the Nile you will always return to Egypt. In my youth when I was sailing on a felucca between Luxor and the West Bank, I didn’t hear the boatman’s order to duck my head as he moved the sail from side to side to catch small gust of wind. The wooden boom hit me in the head sending me plunging into the Nile waters.

Return I did, but have lost count of the times I’ve been to this land – beginning as a tourist in my early teens in the company of my grandmother, and later eventually working as part of a team in Abydos on the creation of a meditation centre.

Always the magic was there from the phantoms that appear in the desert region of Abydos to the mirages in the Sahara.

Mystery and magic go hand in hand when I think of Egypt and so many books on the subject have been written for adults; romance, adventure, tourism, history, archaeological – the list is endless. But what is available for children? Plenty of interactive games, marvellous historical tomes produced by the many museums of the world– but few are about adventure and Egyptian magic with children in mind!

So, I decided to remedy this and began in the year 2000 to write Theft of the 7 Ankhs. It is based on my childhood with my grandmother, a cousin who I adored, various characters I got to know when visiting Egypt, some famous and some infamous! My late friend Billie Walker-John I would say took the lead role as Meri-Khem; this being her magical name. Even my partner Alain is featured in the story and performs beautifully as Al-nia the shape-shifting Ushabti.

But what’s so special about Theft of the 7 Ankhs? And how can it compete with other books on magic written over the past ten years; what springs to mind is of course the famous Harry Potter series all steeped in magic. I am in no way competing with these stories as they all have their place in the scheme of things. What I have written is a different kind of magic, a magic that is not concocted, this magic is real; it was practised for thousands of years in ancient Khemit we know as Egypt. The magic exists still, if you want to tap into it.

Please bear with me, I’ll explain more – Although I use the word ‘magic’ which to many people tend to think that religion and magic of ancient Egypt are two separate practises, they are not – to these ancient folk, religion and magic was one and the same. It was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that played an essential part of ancient Khemit culture. It focussed on the Egyptian’s communication with a multitude of deities whom they believed to be present in, and indeed in control of the very forces and elements of nature.

The legends about these deities were meant to explain the origins and behavior of the forces they represented, and the practices of Egyptian belief were efforts to provide for the deities in order to gain their favour.

Ceremonial religious practice revolved around the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Even though he was human, the Pharaoh was believed to be descended from the gods. He acted as the mediator between his subjects and the gods, and was duty-bound to nourish the gods through ritualistic rites and offerings so that the gods could preserve order in the universe.

The state of Khemit gave enormous funds to the performance of these rituals and also to the construction of temples where these practises were carried out.

Individuals could also interact with deity for their own ends, asking for their help through offerings and prayers, or compelling the gods to act through magic.

Another very important aspect in the lives of the ancient Egyptians was the belief in the afterlife and the great importance they placed on funerary practices. They went to great efforts to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, donating and giving grave goods, and offerings to protect the bodies and spirits of the dead.

But what has all this got to do with Theft of the 7 Ankhs? The very essence of this ancient belief system is imbedded in the story and as the child reads, they effortlessly absorb knowledge and the magical practices of the main character Prince Setne Khaemwaset who at an early age becomes Sem priest to his father King Rameses the second. He was also Khemit’s greatest magician!

The story begins in ancient Egypt when the prince discovers a precious papyrus that reveals the hiding place of a legendary scroll and uses its secrets to create the magical collar of the seven ankhs. The ankhs are stolen, and a riddle is set that will disclose their locations. Ramose, a Time Lord, travels to the twentieth century to locate the riddle.

One piece is in the Cairo Museum, and the other belongs to Vida Richardson Hardy in England. Her Granddaughter Meri copies this fragment, and discovers a recipe for a magic mirror. Kenneth, Vida’s Grandson, identifies the second half of the riddle in Cairo. On a visit to London, he and Meri de-code the riddle, and venture back in time to Ancient Egypt to search for the seven ankhs.

But Kenneth realizes that Meri’s in danger – with the aid of the magic mirror, he goes to the rescue – but will he be able to save her?

I wrote Theft of the 7 Ankhs for children 9 to 12  – but hey, is there not a child in all of us?


Without warning, Meri made a sudden dash between the paws of Shu and began pounding on a limestone slab. The ground rumbled beneath her feet as the slab slowly dropped down into the rock.

‘Quickly, Khaem, let’s go,’ Meri said, signalling to him. ‘We need light.’ She touched the crystal in her circlet, emitting a beam of light. ‘I’ll go first.’

Down several steps and along a narrow passageway, they ran.

‘There’re no markings of any kind on these walls,’ Khaem observed, disappointed.

‘Here’re some small caverns,’ Meri said breathlessly.

‘Let me see.’ Khaem pushed past her and peered inside.

‘There are incised marks on this wall but nothing I recognize. Perhaps it’s the language of the gods.’

‘Let me see. I don’t know other languages, but it looks like Greek. The Ptolemies were Græco-regals for a time.’ Meri looked at the text. ‘It’s very strange,’ she continued, turning her head on the side. ‘If this is the Sphinx of Tomorrow, he represents the future. Maybe the ancients couldn’t read the future, and they just left a load of graffiti.’

‘Meri, look, it’s here in a niche. I’ve got the fifth ankh.’ Khaem seized it and held it briefly to his chest and sighed. ‘The ankh of truth. I don’t deserve it.’

‘Listen,’ said Meri, putting her hand up to silence Khaem.

‘I can’t hear anything.’

‘Ssh. Come on, run!’ she said and grabbed him by the hand. As they reached the outside of the Sphinx, the limestone slab slammed shut behind them.

‘Look, Khaem the sun’s setting, taking Tefnut with it. She’s disappearing again,’ Meri screamed. ‘We’ve got to get inside her to get the other ankh.’

Together they broadsided in the sand and slid towards the lion’s chest through an opening, landing with a thud on a stone floor.

‘Oh my gosh, Khaem. Look around you,’ Meri gasped as the beam from her circlet lit up a huge chamber. ‘One of the walls is made of crystal. There’s a picture of a boat, a bit like the Boat of Ra, and there are two figures on it. One looks like Horus. The other is a man kneeling down being welcomed by another. Look at the symbols, Khaem. Can you read them?’

‘Meri, this is incredible.’ Khaem was beside himself with excitement. ‘I can make out a few.’

As he ran his fingers over the signs, they emitted sounds. He suddenly cried out: ‘The stones in the ankhs are vibrating.

I can’t move my fingers from the wall.’

Meri ran over, trying to pull him away. ‘The sounds are swirling round in my head,’ she cried, letting go of him and cupping her hands over her ears. ‘Aaaagh,’ she cried in pain, uanable to help him.

Khaem screamed: ‘Mmmerrrrihelllllpmeeeeeeee.’ His body shuddered, and his face contorted.

Suddenly, the symbols left the wall and travelled in sequence along the crystal beam of light, disappearing into the crystal circlet on her head.

Khaem fell away from the wall and collapsed on the floor.

Meri’s eyes glowed like orbs. She opened her mouth, uttering sounds that ricocheted around the chamber. A voice from within her spoke, forming multidimensional pictures around the words:

‘At the dawn of our beginning the heavens were much closer to earth, and we, the Neters, were more familiar with man. In those days, we could walk the land between heaven and earth. We were able to cross the abyss to create reality.

We created this room and hid these secrets beneath Tefnut, our Guardian of the West. Within her is the entire history of Zep Tepi. But man changed and was not ready for this knowledge, so we took Tefnut away from view. Within her are the keys.’

Meri blinked and looked at Khaem, who stared

wide-eyed at her.

‘Have you keys that hold the secret?’ pressed Khaem.

‘Yes,’ the voice answered. ‘But they’re not keys: one has to utter sacred sounds. They’re multilayered sound forms that will pass you through to another dimension onto other planes, onto other spheres of being, to the greater and the higher—to the place of the Neters, the Home of Gods, to us.’

Meri didn’t have a clue what the voice was talking about, but Khaem stood tall and spoke to the being that had taken over the girl’s body.

‘Ra appeared before me in all his godlike forms. I saw him, and felt his essence. As his golden light surrounded me, he touched these keys.’ Khaem touched his collar with deep emotion, and uttered:

May these keys, these ankhs of life represent trust, blessing, courage, rebirth, truth, wisdom, and mystery. Each time you speak to the ankhs, the gemstones will resonate to your voice.’

‘If you have the seven ankhs, why are you here?’ the voice questioned.

‘We seek the ankh of wisdom, which was stolen from me and is hidden in this chamber,’ answered Khaem.

Meri closed her eyes and threw back her head. Her mouth twisted and contorted. Khaem recoiled in shock. She emitted a note so pure it rang round the chamber, ripping through the air and shattering the wall. Shards of crystal wafted around them like feathers, each the colour of a rainbow.

Khaem and Meri were bathed in wondrous light.

‘Khaem, look on your collar,’ she cried with joy. ‘It’s the sixth ankh.’

He touched his chest and bowed his head, ‘I thank thee, Meri-Khem.’

‘Ah… it was nothing really,’ she said, rubbing her neck. ‘My throat hurts a bit though.’

‘I’m not surprised. Where did you learn to utter such sounds?’

Meri shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. ‘The only sound I was taught to make was with a triangle.’

‘A triangle.’ This time Khaem shook his head.

‘We have to get out of here. Our Lady Tefnut has sealed the entrance from the outside and my incantation won’t work in here,’ he said, feeling the wall.

‘No problem. Look the crystal flakes are clearing, and there’s our way out,’ Meri ran towards a doorway that led into a tunnel.

Theft of the 7 Ankhs is available in hardback and Kindle E-book.

· Reading level: Ages 9-12

· Paperback: 320 pages

· Publisher: AuthorHouse (May 23, 2011)

· Language: English · ISBN-10: 1452073279

· ISBN-13: 978-1452073279

By the same author:

Song of Set (hard copy – Aeon Publications and E-book – Kindle)

Song of Meri-Khem (hard copy – Mandrake Publishers and E-book – Kindle)

Song of Bast (E-book – Kindle)

Pathworking with the Egyptian Gods (hard copy)

Invoking the Egyptian Gods (hard copy) available in December 2011

The Sepiroth From The Bottom Up (Part Two)

By Si Cash

(Part One featured in our Samhain 2011 issue)

Once the veil of Paroketh has been passed. And its interesting to note that a lot of rituals on passing this veil have allegories to light, lamps and covering/uncovering lamps. Then the next Sepiroth is Tipareth.
Tipareth is the 6th Sepiroth its a balance point. If you were to look at the ten Spheres and their relationship to the human body then its in the chest and heart area. Looking at the chest in a magical rather than medical sense, it was believed that this was a intersection between three elements, Air, Fire and Water, Where Water and Fire combined made the blood and Air was the lungs which circulated and cooled it. Its associations are with the Sun, heat and life-giving properties. Which going back to the veil of Paroketh then Tipareth is the light which illuminates, As well as the heat which gives the power to all things to grow.

Yet Tipareth is a growing child. Associated with youth and playfulness. It is the sixth Sepiroth and is associated with the sixes of the Tarot all of the sixes, allude to finding the balance, or accepting solutions, but Tipareth is a temporary state, a place that is cyclic in nature just as the sunny day will give way to the night then the nature of Tipareth is to find a balance and then move on. Because of its Appolian as well as many other Solar Gods nature, its also useful for Mathematical workings and logically attacking problems.

When working in Tipareths a great place to physically re-energise oneself, Like a battery though that energy must be used it cannot be stored indefinitely as it will gradually dissipate. This energy can be channel in all directions. First of all down to Hod and Netzach or up to Geburah and Chesed. The closest Spheres. But also to Yesod, Binah, Chockma and Kether. This makes Tiparthet unique in the Kabbalistic tree as the one which is most directly connected to the others.

There is a more sinister, or to be more precise Sacrificial nature to Tipareth, Just as the corn grows in the sunlight it is harvested to be made into something finer. And Tipareth has these qualities too. The Gods of Jesus Christ and Osiris, Bringers of light and love and then themselves made sacrifice for the ‘greater good.’ or The law of conservation of energy and mass tends to corroborate this – in all cases of energy transmutation, a sacrifice is necessary so a new form may be born.

In my own experience Tipareth manifests itself in very physical ways. When performing the Ceremonial Magic ritual of ‘The Middle Pillar’ the concentration of energy from Tipareth can warm the whole of the body. Certain other CM rituals use Tipareth a focus point to draw in or expel energy from.

Travelling on and up then the fifth and fourth Sepiroth are Geburah and Chesed respectively. Like Hod and Netach discussed before they are Spheres of opposing qualities.

First is Geburah as in this day and age it is the Sepiroth who’s forms and emanations we are most familiar with. It is the Martial sphere, Associated with Mars, War, Aries, Hours and Thor amongst others. But this only tells half of the story, these Martial aspects are the more superficial aspects which should be examined and used when necessary but as we are travelling up the Kabbalistic tree here then the act of war is left behind and its important to concentrate on the reasons for this course of action. Concepts such as Justice, Strength, and the execution of Judgement’s to use a fruity metaphor, the stone is the concept and the flesh is the action-which in the case of Geburah usually results in something combative or creative, creation can be a destructive act especially forms of creation such as sculpting or carving. The creation practised here is not the calculated planned creativity of Netach-Hod-Yesod or a combination thereof, but the more primal and misunderstood side of things, This is the Sphere which if untempered can cause the artists to turn the energy inwards upon themselves and self destruct. The example which springs to mind here is Van Goth:
The left hand column of Boaz is classed as negative energy. Yet its probably better to think of a 4 way polarity not just a Left/Right Negative/Positive but also a Up/Down or North/South a more…well Elemental rather than just dualistic scale.

Its interesting to note that Scientists are starting to apply this 4 way model to energies now. Particularly in the fields of Magnetism and Electricity.

Without the negative there would be no positive. From my youth and training as a Electrical Engineer It is the negative that allows energy to flow. Something to bear in mind when studying and using the left hand Sepiroth.

Opposing Geburais Chesed, Sometimes know as dulha or ( this is Mercy to Geburas Severity. This is Water or the idea of Water to Geburah”s more Fiery actions, and while Fire can burn it can also warm, while water can give life it can also drown. Again superficially on the surface the qualities of Chesed are somehow ‘good’ actions. There is a deeper level of understanding required. To show Mercy then we have to understand that circumstances have driven us to that point of having to make that decision.

This is where translation from Hebrew and Aramaic languages into English causes some problems, there is no direct literal translation, the close concepts are Mercy, but to some scholars and in other languages Gedulha/Chesed can also mean Pity or Majesty, words which in English has completely different connotations. When dealing with these two Sepiroth then a little bit of thinking outside the rigid box of words is required. Look at the archetypes of the God of War and the Goddesses of Mercy and then the seemingly strange decision to place them in the Feminine for War and Masculine for Mercy columns. At first it makes no sense. Its only when a deeper understanding is reached that that decision becomes a little clearer. As I said in the previous part of this essay, notions such as gender become much more fluid the further away from Malkuth one decides to travel.

In both Geburah and Chesed actions in either one are not without consequences. This is why the balancing equilibrium of Tipaereth is so important.

Its interesting to note that some Kabbalists see the five Six Spheres of Yesod through to Chesed as a whole entity in itself, something which balances itself against the sheer mass of Malkuth.
The Origins of Christmas Traditions

By Jessica Howard

It’s that time of year again, and love it or hate it, there is no escaping Christmas. The shops are crammed with Christmas gifts and decorations long before December, Christmas songs are blasted from every available output and eating an entire box of chocolates before midday is quite often justified with the line, “Well, it is Christmas.” However you celebrate Christmas, under whatever name, there are certain customs and traditions that never seem to grow old, and are still observed by many today; Christmas trees, mistletoe, stockings for the children. But where did all these traditions start?

Christmas Stocking

According to legend, there was once a kind nobleman, who squandered his entire fortune after unfortunate death of his beloved wife, leaving his three daughters without dowries and thus doomed to a life of spinsterhood. The compassionate St. Nicholas, AKA Father Christmas heard of the girls hardship and so rode his white horse to their house and threw three pouches of gold coins down the chimney. The girls rejoiced, and hung them over the fireplace to dry, hence the popular imagery of the stocking over the fireplace, although these days with fireplaces very much out of fashion many people prefer to hang them at the end of the bed.


Mistletoe is in fact one of the many Christmas traditions with Pagan origins. Druid priests used Mistletoe some 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations, revering it for the fact that it had no roots yet somehow remained green throughout the winter months. It was believed to have healing powers, and used to ward off evil and an antidote for poison. It was also said amongst the Romans that any enemy who happened to meet under Mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

However, it is believed that the tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe actually originated with the Scandinavians. They associated the plant with Frigga, the Goddess of Love, and it was said that those who kissed under the Mistletoe were ensured happiness and good luck throughout the following year.

The Holly and the Ivy

Like the Mistletoe, boughs of Holly were also believed to have magical powers as they too remained green through the harsh winter. The Holly and Ivy were often placed above the doors of homes to drive away the evil spirits, the ghosts and demons that could be heard howling in the bitter winter winds. Legend also has it that Holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth, Holly leaves representing the pointed crown of thorns he wore upon the cross and the red berries symbolizing the blood that he shed.

There is also the famous and very similar Pagan story of the Holly and the Oak King; they fight at Yule, with the Oak King winning, (a symbolic representation of the waxing half of the year). The Oak King reigns until Midsummer, when they fight again and this time the Holly King (representing the waning half of the year) wins, and keeps his throne until Yule, where the cycle continues. Holly and Mistletoe were used to commemorate the battle, with Holly being hung for the Holly King, and the Mistletoe in honour of the Oak King.

Candy Canes

With the arrival of Christmas trees came special decorations used to dress them. Food items were a popular choice, such as cookies and candies, especially straight white candy sticks. It is said that it was during the 17th century that craftsmen began creating the white sticks of candy in the shepherds crook, or cane shaping that is familiar to us today at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. These treats were given to children during showings of the Nativity scene to keep the quiet, and the passing out of candy at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

Modern explanations of the symbolism of the Candy Cane explain that the colour white represents Christ’s purity and the red the blood that he shed, the presence of the three red stripes representing the Holy Trinity. Although there is no factual evidence to prove this, it is becoming an increasingly common belief.

Christmas Cards

Although a form of Christmas cards first began in England, when young boys would practise their writing skills by creating greetings for their parents, the first real Christmas card is credited to the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Sir Henry Cole. He found himself too busy during the Christmas of 1843 to compose individual greetings for all his friends, and so commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to do the illustration. This first actual Christmas card featured three panels, with the centre panel depicting your traditional family enjoying your traditional Christmas festivities, and inside the card was the message, ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.’

Christmas Trees

It is believed that it was in 26th century Germany that fir trees were first decorated, indoors and outdoors with items such as roses, apples, candy and coloured paper. The fir tree covered with apples was used to represent the Garden of Eden, and in the middle ages the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, ending with the prophecy of a saviour coming was a popular one to be replayed during the advent season. Protestant reformer Martin Luther was said to be the first person to decorate these trees with lights, inspired by the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir tree as he walked home one night.

The Christmas tree was brought to England by Prince Albert from his native Germany in 1848 for his wife and family, and was soon popularized so that by the late 19th century the Christmas Tree has established itself as an important Christmas tradition.

The fir tree has long been associated with Christianity. When St Boniface, who was busy converting the German people to Christianity some 1000 years ago, saw a group of Pagans worshipping an Oak tree, he cut it down in anger. To his amazement, a young fir tree sprouted from the roots of the tree, a sure sign in the eyes of St Boniface of the Christian faith.

Food and Drink

There are certain foods and drinks we only consume at Christmas, or mostly at Christmas. For example, mulled wine, again originally a German custom, is favoured because of its warmth at this cold time of the year. Mince pies are a British tradition, dating back to the 13th century when crusaders brought the recipe back from the Middle East. When first introduced, it was indeed the size of a traditional pie and known by many names, yet it has always been seen as a Christian custom; in fact, they were even banned during the English Civil War as it was viewed as primarily a Catholic custom. The mince pie later returned, in a smaller form and without the Catholic connotations it had held before. The Christmas pudding, or Plum pudding’s associations date back to Medieval Ages when the Catholic Church decreed that on the 25th of December, every household should prepare this pudding with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his 12 Apostles, and that every family member should take turns in stirring it in the direction of East to West to honour the Magi and their journey in that direction.

Father Christmas

The most notable Christmas tradition is that of Santa Clause, also known as Father Christmas or Kris Kringle. Often depicted as a large, jolly man dressed in red with a long, white beard, he is said to deliver presents to every child round the world on the 24th of December. There are many different cultural influences for this figure in every different country. St. Nicholas of Myra is the Christian influence for this universal figure.  He was known for his generous gift-giving, as in the story of the origins of the Christmas stocking. From Pagan Germany we have the figure of Odin, who was celebrated during Yule and owned an eight-legged horse that could leap through the sky, drawing comparisons to Santa’s reindeer. Children would fill their boots with straw and carrots and leave them by the chimney as an offering to Odin’s horse. In return, Oden would leave gifts and candy, a custom very akin to the popular tradition of leaving a glass of milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Dutch folklore has its own version of St Nicholas, or Sinterklaas. The peoples of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg believed that Sinterklaas arrived mid-November from Spain by steamboat with a notebook containing notes on every child and whether they had been good or bad that year, and awarded the good children with chocolate and spiced nuts. During the next three weeks, Sinterklaas deposits these gifts down peoples chimney’s as he rides across the sky on a white horse. It is easy to see the resemblances between these figures and the modern depiction of our Father Christmas.

Futhark: The Celtic Link

By Vincent Ongkowidjojo © 2011

One of the most shrouded mysteries of the runic alphabet is its early history. As a matter of fact, no-one can really say how the script originated. We know that the runes exist and were used by the Ancient Germanic peoples, but where did they come from? When were they invented? Why were they designed? Who first used these characters? Drawing parallels between the history of the Futhark and the Ogham alphabet might just shed light on this.

The two earliest rune finds are also the two most dubious. They both date from the first century CE and stem from the same area. The best known inscription comes from Meldorf, the other one from Osterrönfeld. Both are located in modern day Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, famous for its historical settlement Haithabu. This, and the fact that the early rune finds (200CE-400CE) concentrate around the area of northern Germany and southern Scandinavia, makes it difficult to ascertain any link with an original parent alphabet. We are therefore confronted with a gap of evidence in both space and time. The runic script just seems to be there.

The most accepted theory states that the rune alphabet is based on one or several of the North-Italic scripts, must have originated in the first or second century of our era and is probably the result of contact with the Roman world.

At the Limes

At the time of the theoretical invention of the runic script, the Continent was a natural mix of many different tribes. Some of them were Germanic, some of them were Celtic. And all the while, the Roman Empire tried to lay claim on all of them. To the outsider, such as the average Roman, they all looked the same, and not much distinction was made between possible differences in ethnicity. Indeed, the culture of these various tribes looked very similar and influenced each other.

In fact, many tribes were ethnically confused, both by Romans in their time and now by us. Some tribes held to be Germanic turned out to be Celtic, and vice versa. Especially, of the Cimbri the debate is still going which of them they are. Their homeland is supposed to be Jutland, Denmark, but words associated with their tribe point to a Celtic background. Similarly, the Heruli, whose tribe name may have provided for the word erilaz occurring so often in runic inscriptions, are not by any certainty a Germanic tribe. Scholars are still at a loss to explain their name. Alexander Rackus believes they are a Balto-Slavic tribe. And so it is with many a tribe. Of most we have only a name, and it cannot be said that we are dealing with either a Celtic or a Germanic tribe, or any other kind for that matter.

One of the more perplexing aspects that both cultures shared was the adoration of the Mothers. Celtic as well as Germanic individuals raised votive altars in honour of the so-called Matres or Matrones. Dedications appear on stone altars and are always written in Latin. Only the names of the divinized mothers show that we deal with a native practice. Half of the inscriptions honours Celtic deities and half of them Germanic ones.

These votive offerings date from the first to the fifth centuries CE, coinciding with the period of the early rune finds. Their occurrence reflects a certain level of literacy. In the least, it shows that both Germanic and Celtic peoples made use of the existing Latin. From different sources it is known that the Celtic peoples were inclined to use existing alphabets to write. Often Greek and Latin are cited, but they also deployed the North-Italic scripts for their business. The use of Greek and Latin scripts by Celtic and Germanic people makes one wonder why a native script was needful.

The Parallel History

Why did the Celts have need of an own alphabet? It is generally assumed that the Ogham was exclusively reserved for cultic purposes. All the while they kept to using Greek and Latin for the profane. It is also well known that the Druids of old and new are under a sort of geis not to commit their wisdom to writing. It is also quite widely suggested that the first uses of Ogham were divinatory in nature. All these motives do call for a more exclusive set of symbols.

The Druid approach to writing may fill in the gaps of the Germanic development of the runic alphabet. Academic scholars of the Futhark are wont to disregard the cultic aspect of the runes and attempt to reconstruct their history from a writing perspective only. The only exception seems to be Bernard Mees, who has published much on the cultic importance of runic writing in their early history. Can we suppose that the Ancient Germanic peoples designed the rune alphabet strictly to perform divination? To answer that question, we will have to look deeper into the parallels between the runic and the Oghamic script.

The Futhark and the Ogham are unique in Europe in that they are no copies of the archetypical Phoenician alphabet brought to Europe by the Greeks. However, both seem to draw inspiration from the Mediterranean alphabets, each in its own way. The Futhark draws heavily on the letter forms of these alphabets, whereas all other aspects, such as letter order and naming are entirely native to the Germanic culture. Contrarily, the Ogham borrows names from the Greek mother alphabet, but its letter shapes and order are entirely novel.

A list of rune shapes and their possible Mediterranean forerunners might be insightful, as also a small list of the Ogham names with their Greek models. In the table, Latin is preferred over Greek possibilities.

Fehu Latin F
Uruz Latin V
Thurisaz Latin D
Ansuz Latin A (?)
Raido Latin R
Kenaz Latin C
Gebo Greek Chi
Wunjo unknown
Hagalaz Latin H (?)
Nauthiz Latin N (?)
Isa Latin I
Jera Latin G
Eihwaz unknown
Pertho Greek Pi
Algiz unknown
Sowulo Latin S / Greek Sigma
Teiwaz Latin T
Berkana Latin B
Ehwaz Latin E (?)
Mannaz Latin M (?)
Laguz Latin L
Inguz unknown
Othila Latin O (?) / Greek Omega
Dagaz Double Latin D
Beith Greek Beta / Phoenician Beth
Nion Greek Nu / Phoenician Nun
Muin Greek Mu / Phoenician Mim
Ruis Greek Rho / Phoenician Resh
Ailm Greek Alpha / Phoenician Aleph
Eadha Greek Eta /Phoenician Chet
Idho Greek Iota / Phoenician Yod

It is interesting to note that the Ogham letters named after their Greek sisters are the heads of the different families or aicmí. The heads of the four families are Beith, Huath, Muin and Ailm. The odd ones out are Nion, Ruis, Eadha and Idho. Now, Huath might be the right original counterpart of Greek Eta (Phoenician Chet), because the Celtic letter alludes to the spiritus asper most commonly associated with Eta, H. Nion, Ruis and Idho are all the last letter of their group.

As regards to the Futhark, it has to be said that most letters are shared by the Latin and Greek alphabets. Of the runes Gebo and Pertho it is quite clear that the Greek script was followed. This is corroborated by the Gothic alphabet, where the Greek Pi provides both Gothic P and Q and where the Gothic G is rendered by the Greek Gamma.

It must be remembered that the Ancient Germanic inventors of the Futhark were probably acquainted with more than one script. Often, the North Italic script is the favoured one, but the North Italic area contained more than one alphabet. Surely, the Germanics came in contact with all these diverse alphabets and remembered what they could when they set about designing their own symbols. In the meanwhile, the Celts too adopted the North Italic alphabets, such as the Etruscan, in preference to the Greek alphabet for their own writing.

Sacred Space

One archaeological find binds all these data together. In 1811 a deposit of Etruscan helmets has been unearthed in modern Negova, Slovenia. The helmets were made between 450 and 350 BCE and were ritually deposited at circa 50 BCE. These types of helmets are known to be worn by priests. Two of about 26 helmets bear inscriptions, so-called Negau A and Negau B. They are all written in the North Etruscan script and carry only names. The Negau A helmet bears about four Celtic names and the Negau B helmet bears one Germanic name and a title. It is supposed that these inscriptions give a date before which the runic alphabet had not been designed yet, neither would the Ogham have been. The inscriptions date between 200 and 100 BCE.

The Negova site may have been a nemeton that was visited by Celtic and Germanic priests alike. The Negau B helmet glosses the Germanic person teiva which can be translated as

‘priest’. Maybe Negova was one of the old centres of learning where initiates of the different mystery schools of Europe met and gathered. In the Celtic tradition, it is fairly well documented that Druids frequented the mystery schools of Ancient Greece and implemented lots of their knowledge. The almost Greek sounding names of some of the key Ogham fews bear testimony to this. In the same way, we see how the Greek system of alphabetic numbering is adopted by Wulfila when he designs his Gothic alphabet in the fourth century CE. We must be aware of the likelihood of communication between Druids and Germanic cultic functionaries at a regular basis. The cultures mixed, there was no fixed border between them, they had lived alongside each other for centuries since and routes of commerce run up and down their territories. It would make awkward neighbours if they didn’t speak to each other once in a while.

As a matter of fact, the Germanic word for a secret gathering is ‘rune’ and has been joyfully adopted by the Celtic priesthood. The Germanic word is actually quite well represented in the Celtic languages, such as Old Irish (500CE-1000CE) and Middle Welsh (1100CE-1400CE). Even in Viking times, the term still denotes a meeting. It might be from this meaning in the context of the alphabet’s conception that the word was first associated with this set of symbols.

In this respect, it might be useful to mention the Gundestrup cauldron. In 1891, the item was found in a place called Gunedstrup, Jutland, Denmark. It dates from the second or first century BCE. The size and iconography of the cauldron define it as a ritual object. The item has been found dismantled and deposited at Gundestrup, which suggests ritual use. According to specialists, the metalwork is Thracian in origin, but the depicted scenes are generally assumed to be Celtic. This might locate a place of origin nearer to the Negova site. More importantly, scholars cannot tell how the cauldron ended up in Denmark, but it may just prove a link between Celtic and Germanic mystery schools.

In Words and Wood

In comparing the time line of Futhark and Ogham, we see that the first Ogham inscriptions only occur from the fourth century onward. They appear on stone monuments and are found mostly in Ireland and Wales. The peak of inscriptions dates between 400 and 600 CE. When it comes to runes, we already possess a small corpus of inscriptions on different materials by that time, but curiously, inscriptions on stone monuments only appear from the fourth century onward and have their heyday in the same period (400CE-700CE).

Scandinavian rune stones are usually set in a funerary context, but also had a bearing on a person’s rights to land. However, the Ogham inscriptions mostly carry personal names and genealogical information, such as the name of a tribe that a person belonged to. Possibly, monumental stones in both traditions had a similar, legal, function. It is, however, queer that both traditions start at about the same time and it looks like one may be a response to the other. And maybe the creation of either the Futhark or the Ogham was also a reaction to the other.

The start of the stone monument tradition in either tradition may indicate a change in philosophy towards the employment of a magical alphabet. Given that Ogham was written exclusively on wood until that time, it will originally have served only cultic purposes. In the same way, all early rune find inscriptions are cultic in nature. Somehow this changed in the fourth century and a more profane use of runes and Ogham alike was suddenly applied. At the same time, we notice that the frequency of the key word erilaz in runic inscriptions suddenly decreases.

Since wood is a hard material to trace in the archaeological record, the creation history of the Ogham alphabet, as with the runes, has been shrouded in myth. Nevertheless, an approximate date of the creation of the Ogham can be fixed to no later than the first half of the first century CE. The Ogham alphabet as we know it displays a Q-Celtic basis. After the conquest of Gaul by Caesar, P-Celtic became more widespread on the Continent. Hence the early date. Intriguingly, the first possible rune finds date from the same period.

On Divination

Among Celtic scholars it is more commonly accepted that their native alphabet was used for divination. This would account for the gap in time between the conquest of Gaul and the first Ogham inscriptions. Runologists, however, seem reluctant to accept a thesis that explains the conception of the Futhark as a divinatory means or a magical alphabet. Yet, it does not seem unimaginable that the runic alphabet was designed to cater for a magico-religious need. For the Northern tradition, the thesis relies on the account of Tacitus (ca.98CE). The Celtic tradition finds evidence in the tale of The Wooing of Étaín. The written text dates from the eighth or ninth century.

Tacitus relates how a branch is cut and made into wooden slips. These are marked with signs. Then, they are randomly thrown on a white cloth. And finally, the person leading the ceremony takes up three and interprets them according to their marks. Tacitus uses the Latin word nota to describe these markings. According to Bernard Mees, we can safely assume that these are runes. He argues that Tacitus seldom Latinized barbarous words, but ever looked for a good Latin translation. Mees also assures us that the meaning of notae with all its connotations perfectly describes the concept of a rune, namely “alphabetical characters of any sort employed in … divination”.

The Wooing of Étaín

tells of how King Eochu Airem of Ireland lost his love Étaín to Midir in a game. Midir takes off and hides the girl, but King Eochu asks a Druid to find their hiding place. So, the Druid makes four rods of yew wood and writes an Ogham on each. Much as the Futhark, the Ogham is divided in different families. They are called aicmí and there are four. It is generally accepted that the four yew staves refer to the four aicmí. Possibly, the number of runes interpreted in the report of Tacitus equally refers to the three ættir of the Futhark. Incidentally, a threefold division might have been original in the early Ogham as well. The fourth aicme was only added later to provide for foreign sounds and still later for the vowels. The four staves of yew also feature in the story of The Phantom’s Frenzy. In this case, the Ogham is applied to select a king at a ceremony. The text was written down in the tenth or eleventh century.

The use of yew wood offers another clue. Druids preferred yew over other sacred woods to make divining rods from. This ties in with the role yew plays in the Northern lore, where it is associated with the World Tree Yggdrasil. The mythical tree has a direct relationship with divination. Between its roots lies the Well of Urd where the Norns reside and rule the fate of men and gods. It is also this well from which the prophetess of Voluspa is summoned. In the story, she divines the outcome of the last battle. Even more so, it is probably in this well that Odin found the runes hanging from the tree. Indeed, the sacred well and the tree are a motif well documented in Celtic lore. Plus, the yew features in both alphabets.

Wood in general seems to have been the preferred medium to consult the wisdom of the gods and both runes and Ogham seem to have been specifically designed for this kind of medium. Both scripts avoid curved lines and the letter shapes make us suspect wood as a primary carrier. As a synonym for ‘rune’ the Ancient Germanic word stabaz ‘stave’ supports the vision that runes were originally cut in wood, and probably used for divinatory purposes. Mees also points out that Celtic words for fate derive from a meaning of casting wood. This divination method is recorded as prinni loudin in the first century CE Coligny calendar, France. This lemma on the calendar is the name of a ritual and literally means ‘the throwing of the woods’. It is possibly connected with Ogham. Mees also reminds us that the morpheme ‘book’, as in German Buchstabe or Old Icelandic bók-rúnar, does not refer to the beech tree, but stems from an Indo-European root *bhag meaning ‘share’ and secondary ‘lot, fate’.

An exclusive application of the Ogham alphabet in wood can make up for the gap in time and space between the supposed conception before the time of Caesar on the Continent and the first inscriptions in the fourth century on the British Isles. If the names of the Ogham fews are studied, it appears that most of the vegetation referred to was only found on the Continent, not on the Isles.

Ogma and Odin

One of the earliest sources of the Ogham names is the Auraicept na n-Éces and stems from Ireland, dated to the seventh century CE. The Auraicept places the origin of the Ogham in Ireland, but claims the god Ogma to be its inventor. From Roman historians, we know that the same deity was known on the Continent as Ogmios, facilitating a Continental origin for the alphabet. His mention in historiographies coincides with the early dating of the creation of the Ogham alphabet. He was a poet and a god of eloquence, likened to Hercules but visualized as an old man.

The tradition of a deity ruling an alphabet is widespread but finds its direct parallel in the Norse god Odin. However, the tradition goes back much further and might well have been inspired on the Mediterranean cultures. The Latin alphabet was invented by Mercurius and the Greek alphabet by Hermes, who was Trismegistos, tracing the tradition back to the Egyptian role model Thoth. All of these gods share the same qualities. They rule both the written word and magic.

What is the connection between Ogmios/Ogma and Odin? As a god of poetry Ogmios/Ogma is nicknamed the Honey-Mouthed. This name corresponds to Odin’s heiti Farma-Tyr, referring to the myth in which he carries off the Mead of Poetry. He actually holds the mead in his mouth. Ogmios/Ogma is also called Sun-Faced. There does not seem a direct correlation, but Odin’s epithet One-Eyed might needs be of Celtic origin. In Celtic myth, one-eyed creatures are common and usually linked with the sun. To this, Odin’s nicknames Báleygr ‘flaming eye’ and Bileygr ‘shaking eye’ might testify.

Besides the comparison between Odin and Ogmios/Ogma, there seems be an even more exciting parallel. In my opinion, it might be possible to see a link between the poet god Ogmios/Ogma and Bragi the skald. And this parallel would be supported by information regarding Bragi’s wife, Idun.

In the Irish tradition, the wife of Ogma was Étan, sometimes spelled Eadán, and sometimes confused with Étaín. On homophonous grounds, there might well be a link between Étan/Étaín and the Norse goddess Idun. The Irish story of The Wooing of Étaín is paralleled by the Norse story of the abduction of Idun. By some evil cause Loki leads away Idun from Asgard and lets her being kidnapped by the giants and taken into the Otherworld. Loki is also the one that gets her back. In the same way, Étaín is kidnapped by Midir of the Sídhe. Interestingly, both stories feature the shapeshifting of the girl, a theme well known from Celtic sources but much less so in Old Icelandic literature.

Now, Bragi was a poet and a god of eloquence. He was possibly named after a ninth century skald, but has been integrated in the Viking pantheon as a son of Odin. He is an aspect of Odin. He is depicted as an old man with a long beard, symbolizing his wisdom. The Roman historiographer Lucian writes that Ogmios “is represented  as pulling along behind him a mass of men all kept together with gold and amber chains through their ears … the god’s tongue has been perforated so that it appears to be pulling along the men while the god turns smiling towards them”. It is a symbol of his eloquence. What is more, it relates directly to a cryptic passage in Sigrdrifumal where Bragi is said to have a rune inscribed on his tongue. Might Bragi be identified as Ogma?

On Poetry

Typical of the oral tradition is that the names of the runes and the names of the Ogham fews are only known from the manuscript tradition onwards. No doubt, these names were orally transmitted using mnemonic poems. The earliest attestation of the rune names is found in the Abecedarium Nordmannicum, a ninth century manuscript probably written at the Fulda monastery, Germany. The earliest attestation of the Ogham names is found in the Auraicept na n-Éces mentioned above, from the seventh century.

According to Alan Griffiths, the Abecedarium is modeled on the Celtic tradition to compose such verses. The contemporary Irish community in Northumbria would have influenced the native Anglo-Saxon intelligentsia in this respect. This would have led to the composition of the Old English Rune Poem as early as the seventh century, attributed usually to the eighth to ninth century, and would have inspired the composition of such poems as the Abecedarium.

Proof of the Old Irish influence would be found in the stanzas of the Old English Rune Poem. Griffiths sees a link between the commentaries on the Ogham letters and the stanzas of the Old English runes. He discusses in particular three runes, namely Hægl, Eolhx and Dæg, concluding that the stanzas of these runes correspond to the kennings of the same letters in the Celtic alphabet, Huath, Straif and Duir. According to his theory, the names of the Celtic letters were in turn based on Greek and Latin glosses, implying that the naming of the runes might have been a continuation of this tradition – or a parallel development.

From a personal word from Freya Aswynn, with the voice of Odin, I know that the Germanic peoples learned their poetry from the Celts. In the old days, poetry was the key to all knowledge and transference of knowledge. One aspect typical of oral lore written down in the Old Irish tradition is that it was framed as questions and answers. The Auraicept is a good example of this. The same technique rings through in the Eddic poems, such as Vafthrudnismal and Alvissmal. This might be due to skalds that were trained by bards and Druids.

The Germanic people would not only have adopted the naming tradition but also the tradition of composing mnemonic poems. As it stands, from a wider perspective, the runic alphabet might be a Celtic invention. In fact, the Younger Futhark, possibly from before the time of the Abecedarium, is included as one of the 150 different Oghams that Druids had to learn in the first three years of their training. At the least, this has endowed the Celtic research with an open mind lacking in the study of the Northern tradition.

One wonders whether a similar tradition existed in Ancient Scandinavia, in which different Futharks had to be memorized. First of all, it is almost certain that the Younger Futhark and the Elder Futhark coexisted for some time. Secondly, the Old Norwegian Rune Poem seems to be very precise as what had to be memorized. In this poem, each rune has two lines. The first line describes the name of the rune and, according to Bernd Neuner, the second line described the shape of the rune. Thirdly, the Old Icelandic Rune Poem gives not just the kennings, but also Latin glosses and names for ‘chief’. The latter comes very close in likeness and technique to the secret Oghams that had to be studied.

The ‘Chief Futhark’ would run thus: Fylkir, Vísi, Þengill, Oddviti, Ræsir, Konungr, Hildingr, Niflungr, Jöfurr, Allvaldr, Siklingr, Tiggi, Buðlungr, Mildingr, Lofðungr, Ynglingr. Possibly, a Futhark of god names had also existed in earlier times. This would account for the fact that the first ætt is called Frey and not Fé. It explains why this rune is named Frey in later Icelandic sources.

More Parallels Within

To support a common origin of Futhark and Ogham, a further curiosity of the alphabets themselves has to be discussed. One of the greatest mysteries of the Elder Futhark besides its origin is the enigma of the letter P. The names of the elder runes are only known through the Rune Poems, the Old English one especially, and the Gothic Alphabet. The Old English Rune Poem stems from the eighth century, whereas the names of the Gothic runes are only known from a treatise by Alcuin, written in the ninth century. However, they agree on the letter P, naming it respectively Peorð and Pairthra. The Ancient Germanic reconstructed form is Pertho.

What makes this rune so elusive is that the name has no counterpart in any Germanic language. Moreover, the rune was not retained in the Younger Futhark. Neither was it used in Early Germanic runic inscriptions. The stanza on this rune from the Old English Rune Poem has made interpretation only more difficult. The only plausible solution appears to be that the name is Celtic in origin. A Germanic Pertho might stem from the Celtic word for apple tree, Quert. In my opinion, the naming of the Gothic alphabet helps in deciding on the truth, since the alphabet has also Qairthra. It shows almost beyond doubt the Celtic P/Q-split. Examining the Gothic alphabet both letters are each other’s mirror image. They belong together. Their letter shape also seems to derive from the Greek letter Pi, strengthening the above theory.

Why this name was chosen for an otherwise Germanic alphabet is a mystery. Unless… Perhaps it might be too far-fetched to say that the Futhark was originally designed for the Celtic language, but it might just be near the truth to suggest that it was in fact designed or co-designed by Celtic initiates.

Similarly, the Celtic alphabet has somehow two redundant characters. These are Huath and Straif, representing the letter H and an unknown sound. As a matter of fact, these Ogham fews are not recorded in the epigraphical material. The Celtic language knows no consonant H, yet Huath is put together with other consonants. What is more, even if the Ogham derives from a Latin or Greek model, these languages had no letter H either. The Germanic people, however, did. The letter Straif is a little harder to place.

You would almost imagine that they swopped letters. The swopping of letters seems to point to some form of cooperation between the Celtic and the Germanic intelligentsia. It seals a pact. What we are faced with reminds me a little of the myth of the war of Aesir and Vanir. Legend says that both races of gods matched each other in war. Neither one can overcome the other. In the end, they call a truce. And to seal this pact of peace, they swop hostages. Njord of the Vanir and his children will live in Asgard from now on. Mimir and Hœnir of the Aesir will live in Vanaheim. Having the history of the twin alphabets in mind, this sounds much too alike to dismiss.

Maybe another bit of runic myth can tentatively be related to this parallel history. It is said that Odin finds the runes, but by that time they are already in existence, even loaded with power. Before that they were somehow created. According to both the Eddic poems and Early Germanic inscriptions, the runes come from the Regin. They invented the runes. They are a non-specified class of gods that were linked with the unfolding of creation. But the word regin means ‘advisor’. Who knows the Druids were meant.


What we end up with is two European scripts with a parallel history so close that they might have been invented at the same time by the same people and at one and the same place. Both alphabets in their own way seem to draw from Mediterranean tradition and deviate from it. The arrangement of sounds is different in both alphabets and entirely new for both scripts. Both alphabets would initially have been designed for cultic, specifically divinatory purposes, to be inscribed on wood. Maybe it was a test which one worked best? By the looks of both alphabets, they seem to have been planned events. And by the looks of it, they seem to stem from the same period and from the same geographical area. Might it be too much to imagine that Celtic initiates and Germanic initiates sat together one day and made plans to design a magical alphabet?

450-350 BCE Negau helmets made
200-100 BCE Negau helmets A & B
200-0 BCE Gundestrup cauldron
50 BCE Negau helmets deposited
0-500 CE Matres/Matrones inscriptions by Celtic and Germanic people in Latin
50 CE Caesar’s invasion
50 CE Latest timing invention Ogham
50-100 CE First runic finds
100 CE Tacitus’s Germania
350 CE Wulfila’s Gothic Alphabet
400 CE First Ogham inscriptions
400-700 CE Rune stones Elder Futhark
500-1000 CE Old Irish language period
600-700 CE Auraicept na n-Éces
700-800 CE Gothic rune names by Alcuin
700-900 CE Old English Rune Poem
700-900 CE The Wooing of Étaín
800-900 CE Abecedarium Nordmannicum
800-900 CE Alcuin’s Gothic letter names
900-1100 CE The Phantom’s Frenzy



Rolf H. Bremmer, Hermes-Mercury and Woden-Odin as Inventors of Alphabets: A Neglected Parallel, in: Old English Runes and their Continental Background, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 1991.


Gregory A. Clouter, The Lost Zodiac of the Druids, Vega, 2003.


Stephen E. Flowers, How to Do Things with Runes: A Semiotic Approach to Operative Communication, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.


Alan Griffiths, Rune-Names: the Irish connexion, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.


Stewart R.A. Macalister, The Secret Languages of Ireland, Armorica Book Co/APA-Philo Press, 1976, reprinted by Craobh Rua Books, Armagh 1997.


James Mackillop, Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004.


Bernard Mees, The Celts and the Origin of the Runic Script, in Studia Neophilologia, Vol. 71 Issue 2, 1999.


Bernard Mees, Runes in the 1st Century, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.


Bernard Mees & Mindy MacLeod, Runic Amulets and Magic Objects, Boydell Press, 2006.


Paul Rhys Mountfort, Ogam. The Celtic Oracle of the Trees, Destiny Books, Rochester 2002.


Bernd Neuner, Das Norwegische Runengedicht – was sich hinter den zweiten Zeilen verbirgt, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.


Alexander M. Rackus, Guthones, Draugas Publishing, Chicago 1929.


Malcolm Todd, The Early Germans, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996.

Blood Bones and Fur: Personal Experiences of Working with the Remnants of the Dead

Transcript of a talk given for Atlantis Bookshop’s, ‘Moot with No Name’, November 2011.

By Charlotte Rodgers

I rocked up to a hospital once and was declared dead on arrival. My family were contacted and told that I’d stopped breathing and been clinically dead for long enough to cause me to be severely brain damaged IF I came out of the coma ,which was unlikely.

The thing is I had no light at the end of the tunnel, no voice telling me to, ‘go back it wasn’t my time’.

What I did get from this experience was an intense and previously unrealised knowledge of my own strength, fight and will to live and an insight into my essential and true self.

A friend of mine, Sarah Grimstone, referred to the experience as a fast track HGA ritual.

Prior to that I always had an attraction to death and its various remnants and trappings.

My favourite image at seven was in a copy of Man Myth and Magick of a ‘hand of glory’ lodged at the Museum of Witchcraft, and I still have a copy of Richard Cavendish’s Black Arts, pinched from Wellington Library when I was 14, with my pencilled-in notes on the chapter of Necromancy.

When I had the above coma experience at 24, I’d been working with road kill for some of the years prior in the name of art and magick.

This will be the main focus of this presentation; however first I want to give you some of my general thoughts, opinions and experiences of my work with death; back ground stuff.

I regard myself as an animist and my greatest pull towards an established magickal tradition is towards Haitian Voodoo, but I don’t go there because I won’t perform blood sacrifice.

Yeah, I have taught myself to gut and eviscerate road kill, and due to a personality quirk I have dissociative tendencies which in many ways my practise has enhanced. These tendencies would make animal sacrifice both relatively easy and possible; however the life I have lived has put me in a position to both see and experience a lot of violence, suffering and pointless death and my own magickal direction and knowledge of what makes my practice work, and what is right for me is implicit in no killing.

Make no mistake; I don’t condemn animal sacrifice in a culturally and spiritually appropriate context, just as I don’t condemn killing the meat that you eat. It is just not right for me.

Magickally I could be seen to be more experimental than sensible. For instance I’ve used the same, very effective recipe for protection sachets for years. I made one for a friend’s car and then the car was stolen. The police found it in perfect condition, with all the ingredients laying around it for torching it after the joyriding experience was over, and  said it looked like something at scared off the thieves and potential arsonists at the nth hour.

My friend actually benefitted from the theft as when his car was returned to him, he had gained a variety of ropes, tools and jump leads which the thieves had abandoned when they fled.

Now I mulled over from every angle why the car was stolen in the first place (even though something put the wind up the thieves before they could do any damage) as my protection sachets have NEVER failed .Then I remembered that like many of us, I had some graveyard dust in my supply cabinet and thought I would add it to my usual protection recipe …just to see what happened…

Anyway, there are a few anecdotes about my personal magickal morality and attitudes. Now to move onto the subject in hand.

Being brought up with an overly heightened awareness of the possibility of someone jumping up behind you and hitting you on the head, translates well magickally. It means you are more aware of your surroundings and what is out of place.

When I was younger and constantly broke as I preferred to spend my money on drugs rather than food or bills this was great, because I would focus magickally on finding money that was needed, and I always did.

Necessity or survival magick I think the term is.

Now zoning into remnants of death is similar; they create a difference in the environment even though they are ostensibly just vessels for something which once lived. However this container still holds memory and that memory can link to the essence of the species which is incredible and very powerful to work with both in art and in magick.

At this point it was be natural and easy to go into historical and cultural references to using remnants of the dead in spiritual and magickal practice and I’ve done plenty of research in this field; in part to validate and provide a point of reference to my intuitive practice, and in part out of interest.

However I want to stick more, at present, to my own experiences of the subject.

For whatever reasons human bone doesn’t actually press my buttons, although I’ve had various skulls and fragments pass through my hands over the years.

I will say that it was human bone, I believe, that provided a catalyst and a breakthrough in my long working of a personalised variation of the Mather’s ,Attainment of Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.

I’d been working systematically on this ritual for some time, when the London Underground bombing occurred. On the evening of the tragedy I decided to send comfort and acknowledgement to those killed. I integrated this into my daily rite. and used a fragment of human bone to access the collective human consciousness and help me tune into the recently dead.

For some reason this particular ritual culminated in achieving my goal re Holy Guardian Angel.

I don’t know whether this result came from my connecting with the dead, utilising the human bone or a combination of both, but I do believe that working with death on that occasion turbo charged the ritual to my benefit, even though that had not been my aim  at that time. .

As a child I did my share of poking around bones and sticking things under a microscope

In my teens I took things a step further. I started experimenting with mummification and preserving techniques. I taught myself to skin and gut road kill (seeing no contradiction in my being a staunch vegan, as I was at the time) and to make fetish objects.

My magick at this time was pretty raw. In that era in New Zealand the usual training implements were via the works of Dion Fortune/Crowley and the influence of a splinter group of the Golden Dawn in Wellington. As in England there was a natural drift towards what would later evolve into Chaos Magick and TOPY and my practice could be seen to ally with that in some respects.

Bear in mind that there was no internet connection then and I was living off the radar in trucks and squats up and down the West Coast of New Zealand, so wasn’t consciously aware of the current magickal trends and progressions.

My older self feels great discomfort at a younger me, taking mushrooms doing rituals and then crafting creatures from pieces of road kill.

However I cannot knock it in some respects as though I went through the initiatory rites of madness, addiction and dodgy sexual magickal groups, at the end of this I still have magick at my core. I still practice it and I learned as I always do( the hard way) why certain criterions of behaviour magickally exist; to make things safer as these can be dangerous and treacherous realms which require working with care and respect. However these rules were only learned through trial and error. For people such as myself mistakes are a natural part of a long and hard learning curve, and they indicate action; not necessarily good action but action all the same.

I have quoted, or misquoted Israel Regardie on this matter many times when he said that anyone who seriously undergoes magickal training should concurrently undergo a course of some sort of psychoanalysis.

I didn’t find that little gem of Regardie’s wisdom until way, way too late but it makes a lot of sense

I spent eight years or so immersed in working with the fetish on every level, both magickally and practically, then I took a break for a crash course in the REALLY problematic field of living in mundane reality.

Okay to zoom forward a few years to my return to fetish work, because this is where my personal magick seems to be centred and following that core self is really what it is all about isn’t it?

Okay there may be intellectual and creative diversions but finding our core, our talent and taking that potential as far as it goes  allies in my mind with definitions such as to know/to will/to dare or to effect changes in consciousness in accordance with will.

As I’ve already said being aware of my environment and the gifts it gives me is a big part of it. Finding a road kill badger and working with it was the beginning of a series of immensely powerful workings that lasted several years.

There is something decidedly shamanic about the focus of working with the dead. There is a necessary turning off of the conscious mind as the nasty, smelly side of preparing a corpse is undergone.

With a larger animal the physical effort itself is exhausting but as with meditation thoughts and insights drift through the mind; feelings of compassion for the method of death or the waste of such a life; respect for physical strength or beauty.

Truth to tell I don’t enjoy it. Finding a nature cleaned bone in a field is lovely but actually working with a dead body is unpleasant and sometimes nasty and at one time I actually threw away my knife and thought I don’t want to work with death like this anymore (although the next day I found a new and better knife on my way to work which could be construed as a sign of sorts)

Once I actually start working on a dead creature, all of this is forgotten and I get carried along with the process. The resident living animals in my house generally lose any atavistic blood thirsty instincts and stay well clear; in fact they get quite freaked out as everything becomes very intense.

This is a very different intensity to ritualistic workings I do in the house of a less blood thirsty nature as one of my cats will then REFUSE to be locked out of any room they are occurring in.

For some reason the body of an animal retains its identity longer after death than a human body. I suspect that human beings (and to a much lesser extent domestic animals) have a learned individual nature that tends to override the nature of the species more strongly. However that is a subject for debate as although I have been around a lot of recent dead human beings in my time, I have never worked on them as I have had with animals.

I actually prefer to avoid working with domesticated animals as they have generally had their essential nature obscured.

Again this may be due to my own perspective being biased as I have always lived with domesticated animals; but I believe that domestic animals take on the trappings of their environment and the traits of the humans that they live with to the point that their animal nature and essence becomes faded.

I’ve also never used inner city seagulls or pigeons or city rats.

Perhaps it is a latent snobbery, perhaps it is a hygiene issue which I haven’t acknowledged (although thinking of some of the animals in varying states of decay and infestation, I’ve worked with I doubt that) but they just don’t work for me.

It is possible that inner city survival also changes the essence of the animal, and whilst it would be interesting to work with a creature for that particular reason, at this point it is not something which I have gravitated towards or has gravitated towards me.

Although I have been working for some time now with inner city debris and integrating them with the bones of rural animals, this is an ongoing process which I haven’t structured and directed as yet. In this particular piece I have used as a base broken car window glass from New Orleans and recent riots in the UK  and am integrating them with natural and organic material to try and cleanse and transform the acts of violence that resulted in the windows being smashed. In some ways it is a post apocalyptical image, a sort of directing of Kali Yug or the Blasted Tower if possible and in many ways this art work is similar to ritual group workings to clear or cleanse space.

Whether I am more open to finding animal remains of a type that is necessary for me to work with because of a subconscious need, or whether they come to me and inform me of the direction that I need to explore, I don’t know.

Once the actual preparation of the creature is done, I’ll sometimes find a new home for it or sometimes I will put them aside until something I am making needs an addition that just happens to be sitting in a jar in my kitchen.

There are some anomalies that again may be coincidence but I’ll cite them anyway.

On occasion, generally in summer, I just cannot cope with the mess and smell of preparing a creature especially a larger one, so I’ll bury them to let nature do the work and mark the place I’ve buried them, often with something quite heavy so they cannot be dug up by living animals.

Now my garden has at least three foxes and two partial badgers buried in it (and sundry other creatures) and I have never been able to find them again, despite having dug over those parts of the garden many times.

What I make from these pieces falls into three overlapping categories.

I use pieces for charms or spells, which is pretty traditional and simple common sense.

I make spirit houses and I make magickal art which combines both of the above.

My initial work was with using bones and mummified animal parts and painting them with camouflage colours. Now camouflage techniques can have fascinating magickal applications, Austin Osman Spare explored them and Hugh Cottrell defines camouflage in very magical terms as,

one makes something unreal recognizable [while] the other makes something real unrecognizable.

Say I was working on a badger’s skull and creating a spirit house for protection of the family I would play up the solar qualities of expansion with golds, but have them banded in by Saturnine black to contain the energy and also protect and nurture it, giving it a defensive martial quality that will bite if threatened.

The black obviously absorbing the negative and threatening, and the gold radiating and expanding the positive whilst still contained in the skull container of the notoriously grounded ,family orientated and very fierce badger.

I also created a head piece for this creation to lift and elevate the intention.

This sort of work is like a jigsaw, being both meditative and intuitive.

When I was younger I made many pieces along these lines but in my 30’s I became more ambitious and  went through a period of baptising these creatures in blood and giving them life which was very foolish  and nearsighted of me as they already had life, I just couldn’t appreciate the power of it.

Using these creatures as spirit houses and  feeding them blood fed what was in the houses and caused them to grow into something that become near uncontrollable. Feeding them menstrual blood wasn’t a problem, but venous blood was. Everything has life but not necessarily power, and blood provided that power and the bone provided the form.

One very practical and not necessarily conventional application of spirit houses is for healing.

When I was undergoing a particularly invasive form of chemotherapy I used a horse’s skull from an abattoir; not a creature I would normally use as it hadn’t died in a natural manner, but is being hit by a car natural? However an abattoir is a deliberate and focused killing as opposed to most road kill.

I decided to use the horse’s skull as a chthonic spirit house and work with the horse’s violent death and my own descent into illness and madness (no exaggeration, this medication was very nasty) reconciling and transforming both into something more positive.

This mare was coloured in blacks and silver and had a small mummified toad in its pallet; the amphibian that can leap between the spaces.

When I finished the treatment I made a second talismanic piece to symbolise an uplifting from illness to a progressive and positive state. This piece, was all solar rather than lunar and incorporated snake vertebrae for focus, whale vertebrae for buoyancy, and an old Indian toy horses head…more frivolous than the N’mare and more a feeling of the fool than of the blasted tower or death that the mare epitomised, and there is always a slightly fool like element to any ascent or progression in my opinion, so it seemed apt.

I’ve also used this sort of work to illustrate tarot atu or trumps, although again that is a long work in process.

In some respects the above work could be seen to be blurring boundaries between art and magick; perhaps, although I believe that they are cut from the same cloth and as I grow older the line between art and magick becomes less distinct.

Death is part of who we are and remnants of it are gateways to greater knowledge and greater potentialities. Magickal practice gives us keys and rituals but art ties them into coherent structures.

When I look at magickal objects from places such as Benin, Naga pieces or masks from Borneo for example, I get greater clues of working magickally than I do from words which traditionally hold more deception and misinformation.

What I do is use my awareness of life force inherent in everything including death, magickal techniques of trance and focus and more traditional folk techniques to work with the web of life.
Yule Week MoonLore

By Liz
Yule Eve, Wednesday, 21st December 2011
The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 3 days off Dark (New) Moon, in Scorpio Wednesdays usually put the spotlight on Study, Travel and Divination while Moon in Scorpio often increases psychic potential A great night for scrying to see what’s ahead in 2012.

Yule, Thursday, 22nd December 2011

Winter Solstice The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 2 days off Dark (New) Moon, leaving Scorpio and entering Sagittarius Thursdays are usually all about Money, Investments, Generosity and Growth while Moon in Sagittarius usually boosts confidence, and increases imagination A great time to take a new look at the finances to make plans for the year ahead

Friday, 23rd December, 2011

The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 1 day off Dark (New) Moon, still in Sagittarius Fridays are usually all about Love, Friends, Reconcilliations and Beauty While Moon in Sagittarius this day indicates there will be expansion and growth New friends made around now will stay important to you in your life for the months to come

Saturday, 24th December 2011

Christmas Eve here in the UK Dark (New) Moon, leaving Sagittarius and entering Capricorn Saturdays are all about longevity, exorcisms, endings homes and houses, While Moon in Caprocorn this day means the focus will be on developing strong structures Perhaps a good night to take stock of where you are heading and to make changes so there will be better order in life next year, to become pro-active instead of re-active

Sunday, 25th December 2011

Christmas Day here in the UK The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 1 day after Dark (New) Moon, still in Capricorn Sundays are all about Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection While Moon in Capricorn this day would indicate the focus will be on responsibilities and obligations At least when you’ve done what’s required and expected of you, the rest of the day is yours to have fun with as you see fit, even if that’s to slob out in front of the television and do nothing!!!

Monday, 26th December 2011

Boxing Day here in the UK The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 2 days after Dark (New) Moon, leaving Capricorn and entering Aquarius Mondays the emphasis is usually on Peace, Sleep, Healing, Compassion, Friends, Psychic awareness, Purification, and Fertility While Moon in Aquarius usually brings fourth a sense of rebellion Going your own way or taking the lead can be fun, but try not to upset those around you too much while doing so.

Tuesday 27th December 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 3 days after Dark (New) Moon, still in Aquarius Tuesdays normally shift the focus to Passion, Sex, Courage, Aggression and Protection While Moon in Aquarius today gives us the strength to change bad habits, and to let go of that which we no longer need in our lives. Open and Honest communication is what’s called for in a situation like this.

Renewal Magick at Pennsbury for Yule

By T. Fox Dunham

In my articles and stories for Pagan Friends, I have pursued the theme of simple magick in quotidian life. I have reported of common magick, the energy we generate and focus through acts and customs and how our spirit responds to this energy. We create this magick when we apply our spirit to acts of life, to creating art. When we cook with spirit, we are imbuing the act and meal with magick. When we compose poetry, plant a herb garden, volunteer at a hospital—any act that we imbue with spirit, with passion—we are enacting a ritual magick. This is the ritual of those who do not practice magickal faith, the people who just live simple life.

Magick is also created through unique and meaningful experiences in our lives. I have often written of the magickal and spiritual journey I undertook as I battled a rare cell type of lymphoma, a journey that took me down many blind paths and created in me a cauldron of enchantment and power. This is essential to what I write of in this essay.

At the heart of mundane magick we find joy. This is the product of the enchantment, an élan of spirit, an energy that invigorates us, compels us, the source we live for.

I am reminded of this during in the weeks before Yule. This time and tide is the anniversary of my stay of execution, of my miracle reprieve from a cell type of lymphoma that had not been previously cured. After having prepared myself to pass through the silver veil, my surprise remission shattered my preconceptions and paradigms, granting to me the newborn’s gift and nascent sight from the point of view of a man.

Pennsylvania lives in its history. There are a multitude of reservations where the past is preserved and animated again, played out for education—and let’s admit it, fun. I worked at one such site, Pennsbury Manor, the colonial home of the governor and owner of the territory, the notorious English Quaker, William Penn. This country estate along the Delaware River that divides the state of New Jersey from Pennsylvania was a fully equipped farm and manor house, rebuilt from the ruins in the 1930s as part of the WPA program instituted by F.D.R. to provide jobs during the depression. I lived in the site’s kitchen gardens, among her stables. Peacocks roamed the site in splendor and violet vanity. This was the location of my first true story to Pagan Friends, Seabhac: the Wounded Hawk.

Each December, the site prepares for Holly Night, a special evening when open hearths burn in the kitchens, candles ignite the halls and stone paths, bonfires burn on the riverside where cider warmed and old woes could be cast into the fire, left with the previous year.

In shamanism, we have a concept: the spirit of the land. This is basic animism, the mountains, rivers, forests possess a living spirit, often seen as a deity or sidhe. This doesn’t just apply to natural settings. Have you ever gone into a building and felt it had character? Even personality? We contribute to this spirit of ourselves every time we interact with its field, growing it more. Places of history possess old souls with deep natures. Pennsbury was a popular place to convalesce. I knew many volunteers who were living beyond their assigned time of death. As the home of a Quaker, the place had a spirit of peace, of healing. And when the night lit up with candles glowing along the stone paths, when the open hearths burned, the chefs at work cooking colonial meals in big pots, and the choir sang traditional carols of the year, the salubrious magick of the land amplified. This was part of my healing process, my reconnection to the living world. I felt such a sense of youthful wonder and light.

Fox, you are alive.

Fox, the world is alive in color and song.

Fox, there is so much beauty in the world at Yule.

Every year at Yule, this feeling returns to me. I know people complain about the malls, but I love it—the decorations, the people shopping, the sound of carols over the speakers. It is so lovely being alive, and that’s the deepest of common magick. This is the essence of hope for a better year to come.

Traditions of renewal are common at this time for most cultures. It is a custom that transcends religion and is bound to the natural rhythms of a community. For a people surviving the winter without the benefit of modern technology—as was the case previous to most parts of the world before the last century—the need for a custom of renewal is vital to the emotional health of the tribe, whether it’s a village, a city or a nomadic caravan.

This tradition is enacted at Holly Night, as visitors may throw holly twigs into the riverside fire as a symbolic act—the heart of magick—called the burning of the woes, the release of the trials and hardships of the last year to begin anew with the nascent year. This tradition is so popular that often people would call the site asking about the burning of the woes, mislaying the event’s name. This is at the heart of common magick, the burning of a natural offering, holly imbued with potential.

I held my holly twig in hand, standing before the towering bonfire at the river. With only the candles on the paths, the glowing windows of the manor house, the orange aura of the fire to light the sward, the river at night turned to oil, hidden in the dark with only the sound of rushing waters to remind me that time progressed. I lifted my arm to lob the enchanted holly—enchanted now that I had imbued the sprig with metaphysical purpose—and I focused not on my woes, not on my struggle with cancer, but the woes of those suffering souls at this time of year. I thought of the hungry, the poor, those trapped in war. So many good people did not survive their cancer as I had. I thought of them, their families. I poured it into the slender holly. It cracked beneath the weight of the burden I had placed on it. Then I closed my eyes and cast it into the fire.

To my family—and those I love, you are all my family—I wish you all joy and potential for this Yule. I ask you to look to the world around you, to give a little back perhaps by contributing to a food drive or dropping off a toy for Toys 4 Tots. This is the time when we need hope the most, and hope can be found not in charitable acts that we receive but in acts of charity we commit. You will find magick in this connection.


By Rebecca L. Brown

Frankincense (from the French, meaning ‘pure incense’) is an Arabian or African tree sap from trees of the Bolswellia genus which is collected by peeling back the bark and then allowed to air dry into a resin. It is used in incenses and perfumes, mainly for it’s scent. frankincense is also sometimes referred to as olbanum.

Frankincense is mentioned in the Bible and is traditionally both given as an offering in some Jewish ceremonies and burnt in Catholic churches. The ancient Egyptians, who referred to frankincense as the tears of Horus, used it in their embalming processes (as recorded in the Ebers Papyrus) and in both scents and cosmetics. Frankincense was also known and used across Ancient Greece, Rome and China.

Magickally, francincense can be used to dispel negativity and evil influences. It has a purifying effect. Alchemists once recommended the use of frankincense to promote longievity.

Frankincense an anti-inflammatory and has some antiseptic properties. There is some ongoing medical research into whether or not it may be useful in fighting cancer and the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Book Review: Secrets of Asgard, Vincent Ongkowidjojo An Instruction in Esoteric Rune Wisdom

Reviewed Av Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

From the very beginning of the book, Vincent Ongkowidjojo shows a very strong grasp of the subject matter and a deep passion alongside his tremendous knowledge, which immediately draws the reader into the book. In my first read-through of the book, I was not only highly impressed by such a comprehensive mix of personal ideas and factual information, but also impressed by the style of writing; whilst I personally find most books of this nature to be tedious reads, filled often with mistakes and UPG, this book is filled with enough facts and information that the personal opinions of the author contained within are not the kind which make most Heathens cringe. Whether a scholar interested in Runes, a Godi reflecting upon and referring to sources to improve your rune knowledge or a novice starting out, this book is the most comprehensive and agreeable book I have ever had the immense pleasure of reading on the subject. Whilst the language is somewhat scholarly in nature and filled with big words that may put some people off, however, the authors use of language is comprehensible for the serious reader. It should also be noted that the author is from the Netherlands, the use of language and writing style is most impressive and easily understood considering it is by a foreign author; this fact itself impressed me – I have had the displeasure of reading books from foreign authors that the flow of the book is nearly unable to be followed. Being that I have formed my own opinions on Runes and Runic magic, I have found myself at some points disagreeing with the author’s opinions, however, the way the book is written is not matter-of-fact and allows the reader to make his or her own opinions, this is a trait few authors manage. It is with a deep respect and admiration that I write this review, despite disagreeing with a few ideas contained within it. I can see and understand the thought process behind these ideas, which makes the book not only a pleasure to read, but also the disagreements I do have with it are not ones that offend, like so many other author’s assumptions and presumptions. It is deeply refreshing to see a book filled with knowledge as opposed to ignorance, logical thoughts as opposed to presumptuous conclusions and filled with plenty of ideas for thought and reflection on. As a Norwegian Heathen, I am often wary of anything from outside of Scandinavia. I have found a great many Heathens are also wary of anything that is not the Havamal and Eddas, but this is a book I would wholly recommend to any Heathen, Scholar or Chaote requiring Runic knowledge to put on their bookshelves. The author’s grasp of the subject matter is such that it outdoes that of many Heathens I have the pleasure of knowing. I cannot think of any book I would recommend more highly if the reader is looking for a book on Runes; this is the book for anyone requiring knowledge of runes, whether simply beginning or advanced in their ‘Career’ as users of the Runes.  

Fiction Review: Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner, 

Reviewed by Rebecca L. Brown

Carry On The Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner

“I am ancient and I am now

I am the one that once was and I am the many who now are

I have climbed out from the jaws of blackness

I am one of many who were waited for and one who has found her way”

Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, is the next book in Jodine Turner’s beautifully written Carry on the Flame series. (The previous book, Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call, which which was reviewed in our Samhain issue is a finalist in the USA Books “Best Books of 2011” New Age Fiction category; congratulations Jodine!)

Ultimate Magic is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read. As in her other writing, Jodine uses a combination of well-written characters, evocative description and an enjoyable plotline as a means by which to express her own obvious love of and attachment to the Divine Feminine. This book, and indeed the whole of the Carry on the Flame series are a definite must-read for lovers of Celtic-flavoured fantasy and of magical fantasy adventure in general!

For more from Jodine Turner, visit her website http://www.jodineturner.com

True Beauty

By Linda Gibson

Friends since nursery, Emma and Claire were more like sisters. Emma’s quiet serenity was the perfect balance to Claire’s loudness. Added to the mix was Josh, who they’d grown up with. He was confident and sure of himself without being cocky, and like Emma, he came from a family of witches, both families able to trace their lineage back through centuries. Claire just took it in her stride, and loved them both for who they were. She was loved by the families, and even though non-pagan, was included in all their family gatherings.

Emma had met Josh in the college dinning room and was discussing her Yule Blessing with him in a quiet corner away from prying ears. Claire rushed over to them, full of energy, as usual.

‘Hey Emma, what’re you wearing to the Christmas disco on Friday? You are going aren’t you, you too Josh? Don’t make me go on my own, please, please, please!’ Josh was about to protest, but Claire got there first.

‘Don’t try to use the Yule party at Emma’s as an excuse, because that’s on Saturday,’ she said, grinning at him.

‘Okay, okay! If it shuts you up I’ll go,’ laughed Emma, ‘and so will Josh,’ as he nodded his agreement for the sake of peace. ‘I’ll wear my purple dress with the black lace.’

‘Yes!’ squealed Claire, ‘you’ll look a knock out in that. I suppose you’ll try to get away with jeans,’ she said in mock sarcasm to Josh.

‘Actually, I’ll wear my suit, I do own one you know,’ he said, poking his tongue out at Claire. With that, they went to afternoon lectures.

Later that night, Emma prepared for her Yule Blessing, placing her Book of Shadows in her bag. It had been handed down through her family, and was wrapped in a silk cloth and kept out of sight. Emma never did a ritual without it. She made off for the woods, just half a mile from her home. Checking she hadn’t been followed, she made her way through the woods to the Sacred Grove, known only to the families. Emma greeted the Goddess, opened the Book of Shadows and grounded herself for protection before casting a circle and calling the quarters. As she performed her Yule Blessing, a breeze began to blow around her, generating energy. She asked the Goddess for blessings and closed the circle carefully afterwards. Emma sat down under a tree to meditate, as she always did after a ritual. She had a vision of her late grandmother. Emma often felt her presence guiding her, and she gave Emma a warning to watch her back. She faded before Emma could ask her what she meant, and it worried Emma.

After leaving an offering, Emma went home to bed, exhausted. She couldn’t sleep and kept playing her grandmother’s message over in her mind. Eventually managing only 3 hours sleep, Emma reluctantly went to college, barely staying awake for morning lectures. The last thing she needed was to be cornered by the ‘in’ crowd, lead as always by Alexa Winters and her two cronies. Deliberately knocking into Emma, Alexa sent Emma’s bag flying, sending the contents sprawling everywhere.

‘Oh look, here come your bodyguard!’ she sneered, catching sight of Claire storming over.

‘You’re a first class bitch, Alexa!’ yelled Claire, pushing her out of the way. The two cronies backed off, dragging Alexa with them before she could retaliate, leaving Claire to help Emma gather her belongings.

By the night of the disco, the incident had been forgotten, and Emma met Claire and Josh at the entrance. Emma was unaware of the admiring glances she drew as she glided gracefully into the hall. She’d worn the floor length purple gown with plain black satin ballet pumps, and let her waist length chestnut curls tumble loosely down her back. Josh couldn’t take his eyes off her.

‘Wow! You look amazing,’ he whispered.

‘Told you so,’ grinned Claire, nudging Josh playfully.

‘Claire, how do make overstated look so great?’ laughed Emma. ‘Only you could get away with those colours!’ Claire had chosen a bright cerise pink prom dress with matching three inch heels. Her black hair was piled high in a mass of glossy curls, and the whole look suited her. ‘Claire, you should show your legs off more often, instead of hiding them in jeans. You look gorgeous.’

The trio were enjoying themselves, dancing non-stop, and stopping for punch now and again. Suddenly the music stopped, and a voice they dreaded floated over the speakers.

‘Emma Bradbury, or should we call you Silvermoon,’ Alexa gloated, as a hush fell over the hall.

‘What’s this then, a Book of Shadows?’ Alexa proceeded to open the book and began to read from it out loud.

‘Give it to me Alexa, you don’t know what you’re doing,’ fumed Emma. ‘How did you get it anyway, its private property?’ She realised then that she’d forgotten to take the book out of her bag when she’d got home from her Yule ritual. It must have fallen out when Alexa knocked into her.

Emma rushed onto the stage and grabbed the book, glaring at Emma. It shook Alexa to see how angry Emma was, she’d always been so quiet.

‘Here, take the damned book, you and your family have always been weird, witch,’ she spat at Emma as she let the book go.

‘My family are witches too, going to pick on us too, are you, you nasty piece of work?’ Everyone turned to Josh. ‘Emma’s worth four of you. You may have a pretty face, but you’re so ugly inside.’

The hall erupted with cheers and applause when Josh finished ranting. Alexa flounced off stage with her cronies in tow, and impossibly vain, couldn’t resist checking her reflection in the hall’s huge windows. She shrieked in horror as she saw an old hag staring back at her, her face covered in open sores and boils, and wrinkled like a prune. Only Alexa could see this, to everyone else she looked normal.

‘What have you done to me? They’ve cursed me,’ she screamed, running about aimlessly, everyone laughing at her.

‘You’ve seen a reflection of your true self, just how ugly your soul is,’ said Josh. ‘Beauty has nothing to do with looks. It really is true that what’s on the inside counts for more than anything. I hope this teaches you to be nice to people, you’ll find they’re nice to you because they actually like you. Try it for a change!’

The three friends went home. They enjoyed the Yule party the following day, both families having been close friends for generations. Alexa had learnt a hard lesson, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that people did indeed like her when she let her guard down, and was popular for the right reasons. She even began to study witchcraft and its true history, asking the families for help and advice, and treated Emma with a healthy dose of respect since the disco.
Sápmi Story

By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

The air was cool and fresh, a reminder of the rainstorm that had battered the land the night before; the sky was still grey on grey, a mismatch of many different shades of grey colliding above our heads, seemingly ready to come crashing down on the head of the nomad. Patches of yellow permeated the grey of the sky, the sun reflecting off of clouds higher in the stratosphere, giving light to an otherwise near-dark day. It was hard going, trudging over the heath land, the soles of his feet felt cold and wet but he was not miserable as he would have been as a young man. He had come to enjoy the wind that carried the cold freshness of the air, his hard, leathery skin was used to the hardships of life as a nomad. Somewhere in the wilderness, a wolf called to it’s kin, adding to the isolated loneliness of the journey; the isolated loneliness that was the reality of the nomad, the isolated loneliness that was a constant companion and the isolated loneliness that was no longer lonely, but more of a reflective state of solitude. It took a hard man to do such a thing all their life, but the nomad would not call himself hard or tough, he would not speak to many people.

The wind carried drops of moisture with it as it buffeted the low-lying heather, the clouds would not hold their torrent much longer and the only shelter nearby was the Wolf-Cave. He could not remember when he had first been to the Wolf-Cave, that place with it’s many, many paintings by Noaidi from times passed. The nomad was sure that the cave was a Sieidi, but then, since his first Spirit Journey. Some said that he had gone mad from communicating with the Spirits and Gods. He had not been exiled, per se, but he knew he was no longer welcome in the cities, or at least, that is what he felt.

Finding that the cave had been stocked with tinder and firewood, he set about creating the life-giving warmth. Most of the Sami would have been with their community, been with their little Clan herding Reindeer in the small parcels of land that were given to them by the Government. It was a dying art, the boazovázzi, everyone knew it, yet no-one would say so. How much easier it would be if he had a Lávut, what had happened to his since he had left? What had happened to his family? Maybe they had all become normal people, living in cities with modern conveniences, electricity and supermarket-bought food. The easy life was not for him, though, he though as he lit his fire. The warm embrace of the fire enshrouded him, his old bones feeling the warmth and groaning appreciatively. He could smell the smoke of the wood, it was slightly damp but had lit without a problem. The crack of the fire consuming the wood hungrily made him think of his own belly, he removed his backpack, an old thing made of tanned Reindeer hide and removed some smoked meats and fish, cheese and vegetables; he took out a bushel of herbs for Biegkegaellies, the God of the Winter Winds so that he might have a good Winter, one where he would not freeze to death.

There was a time when his father had shown him this cave, when they had wandered freely with the Reindeer, when instead of being guided by the laws and fences of the strange men from the South, they had been guided by the instincts of their herd. It was a time when he was carefree, when his father would keep him safe from the evil spirits of the night.

The warmth of the fire and a full belly caused sleep in the old nomad. His leathery skin was softened momentarily as he dreamed back in time. Back to when he was a boy who ran free amongst the herds. A stillness set through his old bones as his breathing became shallower, the wind whistling past the cave that sheltered him from the world hid the sounds of the storm on the horizon. In time, the fire died out, the flames retreating from a blaze to embers. The old nomad’s eyes remained shut, the embers faded to non-existence so silently. Nothing would bother him anymore, now that he roams with the Spirits.


Forgotten Cycles

By Yvonne Cunningham

Forgotten cycles of a jaded world
An ageing time, silent, unheard Darkening wood, snow-driven night
Winter’s hurt has yet to bite.
Around the Fire, feel it burn
Gather friends, for slumber’s end
A new spring comes, light returns
In the unfailing cycles of an awakening world.

Steal Into Winter  

By Maggie Koger

Send a ring of ribbon flying

long and long on frosty air

reeling North on windy swells

swept in satin tales of snow.

Some pray to muddy myths

of angels, sheikhs and shepherds

but leave the single star adrift

look up, look up and witness

fiery planets, burning stars;

feel your lungs fill with light

breath aswirl in solar style.

Walking Down Sunday Roads  

By Maggie Koger

Winter at Robie Creek where crusted

snow crunched loud underfoot as

a white and blue world lavished wide.

Crystals of ice whirled sun high while

evergreen spires pierced sapphire skies.

Elfin snowmen lined each roadside

wet powder pushed in banks by plows

riven and sculpted by afternoon suns.

Saw a dingy old truck rusting to ruin

nosed to the door of a sporty red wreck

its cracked-open windshield a gaping hole

icicle shards draped with a gunny

sack reading:  Farm Feed & Seed.

Our echoing aroused an angry dog

he raced to the length of his chain, jerked

howled in his labor, bellowing, barking

raising up specters of ancestor wolves.

If you come here, show no fear

step slowly, firmly, and watch for ice.

Snow hides it and slicks the surface

you must save yourself from falling.

Maggie Koger is a Media Specialist with a writing habit. She lives and works in Boise (pronounced boysee) and celebrates Le Bois–the trees the city is named for. She has published poetry in Poet Lore, Avocet, Mused, WestWard Quarterly, Montucky, Blast Furnace, and Eternal Haunted Summer. She can be reached at maggiekoger@gmail.com


By Kenny Klein

Amongst the oak and holly leaves

The Wren and Robin sat between

“Come” the Wren said, “I shall sing

A song of winter cold

“My brother is the far-flung Crow

The black death-watch upon the snow

The swordless Horned One to him goes

When Autumn sun wanes cold

“My sister of dark night is queen

The hag that lives the moons between

Her womb is barren now of seed

Her lover gray and old

“And where have you been, Robin brother

Gone to see your white-breast Mother?

The white snow covers up Her bowers,

She’s taken Her home of old”

Amidst the Oak and Holly leaves

The Robin silent sat between

Until with sweet voice, calmly he

Began a merry song

“Long has my white crow Mother been

With your brother, black winged Bran

Until Her belly stirs within

As Yuletide sun grows strong

“And now at sunrise, silent, stark

Between the days and the winter dark

Rekindled is the fire’s spark

The Oak King sounds the horn

“In the forest’s icy gleam

There goes a shadow, swiftly seen

The Holly and the Oak between

The Green Man is reborn

“So tell me truly, dark eyed Wren

Where will you the winter spend

Until the wheel is turned again

And winter casts its thorn?”

But Wren’s reply was never got

By a golden arrow he’d been shot

And darkness died upon the spot

The Holly and Oak between

The Oak King now is berry-crowned

The Green Man born the forest ’round

But the Wren lays cold upon the ground

The Holly and Oak between

And young lads on the darkest night

Their golden arrows swift in flight

Will sing until the morning bright

The sun to welcome in;

“The Wren the Wren the king of the birds

On Yuletide day was caught in the furze

Up with the kettle and down with the pan

And give us a penny to bury the Wren”

Kenny Klein  www.kennyklein.net


By Karie McNeley
melted snowfall drips from reddened corners
the drips re-freeze as they release & silver stalactites
hang from those eyes
the icicles hold over ‘til the summer of frost ends
& then they drop again
heavier now and with the intent of hail;
daggers falling into wounded snow beneath footsteps of white
Beaten and Blemished

By Karie McNeley

You are floating above me

Never really touching my body

A completely severed layer

Connected only by tooth and nail

You protect me from burns

And from cold

You are water-absorbent

But only by circumstance

On occasion you break and bleed

Hard impacts turn you soft and brown

Like over-ripe bananas

Sharp objects pierce and cut right through you

And for a moment you show me

What I really look like inside

I can bandage you

Stitch you up sideways

Cause the blood to delay

Before it spews out of me

Green in the vein

Red on the streets

You wrinkle and scar

Pink and purple cross-hatch

You will never be the same

But I will love you solidly

As long as you keep me human

Karie McNeley is a mid-twenties non-conformist from Lakewood, California who conforms only to writing poetry. She has been published in Verdad!  and in Bank-Heavy Press’s first three publications. She is an editor for Bank-Heavy Press, a new poetry and fiction magazine published quartlerly in Long Beach, CA. She searches for beauty in everything, especially the ugly.  Her hobbies include drawing, writing, and rocking out to 90’s alternative  music.

A Poem

By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

At a bus stop the urban thrall await

A mass exodus, that of the Nine to Five

Outside the bank, the urban congregation

Awaiting the promised saviour in green

The provider and sustainer that is cash

Inner city life, devoid of mystery

Meaningless in macroscopic view

Yet so intricately woven in the mind

The throng of the night calls to the brave

The adventure of downtown summons

The promise of better goods are shown

Consumerist materialism thrives here

Alone in the dark recess of the mind a voice

Asking what is yet to come in life and death?

Yet ignorance is our chosen path

The nihilistic self-confidence undermines

The solid foundations of community life

The walk of shame is a walk of pride

Another notch on the bedpost

Another name forgotten by dawn

The city lights set the sky ablaze

A testament to the genius of man

An affront to the Gods of old and new

There is only room for the Trinity here

Man, Machine and Money are our Gods

Hark! Call the Scientists aloud

The priests of the Brave New World

See our wondrous invention and discovery

Swallow our words like the bitterest pill

For superstition has no place in our time

Has mankind lost it’s way in the urban rush?

The spirit has been cast out and sold

The Gods are dead and remain no more

Man is as empty as the ape that came before

Our forebears forgotten in the grind of time

Welcome to the Samhain issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine! We’re celebrating the move into the darker half of the year with a selection of great articles, poetry and fiction from both new and old contributors. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.


An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Opalmoon (Penny Cash)


Alchemical Yoga: Asanas and The Language of the Birds, by Paul F. Cowlan

Carew Castle, Princess Nest and Satans’ Ghost, by Liz

Time; how do you see it?, by Jill Malenoir

The Seprioth from the bottom up (Part 1), by Simon Cash

Essays & Extended Features

Grimoire Shamanism: The Shaman and the Solomonic Path, by Aaron Leitch

Regular Features

Samhain Week Moonlore, by Liz

Pumpkin Spice Cake, by Calidonia

Animal Spirit Guides, by T. Fox Dunham

Tools, Tricks & Ingredients

Salt Crystal Lamps & Tea Lights, by Beth Holtum

The Elements, by Beth Holtum

Spice: Cumin, by Rebecca L. Brown

Stone: Cinnabar, by Rebecca L. Brown


Treadwells Events


Review: Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call, By Jodine Turner


The Ghost of 22 Captain, by Joshua J. Mark

Poetry Corner

Ancient Elders We Remember You, by Liz

Wrestling, by Carolyn Agee

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Want to contribute to the Yule issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Samhain issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it. For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.

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An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Penny Cash

Q: I know you come from a very “interesting” family background. How do you feel when people say your family history is like a “bad vampire novel”?

Ok, first off folks you can choose your friends but you can choose your family!

My family tree is full of nuts and weirdos and we come from all over the globe. I don’t claim to come from a 7th century witch family (I probably do but then so does most of the population if you all managed to look back far enough). I have no need to lie about or big up my family; it is what it is, simple really. Folks who have met me will now this. So what if my great granny was a Javanese princess and my great, great, great uncle was a lion tamer on my mum’s side or that we are related king someone or another on my dad’s side.

If folks think I need to lie about where I come from then they really don’t know me, but then I have more in my real life to worry about than some trolls on the internet!

Q: I would like to know if your water witchy-ness is only linked to the sea, or does it extend to cover rivers, lakes or rain etc.

This is an odd one for me; the sea and I have a very special link having spent my life close to it. My favourite time is when there are high winds, as the sound of waves crashing can induce such energy. I do like rivers, but they tend to be small fast flowing rivers and waterfalls are just amazing. Big, slow, meandering ones, for me, are dull like the drudgery of everyday. As for lakes, they make me cold; to me, they are dead energy, kind of like seeing an animal in the zoo. The water is just still and stagnant, it can’t flow and move. I do, however, love a good downpour as I feel its gives everything a good cleanse and I do recommend a good dance in a downpour. I feel the water can wash away worries just for that moment and everything smells better after a good downpour.

Q: I would also like to know if you have a Patron God/Goddess or if you work with any other kind of lifeforce,. Have you encountered any form of ethereal essence of a place? Are there particular places you like to be or any you find a need to vacate quickly?

Now, the whole god goddess thing has me at a kind of crossroads. I don’t feel the draw of any particular god or goddess if I believe in them at all. To me, the sea is ‘my’ god and the earth is ‘my’ goddess. The work of earth and water to create energy and life is what I work with, if that makes any sense!

As for places where I feel a presence, this happens a lot to me. Whether I am in tune with the land or place, I don’t know. Many times, I have had to up and leave places and houses. The best way to describe these places is troubled; to me, the air feels thick and the energy is wasted. Other places, I never want to leave I feel so welcome and comfortable. For example, there is a house down the road from my dad. It is a converted chapel that was desecrated years ago. I even have to cross the road to walk past it today; heck, even writing this I feel all yukky!

Places I love… I love St Donats castle. My grandparents are buried at the church and it feels so serene and calm there. The church there actually predates Christianity and even though it  is home to the graves of shipwrecks it still feels so beautiful.

Q: I would also like to know if you have ever worked in a coven, or perhaps in a partnership with anyone. Have you ever had, or been, a mentor?

Sorry but covens are not for me! I don’t really play nice with others and there is always too much bitchcraft for my liking in group meetings. I have worked with others when asked to, but only if I know the people involved well enough. Often Si and myself will work together; we both approach things from a very different perspective, but when working together we do mix things well and get some great results.

I’ve not ever really had a mentor as such. There are a very select few folks who I will listen to, but I tend to tweak things to my way anyway and I pity the poor person who wants me to mentor them; that’s an express ticket to hell if you ask me!

Q: Are there any working tools you consider special and would hate to be without?

My mind! I don’t really place any value on tools. Normally, I use what’s to hand.

Q: Are there any tools you wish you had but haven’t got yet?

A bigger selection of herbs would be the only thing I really want more of.

Q: What’s usually on your altar at Samhain?

My altar tends to stay the same all year around. I don’t tend to add anything for special days; boring I know! Now where did I leave the goats skull…

Q: Do you have a favourite Sabbat?

I only really do Samhain and Beltane if I’m honest.

Q: …And what do you usually do to celebrate it?

For Samhain, we normally have a ritual on the beach and then have a bit of a do at the house with lots of noms and drinks with friends. Beltane is normally a nice big tasty meal with Si and the kids.

Q: Does colour matter in your path work? Do you have a favourite colour?

Depending on what I am doing, if a certain colour is required then I will use it, but often I don’t stick to the rules on colour and will go with what feels right. As for a favourite colour, it has to be PINK! I’m just such a girlie and love the colour pink, but I’m known for loving purple as well!

Q: Have you a favourite crystal or group of crystals to which you have bonded and which you like to work with?

Opals in any form. It’s my birthstone. I find them calming and very easy to work with and wear. I am also partial to a bit of amethyst as well; I was given a gorgeous piece recently that I made into a necklace for my wedding. It now sits on my altar.

Q: Do you find any of the herbs more helpful than others?

This would depend on what it as needed for really as all herbs have great uses. I do grow quite a lot of my own herbs and what I can’t grow I like to keep in my stock cupboard. In cooking, the addition of a certain herb can make a dish taste so much better; the same can be said in workings. A little pinch of a certain herb can make the results so much better.

Q: Do you use things in your pathwork that are natural (like sea shells or lemons) or do you made things (like poppets or amulets)?

I would say most of what I use is natural even when making poppets or amulets. I use natural things; I do a mean line in sand poppets using driftwood, shells and pebbles to help. I also enjoy making wands and staffs from driftwood stripping. Sanding the wood, then seeing what the wood would work well as gives me hours of pleasure. I also enjoy cooking as a form of pathwork making all sorts of dishes and cakes I find can get me in the right mood for some certain workings.

Q: Have you had a special connection with any of your cats over the years? Have you had any other animals that might have been familiars?

I do have a very special connection with cats. At the moment I have my Mab, a little black kitty. She is stunted so will always look like a kitten. She is my protector and will often be at my side during a working. She is also great at sending anything sent to the house packing as well; she will often hiss at nothing I can see, then come and sit on me.

Before I had Mab, we had a family cat called Raggs who loved doing banishings with Si and would always be at my side in a circle. Funnily enough, she always slept at the top of the stairs at night so she could protect us all as we slept.

The only other animal I could say I have had a connection with was a dog I had as a kid called Joseph. He was a Heinz 57 and it was me that walked him twice a day. One day a kid who lived down the road from me set his doberman on me. I didn’t know until I turned around and my dog had it pinned by the throat to the floor. He was my protector through some very troubled times and I was very close to him.

Q: Is there a witchy ambition you have yet to fulfill?

Somebody you’d like to meet, perhaps, or somewhere you’d like to go?

For me, everyday is a school day when it comes to the witchy in me. I would love to visit Boscastle and the museum of witchcraft. I have a bit of a fascination with voudoo and would love to visit Haiti to see it at its roots.

Q: Have you a favourite form of scrying?

What’s the most interesting message you have received from it?

Unfortunately I don’t really do scrying. I do own a black mirror but have never felt the pull to use it, so I cant say I’ve ever received any messages from it; sorry, boring ain’t I!

Q: Do you ever have times when you feel un-witchy?

What do you do to feel re-connected?

I think there are times we all lose the connection to our witchy side. My health issues over the years have set me apart from my witchy way as well. I find a trip down to the beach is often the best medicine to get me all connected back up and working away again.

Back to the Index

Alchemical Yoga: Asanas and The Language of the Birds

By Paul F. Cowlan

At first sight there might not seem to be much common ground between yogis and alchemists, between the cloud-driven hermitage and the smoky laboratory, but closer investigation reveals that the differences are largely illusory, while the similarities, both in origins and aspirations, are striking. Both disciplines consider the interplay of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ to be fundamental; both pursue an advanced metaphysical goal; both require dedication and patience; both seek to purify, transmute and perfect.

There is no space here to go into alchemy’s Egyptian, Classical, Chinese and Indian roots, or its transmission back to the mediæval West through the medium of Islamic science and mysticism. India alone claims our attention, and there, some fourteen hundred years ago, the emergence of Tantra, and of the so-called siddhas, or ‘perfected ones’, already provides numerous examples of widespread joint practice of yoga and alchemy.

Titus Burkhardt writes of ‘Tantric spiritual methods which are more closely related to Alchemy than to any of the other spiritual arts.’ and adds, ‘The Hindus, indeed, regard Alchemy as a tantric method.’ From Marco Polo himself, and five hundred years later, from François Bernier, we have first-hand accounts of yogis versed in the traditional alchemical skills of gold-making and the preparation of longevity elixirs compounded from mercury and sulphur.

The combination of yoga and alchemy is, therefore, a long-standing one, and my own rather eclectic system, which has evolved over many years of private practice, makes no claim to any great originality.

At this point it is important to remember that the practice of Alchemy has always maintained a balance between the manual and the psycho-spiritual, the laboratory and the meditation space, but whatever the proportion favoured by any given practitioner, both components are essential. This is one of the characteristics which distinguishes the Royal Art from supposedly pragmatic modern science. The alchemist’s spiritual alignment was, and is, considered crucial if there is to be any hope of success.

One of the many epithets for the Alchemical mysteries is ‘The language of the Birds’, a concept with deep and wide-ranging ramifications throughout the fields of mythology, folklore and magic. As denizens of the air birds were always thought to have access to divine secrets, so it was logical that alchemists, who were also keen sky-watchers, should find such an image congenial.

As a travelling musician ‘on the road’ in approximately ten different countries per year, there was never time for me to enroll in any regular course of instruction, so my yoga is self-taught, over a period of about thirty-five years, through the medium of many books, sometimes painful trial and error, and tips and hints from various practitioners met along the way. It is an amalgam of predominantly Iyengar-based asanas, Tantric chakras, Sahaja-derived mudras (hand gestures), and alchemical imagery which, combined with various stretches and pranayama (regulated breathing), forms a sequence of approximately ninety minutes duration. Clearly, I can only hope to present a general outline here.

I have studied and practiced psycho-spiritual alchemy for twenty-six years and, from the very beginning, found it natural to incorporate it into my yoga practice. Therefore the beginning of my development of Alchemical Yoga dates from approximately 1985, and my system, if I can venture to call it that, is based around the seven major chakras, or psychic energy centres, imagined as situated along the spine, from the perineum to the crown of the head. Three channels connect these; the lunar Ida, the solar Pingala, and the central Mercurial Sushumna, which together form an intertwined helix or, as an alchemist would see it, a caduceus, the Wand of Hermes. (See Figure 1.)

Figure One

Each chakra is associated with an asana, a colour, a number, a planet etc., and thus far we are dealing with moreorless basic Tantric concepts. In the accompanying diagram I have retained the traditional Indian chakra names, in addition to my personal alchemical labels, but this is where Alchemy begins to make itself felt.

The four Elemental chakras of Earth, Water, Fire and Air also align with the planetary metals of lead/Saturn, tin/Jupiter, iron/Mars and copper/Venus, together with appropriate stones. The accompanying animals are also alchemical in their associations. The three Spiritual chakras continue this pattern with mercury/Mercury, silver/Moon and gold/Sun: respectively Spirit, Soul and Lapis, or Philosophers’ Stone. I also visualise the five Platonic solids, made up to seven by the addition of an ovoid and a sphere. However, for a first encounter, we are probably complex enough already.

Figure Two

Although separated by basic stretches and other asanas, the seven main postures, beginning with the Earth chakra, are: Earth-padmasana (Lotus), with arms locked and straightened behind, forehead to the floor; Water-ugrasana (Formidable Posture); Fire-salabhasana (Locust); Air-matsyasana (Fish); Spirit-sarvangasana (shoulder stand); Soul-Third Eye mudra; Lapis-shirsasana (Headstand). Although there is a broad consensus concerning the appropriate asanas for the last three chakras there are many variations among the others, and those listed here are simply the ones which emerged as the most appropriate for me. (See figure 2, in which Sandra Scherer demonstrates the simpler Tadasana instead of the Headstand, and in which the Ajña massage is different from the one which I now employ.)

The practice begins with asanas and poses which balance and stretch, but regulated breathing and visualisation are intrinsic throughout. The first of the chakras visited is Fire, followed by Earth. Then come Water and Air, linking all four Elements. Thereafter the upward direction is reversed, moving downward from the Lapis, to the Soul, and finally the Spirit; the latter providing the essential link between what might be termed the Spiritual and the Elemental.

To the casual observer the entire sequence would appear to be a succession of conventional yoga asanas, combined with other physical postures, and as such they fulfil the simplest part of their intended purpose; toning, limbering, health-giving excercise. This benefit is not to be underestimated.

However, the ongoing alchemical visualisation, constituting the essential inner work, would of course remain unseen. After twenty-six years of development this is intricate and sequential, with even the smallest details possessing relevance, and the entire process has evolved from a combination of reading, practice, dream study and intuition.

The complete cycle intuits and imagines the creation, preparation and combination of the Philosophic Sulphur, Mercury and Salt, culminating in the successful creation of The Stone. Of course, I am not so misguided as to think that such perfection is so easily attained, but this is the concept which gives direction to the overall structure.

Although it is useful to visualise, and meditate upon, each chakra individually, they are not separate entities any more than water, steam and ice can be described as unrelated; and the same is true for the four Elements, forever transmuting, one into the other. Each of these images comprises part of an undivided landscape through which it is possible to travel imaginatively. There is no hope of adequately outlining sufficient details within the scope allowed by this article, but here is a very superficial checklist.

EARTH: The setting is subterranean and involves a black, green-eyed bear, a giant lead statue of Saturn, a black onyx stone cube and other additional details. For the alchemists one interpretation of the bear was the Earth, the ‘lead’ which is to be transmuted into gold; the prima materia, the raw, unrefined first substance, containing, in potentia, everything necessary for the Work; the fixed, unmoving basis from which the Opus starts, and upon which everything is founded. Powerful, instinctive, requiring discipline. This is the fertile ‘black earth of Egypt (al chem) from which the word ‘alchemy’ derives. Alchemical symbolism is inexhaustible and there are many alternatives. The Dragon is another prima materia symbol.

WATER: Would include orange fish, a girasole icosahedron, a lifesize tin fountain-statue of Zeus the Rain-bringer, a lake with a waterfall, showers, a rainbow, and so on. In alchemical symbolism fish share their watery element with sirens, whales and sea-monsters. The ‘makara’, associated with this chakra in Tantra, is just such an all-devouring sea-creature, hungrily consuming desires and pleasures. But fish too have their associations with Venus, the lusty goddess of sexual passion, and as denizens of the deep they also represent the instinctive contents of the unconscious. When shown in pairs they represent the Soul and the Spirit, immersed in the ocean of the Body or the Opus, and although they appear to be two individual creatures they are, in reality, a unity. Sometimes they are depicted in the cooking pot, being subjected to the fire which, as they stew in their own juice, will render them wholesome and nutritious.

FIRE: The preferred alchemical sequence of the elements is Earth, Water, Air and Fire, with the last two often being combined, but the position of the solar plexus in the human body dictates that fire is located in the third chakra, the centre of will, power, laughter, anger and joy. Lions have always been solar symbols, and are everywhere in alchemy, where they come in a variety of colours but, among their many meanings, one of the most important is that they represent the sun, gold; the perfect form, towards which all metals are striving. Lead contains the seed, gold is the fully ripened fruit; and the lion is king of the beasts, just as gold is king of the metals. Fire and water, sun and moon, king and queen; the opposites must harmonise. A ruby tetrahedron and an iron statue of Mars share a mountaintop with the Lion.

AIR: Eagles, like lions, feature frequently in alchemy. They, too, are of many different colours, often have more than one head, and can symbolise either gold or mercury. But their essential quality is that they are creatures of the air, swiftly ascending into that element, leaving mundane existence behind and enjoying a wide overview of the world. Balance, compassion and love can be the result. In alchemy birds of any sort represent the volatile substance, ever ready for flight, and prone to escape into the open sky if not carefully restrained and obliged to engage with the fixed components of the work. They can also symbolise fleeting spiritual insights which are liable to escape before the conscious mind can fully grasp them. In a forest glade, below the eagle’s flight, a copper statue of Venus is surrounded by flights of doves and sparrows. In her hand she holds a topaz octahedron.

SPIRIT: The white unicorn represents the Spirit, the essential energy of life in its pure, impersonal state. When the unicorn stirs the water of the forest pool with its horn, all the other animals know it is safe to drink because any poisons will have been neutralised. The unicorn is swift and fierce, impossible to take by force; but if a young virgin sits down alone in the forest it will come and lay its head on her lap. Therefore one should approach the potential of this chakra in an open, receptive state of mind, the wisdom it offers is not based on reason or logic, but on the underlying wisdom of the cosmos itself. This is the centre of communication; of æther, sound, creativity, and change. The Unicorn is found in company with the god Mercury, and is associated with a sapphire dodecahedron. Mercury is central to alchemy; guide, trickster, giver of wisdom, he represents the psyche itself, mutable, deceptive, indefinable, always to be handled with caution, but capable of bestowing priceless insights.

SOUL: The white stag, with stars glistening on each tine of its antlers, is perpetually in flight, never allowing itself to be caught. This is the region of light, of dreams, intuition and alternative states of consciousness. In alchemy the fleeing stag cervus fugitivus almost always represents the Soul. When it meets the unicorn in a woodland clearing, this symbolizes the Soul and the Spirit, meeting in the Body. (See also Water; two fish in the sea). In terms of Paracelsus’ ideas, the body is represented by Salt, the Soul by Sulphur, and the Spirit by Mercury, and an alchemist would expect to find Diana here, silvery goddess of the Moon and of all wild creatures. An Egg of dark amethyst encloses these images. Often known as the ‘third eye’, this chakra relates to the pineal (in some systems, the pituitary) gland, and strangely enough, the very first amphibians to live on land seem to have had a light sensitive organ in this position.

LAPIS: Glimpsed in a radiant diamond sphere, the gold and purple Phœnix, symbolising immortality, spreads its wings from a nest of fire, surrounded by flights of birds radiating out and upward. Immolating itself on a pyre of spices it is continually reborn from the flames, always young, always potent, and infinite in its capacity to communicate its perfection. To put it another way, to the alchemist it was the long-sought Philosophers’ Stone, The Elixir, The Universal Panacaea, the goal of the alchemical quest; capable of turning base metals into gold, restoring the sick, raising the dead, and ensuring the fortunate possessor of immortality. In contemporary terms it was an indication of true enlightenment, bestowing an experience of oneness with the Ultimate Reality, resolving all doubts and conundrums. But its ultimate source is none other than the Black Earth of the first chakra, the prima materia, refined and refined again, through numerous gruelling stages of development, until it emerges at last in its pure state, freed from all imperfections. Another name for the prima materia is The Stone of the Philosophers’, the raw material of The Philosophers’ Stone; two titles which sound deceptively similar but which, in fact, represent the Alpha and the Omega of the Great Work of Alchemy.

Experience has proved this to be a living system, when practiced regularly as an integral part of a balanced lifestyle. Consistency is the key, for both the physical and meditational aspects. As in most situations, you get what you give.

To illustrate how these images can assume a dynamic of their own; on one occasion, after several days of meditation at a centre in the Swiss mountains, I had the following experience.

During one of the later meditation sessions, I was imagining the process of my breath passing up and down through my ‘alchemical’ chakras. Suddenly I was aware of the breathing as if it were a process happening independently of myself. I could hear it but was not consciously responsible for the production of the sound. I then saw the sahasrara as a glittering diamond sphere with a blazing phœnix at its heart, surrounded by darting flights of smaller birds inexhaustibly emanating into infinity. I was fully aware of myself, and the fact that I was witnessing this very special sight, but my elation in no way interfered with the process. Perhaps this vision lasted for five minutes, it would be difficult to say, but as it began to withdraw I allowed it to do so, continuing the breathing, and feeling very fulfilled and privileged….. It took me some time to return to plain consciousness.

I have had alchemical visions before, and this one was not entirely ‘autonomous’, in the sense that what I saw was what I always actively imagine for the Lapis chakra during my daily yoga practice; but it was not consciously created, emerging from the subconscious spontaneously and, apparently, self-generated.

This brief excursus is clearly not an attempt to provide the necessary information for anyone to begin practicing. It was written in response to an invitation to give an introductory account of my Alchemical Yoga, and makes no attempt to do more than that. Apart from one or two workshops I have never made a concerted drive to teach the system outlined here, and I certainly harbour no missionary ambitions. However, I would welcome communication from anyone interested enough to know more.

Paul Cowlan is a professional songwriter-poet-performer who also gives illustrated talks on alchemical topics. He can be contacted via the following websites, where his CDs, poetry, artwork and alchemy publications are all available.

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Carew Castle, Princess Nest and Satans’ Ghost
By Liz.

Carew Castle

When I first came to Wales, back in 1975, aged just fifteen, I did an awful lot of travelling around the Pembrokeshire area. I wanted to walk some of the coastal path, to see the beautiful sights of the sea, to visit the relatively unspoilt villages and most of all to indulge my love of castles. One of the castles I particularly fell in love with was the atmospheric Carew. I’ve learned quite a lot about it’s history over the years, so I thought I would share some of it with you.

The famous Carew family take their name from the place and still own the castle, although it is now leased to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park which administers the site. Set in a stunning location overlooking a 23-acre millpond, Carew Castle is in the civil parish of Carew in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire. With a history spanning 2,000 years, the castle as we see it today is an interesting blend of the strong defences of a Norman fortress and the grandeur of a Tudor mansion house.

The castle stands on a limestone bluff overlooking the Carew inlet — a part of the tidal estuary that makes up Milford Haven. The site must have been recognised as strategically useful from the earliest times and recent excavations in the outer ward have discovered multiple defensive walls of an Iron Age fort. The Norman castle has its origins in a stone keep built by Gerald de Windsor around the year 1100.

Gerald was made castellan of Pembroke Castle by Arnulf of Montgomery in the first Norman invasion of Pembrokeshire. He married Helen Nest, princess of Deheubarth and the daughter of the late Welsh king, Rhys ap Tewdwr around 1095. Nest brought the manor of Carew as part of her dowry and Gerald cleared the existing fort to build his own castle on Norman lines.

The original outer walls were timber, and only the keep was of stone. This early keep still exists in the later structure as the “Old Tower”.

Nests’ story

Princess Nest, also known as Helen of Wales, was renowned for her great beauty. She had been the lover of King Henry with whom she had 2 children out of wedlock. In her marriage to Gerald, the couple had five children together.

During the Christmas holidays of 1108 the story goes that Cadwgan ap Blethyn, Prince of Powys, held an eisteddfod in Cardigan. To this entertainment, every man of position throughout Wales was invited. Bards sang their songs, the mead passed round, the revelry was fast and furious; then one of these wandering minstrels told a tale about Nest, the fairest of the fair, old Rhys’s daughter, royal Gryfudd’s sister. He told  them about how she had enslaved the English King and now was wife to the robber chief Gerald of Winsor who had seized land.

Fired by this song Owain, Blethyn’s son, became determined to grab Helen from her lord for himself.

When the feast was over, Owain collected a number of his friends together, and they sallied forth to Pembrokeshire. Claiming kinship with Nest, he was well received by her husband Gerald and left the castle later feeling lust mad. That night he returned with a considerable following, believed to have been fourteen or fifteen men and, having in some way obtained entrance to Carew, laid siege to the room in which Nest and her husband lay.

Gerald, when he discovered that resistance was hopeless, was persuaded by his wife to escape through a garderobe (i.e. the lavatory chute). She let him down with a rope and thus saved his life. Meanwhile, Owain burst in the door, seized Nest, her two boys, and two other children (the illegitimate offspring of her husband), fired the castle and carried off his prisoners into Powys.

The children were later returned to Gerald.

Nest is said to have borne Owain two sons before finally being returned to her husband. Owain ap Cadwgan left the country to avoid retribution, whilst Owain’s father, Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, lost his own lands in subsequent war. Gerald waited for Owain to return to Wales, then ambushed and killed him in combat as retribution for kidnapping his wife and children. After Gerald died, Nest went on to marry again and to have further children.

She died some time after 1136.

Satans’ Ghost

The new castle Gerald built served the increasingly less affluent Carew family until financial circumstances forced the family to mortgage the castle in 1480. The new owner was Rhys ap Thomas who gained wealth and power from his support of the Yorkist kings during the War of the Roses. In 1485, he switched sides and made a significant contribution towards the victory of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. He was knighted on the battlefield and rewarded by the new King Henry VII who made him chief justice and chamberlain of South Wales and a Knight of the Garter.

To celebrate his elevation to the Order of the Garter, Sir Rhys held a Great Tournament at Carew, the last medieval style tournament ever held in Wales. Sir Rhys completely modernised the castle, turning it into a lavish residence.

Following his death, the castle was inherited by his grandson, Rhys ap Gruffudd, but when he was executed for treason in 1531, the castle became Crown property.

In 1558 the castle was leased to Sir John Perrot, reputedly one of Henry VIII’s illegitimate sons. Sir John demolished the northern section of the curtain wall and added a new range in the architectural style of the day. The three-storey building had rows of mullioned windows and semi-circular bays on each floor. The entire top floor was a long gallery where Sir John and his guests would be able to stroll during bad weather. In 1591, before the building was completed, Sir John was found guilty of high treason and he died the following year while imprisoned in the Tower of London.

In the 17th century, the castle’s lord, Sir Roland Rhees, a former pirate captain, is alleged to have kept a Barbary Ape, most likely a mandrill, inside the castle. Rees had acquired the creature on one of his many voyages. Rees was a very ill-tempered and mannered individual, and would host banquets at the castle just to shout insults and laugh at his guests. The ape, whom he named Satan, would mimic him and laugh at the guests.

One stormy night, when there was strong wind and rain, the ape grew restless while Rees drank heavily in the dinning hall. There was a knock at the door and a Flemish tradesman appeared to deliver his rent, but had only half the money needed. Rhees was already upset at the man because he did not approve of his son’s relationship with the man’s daughter. In a drunken rage, Rees loosened the ape’s chains and goaded it to maul the tradesman close to death. The tradesman escaped but, weak through loss of blood and struggling to make his way out, collapsed in semi-consciousness.

The tradesman was rescued by a benevolent servant who tended to his wounds and hid him away in his quarters, intending to let him go when the violent storm past. As the two men talked a violent cry and mad laughter was heard coming from the dinning hall.
They rushed to the scene to find Sir Rees dead on the floor, his throat gashed open, and the ape burning in the fireplace.

The ghosts of the ape, and its master, are said to haunt the castle to this day. Footsteps are reported regularly, objects throw themselves, and the mad cackling laughter of an ape echoes through the halls.

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Time; how do you see it?

By Jill Malenoir

Most folk nowadays think of time as linear, a straight progression from birth to death. Our modern life encourages this, with ease of travel, timetables, appointments, deadlines, etc., we live at great speed going from A to B each day. Everything is scheduled and timetabled. We are expected to conform to this regimented life with rush hours, gridlock etc. We even talk of ‘Time’s Arrow’.

Compare this to our ancestors, even 60 years ago most people worked on the land. They could watch the change of the seasons, meditate whilst doing a repetitive job and they were far more in tune with the land. They could see, as each day passed the cyclical nature of Time.

My grandfather was a Master Carpenter, his speciality was ornate staircases for Stately Homes. He worked at his own pace with hand tools. My other grandfather was a farmer, he had a mixed farm with a few cattle, some sheep, a few pigs, geese, hens, ducks, and of course Shire horses for the work and a smaller Cob for the marketing. Both had time to appreciate the seasons and the changes in the land that we barely notice now.

Look at a clock with a second hand, sweeping around the dial. Then look at the minute hand, slower, but following the same path, and now the hour hand, twice around the dial in a day. Where does the cycle take us next? The lunar month is the next cycle, from New Moon through to Full and back again, slowly winding us through the seasons from Samhain to Samhain.

Why is Samhain considered the New Year?

It goes back to a time before clocks, and the smallest convenient measurement was the day, but when did one day end and another begin?

Our ancestors knew that life began in darkness, in the womb, so it was no great stretch to surmise that the new day was born from night, and so they set the change from day to day at sunset. You can even find this confirmed in the Bible, where in Genesis, when God is creating the Universe, it states ‘And the Evening and the Morning were the first Day’. So it became no great leap for the year to change when the Earth went into Her resting phase, the time when the animals were brought back inside for the winter, and the people prepared for the cold weather and the dark nights were long. the Goddess awaited the rebirth in Spring.

Even today, the Jewish and Muslim calendars are Lunar ones, their Sabbaths and Festivals begin at nightfall. This also is the reason for Easter being a movable feast, it is timed from the Jewish Passover, which begins on the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. Good Friday is the first Friday of Passover.

Copyright Jill Malenoir, 2010

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The Seprioth from the bottom up (Part 1)

By Simon Cash

A lot of the Magic texts I’ve read concentrate on the Sepiroth from the Top down, starting at Kether which is the highest Sphere (literally the Godhead) and can take a lifetime of work to understand.

So here, I will start with the lowest Sphere and work upwards as Malkuth is the one which we are most familiar with and have the most experience in. Now while I am concentrating on the Spheres or Sepiroth of the Kabbalistic tree of life, I will sometimes touch on the paths than connect the Seprioth as the two are interlinked.

Malkuth the Tenth Sephiroth

Malkuth is the “largest” Sephiroth; large in a physical but also a mental sense. Many magical diagrams show Malkuth as the same size as the rest of the tree of life, but this is only done for symmetry in the two dimensional world of books and paper. If the diagram were to scale, then Malkuth would be many times larger than the rest. Bearing this in mind, a lot of the lessons and parables of the Kabbalistic books will make more sense. Malkuth is the foundation on which we stand and it is important to have strong foundations. It is also more a balance point or a pivot point, as some Kabbalistis believe in the Quippoth, a “Tree of Death” as it were.

The mission in Malkuth is to recognise ourselves and recognise the temptations of the Physical world, the distractions. But its not just physical; we can end up mentally in debt to people just as easily as we can end up in debt to the bank. Malkuth contains both the physical and mental distractions and also the sheer physical beauty of the World; beaches, waterfalls, places of quiet contemplation, nature at its finest and also the works of mankind at its finest too; churches and temples, works of art, places where mankind has made a positive impact on the world. All of these things are tangible and physical. All of these things both the good and the bad we can recognise ourselves with a little bit of introspection.

Makluth is the world around us, which is partly or our own creation and partly the creation of others. The two not only overlap but overlay as well. This is to say we are experiencing our own and everyone else’s “reality” simultaneously. This is how distractions happen. This is how we allow ourselves to be led.

Even in basic psychological terms, a person on their own is capable of making rational decisions, yet the same person in a crowd will be led and go with the flow. Imagine that in a large gathering everyone else’s Malkuths are closer, overlaying your own. Think of it as Malkuth is like a lecture theatre before the teacher enters; all the students are shouting to make themselves heard, some are gossiping some are talking about the lesson but everything is equally as loud and confusing, The key is self awareness.

Going back to the “largeness” of Malkuth; there is more of everything.

Malkuth is where the light and energy of God (and I’m using the term God in the Kabbalistic sense of Godhead rather than the Christian sense of ineffable omnipotent being here) is diffused and diluted. Now, that is necessary a bad thing. This diffusion means the raw energy has been contained in many specialised forms and vessels, each one for a specific purpose. Think of Herbalism and Alchemy how the same plant can contain both the poison and the medicine; the essence is there it is the vessel and the preparation which forms the end result.

This is one example of the diffusion of the energy.

Malkuth is the easiest Sepiroth to perceive and its the one in which we spend the most time. It is also one that we should spend a lot of time understanding as it is linked into Kether in many ways.


The next Sepiroth “up” is Yesod. In Ceremonial Magic, the pathways between the Sephiroth have names and attributes too. the pathway between Malkuth and Yesod is path number 32 and is represented by the “world” card of the tarot. There are exercises and rituals which deal solely with the paths and the ways they interconnect but for this essay I am concentrating as much as possible on the Sepiroth themselves.

Yesod is the lowest Astral plane. It is associated with the Moon, the nines of the tarot, the sexual organs of man and woman, the element of Water and the emotions. It is also a part of the Spiritual body made up of six Sepiroth known as the ‘Yetzira’. This association with Water is very much a metaphorical one as water is a physical entity, yet it flows its always fluid and moving. It is the place of the unconscious mind the place where ideas come from. It is also the psychic centre of your being, a place of the intuitive skills,

Yesod can be used as a retreat, a place to step back from the World of Malkuth, to recharge the batteries and bring forth creative ideas. It’s link with the Sexual organs make it a place of potential of ‘seeding’. A lot of Kabbalistic literature deals in metaphor especially around the area of sex and reproduction which can confuse the issue. Remember its metaphor not literal truth.

Yesod could be described as the foundation of the spiritual body. To use modern terminology, Yesod is very much a interface between the higher realms and the physical realm of Malkuth. Yesod is the commonest as in the most experienced Sepiroth. But it is the bottom of a much larger spectrum.

Hod & Netzach

The next two Sephiroth are Hod and Netzach, the 8th and 7th spheres. In diagrams they are situated above and to the Left (Hod) and Right (Netzach) of Yesod.

Hod, the 8th Sepiroth, is associated with the 8 card of all the Tarot suites. It is on the left hand side of the tree of life which is the known as the pillar of severity or Boaz and is associated with amongst other things female energies, lunar energies and the north.

Hod is also known as “Majesty” or ‘Splendour’ and deals with the power gained through the act of submission or conceding, the power gained not through brute force of will, but through learning and adapting. This submission is an admission there is something larger than your will and your intuition, then learning to accept and work with it. This is the ‘Shamanistic’ sphere. Hod is where the Magician realises that there are other spiritual entities apart from himself and communes with the spirits. Its associated with many archetypes of the Magicians who rule over language and communication, such as Annubis, Thoth, Mercury and Hermes. As an aside, this is why, in some Cermonal Magic rituals, Evocations to several Gods of differing pantheons are made at the same time; the ritual is dealing with the Sepiroth associated rather than that particular god or goddess themselves.

Hod’s opposite number is Netzach the 7th Sepiroth, which is associated with the 7 card of the tarot. It is as the base of the right hand column, the pillar of mercy or ‘Jocaim’ and is associated with the Male side the south, solar energies including the element of fire. Netzach is also known as Victory and Eternity. This column is known as kindness or mercy but be warned its not a indulgent kindness, just as the column of Boaz is not Severity in the sense of bullying or wanton abuse. Netzach is the opposite of Hod in that the Magicians own will or sense of discipline is what’s important here. This is the place of endeavour a place where the power of the soul can overcome obstacles. It is the place of instinctive behaviour rather than educated behaviour.

In some ways Netzach is paradox as its archetype forms are Love goddesses such as Venus and Aphrodite and is associated with love. But its not the love of a partnership it is the love of a Mother for her children, sometimes tough love is what is needed.

Its sometimes beneficial to apply a little bit of a Eastern Philosophy to the twin Spheres of the Seripoth, Hod/Netach, Gebura/Chesed and Binah/Chokoma and see them as Ying and Yang symbols where they both compliment and balance each other. Like the Ying and Yang, there is a touch of the opposite characteristics in the other.

The Two Sepiroth of Hod/Netzach have another role and meaning; their role in the Kabbalistic ‘body’ is as the legs (The Spheres are situated on the hips) and are associated with the ‘Pillars of Hermes’, a physical representation of these pillars can be found in classical architecture in the two pillars flanking a doorway, such as are found on the entrance Masonic temples and older civic buildings such as courts of law, banks and even some churches. This symbolism is so old it has become lost on many people. For those interested, The Pillars of Hermes appear on The High Priestess card of the Raider White tarot, one of the more Kabbalistic influenced cards, and again on the Hierophant and Justice cards.

A word on gender and the Sepiroth; it is important to remember not to apply such rigid definitions of Male/Female to the Sepiroth or to separate gender from genitals as in the case of The Biblical Angels which are often described as Androgynous. Once you pass Yesod, which is associated with the genitals then such things become irrelevant.

These four Sepiroth make up two worlds of the Kabballa, the world of ‘Assiah’ or of Action, which is Malkuth on its own and the world of ‘Yetzirah’ or the world of Formation. If you were working down the Sepiroth, then the worlds are:





These four worlds are separated by barriers or ‘Veils’” which the Magician must cross (almost like a quest). The two main Barriers are the veil of Paroketh which is above Hod and Netzach and the veil of the Abyss which separates the highest three Sepiroth, Kether, Binah and Chockoma from the world of Briyah, which I shall deal with in the next essay.

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Grimoire Shamanism: The Shaman and the Solomonic Path

By Aaron Leitch

For at least the past two or three generations, the Solomonic grimoires have been popularly associated with lodge-style ceremonial magick and secret societies. Therefore, when I first suggested the grimoires are more intimately connected to paganism and folk/witchcraft traditions, than to men like MacGregor Mathers or Aleister Crowley, I expected the idea would become somewhat controversial. Instead, to my surprise, it has stirred much more interest than controversy. I have not only received requests for more information, but I have also heard from many modern-day sorcerers who have come to similar conclusions about the Solomonic material. (If you have read my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, you have seen how I stumbled upon an entire Solomonic movement among the same people who practice Hoodoo, Hexcraft and other folk-magick traditions.) So, it turns out my message was given directly into the hands of a waiting audience!

I would dare say such an audience has not existed since Gerald Gardner’s publication of High Magick’s Aide in 1949. Written to mask real magickal practices in the cloak of historical fiction, the story depicts a medieval Solomonic wizard and a Pagan witch working hand-in-hand, as if their practices were closely related. (Which, of course, they were!) In Gardner’s day, the Solomonic grimoires were still held in high regard by practicing witches. For example, you can find elements of the Key of Solomon the King within “Old Religion” covens- such as the New Forrest- and even in Gardner’s Wicca.

Today’s students have apparently come full circle. They want to break away from the “self-help occultism” of the past two or three decades. They are now willing to learn about the very same Old Magicks from which- just a few years ago- they would certainly have been told to steer clear. Santeria, Palo, Voodoo, Hoodoo, Hexcraft- even Solomonic magick itself (especially the Goetia and similar texts)- were so recently subjects to be avoided or derided. Now, people who desire magick that “really works” are exploring systems descended directly from tribal shamanic worldviews, where Angels and spirits are real rather than mere psychological constructs.

With all of this in mind, I feel there is a place for this essay- especially for those who would like more information about the shamanic nature of the Solomonic texts. In what follows, I will briefly summarize the premise you can find elaborated within Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, and then offer some illustrations of modern Solomonic mages at work.

Shamans and Exorcists

First and foremost, I would like to take a moment to explain my use of the term “shamanism.” I am aware that many scholars are moving away from using that label as a universal “catch-all” for any system of primitive tribal spirituality. It does, in fact, make it easier to assume that different cultures in different times and places all practiced “the same thing”, viz.- “shamanism.” Nothing could be further from the truth(!), and I can assure the reader that I do not use the term in such a manner. Instead, I am using the term to indicate the social conditions surrounding the shamanic vocation as opposed to those social conditions that typically surround the Temple Priest in history. The “shamanism” I describe can be found in any culture, ancient or modern, tribal or metropolitan.

Given my broad use of the term, I cannot attempt to offer a cohesive definition of shamanism. Instead, I can only outline those practices that collectively make a tradition shamanic: Common aspects of the Shaman’s vocation are withdrawal into solitude, ritualized death-rebirth, the gaining of Patrons and Familiar Spirits (from whom the Shaman learns most of his magick) and learning a secret language of some sort (such as the languages of birds or animals). Once he gains mastery, he must be able to exorcise the dead, demons and nature spirits without falling prey to them. He must also develop relationships with the Gods of the tribe or community, so that he can petition Them for aide in times of distress (such as plague, drought, failed hunts, crop shortages, etc).

Perhaps most universal to shamanism is the ecstatic trance- often obtained via drugs or physical discomfort/exhaustion- which allows the Shaman to visit the Gods in the celestial realm, or descend into the underworld to retrieve the lost souls of the sick and dying. These ecstatic states are his primary source of power – not only making his astral journeys possible, but also granting him such superhuman abilities as invulnerability to pain/injury from fire, snow and freezing water, blades or blunt weapons.

Also, many of the Indo-European tribal cultures that bear directly upon the development of Western civilization shared a common cosmology. They believed in a three-fold universe- consisting of a celestial world, a physical world and the underworld. The celestial world was the home of the Gods, beginning with a transcendent Father God who was most often the Creator and directly associated with the Sky. This “Father Sky” was followed by a number of Sons or Messengers – often in groups of seven or nine, and associated with visible heavenly bodies (such as the seven Planets). These younger Gods were not transcendent, but regularly interacted with the physical world and human beings. Shamans were charged with gaining the favor of these Gods for the good of the tribe, and it was often one of these Gods who would become the Patron or Spiritual Spouse of the Shaman. He was also charged with keeping the spirits of the underworld either appeased or at bay.

Of course, no single culture or tradition will include all of these aspects, or place them within the same context, or even place the same importance upon them. They are not even the exclusive jurisdiction of the Shaman, as the Priest will often fulfill shamanic roles when the Shaman is not available. (Such as when the medieval Church drove out Pagan healers and replaced them with their own clergy.) However, the Priest is much less likely to engage in astral trips, or acquire Spirit Familiars. He usually comes by his knowledge in a university-style setting, rather than a death-rebirth initiation in solitude. Plus, the Priest performs his work under the authority of an established religious body, while the Shaman almost never does so.

Where it comes to the Solomonic grimoires, we find a curious mixture of the shamanic and priestly vocations. While the intent of the magick hearkens back to tribal witchdoctors, the content borrows much from established Church ritual and procedure. Thus, we find spells for such things as retrieving lost property, divining the future, healing sickness and getting ahead at work, that require such things as the performance of a Mass, the use of a consecrated Host and the singing of Psalms.

I believe this is because the grimoires were written by a group of people who fell somewhat between the two extremes of Priest and Shaman. On one hand, many of them were clerics of one type or another. Some of them were priests or even higher-ranking officials, while a likely greater number were low-ranking scribes and other Church personnel. (Called the “purified ones”, these clerics performed minor duties such as carrying holy objects, preparing the altar, writing music, transcribing texts, etc.) On the other hand, their occult practices were most certainly not sanctioned by Church authorities. While this put many Solomonic mages’ lives at great risk, it also afforded them some freedom to act as freelance shamans within their communities.

It is possible that much of the Solomonic genre was created by members of the clerical Order of Exorcists. Consider, for instance, this quote from the Key of Solomon the King:

He who hath attained the rank or degree of Exorcist, which we are usually accustomed to call Magus or Master according to grade…

The Key and other Solomonic texts often refer to the operator as an “Exorcist”, and we can see from the above quote that the term indicates some kind of rank. When we look into the medieval use of that term, we find it within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The medieval Church was divided into three major and four minor Orders. The first three (Priesthood, Deacon and Subdeacon) require ordination, while the final four merely require appointment and are mainly composed of the low-ranking “purified ones.” These minor Orders have changed according to time and place, and have included such offices as Acolyte, Reader, Doorkeeper, Porter, Lector and- of course- Exorcist.

The Exorcist was charged with “laying hands” upon new converts- to cast out lingering spirits before one was baptized. It was also his duty to tend to the sick, exorcising the demons of disease. Thus, ailing peasants in a medieval village would visit the exorcists at the local church, just as they would have previously visited the local witchdoctor. Because of this, there were few requirements for the role of Exorcist beyond a charismatic personality and (preferably) a knack for faith-healing. In many ways, the Exorcists lived on the outer fringe of Church dogma. Unlike ordained

Priests, the Exorcists would often break with the official rituals (such as the Rituali Romanum found in the Catholic Book of Exorcisms) and develop their own styles and techniques. I suspect they got away with more than their share of heresy, because their vocation called for what really worked at any given time and place.

This likely contributed to the fad for exorcism in medieval Europe- during which appeared countless “exorcism manuals”, each one outlining its author’s favored methods. They commonly begin with exhortations for the operator to live a clean and pure life, to obey religious laws, observe chastity, etc. They describe spiritual preparations involving prayer, fasting and solitude. They include discussions of what to expect when the spirits appear, and how to behave toward them during the exorcism. Finally, they outline the ritual itself- usually including confession, Psalms, the Pater Noster and other established Church prayer. They also contain lengthy conjurations, repeated multiple times, that admonish the spirits in the Names of God, Saints, Angels, Prophets, etc. In fact, I believe these manuals are where the Solomonic grimoires come into the picture.

Books like The Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia and even parts of the Book of Abramelin follow the form of medieval exorcism manuals. The difference is that the Solomonic grimoires are extreme examples, and incorporate much more Pagan and occult lore than the Church would tolerate. (Again, see my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, where I discuss the “receipt-book” or “wonder-book”- another grimoiric parallel known for inclusion of such pagan lore.) Possession of these grimoires led many clerics to prison, torture and execution.

Regardless, the grimoires proliferated so far and so fast the Church was unable to burn them all. There was just something in the human spirit that kept people writing, transcribing and preserving them, even at their own peril. I suspect that “something” was the same thing that called the most primitive tribal shaman to his duty, and every shaman, prophet and mage that followed. There will always be a need for humankind to interface with the spirits of the world, and thus there will always be a need for the Shaman. In medieval Europe, one form the Shaman took was that of the grimoiric mage.

The Solomonic Magus and the Way of the Shaman

We can easily find several examples of such shaman-mages in action. In the Book of Abramelin, we follow the journeys of Abraham the Jew as he heals the sick, offers magickal aide to kings and princes and even raises the dead across Europe. In his journals, Dr. John Dee recorded instances of himself and Edward Kelley performing magick and divinations for their community, colleagues and even the Queen herself. (Legend has credited Dee with creating the storm that sunk a Spanish fleet before it could attack Britain.) Henry Cornelius Agrippa, author of the famous Three Books of Occult Philosophy, once confronted a local Inquisitor on behalf of a poor woman suffering imprisonment and torture on charges of witchcraft. He succeeded in securing her release, had her accusers arrested, drove the presiding Inquisitor from office and (some say!) ended the Inquisitor’s life via magickal means.

The above are merely the more popular examples of grimoiric mages working to protect their communities, nation or humanity as a whole. If you would like to read more anecdotes about the grimoires and the people who wrote and used them, I highly recommend the Magic in History series from Penn State Press. Take special notice of E. M. Butler’s Ritual Magic and Richard Kieckhefer’s Forbidden Rites. Both books include in-depth discussions of the culture that gave rise to the Solomonic texts, as well as excerpts from medieval records depicting both masters and amateurs attempting to use the magick.

At this time, I wish to focus upon the manifestation of the Shamanic Arts within the grimoires themselves. I have already outlined many of the points that can earn a practice the label of “shamanism.” Therefore, I can now revisit that list and provide examples of the same principles within a few of the more popular grimoires.

To begin with, I should mention that the Solomonic texts generally adhere to the same tribal shamanic cosmology I described earlier: a celestial Father God (the Creator) who charges His many Sons or Messengers (Angels) with the governance of the physical world. While the Father God can be invoked for aide and authority, He truly remains transcendent and far-removed from reality. It is His Angels and spirits whom the mage summons for any given purpose.

We can also see that the shamanic three-fold cosmology was adopted by mages like Agrippawho based the structure of his Three Books of Occult Philosophy upon it. (Agrippa actually described a celestial realm, an intellectual realm and a physical realm. He recognized the infernal realm, but left it “unspoken” in his three-fold cosmology. Instead, he added the intellectual realm to represent the mind, where man and God meet. This may have been a Gnostic influence- as the Gnostics tended to view the physical world and Hell as the same place, and placed much importance upon the Mind of God.)

Moving forward in our list: The initial vocation (or calling/initiation) of the Shaman often involves a long period of seclusion, during which a death-rebirth ordeal must be endured. Often during such an ordeal, the spirits of sickness and injury will attack the would-be Shaman in a kind of spiritual-alchemical process. As each attack is endured and survived, the aspirant is further purified and strengthened- until the spirits eventually lose all power over the new Shaman. It is this ordeal that grants the Shaman his primary source of spiritual authority. As the spirits have already failed in their initial attempts to kill him, the Shaman enjoys a position of superiority to- and invulnerability from- the dangers they might pose to a layperson.

It is not difficult to find parallels in the Solomonic texts. Nearly all of them insist the aspirant must remove himself from public life, preferably spending his time alone in ritual purification and prayer. Each text outlines its own regimen, but it is generally agreed that the longer and more intense the seclusion and preparations, the more powerful the magick. Also, I note that these preparations are more often associated with evocation of spiritual entities, rather than with folk-magick spells or talisman creation.

A great example is the Book of Abramelin, which requires a full year and a half (or, in the French version of the text, a mere six months) of seclusion and ritual preparation before attempting contact with the Guaridan Angel and the infernal spirits. Every single day, the Abramelin aspirant must wash, enter an established Oratory and recite prayers before an Altar. As the regimen progresses, more prayers and ritual preparations are added until- by the time the evocations begin- the aspirant has become consumed by the process. Not only that, but he is also experiencing the mental stress associated with such long periods of seclusion. This creates an altered state of consciousness that allows one to perceive the Angel and spirits.

The Book of Abramelin is also the best example of the ordeal of death and rebirth in a Solomonic text. I have covered this aspect of the system in another essay, The Holy Guardian Angel: Exploring the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage, so I will share some excerpts with you here. These are from my descriptions of the final seven days of the Rite:

The second day is the first day of the invocation of the Angel. This is where the funerary symbolism of the Rite comes into play. At dawn, one is not to wash or don the White Robe, but instead must put on the Robe of Mourning [made of black sackcloth]. Once inside the Oratory, ashes are taken from the Censor and placed upon one’s head (a funeral custom found in Biblical literature- such as the Book of Job), and a black veil is placed over the head and face.


Day three … continues the funeral rite. At dawn, one enters the Oratory as in the previous day, wearing the same Robe of Mourning. Now, the aspirant must lay prostrate upon the floor, with his head at the foot of the Altar, and pray silently for three hours or more. This is the symbolic “laying within the tomb” found in many solar Dying and Rising God mythos.


The fourth day … progresses from the death symbolism of the previous two days into the rebirth half of the equation. Here at last the White Robe is worn once more- symbolic of the resurrection and spiritual purity of the aspirant. (The donning of a white robe at the end of such an initiation is found as far back as ancient Egypt.) One is to kneel at the Altar and begin to offer prayers of thanks to the Highest as well as invocations to the Guardian Angel. If all has gone well, it is here the first tentative contact with the Angel will be achieved.

The objective of the Abramelin process is to bring an end to the old way of life, and initiate an entirely new path. Thanks to the extended seclusion, social contacts will have waned, old habits have been broken and the aspirant faces an entirely new life on the other side of the process. The death-rebirth symbolism of Abramelin merely symbolizes this fact, and associates it with the death and resurrection of holy figures like Christ and Osiris.

The next point is perhaps the most obvious: A shaman’s vocation usually involves the reception of his spiritual Patron and Familiars. He then learns his magick directly from those spirits, and has the ability to communicate with them in times of need. We can find examples of this dynamic in nearly every grimoire.

The Book of Abramelin is dedicated entirely to this process – beginning with the permanent invocation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel. That Angel, then, is supposed to teach the aspirant countless magickal secrets – including the methods of summoning and binding the infernal spirits. The infernal spirits are also expected to teach the aspirant some magick, as well as provide the names of any number of lesser spirits who will serve the aspirant as familiars. Four of these lesser spirits, in particular, are charged to stay with the aspirant at all times for the rest of his life. Having achieved all of this, the final book in the grimoire provides hundreds of talismans for use in communicating with the spirits for any necessity or desire.

The Pauline Arts, one of the five books of the Lemegeton, also pays special attention to the aspirant’s Patron Angel. This time the Angel is one of a group of 360 who govern the degrees of the zodiac. According to the text, you share a special relationship with the Angel who rules the ascending degree of your own nativity. By following the process outlined in the book, you can establish contact with that Angel and learn magick, gain information, receive guidance, etc.

At the other end of the spectrum are books like the Goetia, also of the Lemegeton. Here we find no mention of Patrons or Guardian Angels. However, we do find a list of 72 ranking spirits of the infernal hierarchy, any of whom can teach the aspirant mysteries (magickal, scientific, philosophical, etc) or provide personal familiar spirits. Such spirits can be bound to a brass vessel (or something similar) and become permanent members of the household. (This is also covered in depth in Modern Grimoire Magick.) I will go further into this aspect of the grimoires below.

There are so many wonderful examples of this dynamic in the grimoires, I couldn’t hope to list most of them here. To my knowledge, no Solomonic grimoire in existence fails to include this to some degree- and most of them are dedicated to this subject alone. Outside of a few folk recipes their authors may have found useful, the bulk of the grimoires focus upon the evocation of Angels and/or spirits, and assume the aspirant will learn the magickal arts directly from them. As the author of the Book of Abramelin states:

In time, I have become able to recognize the holy angels and the good spirits. I now share their friendship and have discussions with them. They have explained to me the basis of true magic and how unredeemed spirits need to be- and must be- controlled. To finish, I need to say that I learned the holy secrets through Abramelin’s teachings from God himself; and I learned to do the true, not false, magic from the holy angels.

The above is also related to the next aspect of shamanism- the ability to command the dead, demons and nature spirits without falling prey to them. We have already seen that both Abramelin and the Goetia outline how to exorcise and bind the infernal spirits as familiars. To these we can add texts like the Theurgia-Goetia, the Key of Solomon the King, the Heptameron, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy and the Magus. All of these, and hundreds of similar and derivative texts, include directions for commanding, binding or overcoming the infernal spirits- or communing with the spirits of nature and the Elements.

Unfortunately, this aspect of the grimoires has led to many generations of misunderstanding. Because the books describe how to “summon the demons of Hell” (or the lesser spirits of nature), many have assumed they must- by definition- be rituals of black magick. The question, perhaps asked first by the medieval Church itself, was why a God-fearing person would wish to deal with devils.

However, I feel that question misses the point entirely. As we have already seen in this essay, there was a time when holy men were expected to work with infernal spirits. Just like the exorcists who cast demons out of peoples’ homes and bodies, and the shamans and witchdoctors that preceded them. While there are a few rare examples of grimoires that call upon Satan or Lucifer instead of God and His Angels, we find that most demonology grimoires place the mage on the side of God and directly invoke Holy Names and Angels to control the infernal spirits. As mentioned above, the intent is usually to overcome and bind them- placing the mage in a position of superiority and authority. Only with that spiritual authority can the Shaman cure disease, retrieve lost souls from the underworld and protect his community from demonic spirits.

Let’s now examine another aspect of the shamanic vocation that bears directly upon the grimoires – learning a secret language. In ancient tribal cultures, this was often associated with the languages of animals or birds- with whom the Shaman was believed to communicate directly. (An important skill for any tribal shaman who practiced animism.) By the time we reach the point of written history, we find that magickal languages have become the dead languages of past human civilizations.

For example, the Priests of Babylon used ancient Sumerian as their sacred language. The Egyptians, too, utilized older forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs in their magick. The point was that the language had to be obscure- unspoken by the common people and known only to those who study it. A dead language remains static- unchanged by linguistic evolution resulting from common daily usage. It should also have some foundation in the history of a given culture. All of this makes it sacred something that can be set aside, and allows mystics to assign correspondences to the letters or sounds, incorporate them into established rituals, etc. Thus was Sumerian useful to the later Babylonian Priests. So, too, were Hebrew, Greek and Latin sacred languages within medieval Judeo-Christianity.

For the Solomonic mages, nearly any ancient tongue was sacred. They adopted names and conjurations from Egyptian, Chaldean, Babylonian, Sumerian, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Coptic and even more sources. Of course, it was rare for an author to have any real knowledge of more than one or two of these languages (such as Latin, Greek or Hebrew). As such, many of the ancient names and conjurations were handed down in a haphazard fashion. I suspect the words were transmitted orally for some time, during which they would certainly have mutated to some degree. Then, when the grimoires were penned, their authors simply recorded the words phonetically, writing down what they had heard from their teachers. The problem was further compounded as the magickal texts were circulated and transcribed. For example, scribes who did not understand Hebrew made glaring errors- quite often mistaking one Hebrew letter for another letter with a similar shape. It was even worse when they attempted to transliterate the Hebrew characters into English, as every individual scribe had his own style of transliteration. (The same is true today, which is why we can see the Hebrew QBLH- Qoph, Beth, Lamed, Heh- spelled “Qabalah”, “Kabbalah” or even “Cabala.”)

Over time, small errors were compounded on top of small errors until (in many cases) the words had lost all semblance of their original forms. In the grimoires themselves, we can find truly bizarre conjurations such as the following from the Key of Solomon the King:

I conjure ye anew by these other names of God, most holy and unknown, by the virtue of which names ye tremble every day – BAZUC, BACURABON, PATACEL, ALCHEGHEL, AQUACHAI, HOMORIONS, EY, ABBATON, CHEVON, CEBON, OY, ZOYMAS, CAYE, EHEIEH, ABBAMACHI, ORTAGU, NALE, HELECH, YEZE – that ye come quickly and without any delay into our presence…

Today we call words like these “Barbarous Names of Evocation”- which simply means “foreign words of command.” The phrase is taken from The Chaldaean Oracles of Zoroaster, which is neither Chaldean nor Zoroastrian. It first appeared during the Renaissance, making it contemporary with Solomonic mystics. The relevant passage from the text states: “Change not the Barbarous Names of Evocation, for there are sacred Names in every language which are given by God, having in the Sacred Rites a Power Ineffable.”

The admonishment to leave the “barbarous names” unchanged likely arises from a recognition that the ancient languages were not understood. They were already corrupt in the Solomonic texts, and it would therefore be unwise to attempt to alter them further. This philosophy resulted in the establishment of a new sacred language- of sorts- as we see in the above quote from the Key. Having been committed to record, these words are as static as those of a real dead language. They are never spoken in common business, and their derivation from the ancient Western languages gives them a cultural foundation and history.

Finally, I can’t let the subject of sacred languages pass without mentioning John Dee’s and Edward Kelley’s Angelical Language. It is especially relevant to our discussion, because it adheres so well to our model of shamanism. Not only did Dee record for us a large portion of a new Secret Language, but he received that language directly from the Angels themselves. Most of the invocations Dee recorded (consisting of 48 Angelical Callings) are intended for use with a specific magickal system. However, his journals reveal that Angelical was used for several purposes beyond the Callings, and the Angels told him they preferred it “before that which you call Hebrew”- presumably meaning the Hebrew Dee would have used in his occultism. (In fact, there is one example in the records of Dee creating a talisman with Angelical characters for a woman in trouble.) Both Dee and Kelley were assured that the Angelical language would grant them unprecedented ability to communicate with Angels and command spirits.

Since Dee’s lifetime, the Angelical language has had a large impact on Western Esotericism. Most of that impact has come through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – which had its own particular approach to the language and rules for its pronunciation. Several groups who followed the Golden Dawn have also created their own recensions. Today, scholars have a much better grasp of Dee’s original system, and are revisiting his journals to study Angelical in its original form (with its original pronunciations). We should see some of the results of these newer studies within the next couple of years.

At long last we reach our final aspect of shamanism- the use of the ecstatic trance to produce magickal power. This included nearly everything the Shaman accomplished- communing with spirits, physical strength/invulnerability, celestial flight, divination and- of course- creating visions. All of these things depend on the alteration of consciousness to an ecstatic mental state. It is literally the opening of the mind to the greater spiritual universe, so that one can perceive the Angels and spirits who live there.

Agrippa gives a lot of space in his Three Books… to this subject: Book I dedicates seven consecutive chapters (61-68) to explaining the passions of the mind and their importance to magick. In Book III, he returns to the subject in six chapters (45-50), where he explains the ecstatic trance or “phrensy.” In chapter 45 he describes this as the vacation of the spirit from the mage’s body, followed by the entrance of the Holy Spirit to fill the space. Once the Holy Spirit has “possessed” the mage, both prophecy and magick are possible:

…prophesying is not made according to the will of man, but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. When oracles and spirits descend from the gods or from daemons upon them, and are delivered by them; which descendings the Platonists call the falling down of superior souls on our souls. … Of which sort of deamons … were wont to enter into the bodies of men, and make use of the voices, and tongues, for the prediction of things to come…

But these kinds of fallings down, or senses, come not into our souls when they are more attently busied about anything else; but they pass into them, when they are vacant. Now there are three kind of vacancy, viz., phrensy, ecstasy and dreams. [Three Books… Book III, Ch. 45]

These phrensies and ecstasies are outlined by Agrippa over the next four chapters. The first type he describes is the phrensy “from the Muses”- which basically indicates revelation through inspiration. The second type is “from Dionysus”- indicating ecstasy through religious fervor (such as we see in modern faith-healing). The third type is “from Apollo”- indicating ecstasy gained by the creation of mind-altering drugs and medicines. The fourth type of phrensy belongs to Venus- indicating ecstasy gained through obsessive love and devotion.

Finally, in chapter 50, Agrippa explains that the removal of oneself from earthly distractions (seclusion and ritual purity) and turning the mind toward celestial things (invocation and prayer), results in the elevation of the soul to a near-God-like state. In this state, the human vessel becomes fit for habitation by divine things. Thus, while the human mind is flying through the heavens with God, the Holy Spirit might enter the body to prophesy or perform miracles.

When we understand the Art of Ecstasy, it brings into focus many grimoiric spells that might otherwise appear to defy reason. For example, the Book of Abramelin contains a chapter of talismans for “Traveling in the Air”- on a ship, a cloak, a cloud, etc. A more obscure grimoire, today called the Munich Handbook of Necromancy, contains experiments for obtaining horses (winged and otherwise) and even a flying throne. Richard Kieckhefer classifies these as “illusionist experiments”, meaning that these horses and thrones are not to be taken literally. Instead, they represent visionary trips the mage can take into the heavens, to meet with and petition the Angels.

Kieckhefer also classes spells to create visions and illusions (of castles, armed men, banquets, etc) under the same heading. In some cases, these visions are seen only by those engaged in the magick, and witnesses often report seeing nothing unusual at all. For example, in the Book of Abramelin, Abraham the Jew describes a woman who concocted a flying ointment, which the two used with apparent success. However, when Abraham later asked to observe the woman as she took such a trip alone, he only witnessed her fall the ground and sleep as if dead for a couple of hours. Eventually, she awoke and described her journeys to Abraham, but her trip had been entirely visionary.

Much the same can be said for most instances of spirit evocation “to physical appearance.” The grimoires are ever romantic in their tone, and they tend to imply that the spirits will literally take on flesh and stand before the Circle. However, according to the records we have of actual Solomonic mages at work, the summoned spirits hardly take on physical form. Previously, I mentioned such records can be found in Butler’s and Kieckhefer’s work on the grimoires. Likewise, the journals of Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley are extremely enlightening- as Kelley could always see the Angels while Dee most often could not. In some cases, the participants will drink or eat some kind of mind-altering brew- and even offer it to those witnessing the rites. (Such as the flying ointment with which Abraham the Jew experimented). If such a concoction is not offered- or is refused by a spectator- then the Angels and spirits are generally perceived only by the person(s) skrying the entities.

Mind-alteration is also a big part of divination. Whether one is summoning a spirit to ask about hidden information, or attempting to skry directly into far away places, the foundational purpose of the ritual is to create a vision that reveals the desired information.

Perhaps understandably, the subject of mind-altering drugs in the grimoires (Agrippa’s “Apollo phrensy”) generates the most controversy today. Unfortunately, there are even some who insist that drugs have nothing to do with either shamanism or Solomonic mysticism. (Such a stance comes from fear of the modern Inquisition called the “drug war.”) In truth, however, drugs have always been an established aspect of these practices. Ancient cultures have used tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, mushrooms, ayahuasca, belladonna, henbane, hemlock and many more mind-altering substances in their mysticism. And, as I mentioned previously, medieval records indicate the grimoiric masters were no exception.

Agrippa obviously knew about such techniques, and wrote about them in more than one place in his Three Books. A great example is found in Book One, chapter 43:

So, they say that if of coriander, smallage, henbane and hemlock be made a fume, that spirits will presently come together; hence they are called the spirits’ herbs. Also it is said that a fume made of the root of the reedy herb sagapen, with the juice of hemlock, and henbane, and the herb tapus barbatus, red sanders, and black poppy, makes spritis and strange shapes appear.

Today we have a good understanding of these “spirits’ herbs” and their effects on the human brain. Plants like henbane, hemlock and black poppy produce hallucinogenic chemicals, and have traditionally been associated with the evocation of spirits, production of visions and illusions, etc.

Unfortunately, these particular drugs are also deadly neuro-toxins that tend to accumulate in the brain over time. Their physical side effects include such things as nausea and convulsions. As such, these drugs are generally associated with goetic evocation and necromancy- contacting demons and the spirits of the dead. They open one’s mind to the infernal side of reality, and will eventually kill you.

It is very likely that such a drug was intended for use with the Goetia– which instructs one to apply an Anointing Oil to one’s eyelids and temples. We can find the same instructions given with “flying ointments” of the same era – just like the Witch’s ointment given to Abraham the Jew. It is necessary to rub the oil upon the body where it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The temples and other pulse-points of the body are good places. There is a rather large vein in the centre of the forehead- the “third eye” spot where anointing oils are most often applied. And, of course, the eyelids offer a very thin bit of skin to absorb the oil. (The descriptions of the demons in the Goetia– as fearsome and dangerous creatures who inspire terror on sight- could very well be records of henbane or belladonna trips.)

Some typical recipes- taken from Scott Cuningham’s Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews– follow:

Flying Ointment #1 : Cinquefoil, Parsley, Aconite, Belladonna, Hemlock, Cowbane.

Flying Ointment #2: Hog’s Lard, Hashish, Hemp Flowers, Poppy Flowers, Hellebore

Notice that most of the ingredients listed are psychoactive (many of them listed by Agrippa as “spirits’ herbs”), and several of them also happen to be deadly.

It is also possible to create oils with more benign drugs. For example, there is much speculation that the Holy Oil described in the Bible (Exodus 30) was intended to include extracted THC from cannabis. (This Biblical recipe was adopted whole-cloth into the Book of Abramelin– though there is no evidence the author believed that cannabis was intended.) However, such an oil would not likely have the astounding effects we see with toxins like henbane and belladonna- which is likely why we find the latter in most flying ointments.

Before I end this section, I should point out that the other phrensies described by Agrippa also come into play in the grimoires- especially those involving religious fervor and devotion. In fact, these play a larger role than mind-altering drugs, and are achieved via the extended periods of prayer, confession and rituals of worship adopted from Christian and Jewish religion. We also find a heavyemphasis upon fasting, seclusion, vegetarianism and general stimulus deprivation (abstinence and moderation in all things). Taken together, all of these combine to create a shift in brain chemistry for the grimoiric magus. I cover all of this in considerable depth in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.

Modern Solomonic Shamans

Last year, I was invited to speak at the first Austin, Texas Western Mysteries Conference. For my lecture, I chose to read my recently-published essay Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and the Solomonic Path. However, I also wanted to add something new- in case anyone in attendance had read the essay on their own. Therefore, after the reading, I went on to discuss the work of a fellow Solomonic mage, who drew from my work and had posted his results for all to see. I hoped to give the audience an idea that this isn’t all theoretical, but that real people are out there, right now, actually doing this kind of work.

Now, I would like to do the same in this essay. First, I will relate the same anecdotes I shared at the conference. Then, I would like to share some entirely new anecdotes- this time about the magickal quest of a young lady who once came to me for advice on Solomonic magick in general, and the Lemegeton‘s “Pauline Arts” in particular.

Frater R.O. and the Goetia

Our first Solomonic magus is best known by his motto- Frater Rufus Opus (or, at the time I gave my lecture, Frater Redactum Opus). Frater R.O. was hardly a beginner when I first encountered him. However, he had been inspired upon reading my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, as well as some forum discussions concerning “Spirit Pots.”

To explain briefly: the creation of a Spirit Pot is an extremely ancient method of working with lesser spirits and familiars. It appears in cultures around the world- though the most common in America are likely the gnangas fashioned by practitioners of the Afro-Caribbean faiths Santeria and Palo. A gnanga is often an iron cauldron- sometimes a terracotta pot- filled with substances that are in natural sympathy with the familiar spirit. (For example, the gnanga of an ocean spirit will include water, plants, fishes and objects taken from the sea. A river spirit would require such ingredients taken from a local river, a mountain spirit would require items taken from a natural high place, etc.)

There are just a few examples of this concept in the grimoires- the most famous being the Brass Vessel of the Lemegeton‘s Goetia. According to that text, King Solomon attempted to entrap 72 ruling spirits of Hell within a vessel of brass, which he then tossed into the sea. His goal was thwarted, however, after the Babylonians witnessed him dispose of the vessel. Believing it to be full of treasure, they later fished it out of the water. Much like ancient Pandora opening the forbidden box of Human Woes, the Babylonians broke the seal and released the evil spirits into the world again. The Goetia further implies that a Solomonic mage can use a similar Brass Vessel to bind any of the 72 spirits, or any spirit at all.

Part of my Modern Grimoire Magick essay was dedicated to explaining Spirit Pots in detail, and suggesting ways to incorporate the same ideas into the Goetia‘s Brass Vessel. Most modern occult texts suggest one summon, question and finally banish the spirits each time we have need of them. However, I made the suggestion that the spirits could be bound to the Brass Vessel instead- creating what I facetiously called a “Solomonic Gnanga.” This appealed to Frater R.O., who began his own experiments with the process.

The spirit he chose to work with is the 26th of the Goetia, named Bune- who is described as bringing riches to the Exorcist:

He is a Strong, Great and Mighty Duke. He appeareth in the form of a Dragon with three heads, one like a Dog, one like a Gryphon, and one like a Man. He speaketh with a high and comely Voice. He changeth the Place of the Dead, and causeth the Spirits which be under him to gather together upon your Sepulchres. He giveth Riches unto a Man, and maketh him Wise and Eloquent. He giveth true Answers unto Demands. And he governeth 30 Legions of Spirits.

According to the Goetia, Bune is a Duke of Hell- which makes him a spirit of Venus whose Seal should be fashioned from copper. However, Frater R.O. decided to use the correspondences outlined in Crowley’s 777, which assigns Bune to the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius. Personally, I would have suggested he stick with the attributions of the Goetia itself- though I must stress that Frater R.O. was not “incorrect” in his choice. Spiritual entities are not restricted to the correspondences we assign to them, and it is possible to work with any spirit from the standpoint of various “Paths.” Thus, Frater R.O. simply chose to work with a “Sagittarian Path” of Bune, rather than the more traditional Venusian Path.

To begin with, Frater R.O. obtained a brass pot with a lid, and decorated it according to the instructions in the Goetia. (The Divine Names of the Goetic Magickal Circle are inscribed around the circumference of the Brass Vessel, which our Frater did using the letters of the Malachim Magickal Alphabet.) He also fashioned a Secret Seal of Solomon and placed it under the vessel’s lid.

He then followed my instructions by filling the vessel with objects sympathetic to Bune (as listed in 777 for Sagittarius)- such as Rush grass, incenses of lignum aloes and sandalwood, dates and raisins, an arrow carved from cedar wood, etc. Most important, of course, is the Seal of the spirit itself which is the main focus for the entity inside the vessel. Frater R.O. reported that Bune’s presence was distinctly felt as soon as the vessel was created- and he placed small (appropriately-colored) candles around the pot to attract and feed the entity until it was time to formally bind him to the vessel.

At last, Frater R.O. performed the full evocation ceremony outlined in the Goetia. (Remember that modern systems usually begin at this point!) He placed the completed vessel into the Triangle of the Art, summoned Bune and asked the spirit if it would like to reside therein. The spirit agreed and was commanded into the vessel once and for all. There was no banishing.

It was only afterward that the real work took place. Frater R.O. began to interact with Bune and the vessel on a daily basis- eventually developing a relationship with the spirit. It took some trial and error in order to learn how it operates: at first, he hoped Bune would help him win the lottery. That didn’t work at all, but he soon found that Bune was perfectly willing and able to bring new clients and contracts to his job. Before long, Frater R.O. had more work than he knew what to do with, and the collective profit he stood to make went into the thousands of dollars! (Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, and Jupiterian spirits are notorious for bringing riches through labor rather than free and easy money.)

This has only been a brief introduction to Frater R.O.’s experiments with Bune and the Brass Vessel of the Goetia. If you would like to follow his experiences as they developed- including photographs of his work- simply visit http://www.rufusopus.com and click the link for “Spirit Pot Operations.”

Kathy McDonald. and the Pauline Arts

Kathy McDonald is one of my favorite success stories. Not only is she one of the most seriously dedicated Solomonic mystics I have met, but she also came to it through much trial and tribulation in her life. Her experience has truly been a shamanic vocation.

I first met Ms. McDonald through my Solomonic Group at Yahoo. At the time, her life had recently undergone drastic changes. She had incredible emotional obstacles to overcome- the worst of which was her feeling of helplessness in facing a big and often dangerous world with her young daughter. Because of this, I believe Kathy came to us on a quest- even if she wasn’t sure what exactly she sought. I didn’t mark her as someone with much interest in grimoire-style magick (an erroneous observation, as we shall see!). She seemed more interested in simply talking with people she felt had attained some spiritual advancement. Eventually, as often happens in these on-line encounters, Kathy simply vanished from the forums.

After a couple of years passed, she suddenly reappeared in the groups, and we were surprised to meet a very changed woman. I’m not precisely sure what we told her, or what exactly she took away from her encounters with us, but she returned with her emotions and her mundane life much more in check. We also learned that, during her absence, she had obtained a copy of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires and was avidly devouring the book! She had returned because my presentation of the Lemegeton‘s “Pauline Arts” had piqued her interest, and she had further questions. As she related in a Yahoo post:

Yes my focus started with a desire to learn more about astrological magic and timing and a desire to work with a system as opposed to winging it. The Pauline Art offered both a structure and a planetary focus that sat well with me. Contacting the angel of the degree of my nativity is the goal. Also after reading your book I was keen to try a few things out and have increased things like preparation, timing, attention to details and exploring their origins.

Now, I have already described part of the Pauline Arts– involving the Angel of the zodiacal degree of your nativity. In order to summon this Angel, it is necessary to make its talisman from a specific metallic alloy. Then, the Angel must be summoned at a specific magickal time- on the proper day and hour attributed to its Planet, and when the Sun has entered a zodiacal sign of the appropriate Elemental Triplicity.

Kathy wished to know if it is truly necessary to fashion these complicated alloys and wait the necessary months for the Sun to enter the correct sign. Couldn’t she just fashion the Talisman from colored paper and get on with it? We answered that is was certainly possible to use simpler methods of evocation, but the results would only be as impressive as the effort she put into the work. Not only that, but simplifying the Rites would mean she was no longer working the Pauline Arts system of evocation, but merely drawing from it.

What set Kathy above so many who ask such advice was the fact that she took it to heart! It was going to be a full year before the Sun again entered the sign of her birth, and she decided that was just enough time to properly prepare for the evocation of her Angel. Over the next months, she completely analyzed the Pauline Arts– even tracing the alloy recipes to their original source (Paracelsus, for those keeping score) and deciphering them. She was meticulous about the magickal timing, and had the Renaissance astrologer Christopher Warnock go over her astrological election in detail. (He even corrected a mistake she had made.) And she also had plenty of time to create the Holy Table and other magickal tools necessary to the Rite.

In a particularly interesting twist, Kathy did in fact perform a simplified invocation after all. Soon after she began the Pauline Arts project, she fashioned a paper Sigil for the Angel she wished to contact and offered invocations and candles. She placed the entire process under the governance of the Angel, who provided both guidance and continuity throughout the work. (Notice how Kathy used this method as a smaller part of the larger operation, while most folks settle for this in place of the Rite itself!)

Most fascinating was Kathy’s exploration of metallurgy. This isn’t something with which I have experience, and I learned much from her prolific posts about what she was learning- including photographs of the tools and equipment she accumulated. One by one, she tackled each metal called for in the alloy Talisman. She learned what equipment was necessary to melt each metal (easy for the soft metals, but progressively more difficult and dangerous for the harder metals). Like a true alchemist, she learned through trial-and-error how these metals behave when heated and cooled, and thereby learned tons about the Planetary spirits who are associated with them. She experimented with making several metal talismans, each one revealing what she had done right or wrong during the process.

By the time her year ran its course, Kathy had gained a solid education in the Solomonic magickal arts. She had learned how to create magickal tools, prepare her Temple, choose astrological elections and magickal timing, design and paint Talismans, work with metals and forge alloys- and that merely scratches the surface! She also discovered the writings of past occultists like Paracelsus, Trithemius, Agrippa and more. Further, she learned much from the growing relationship between herself and the Angel with whom she was working: what the Angel liked or disliked, and what it expected of her.

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Renaissance Man”- indicating someone who has education in many different areas. Kathy’s year-long quest earned her a true Renaissance education in the magickal arts, which she would have missed entirely had she chosen the “easy” route instead. She could have performed the simplified evocation and therefore say “I’ve done that.” But, instead, she undertook a longer journey of truly life-changing significance. She learned that the Rites outlined in the grimoires are not the end-goal, but merely the keys with which to unlock greater mysteries.

This is a point I have tried long and hard to make with would-be students of the occult. The constant search for an “easier way” to perform the magick is counter-productive. Contrary to popular belief, mere “intent” is not the most important aspect of magick. In fact, it is relatively unimportant when compared to virtues like effort, discipline and dedication. Like the Knight searching for the Holy Grail, the Solomonic mage gains his (or her) power from the Quest to achieve what might otherwise seem impossible.

In the end, Kathy’s evocation of the Angel was successful. You can read her write-up of the entire process in A Pauline Arts Magical Adventure (http://www.zapgarden.com/MCDONALD). After the ordeal was over, she took some time off from the Yahoo Groups in order to rest and reflect on her accomplishment. During that time, her house was struck by lightning! No one was harmed, but a lightning strike is an age-old sign of true Shamanic initiation. It was a perfect sign that she had succeeded in drawing vast energy to her home, and in gaining the attention of her Angel.

There is much more I could add about Kathy and Frater R.O., but I’ll leave it to the reader to follow the links I have given to learn more about them. Each of these aspirants are perfect examples of how modern Solomonic mages should work. You may also gain much from these essays about the grimoires (all of which I have mentioned in this piece):

Medieval Magick (Ch. 1 of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires


Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and the Solomonic Path



The Holy Guardian Angel: Exploring the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage


Copyright(C)2007 Aaron Leitch

Visit Aaron: http://kheph777.tripod.com/

Contact Aaron: kheph777@yahoo.com

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Samhain Week MoonLore

By Liz

Sunday, 30th October 2011 – Samhain Eve

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, having just left Sagittarius and just entered Capricorn. Being a Sunday, the focus will be on Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection, while Moon in Capricorn means the focus will be on strong structures and we really should take time and care to see to our responsibilities and to fulfill our obligations. Don’t leave business unfinished when the sun sets this night if you want the outcome to be favourable.
Monday 31st October 2011 – Samhain

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Capricorn

Being a Monday, it will mostly be about Peace, Sleep, Healing, Compassion, Friends, Psychic abilities, Purification and Fertility, whilst Moon in Capricorn today means it’s a good time to set boundaries and enforce rules. Start as you mean to go on, keep everything tidy and organized and you can’t go wrong.

First Footing: Don’t forget as the clock strikes Midnight, you would do well to have arranged a tall dark handsome man to come through your front door carrying a lump of coal (so you may not know cold) some ale (so you may not know thirst) and some cake (so you may not know hunger) for the coming year ahead!
Tuesday 1st November 2011 – Witches’ New Year

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, just leaving Capricorn and just entering Aquarius. Being a Tuesday, the spotlight will be on Passion, Sex, Courage, Aggression and Protection while Moon in Aquarius today will find us in a rebellious mood. New year, a new you? Get that besom out and give your world a nice clean sweep!!!
Wednesday 2nd November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Aquarius,

Wednesdays being all about study and travel, it’s a good day to go to places new to meet people and to learn things which will expand your horizons and broaden your mind whilst Moon in Aquarius today means giving up bad habits and letting go of negative thoughts should be quite easy to do. A positive start to the witches new year so far!
Thursday 3rd November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Aquarius

Being a Thursday, the focus will be on money, investment, generosity, growth, and prosperity whilst Moon in Aquarius should put the spotlight on personal freedom and individuality. Time to see if balancing those books can’t be sorted out to cut you a little slack so you can afford something you really want. Spend it wisely though.

Make it something that has multiple benefit, then there will be no regrets.

Friday, 4th November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, leaving Aquarius and entering Pisces

Being a Friday, it will all be about love, friendship, reconciliation, and beauty whilst Moon in Pisces at this time means the focus will be on looking back, nostalgia and dreaming. Time to chase up long lost pals, maybe?

Saturday, November 5th 2011 – Guy Fawkes (Bonfire) Night

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Pisces,

Being a Saturday, the focus will be on Longevity, exorcisms, endings, homes and houses, whilst Moon in Pisces means this day will be a good one for spiritual persuits and philanthropic activities. Sounds like a good day for stocking up on those things which help fetch us comfort through the dark cold months of winter too.

For those of you lighting Bonfires and having FireWorks parties or attending “public” events this night, take extra care, please check for hibernating Hedgehogs before igniting the woodpile, keep the fireworks in a lidded boxes (preferably metal ones), remember to use a battery powered torch to see them with in the darkness, not a naked flame, make sure there is plenty of water nearby for putting out accidental spread of flames and please watch the little ones with sparklers as even they are dangerous while hot. Having said all of that, have a great evening and may the weather be with you!

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Pumpkin Spice Cake

by Calidonia


2 cups pumpkin mashed

4 eggs

¾ cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs ginger

mix well and set aside

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Mix well and add to pumpkin mix 1/3 at a time

Stir well, pour into greased cake pan. Bake 350 for approximately 30 min.

Chai Cream Frosting

6 Tbs butter softened

3 oz cream cheese softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp milk

pinch of salt

1 – 2 tsp chai spice (to taste)

Cream together well

2 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Add gradually into cream cheese, continually stirring

Frost the cooled cake. Garnish w/ chopped nuts and dried fruits if desired. Store in refrigerator

This cake is amazingly good and very moist. I made it yesterday, and it’s gone today!

Samhain baking is much more pleasurable than that for Yule. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t as commonplace and presumed. Or possibly because getting fresh pumpkin is so much easier to find when it’s in season.

(I cheat and buy blended spices when I can find them. If they aren’t available, here’s a breakdown to keep on hand in your kitchen. Pumpkin Pie Spice ¼ cup cinnamon, 2 Tbsp ginger, 2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, & ½ tsp cardamom. Apple Pie Spice ¼ cup cinnamon, 1 Tbsp allspice, 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp ginger, & ½ tsp cardamom. Chai 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp cardamom, 2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp black or white pepper, & a pinch of salt.)

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Animal Spirit Guides
By T. Fox Dunham

At my side these hard years has walked a companion with a red, furry tail. He sometimes walks ahead, finding the path, at my side to keep me walking straight, or behind to kick me in my bum to keep me going. He is my fox, my spirit guide in these lives, in many worlds a shaman traverses, and my spirit would be incomplete without him.

Animal spirits assist us in several capacities. They come as guides, as teachers and protectors. They comfort and assure. They traverse the silver veil into the otherworld, bringing us wisdom, and they lead us back to guide us on the path we need to follow on the other planes. These planes are vast worlds, often tangled and sans trail, but our animal spirit guide can perceive through the mesh and lead us to the next step in our growth.

I’m aligned to the fox as we share the same nature. The fox is diplomatic, cunning, looking to avoid direct confrontation though guile. We are gentle, family orientated, love the dawn. We are survivors, adapting to changes in our environment. Foxes thrive in urban areas, adapting to the human sprawl that is consuming the natural world. The various traits of animals have been witnessed over the eons and used in legends and folk tales to help us learn from them, to recognize their energy in ourselves.

Shamans of tribal societies dressed up as animals, using their aspect and then enacting their behaviour to share in the spirit’s energy. This is what’s known as shape-shifting, to see the world through the eyes of the animal. This was another method to gain wisdom or the medicine of the animal spirit. It was also used to enact a metaphysical hunt to bless the coming hunt and honour the animal prey.

As a practicing shaman, I journey into the other planes—often the inner wilderness, the realm we all share within ourselves where we go to heal and grow. Before I begin my meditations to Imramma, I summon my fox to come to me or meet me there at the gate or the well, depending on my vector of entrance. I place his symbol on my altar or by my side in the grass: a fox figurine. As I meditate and use the metaphysical map, I’ll begin to notice my fox communicating with me. Sometimes I hear him breathing or yelping. I’ll feel his fur brush along my arm or see his teal eyes watching me in the dark turning light of the ‘tween places.

Animal spirit guides can also aid in the healing of illness. During my battle with cancer, I used a metaphor technique during meditation. At night, I’d visualize an animal spirit attacking the cancer cells in a symbol. At that time, I employed leopard energies. The cat stalked the cells—usually an animal of my own creation, dark and possessing several heads and several limbs, mutating wildly, devouring all the countryside and leaving it a barren land. Then my leopard would run and tackle the dark animal, devouring it and protecting the natural world.

There are many methods to discover and summon your spirit guide both ancient and new. Over time I developed my own system, and this is the method I prescribe to others seeking their spirit guide. It is the first step I apply to anyone who wishes to explore shaman practices in their own capacity. The animal guide will guard them and guide them on their journey.

I begin with asking about affiliations to animals in their lives. Was their one special animal they’ve always related to? Found a strong connection? Often, they’ll feel it in their chest, in their lower energy centre. I once worked with a young woman, who when she first made contact with a dolphin, her lower chest surged with an energy. The dolphin felt familiar like she possessed an innate empathy to the animal. I ask if there are any special stories with animals. I gained the red tailed hawk as an ally after I saved an old mother hawk, finding her paralyzed on the forest floor. I told this story in the summer issue of Pagan Friends Zine. Seabhac: The Wounded Hawk. They may have also dreamt of the animal and found kinship in their night reveries. If they’re not sure, I send them on a dream quest. Before sleeping at night, I instruct them to meditate then focus on the question of their spirit guide’s identity. This is a way of sending an invitation for your animal to come to you. You open your mind to it.

Once they feel certain they know their animal totem, I instruct them to use one of their gifts of spirit to invite it into their lives. If they are an artist, I suggest they paint a picture. Poetry for a poet. A song for a musician. And so forth. This acting of the creative energy into an application based on the invitation is like a beacon, a sign you’re putting up for your animal to come to you.

I then send them to make an offering in a sacred place. In the case of my friend Paul, he left an apple on a sand island in the middle of a parted stream.

Once the animal is summoned, you create an icon. I use a fox figurine. This is an item of your own choosing. You place it on your altar or your power centre, slip into a medicine bag or carry it with you.

Once discovered and summoned, an animal guide is a close friend and teacher. In a world where humans are disconnecting from nature, we are losing a valued tradition, a tool to bring healing and balance into our lives. Inviting these spirits into our lives will return to us a missing element, fill a void we all sense and return to us a love and respect for our natural world. Only in this way can we find harmony with our environment and harmony in ourselves.

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Salt Crystal Lamps & Tea Lights
By Beth Holtum

Salt Rock lamps and tea-light holders are hand crafted from huge deposits of crystallised salt from Himalayan mines. Each piece has its own unique colouring and character.

Halite is the mineral name for salt crystal and it is valued by crystal healers for manifesting self-love, blending the energies of the heart and solar-plexus chakras. This is useful for someone who needs to find time for their physical and spiritual well being.The gentle heat of a Salt light generates ions carrying a negative charge, improving the surrounding air and general health and well-being. It’s a similar atmosphere to standing next to a waterfall or by the sea, giving good breathing space for relaxation, and particularly beneficial for asthma or rheumatism.

Salt has hygroscopic properties, and therefore it draws water—so never wash or wet your salt light and don’t keep it in a damp room or outdoors. If the light does gain moisture it may form crystals, which can be removed with a soft brush, or it may puddle. To avoid this, have it alight regularly so that it is maintained by dry heat.

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The Elements
By Beth Holtum

The traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water are still valued for giving us a key to our place in the world, long after the development of the modern Periodic Table.

Here’s a reference table I drew up of the crystals associated with each Element, and a reminder of the characteristics, in Chakra order. I hope you find it useful!

The Elements

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By Rebecca L. Brown

Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum) is a spice native to the Egyptian and Mediterranean. The seeds, either whole or ground, are widely used in traditional Moroccan and Mexican cookery, as well as in curries and certain Dutch cheeses. The harvesting and use of Cumin is mentioned in a number of ancient texts including the Old Testament, the Ebers Papyrus, a scroll from King Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh and Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis and it was most likely used in prehistory. Traditionally, cumin is ruled by Mars and associated with Scorpio and Taurus.

In Ancient Egypt, cumin was used in cooking, perfumes and to treat digestive problems. It was included in unguents to relieve headaches and added to a drink given to women who have recently given birth. Cumin was also traditionally placed on altars as an offering to appease the gods.

During the Middle Ages, cumin was one of the more commonly used spices. Since it was believed to encourage love and loyalty in love (it was said to keep lovers and chickens from wandering!), it was taken to weddings and given to soldiers in a loaf of bread by their wives. Traditionally, it was also blended with wine as a potion to create lust. In the seventeenth century, Culpeper wrote in his English Physician that cumin was a strengthening plant.

In Ancient Greece, cumin was a symbol of cruelty and greed. It was also used for protection.

Many people believe that cumin will protect against theft when it is attached to an object and in Germany it is baked into breads to stop them from being stolen by fairies. In protective workings, cumin is blended into an incense with frankincense. It can also be scattered with salt to repel evil or as part of a banishing.

Cumin is used widely in Eastern medicine as it is believed to travel through the digestive system to react the liver relatively intact. In Ayurvidic practices, it is used to treat digestive problems (a purpose for which it was also used across a variety of cultures throughout history).

The seeds of cumin act as a carminative and a stimulant. They are rich in antioxidants and may have anti-fungal and anti-carcinogenic properties (there has been some evidence that cumin seeds may be useful in treating colon cancer, although some of the compounds they contain may in fact be carcinogenic until cooked). The essential oil has been used to treat headaches and tiredness, as a digestive stimulant and for muscular pain because of it’s warming properties. It is potentially phototoxic, so skin which it has been applied onto should not be exposed to the sun.

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By Rebecca L. Brown


Cinnabar is a reddish ore of mercury which occurs in veins where there has been recent volcanic activity or at certain hot springs. Since it contains mercury, it can be toxic to humans and animals. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio recorded the effects of cinnabar on the men who mined it as including shaking, mood swings, hearing and visual impairment, madness and finally death. It is therefore not recommended for use in jewellery or as a fetish.

Cinnabar is found in artefacts from ancient Greece and Roman, as well as in trace amounts in objects from China dating back to the second millennium BC. It was used to create the pigment vermillion. The Romans, at least, were aware of it’s potential toxicity and it was mined and prepared by criminals and slaves.

To the Olmecs, cinnabar was a symbol of life, the ‘blood of the earth’. Important people were often coated with cinnabar after death. It may also have been traditionally ground up, mixed with tallow and painted onto the skin of living people.

In China, the Taoist alchemists believed that they would be able to find a way to transform cinnabar into gold and that it could give a person a variety of incredible or miraculous powers if used correctly. The Arabic alchemist Geber included it as an ingredient in his recipe for the Elixir Vitae which would rejuvenate and bestow immortality.

As a gemstone, cinnabar is associated with transformation, the manifestation of wealth and gaining insight into things. It is linked to luck, good fortune and protection from evil, as well as longevity.

Cinnabar is available to purchase at the Rainbow Spirit online shop.

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Treadwells Events

More details are available at the Treadwells website.

02 November 11 (Wednesday)
Ritual in Early Jewish Mysticism:Descent to the Chariot and Angelic Adjuration
S. Leigh
Tonight’s lecture explores early Jewish mysticism not in terms of theory, as is so commonly done, but in terms of actual ceremony and ritual practice. How were altered states achieved, and what actions were taken by Merkabah (Chariot) mystics? The speaker is a practicing Jew with an ardent interest in the traditions mystical techniques, including practical Kabbalah. He brings to these studies a familiarity with Western Mysteries esotericism, so is able to make connections, comparisons and to speak in terms familiar to those who are not grounded in Hebrew or the Jewish religion. He returns to Treadwells, for his third lecture, by popular demand.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

05 November 11 (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:A Hedgewitches’ Teaching Walk
Natasha Richardson, Herbalist
Qualified Herbalist Natasha Richardson leads a walk round Hainault woods, teaching and demonstrating: herb identification; medicinal facts and herbal folklore; and  foraging techniques.  This afternoon is pagan-oriented, friendly and practical, and will involve engaging intuitively with the plants as well as learning skills and information.   This November walk concentrates on barks and roots; you will come away with a deeper appreciation of how you can find and work with herbs growing all around you. Great for beginners. More on Natasha Richardson here.  Advance booking required.
Price: £8.00
Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure from Hainault Tube Station

10 November 11 (Thursday)
The Cult of Ku:The Occult Chinese Poison Cult
Andy Sharp
One of the most exotic of the many enticing tendrils of Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian Trilogies is The Cult of Ku. References to an illusive coterie of Chinese adepts run through his work like dreamed wafts in a Limehouse Opium Den. Grant’s hints that such a cult once existed in London: did it? In this talk Andy Sharp will trace Ku back to its roots as a form of poison magic in ancient China. He will explore Ku as a multi-layered monad, its syncretic correspondences with alchemy and UFOlogy, Grant’s extrapolations, and its collision with the pulp horror of Sax Rohmer. Sharp will also discuss how this particular obsession of Grant has fortuitously intruded into his personal wyrd. Andy Sharp is published in Strange Attractor and runs the creative occult project ‘English Heretic,’ an imaginary organisation dedicated to the reification of malefic energy spectres and the adumbration of a modern qliphoth.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

19 November 11 (Saturday)
Healing with Herbs, Seventeenth-Century Style:An Afternoon Course
Julie Wakefield
Learn and make plant-based remedies from the 1600s at this lively practical day course. First is a look at the sources: Culpeper and Gerard’s herbals, and the recipe books of gentlewomen. Then you will recreate some of the remedies yourself and sample a few of them. And what about magic? We will look at 17th-century astrological herbalism and plant folk magic – from alleged cursing to protection. Cambridge graduate Julie Wakefield is a museum freelancer in historic medicine, who works at the Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret and others. Price includes, all handouts, samples and potions made (NB. If pregnant, you will not be able to ingest remedies).
Price: £25.00
Time: 1.30 – 5.00 pm

23 November 11 (Wednesday)
Your Own Hypnosis and Trance Induction:For magical practitioners, shamanic workers, pagans, magickians
Mark Smith
A practical evening teaching hypnosis methods to self-induce trance states and to work on unconscious mind patterns, in your magical practice.  Techniques will enhance visualisations and pathworkings and intensify your ritual workings — whether you work in chaos magic, shamanic journeying, general meditation or witchcraft. It will go through the three levels of trance; trance induction and deepening. Plus fractionation techniques, fixation techniques and progressive relaxation. Practical exercises through the evening mean you can immediately apply these methods. Mark is a professional clinical hypnotherapist, professional drummer, gym addict and chaos magician. A rare opportunity from someone with a remarkable blend of experience and skill.
Price: £10.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

24 November 11 (Thursday)
Queer and Pagan:History, Theology, Society
Lou Hart
In this lecture Lou Hart reviews some of the historical context for a queer approach to magic and paganism, and discusses the transformations that occur in a queer magical setting. Queer Paganism is a term that is intentionally broad-brush, its fusion of politics and differing magics producing a potent brew of practices and beliefs. These work on the basis of self-identification, inclusion of ‘otherness’ and self-authentication, operating within a radical framework that changes the way we look at or act on things. To be queer is to challenge the accepted notions of gender, sexual orientation and relationships. Queer magic challenges stereotypes, polarity, authoritarianism, and the relationship with the surrounding world. Lou Hart is a queer witch and a founder of Queer Pagan Camp, which is probably Britain’s most important and longstanding pagan network and event community for people of alternative sexualities. An experienced and engaging speaker, she has also written about the need to include queer approaches in magical practice (Magic is a Many Gendered Thing) and is a contributor to The Wanton Green (forthcoming).
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

28 November 11 (Monday)
Tarot Reading Intermediate Course:Progression, Depth, and Complexity
Monday Night Class with Diana Taylor
Okay, you know your greater trumps and your Minor Arcana, you’ve just about got the hang of basic readings. Now you want to go further, and gain competence. This course is her for just that, as it guides you in sharpening your abilities and skills. Deeper knowledge and hands-on practice combine with more depth understanding of complex card meanings. The gifted Diana Taylor takes it to the next level. This course is for people who have taken a Treadwell’s Foundation class in tarot, or and equivalent course elsewhere.  Break over Christmas / New Year.
Price: £160 for eight week course. £80 deposit, balance due before first class
Time: 7.00 – 9.30 pm

30 November 11 (Wednesday)
Baba Yaga & the Virgin of Guadalupe:A One-Woman Performance
Xanthe Gresham
On a road trip through Mexico two deities dangle like dice from the rear view mirror… One is Baba Yaga – once a goddess of fire and fertility, now just a witch in Russian fairytale. With iron teeth and cannibalistic tendencies, she scuttles through the forest in a hut balanced on a pair of hairy chicken legs. The other is The Virgin of Guadalupe – Latin America’s iconic Mother, who launches Mexican waves of tea towels, plastic bracelets and prayer cards across the country. Unlikely travelling companions perhaps, but only they can guide the way to the 360 degree hilltop epiphany, where you, me and the moment collide… Hold on as you ricochet through haunted hotel rooms, day of the dead celebrations, visions and peculiar folklore. Xanthe Gresham is an award-winning storyteller, performer and magical adventurer, who performs across the UK. Seeing her is breathtaking experience.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

02 December 11 (Friday)
Dark Working Sorcerers:Illusion and the Occult
The London Magician
Magic, the occult science rather than the dodgy card trick, has been around for quite a while. Shamans, alchemists, cunning folk and fortune tellers have all plied their trades since the dawn of time. Some were just out to make a living, others to show that there’s more to the world than meets the eye.  Suspect techniques were sometimes used to turn lead to gold, manifest spirits, control men’s minds and otherwise convince the general public that magic was real, and when they were, then they might have looked something like this… the things you will see tonight. Feats will be performed, spirits conjured, minds read. In this lecture-cum-performance you will meet John Dee, Michael Scot, Aleister Crowley, Roger Bacon and Rabbi Loew.  By London Magician, who brought you the sellout show, ‘Through a Glass Darkly.’ Book early.
Price: £10.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

07 December 11 (Wednesday)
Bohemian Occult Subculture:Golden Dawn in Britain’s 1890s
Dr Christina Oakley Harrington
The Order of the Golden Dawn is the late Victorian ceremonial magic organization which created the template for subsequent occult magic. Western mysteries, Kabbalah, Celtic mysticism, and even Wicca would follow forms it developed. It was an occult renaissance, sudden and powerful. Historians stress the founders’ connection with freemasonry, giving the impression of a club of old Establishment men: gray suits and gray beards, boring and patriarchal. In fact, the Golden Dawn core group were young creatives – friends collaborating, inspired by the mysterious. Together they made art, made ritual, did meditations, had romances – tried to reach into something beyond the normal. These thirty-somethings were bright, feisty achievers with active social conscience. Seeing them anew, we can see the Order of the Golden Dawn anew. Christina Oakley Harrington runs Treadwell’s Bookshop, and is co-editor of Abraxas, Journal of International Esoteric Studies. Repeat of sold-out New York City lecture.

Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

10 January 12 (Tuesday)
The Famous Psychic Investigator:The Life, Adventures and Tragedy of Harry Price
Sarah Sparkes
Harry Price (British, 1881-1948) was the most controversial and famous psychic researcher ever to live. A celebrity in his day, he still deserves to be recognised, for he was an emblematic of an important facet of Edwardian society – the mass obsession with the supernatural. He did fascinating studies on haunted houses, investigated psychic activity, visited and tested mediums. He aimed to be scientific and impartial, and ended up discovering a great deal of fraud, as well as a few things he couldn’t explain away. Tonight, Sarah Sparkes introduces this remarkable man, his work, his collection. An engaging speaker, Sarah is also an artist and researcher running a creative research project centred on the Harry Price Library now in Senate House.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

17 January 12 (Tuesday)
Make it Really Work:Results Magic with HypnosisTechnique
Mark Smith
Mark Smith, a clinical hypnotist and magical practitioner, leads this four-part intensive short course, in which each participant will select a specific life-enhancing positive magical goal. Then, with hypnosis and chaos magic techniques, each person will work to achieve it by the end of the course. Mark will teach the steps and techniques from both disciplines, and there will be feedback all the way through. Attendance at all four sessions is essential, and intensive work independently is expected. Included in the price of the course is a private directed session with Mark and his hypnosis CD, The Chaos Chamber available only to students of this course). Rave reviews from previous students. Numbers strictly limited  in this results-based, focussed group. Dates: 17 Jan, 24 Jan, 31 Jan, 7 Feb.
Price: £130 (£60 deposit, £70 balance due on first night)
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start to 9.30 pm

18 January 12 (Wednesday)
Sun Struck:On the Dangers and Pleasures of Solar Sexuality
Dr Stephen Alexander
“How strange it would be if some women came / forward and said: / We are sun-women! / We belong neither to men nor our children nor / even to ourselves / but to the sun.” D. H. Lawrence.  Stephen Alexander tonight investigates this strange, queer idea in the context of Continental philosophy, in a formal paper followed by discussion. Whilst the sun is undoubtedly delicious, if you are a woman in love, to feel warm kisses upon one’s skin and to open like a flower before the sun, so too does the sun drink blood and burn flesh. ‘Melanin and melanoma’ could be an alternative title for this presentation. In learning how to love and be loved by the sun in a cosmic-carnal sense, one is left dehumanised and stripped naked before an uncaring universe wherein integral being ceases and life is soon exhausted. Please join us for a mid-winter’s night of object-oriented philosophy, perverse materialism, and pagan astro-porn (please note: sun cream and other lubricants are not provided). Stephen Alexander received his PhD in Continental Philosophy from Warwick University. He writes and presents occasional papers at Treadwell’s.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

25 January 12 (Wednesday)
Eliphas Levi :Father of Modern Occultism
Dr Christopher McIntosh (Exeter)
Eliphas Lévi (French, 1810-1875, Alphonse Louis Constant) was a key figure in the development of occultism as we know it today. HP Lovecraft called him as ‘that cryptic soul who crept through a crack in the hidden door and glimpsed the frightful vistas of the void beyond.’ He influenced not only esotericists such as Madame Blavatsky and the Golden Dawn but also writers such as Huysmans, Baudelaire and Yeats. Famously, he popularised the Tarot as a magical system. His books are still widely read, and his Goat of Mendès drawing is now iconic. In this illustrated lecture Dr Christopher McIntosh talks about Lévi’s life and work, examining his significance and enduring legacy. A night of esoteric history, alive and engaging. Dr Christopher McIntosh is an historian of Western esoteric traditions, on the teaching faculty of Exeter University’s Esotericism Centre. His book Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival, first published in 1972, has recently been re-published by SUNY.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

15 February 12 (Wednesday)
Planetary Magic :Eight Week Course of Theory and Practice
Sue Merlyn Farebrother
This course immerses you in planetary magic. Working with the planets – with their personalities and powers – has been at the core of Western magic for over a thousand years, from Picatrix to Golden Dawn to Chaos Magic.  We are proud to present a course where this core knowledge can be learnt and digested in depth. It explores mythological, astrological and psychological meanings as used in esoteric thinking and magical practice. Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been a professional astrologer for over 30 years, is trained as a psychotherapist with the Psychosynthesis and Education Trust, and gained an M.A. in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at Bath Spa University in 2007. She is bright, organised, focussed — and has delightfully dry sense of humour. The course meets on eight Wednesday evenings.

Price: £160 (£80 deposit, balance due on first night)
Time: 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm

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Review: Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call, By Jodine Turner

Jodine Turner is an Oregon-based writer of young adult and adult fantasy fiction, a therapist and a consecrated princess.

Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call is the third book in the Goddess of the Stars And The Sea series, which Jodine began writing whilst living in Glastonbury. Despite being part of a series, it can be enjoyably read as a stand-alone novel in it’s own right. In it, Jodine has explored a young woman’s initiation into the spiritual, her difficulties accepting that initiation and the horrors of a jealous aunt in a style which is well-written, thoughtful and a thoroughly compelling read. Destiny’s Call is a well-written love story which touches on some of the issues facing humanity in relation to our connection with the Divine. After enjoying the well-developed characters and captivating plot of Destiny‘s Call, we look forward to reading the next in the series!

Visit Jodine’s website at http://www.jodineturner.com for more news on her writing and other work.

Back to the Index

The Ghost of 22 Captain

by Joshua J. Mark

The return of 22 Captain to his family land elicited an ambiguous response from his dead family. As he reported it, they “showed their teeth” but said nothing. Realizing this gesture could be interpreted as either a blessing or a curse, he set off on his journey home, conscious only of a certain relief at putting some distance between himself and his deranged relatives.

Quite a walk – and he only three feet tall – if that – marching his little leather boots through the forest – under trees fifty or a hundred times his height with the wails and cheers of those who had cared for the earth while they lived bouncing off his wooden ear. His smile was fixed – his thin moustache undampened, and his high blue captain’s hat sat tilted back on his head. He knew the way home. No amount of passing seasons – not even ninety-eight years worth – could cloud his memory. Nor did the changes in the terrain set him off course; he would have known his way should sky scrapers have been reared across the land since his death. He toddled on (he would prefer “marched” but one owes something to verisimilitude) until he broke from the forest and found a paved road. True, he did marvel somewhat at that but no matter – he knew where he was and who he was – and it was time he was getting home.

A freak October snow storm had blanketed our town only days before. Shops were selling Halloween candy next to shovels and salt. The two feet of snow on the ground slowed his passage through the woods – one would have seen only his resolute hat and two eyes pushing through the forest. On the paved road he made better time. The night was clear with a three quarter moon that refracted off the snow and illuminated the road and trees – their branches and trunks silver and white in the strange, luminous darkness. And, he said, he sang a little song as he “marched” – a song they used to sing in the fields at harvest time – but I have forgotten the words.

This all happened long ago now and yet, really, it seems like yesterday. I was not at home at the time. I was staying at my friend Kayla’s house while she was in the city at her mom’s funeral. I didn’t know her mom but I sure knew funerals and I didn’t envy her the experience. Her house was a large place she’d just expanded from an older, smaller home on a wide patch of land ringed by woods near the far end of the village of Galen’s Mills. I had been seduced by her satellite TV and my life, that night, revolved around trying to orchestrate the taping of three movies – on three different channels – on three different video tapes. Yes, I said `video tapes’. I told you this was long ago.

I had this loathing of inconsistency then. I could not bear to have a six hour video cassette of, say, “Apocalypse Now” and “Hearts and Minds” with “Annie Hall” sandwiched between. It was all or nothing. It had to make sense. None of this mixing. Mixing bothered me. Mixing confused things -confused emotions, confused thoughts. I wanted things simple and uncomplicated.

I’m not a great thinker now and I wasn’t one then. I’m easily confused. I can hardly figure out how turning a metal key in a cylinder starts a car. I have no idea how I can move two tons of steel by pressing my foot on a gas pedal; never mind serious stuff. But I was trying my mind at serious stuff back then. I was reading books on spirits – ghosts – and what worlds could be waiting to welcome the soul after death. I had only just learned that Halloween is known by pagans as `Samhain’and how the veil between those living and the dead grows thin at that season.

I’d experienced what some people call `hauntings’ all my life, raised in upstate New York where, as everyone knows, the dead rise to walk as the evening descends; but experiencing and understanding are pretty different things. You know, someone you love goes to France or Germany, you get a postcard telling you what it’s like and what they’re doing. Doesn’t happen with death. No one sends postcards back from that place, at least no one I knew. My dad had just taken that trip a few months before and I missed him. I wanted to know where he was. I wanted a postcard. I thought of trying a séance that night, what with the veil being so thin and all, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it alone. I wasn’t even sure one could do a séance alone. Then, of course, thinking about talking to a dead person just scared me; it was much more comfortable to concentrate on the TV.

The knock came at the door at precisely 12:05 am. “Mr. Jordan” had just ended and I was inserting the cassette to record “Liberty Valance”. The trick was to get the satellite swinging as I changed the tapes in the VCR; by the time the new station was selected I had the new cassette in and was perfectly poised, fingers lightly on the buttons, to snatch another film from the ether.

I glanced, surprised, out the living room window at the front porch, saw no one, and turned back. The little black box atop the set clicked into place on satellite station T4 and I flipped through the channels to number 16 – the knock came again – a bright knock – one could say “sprightly”, a lively rap-rap-rap -unmistakable now. My attention was diverted. Who could be at the door at midnight Monday morning? Kayla’s place was quite isolated out at the far end of the village; no trick or treaters had knocked on the door all night. Why now at midnight?

Yes. My attention was diverted. It was only – at most – two seconds; but it was enough. I whirled back to the TV and, Good God, the opening credits were spanning the screen. I slammed the record button and just as quickly slammed the stop/eject. It was just not done. It just could not be done. Better no movie than one clipped and slipshod like a thrift shop tux. I pounded the `off’ button into the TV and the screen went black; then I proceeded out to see to the cause of this untimely rapping.

I opened the door – and no one was there; until I looked down. He was as I’ve described him earlier: about three feet tall, thin, in a dark blue fireman’s cap with 22 Capt on it, blue fireman’s coat and pants and knee high boots. He had a cheery face and very merry eyes which radiated an electric delight.

“I’m home!” he smiled.


“Home,” he said.

He walked past me, through the kitchen, and hopped up on the sofa in the living room. His feet stuck out over the edge. I stared at him stupidly from the kitchen, my hand still on the knob of the front door.

“Oh, moving pictures!” he chirped. “I love `em. Never seen `em, but I knew I’d love `em.”

He turned and grinned at me – then turned back to stare at the blank screen.

“Would you mind?” he smiled, turning toward me again.

I walked silently over to the TV and pulled the set on. The screen filled with light and the room with sound.

“Hot damn,” he said. “Ain’t that somethin?”

I sat down in the chair next to the sofa and watched him watching TV. I knew who he was. I had read of him in Kayla’s local history book – only a passing reference there. But the old people remembered 22 Captain from stories their parents told and, if you stayed around Galen’s Mills long enough, you’d sooner than later hear someone talking – remembering events that happened before their time; when the mills still ran down by the river near the ice houses and the great estates rose high on the hills of the town, 22 Captain was a folk hero in his own time. Fighting fires was his idea of fun – and they’d say he never lost a single life in any fire he put down (except once Mrs. Milroy’s hog – a prize winner – of course).

I had been intrigued by the man – as I am always intrigued by those who have what I have not or can do what I can only dream of, and I’d pictured him strong and robust, a good six feet. No one had ever mentioned the fact that the man was only three feet tall – a significant detail to omit, I feel anyway.


“Yes?” he said, his eyes on the screen.

“You’re Twenty-two Captain.”

“No doubt about that.”

I sat back and stared down at my sneaker. I wiggled my toes and thought – then leaned forward again.



“Do you know that you’re dead?”

“No doubt about that either.”

He glanced at me, then back to the TV.

“You sure do like to state the obvious, boy.”

“Well, I didn’t know if you knew,” I said. “You see, I’ve read how sometimes spirits’ll come back to a place – sometimes haunt a place for years – `cause they don’t know they’re dead. I just thought -well – that you should know.”

“Thank you, son.”

I sat back in the chair and watched him watching TV. I was no stranger to the occult and the supernatural; to some I was a master, to others a novice – as it is with anything. Whether one or the other, I was used to it all by now, living in a region of New York where the woods and streams, the houses and the rotting hovels were alive, swirling, with past inhabitants. Mill workers or transparent daughters of the Cooper, an Indian Prince or phantom bucks – one or more had roamed or run through my living room or kitchen any hour of the day or night ever since I was aware I was alive and had a memory. I was used to invisible feet on the stairs and faucets going on by themselves. I was used to sightings out of the corner of my eye or the lights flipping on and off. What I was not used to was one who wanted to stay, one who was solid, one who appeared, not in a sudden flash to be suddenly gone again, but at the door – knocking at the door – stating he was home. I leaned forward again.


“Call me Captain.”



“What do you want?”

“Oh, nothing for now. Maybe a beer a little later.”

“No, – no. I mean, why are you here?”

“Felt like coming home.”

“This was your home?”

“Sure was. The land, you understand, not the house,” he said. He glanced around and then said, “Well, parts of it I recognize. Wasn’t nearly so large in my time.”

“And – that’s it. That’s all you wanted – was to come home.”


“You don’t have some – some mission, or – uh – message, or warning or anything?”


“You don’t want to talk? Ease some regret – some guilt you carried with you to your grave?”


I stared at him.

“You just want to sit here and watch TV?”

“You mean the moving pictures?”

“Yeah -those.”


This contradicted everything I had ever read.

So that night we watched television. I tried to explain it to him and also what the VCR was – but he wasn’t interested and told me to hush up finally. He somehow drank a beer and enjoyed it immensely as he laughed uncontrollably all the way through “Days of Heaven”. Sometime between three and four I fell asleep.

The next morning I’d have thought the whole thing a dream – but there was his empty beer bottle on the couch table. I knew I hadn’t had a beer because if I had I’d have woken up with my usual one beer hangover. Even so – and even after all my reading and experience – it was difficult to believe the events of the night were anything more than an elaborate dream.

I spent the day in the forest behind my own house cutting and hauling cords of wood to sell. I’d lost my job at the health food store when the boss caught me eating a Big Mac in my car one afternoon. I didn’t live far from Kayla’s house and, after a quick stop at KFC, I returned there. The TV was going when I came in and there on the couch, feet up, beer in hand, was 22 Captain. He nodded and smiled. I smiled back. His gold buttons shone brightly in the flickering light from the TV screen.

“Is that fried chicken I smell?”

“Yeah. You want some?”

“No, thanks, son. Just love that smell. Reminds me of home.”

So I ate my chicken and sat on the couch next to him watching TV. A Clint Eastwood western was on and the Captain was really getting into it. I had a thousand questions but he was having too much fun and I didn’t want to bother him.

Later, though, when the movie ended, I asked him, “What’s it like to be dead?”

“What’s it like to be alive?” he said.

“Well – ok, I guess.”

“Same here.”

“But – what’s that mean? Can’t you tell me anything?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Well – anything. What it’s like.”

“Where you been besides here?”

“Travelled to?”


“Not many places. Maine mostly. The coast.”

“So what’s Maine like? Never been.”

“Oh, it’s beautiful. The ocean air is so fresh – I always feel like my lungs are getting cleaned out when I’m there. And the pines – you go inland a little? The pines are so sweet smelling and tall. I just lay there sometimes on the soft needles after breakfast and watch the sunlight dancing through the branches above me. Dancing down – to me, you know?”

“Knew a fellow from Maine once. A logger. Don’t know if he was from the same part you’re talking about. But I asked him the same question I just asked you.”

He turned from the TV and smiled at me.

“He said the state of Maine was God’s outhouse and the Lord just hadn’t gotten round to mucking it yet.”

He laughed.

I smiled and looked at him.

“Same with death -or life. Depends on who you ask. I can’t tell you but what I’ve experienced. When they first get there most say they’re miserable – they want their woman again or their man again or their baby again in their arms. Some moan after a cigarette again in the morning with the winter sun coming through the kitchen window, or a cup of coffee or the sound of birds toward dusk. They miss the earth something awful. Others don’t give a damn `bout anything – probably didn’t notice what they had when they was alive and didn’t give a damn then either `cause they were worrying over things too much to even notice an Autumn leaf.

“But they pretty much all calm down -some sooner and some later and there’s some never do. Depends on their understanding. You see, folks fear death because they think it’s everything you’ve ever had being taken away. It’s not. It’s everything you’ve ever lost being returned to you. It’s just that, well, some people don’t know what they got when they’ve got it – so they don’t feel the value when it comes on back to `em. They don’t recognize it, see?

“For me? When I get to missing the earth too much, why, I just pay a call.”

“Is there a Heaven?”

“Sure there is – if you want to go there.”

“Are you there? Is that where you’re from?”


“Where then?”

“Right here. This is my home.”

Throughout the week I stayed there 22 Captain visited every night. We always watched TV but in the early morning we’d sit and talk before he left. He told some great stories. Funny stories. I’d never laughed so much. I forgot all about taping movies. He said he visited all the old places during the day or sometimes sat and watched me cutting wood. I told him to make some sort of sign, if he was out there with me when I was sawing, but he wouldn’t. He said I was doing dangerous work and ought to keep my mind on it instead of looking around for signs from spooks.

The last night we were together he took from his pocket a small, thin pen knife and put it in my hand.

“Keep this,” he said.

“Thanks.” I was startled.

He sat back on the sofa, his stubby legs protruding his feet over the edge.

“You worry too much, son,” he said. “It’s in your features. You don’t even have to speak – it’s all over your face you worry too much.”

I smiled at him and looked down at the knife. It was thin, inlaid with pearl, and had a small, gold chain attached to one end. I ran my finger across the smooth sides, keeping it closed.

“You take that thing out now and again.” he said. “You get to worrying, you take that thing out and recall to mind that when that knife was made, when I carried it, the earth was a different place – but folks then was worrying same as you. They worried themselves and they worried others but they endured and the earth endured after them. And when you’re gone the earth is going to be an even different place – but folks’ll worry still and endure still. Things ain’t half so bad as you think. You read too much – I can tell in how you put your words together and by the kind of moving pictures you watch. You see things sorrowful and you see things pained. But you oughta know that it doesn’t all have to be that way.”

I nodded, looking down at the knife.

“I’m not giving you a sermon. No call to look so hang-dog. Could I get a beer?”


“I’m going back tonight.” he said, setting the beer down on the table. He looked like a four-year old sitting on the sofa.

“Back where?”

“See the family. They’re an odd bunch, but they’re blood.”

Then he told me of his leaving and his march through the woods the week before.

“You coming back ever?” I asked

“Might. Don’t know.”

“I enjoyed your visit.”

“You’re good company, son. Hospitable, a good listener – you got fine beer here – if only you didn’t worry so much.”

“I’ll work on it, Captain.”

“You do that,” he said. “Who’s your lady friend lives here?”

“Oh, that’s Kayla. She’s just a friend. I mean, she’s not a `lady friend’ or anything.”

“I see,” he said, then smiled, winked at me. “You might want to work on that, too.”

He was gone when I got up in the morning -there was not even the empty beer bottle as a souvenir. I went back and lay in bed and handled his knife over and over. I wondered how a spirit could produce a heavy, material object from a ghostly pocket and leave it with me – how a phantom could drink a beer or leave an imprint on a sofa cushion – why none of these things were ever discussed in the many books on the supernatural I’d read. And then I remembered and tried not to worry.

That night I watched TV by myself and felt the knife in my pocket and I missed the Captain; but I tried not to worry. I felt like I’d gotten my postcard, sure, and I could imagine my dad with the Captain under some great canopy of violet and gold by some eternal lake, laughing at the old stories and I’d smile and feel all right. Then, a moment later, I’d miss him again, miss them both, and I’d feel it all just wasn’t enough.

I never told Kayla about that night; I’ve never told anyone until now. Maybe I should have told her. Maybe it would have changed how everything turned out and we could have started something new together instead of drifting apart on our own separate seas of grief. I thought I’d just sound crazy talking about a ghost but now I don’t care. He was real; it was all real. He never came back and I’ve never forgotten him and, even now as I am writing this page, that knife hangs heavy in my left breast pocket – and I’m still trying not to worry all these years later. It’s not easy. I suppose the only way to really stop is to open the knife up and use it. But then that’s not what he gave it to me for.

Back to the Index

Ancient Elders, we remember you
By Liz.

As we gather in this sacred place,
to meet friends, old and new,
To mark this Samhain Sabbat,
an Ode dear Ancient Elders,
we write for you,

Without you, we’d not be here
to share this love today,
So Ancient Elders hear us,
especially when we say,

Our lives you did give too us,
to live to the full, and to enjoy,
A heart that’s strongly beating
in every girl, and in every boy.

Your blood is pumping through our veins,
your wisdom in our mind,
Your spirit rides with us every step of the way,
And your kindness is all around, we find.

Your love and nurture steering us
so we may be the best,
Your gracious ways of forgiving us
whenever we put you to the test,

Your guidance there to help us
at times when we want to climb tall,
Your patience there to catch us
at the times when we happen to fall,

And as the young grow older,
They should really know,
It was you, dear Ancient Elders
Who helped us all to grow

Past, present and future,
Cradle to Grave, you are there
So hear us Ancient Elders,
With these words we stand and share

The great wheel turns,
Hail to Death!
Rebirth Comes.

Back to the Index


By Carolyn Agee

 I grow wary of dreams,
and what what they tell me, unbidden,
in the unconscious hours of slumber.
Solemn warnings grasping for the corners of my mind,
vivid colours to set my soul on fire,
dread cloak of foreboding to snuff it out.
Fate spins on a single strand, ever twisting.
In the noon of waking, still, hangs the grey twilight,
a gift I would forgo.

The Autumn equinox seems to have crept up on us quickly this year, bringing with it a rich bounty of content in the Pagan Friends Webzine’s Autumn Equinox issue. Read on for some great features from Christopher Josiffe, Alex Sumner and Charles Vella, a selection of Autumnal poetry and some fantastic artwork and photography.


An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Si


The Magic of the Earth By Alex Sumner

Modern Grimoire Magic: Folk Magick & The Solomonic Path By Aaron Leitch

Herbology By Jessica Howard

Selenite Meditation By Beth Holtum

Batty About Bats By Liz

Working With Boji Stones By Beth Holtum

East Anglian Scarecrows, the Crowman and the Pagan Origins of Saying “Grace” By Liz

Essays & Extended Features

Origins of Writing: Magic or Accountancy? By Christopher Josiffe

Regular Features

Mabon Week Moonlore By Liz

Should we take another look at the Gods & Spirits? By Jonny Blake

True Magick in a Virtual World By T. Fox Dunham

Tools, Tricks & Ingredients

Rosa Damascena – Rose Absolute By Suzannah Hill

Meet the Family – Tourmaline
By Beth Holtum

Personal Accounts & Experiences

The Travels of Charles Vella


The Spellcasting Picture Book: Visual Tools For Grown-Up Magic 2nd Edition By Diana Raichel


Artwork By Gaynor Lewis

Decorated Skulls By The Pagan Friends Forum’s Tas Mania

Photography By Cai Thomas
Corn Sunset
Longleat Bat
Floral Treat
Pink Skies

Photography By Nik
Untitled 1
Untitled 2
Untitled 3


Lucy’s Tale By Logos Tartaros

Poetry Corner

Apple Time By Joan McNerney

September Song By Hedgewizard Erb

The Sock Puppet Poppet By Rebecca L. Brown

A Deserted Place By Linda Gibson

Butterfly BY Linda Gibson

Want to contribute to the Samhain issue?

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Cornfield by Cai Thomas

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Si

What moved you towards RM? What age did you conduct your first full ritual and what was it’s intent? What do you see as the most positive impact of societies such as Golden Dawn? What do you see as the most negative impact?

Well I actually started off as a Chaos Magician, It would have been in the early to mid 1990’s and I had books by Phil Hine and Peter Caroll but nothing worked. I had heard of Al Crowley but didn’t know much about him; this was in the pre internet days, and I lived in the provinces, So didn’t have acesses to Occult Bookshops. I had picked up the Chaos Magic books from WHSmiths Mind Body Spirit section.
I met someone who was a practising RM who gave me my first Ritual. I would have been in my early 30s. He did sort of throw me in at the deep end with a Enochian Ritual. It worked.

The positives of the GD? Well its a bit like the positives of the Freemasons, fraternal organisations tend to help their fraternal brothers first so if your a member of the organisation then there may be a lot of help, but if your not a member then its all a bit secretive and closed shop. So saying, the general guiding principles of a lot of these organisations seem to filter down to the general populous through the years in a positive manner. Well you can argue this point, but I believe that to be the case.
So saying I think that certain Individuals have done a lot of good (and harm). And usually the same individuals, Crowley being one, His life and work are fascinating. But it requires a little bit of knowledge about ritual Magic to understand his successes and impact on Modern Paganism.

By the same token I see the secretive aspect of RM holds it back, A lack of transparency allows wild rumours to breed. And because RM is quite a “academic” style of practising Magic then it suffers from the same pitfalls as Academia.

Your interest in science as well as paganism has stuck out to me more than most things, is there a specific reason why you voice this? do you believe other pagans out there share your interests or perhaps people are starting to reinvent these ancient philosophy’s and cosmology in the form of a modern update?
A bit of a rambling answer to this one.

I don’t see why science and paganism have to be at odds with each other. Partly because most of the RM I practise flourished in the late 1900’s and early 20thC, in a era that we now take for granted, but how different would our lives be without people like Charles Darwin, Marie Curie and Thomas Edison? Without trying to sound like Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. If you can talk to a modern day scientists “off the record” as it were then a lot of them are more open minded about esoteric subjects. On the record they have to justify their Grants and Budgets so they tend to be a lot more conservative. Which is a shame.

I trained as a Engineer, I have a logical mind. I can see RM as a kind of almost-science because it has a set of “rules”. Things like Gravity and Magnetism existed before we put a name to them. I see RM and Magic in general as a science that we just don’t fully understand yet.

It seems to me a lot of Pagans want to live in some kind of pre industrial society, don’t get me wrong I enjoy camping, cooking on a open fire and making my own bread, but wouldn’t want to do it full time. When we go camping its nice to come home to a hot shower and comfy bed. Hot and Cold running electricity and wireless internet are the benefits of Science. So I’ll embrace them. And as a society we don’t hold our scientists in high esteem either…Look up the Story of Alan Turning one of the fathers of modern computing, he certainly saved thousands of lives in WWII by shortening the war by cracking the Enigma Code. Yet was persecuted for his Homosexuality (that bits not mentioned so much in the modern history books).

Isaac Newton is remembered as coming up with the theory of Gravity. Yet he was always much more interested in Alchemy and wrote a lot more on Alchemy than he ever did on Physics. Watson or Crick? was rumoured on a LSD/Shamanistic trip when he saw the double helix of the DNA strand. Its just that some inventions of science benefit a lot of people, Its not science that’s the problem its Business and Economics.

Lets remember in the Greek, Sumerian, Egyptian cultures, the Magician was also the Scientist, There was still a Priest class that interpreted and charged the muggles payment for preforming magical acts. This is a point that the neo pagans tend to convinenty overlook.

If you Google Noetics then its very cutting edge Quantum physics and maths, But some of its theories are similar to the “Rules” of Magic that Magicians have known about for years. Its a case of the men in the white coats catching up with the men in the robes.

Did you find kabbala hard, and how has it helped you regarding magic?

Kabbala is a set of rules, Its a bit like a Map showing where many have been before. And just like following a Map there are things you can do. You can take short cuts across the land and stray off the roads marked out on the map but you can’t walk on water. Its a question of learning which shortcuts work for you.

Just as the early Christian Church was unified at the Council of Nicea into what we recognise as Catholicism today, the same thing happened to the different Judaic cults they were unified into one particular faith. I try and bear this in mind when working with the Ballast. Its history as well as its current incarnation.

RM isn’t Kabbala, Kabbala is just one strand. Once you get into RM then you find its a mix of different influences,

I would like to know what was the most successful working you’ve ever performed please.

That’s a tricky one to answer…most of my rituals are towards one goal, to be a “better” person. There have been a few life changing events one of the most successful was the circumstances in which I met Pen. I experienced a feeling like vertigo or falling and the feeling of being watched. I had done a ritual many months beforehand and it felt like the culmination of that ritual.

How do you handle negativity aimed directly at you; have you ever been on the receiving end of somebodies jealousy or other malice,  or the victim of prejudice etc., and if so,  how did you cope?

Most of the time I ignore it, These days I’m getting more verbal and argue back….My problem is I’m not very tactful or diplomatic.
On the interweb, sometimes people want the argument,they relish the attention, I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind so I won’t give them the satisfaction of playing semantics with me.

In real life, I’m different I’m more inclined to patiently argue my corner and point of view but again if I can see in their eyes I’m not getting anywhere then I’ll back off, I’m not wasting my breath on them.

If someone wants to send malice towards me…then the gloves are off, I’ll use every trick and tactic I know including cursing them but only if their malice starts to affect me and mine. (Thing is its not so much other Pagans/Magicians who act like this, its Muggles who tend to be more negative towards me, and yes a muggle can curse, they just don’t know what they are doing). I cope by sending it back, sometimes with interest.

Have you a favourite method of protection?

Yes I preform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram on a regular basis, its a Elemental Banishing that is designed to clear the area.

Is there something in your collection of shinies/ritual tools etc., you feel you couldn’t do without? Has anyone ever gifted you something very magical?

Hmmmm, “Tools” I differ from a lot of RM’s in that I don’t always use a wand, knife, staff, ect, If I need to point I use my finger. I do have some decks of Tarot cards I would be very disappointed to loose. And I was once given a black scying bowl but to be honest I haven’t used it….yet.
A more in depth answer is that because certain items like Daggers and Wands have such a symbolic meaning they become specialised. Great for certain purposes but not so good for others.

Have you a favourite (Pagan) author? and a favourite book?

Thinking about it its got to be Crowley, I don’t agree with everything he did and said, and I certainly don’t follow everything he wrote or try and emulate him, as many do. But for the sheer amount of information he put down on paper you can always find something pertinent in his books. As to which book? That’s a toss up between Magic in Theory and Practice, Magic without tears and Book 4

A mentor? somebody who taught you a lot, who you look up to?
I did have a mentor, He did teach me a lot, he threw me in at the deep end, I had some practical successes and results which make it a lot harder to deny the existence of Magic. Do I look up to him? No I don’t. He knows more than me, and probably always will because he’s been practising a lot longer than me. But friendship wise he let me down. So I don’t have anything to do with him any more.

Is there a place you like to visit often for a particular reason, do you get the feeling of “good” places, and “bad” places?
I like beaches where the element of water meets the element of earth and its always in constant flux, there’s a energy there that I can feel and like to tap into. Though that’s not a RM thing, its much more a Witchcraft thing.
Yes there are good places, places that are tranquil and relaxing and bad places with a sinister atmosphere, There’s a small church we visit a few times a year which is very spiritual. Yet 300 yards away is a tower which most of the time you can feel something “nasty” watching you.

Does the weather affect you, or the stars, or storms, etc.
The cycle of the moon certainly affects me. Not too sure about my Magic, but certainly my moods and energy levels and so does the weather, I get headache and irritable before a storm. But again that’s maybe more of a personal thing than a RM thing. Common sense dictates I wouldn’t attempt a complicated ritual when feeling “pre storm” because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate enough.
Again RM is usually preformed indoors in a temple or sacred space. Very often the beginning parts of a ritual are to cleanse the area and bring the mind into focus as not to be influenced by external forces such as the weather.

Have you a favourite element?
Yes Air, its the easiest and most effective way of getting things done…though not as strong in some ways as water or fire.

Does any of the 13 full moons or the 8 esbats have personal significance for you? How do you celebrate the wheel of the year as a rule?
Yes Beltaine and Samhain I tend to celebrate in my own way, a fire and a small meditation. The rest of the year, not so much.

Have you ever had a familiar of your own?
Nope, didn’t even have pets till I met Pen.

If you could turn back time, would you change anything?
On a personal level? No.
Don’t get me wrong there are things I have done that I regret, but changing them would change who I am now, and I’m happy with who I am today. Plus I’ve read enough sci fi to understand paradox loops and wouldn’t want to get stuck in one of them.

If you had a time machine, who would you visit and why?
I wouldn’t want to change history, the old “Killing Hitler might prevent my Grandparents meeting so prevent me being born” paradox again. I’d certainly like to go back and observe events, but that’s for my own satisfaction. And would just observing events be any more different than watching them on TV? Plus as soon as we had the technology to go back and observe then we would change anyway-hopefully for the better. Because then we would know that we could be observed too.

Seeing that you live with a witch how do you find mixing the CM with craftwork and have you taken any craft practises and added them to your CM workings?
Well there’s certainly a influence. CM is not “One Path” although it may appear like that to someone on the outside. There’s a tremendous mix of Enocian, Hermetisim/Egyptian, Goetia, Kabbala, Zoroastrian, Eastern Practices such as Yoga and Buddhism/Shinto/Taoism. I suppose what most people see as RM is the Work of the Golden Dawn and O.T.O. So why not add a little Witchcraft into the mix.
There’s also the Argument that Crowleyghost-wrotete GeralGardner’sr’s ritualWhetherther believelieve it or not, a lot of the 2nd and 3rd degree Gardarian ritcertainlytanly haCeremonialonial feel to them. Alex Saunders used Solomonic and Goetic Magic. So there’s a influence there. I like to think the Influence can go both ways. The line is very blurred in the area of using magical incenses and oils, which particular path used them first? The Cunning Woman in the village making oils out of what she had to hand or the Ritual magician making a oil from instructions written down in a dusty old grimoire? Its a chicken and egg situation to me.

As far as taking craft practices goes, Well you know I’m quite happy to practice RM outside, on a beach.

Although we are both classed as Pagans there are huge differences in our chosen practices, its never been a issue as we have always respected each others Path.

My take on it is this; ritual Magic is a mix of many different styles so why not utilise a little Witchcraft too. Here in the Cardiff area there are some RM’s who also practise and have a interest in Voodoo.

What’s for dinner? (and can I have some)
What’s for dinner, Well it will be something home cooked, made from fresh and cheap ingredients, 3 out of 4 of us in the family are meat eaters so I’m used to catering for a vegetarian (well Piscatarian-he eats fish). I don’t believe in freezing Meat or Veg unless I have to, so I make a almost daily trip down to the supermarket. I would love to shop at farmers markets and buy more organic stuff but we are on a tight budget so it has to be the supermarket, I’m a real bargain hunter and will always check out the reduced price section, if there is something cheap there then that will become the basis for the meal. We don’t do takeaways, because of the way we eat a takeaway makes us both feel uncomfortable if not ill and I can make my own Chinese, Indian or Burger and Chips meals. If on the rare occasions we eat out then a quality restaurant doesn’t make us feel ill. But the cost of the meal may make me feel a bit faint
And yes we do like to cater for others, Just give me a little bit of notice please.

Would you ever consider a path as anything other than an RM?

Well, never say never but it would have to be something pretty extreme to make me take up another path. I am a bit of a dilettantetetete (sp) there’s so much scope within RM to study different disciplines, I can split my time between, the studies of Alchemy, Planetary Magic, Kaballa, Enocian and Goetic. In my experience the most interesting people that I’ve met within the RM world have been those who haven’t slavishly stuck to one path at the exclusion of everything else.

Do you have a patron deity?

Sort of;  I do/have worked with Odin a lot. but more in his guise as a Magician, and the master of Magic than as the Norse Allfather. I don’t work with the rest of the Norse Pantheon, just him.

Does that make you a heathen or an Odinist?

In my way of seeing it neither. I don’t follow all the “rules” of the heathen or Odinist creed. When a CM works with a god, its a different kind of relationship.  Its more a relationship of equals, symbiotic. He helps me and in return I help him. Its not a grovelling “I’m not worthy” kind of relationship but its more a one on one kind of thing. That’s not to say I don’t respect him. He’s taken from me, blood and flesh at times

Interesting… when did you first start to work with Odin?

Odin has always been a god I’ve been fascinated by, I read 8 days of Luke when I was 11,  I always see Odin in other figures, like Gandalf and Dumbledore not just physically, but in his attitude. Especially in the last hp where it turns out Dumbledore has his own agenda

Do you work with Odin in any other aspects as a multi-faceted god?

No.  I have given that “all gods are one god” a lot of thought. and it may be true to say . Archetypes may resemble each other

When you work with Odin and then say Mercury who shares a lot of common characteristics, you ‘know’ they are different. its a bit like saying ‘all goetic demons are aspects of the devil.’ which isn’t true

Have you ever felt tempted to talk with Odhinn’s allies or compatriots, such as his sons or wife?

Nope. none of them………interest…(poor choice of word) me when i stared in RM one of the thirst things i learnt was the whole sphere of magic was open to you, Norse, Greek, roman, Caribbean /voodoo, Japanese, Chinese and you work with whoever and whatever is the best fit for the job

Okay, so have they ever tried to call on you?

No, never been contacted by any to the Norse Pantheon……maybe Odin protects his own    he is a jealous god the way i see it. the odin i work with is the wandering shaman, the seeker of the runes, the trickster. not the Allfather, i work with him before he became the one who sits in Valhalla-in a earlier part of his history, if you see what I mean

How has Odhinn shaped your “path” through magic, life and so on??

Well, like i say he’s taken blood and flesh, he taught me some very harsh lessons. taught me that magic wasn’t a game though it is best approached with a sense of humour. but i won’t dedicate myself to him, i work with ‘bigger’ things like the enochian angels and nastier things like the goetic demons too

Have you, or would you ever turn down Odhinn?

Would I turn him down……that’s a tough one to answer…all i can say is i haven’t…yet. but then again he’s never let me down if he let me down….didn’t keep his end of the bargains…then probably yes. sometimes it does the gods good if you have a scream and them and loose your temper with them  it kicks them in the ass and makes them take notice

How does Odhinn fir with the other things you work with? Some Pagans, Heathens especially would frown upon you for not being strictly “purist”

I think Odin doesn’t want – pardon the pun. blind followers. I’ve had ‘discussions’ with heathens about this he’s fine with it being a RM, a lot of it is finding and using what works best for what purpose. Odin is good but he has his limits.  he works best (with me) as a ‘teacher’  I don’t call on him for curses/revenge stuff like that. Probably because I don’t see him like that, because i don’t see him in his Parthenon if you see what I mean

Do you adhere to a “religious” path within your workings with Odhinn as an added extra?

That’s a tricky one to answer….some of the CM stuff is very religious-lots of Egyptian gods being called and spells that sound like Psalms and Prayers some of it isn’t…..planetary magic isn’t religious sounding at all planetary magic is…well its almost like electrical circuits and scientific sounding planetary magic is the basis for the sigil side of magic in my humble opinion

How would you say you perceive the universe? Did it change after “becoming” Pagan?

It didn’t change after becoming pagan…..but it really changed for me when i started working through the enochain watchtowers I’m still not sure what being a pagan is i’m still not sure what being a pagan is where being a CM is much easier to define how do I perceive the universe…..as a mix of planets/astronomy, a physical edge to the universe that we can see and all that stuff Brian Cox bangs on about but also as energy energy and vibrations, cosmic winds, things like that

Well, that pre-empts my next question – “how would you define yourself?” so, how did you “come to” be a CM?

How do i define myself….on forms I put pagan, but I call myself a CM or a occultist there are some ‘pagan’ things i don’t subscribe to  so pagan for me is a umbrella term, like a Baptist calling himself a Christian

Interesting, what sort of things do you mean?

What do I not subscribe to? well who do pagans have to be synonymous with dirty hippies? why should pagans be poor, crushed velvet, beardy weirdy types why cant we be rich, trendy clothes wearing types as well  in short i don’t conform to stereotypes but…well i’ve been around the pagan world for about 10 years now, and i’ve seen a lot of double standards and hypocrisy, IRL as well as online

Is there anything wrong with nudism?

Nudism….depends on your body if you’ve got it flaunt it but if you look like hairy road kill then cover it up if your comfortable and confident with it then most of the time other people accept it if your not confident then it becomes a issue…but that’s true if your weaning clothes that you don’t feel confident it too

Have you ever considered going “moonclad”?

I fall into the hairy road kill camp

Have you ever been “persecuted” or picked on for your beliefs?

Yes of course. but not by anyone that mattered its never affected me in getting a job, or i’ve been followed around by a security guard.

Do you buy into the “persecution complex” many Pagans seem to have?

No.  there’s a load of Bed-sit Crowleys in the CM world but there’s more ‘successfully’ well adjusted people who don’t make a issue out of it

What advice would you offer to someone starting out as a CM?


Interesting, and why is that?

In all honesty, don’t get into CM because you think it will make your life easier, it wont it makes your life more difficult, first of all there’s the whole…..persecution and people treat you differently if you are ‘out’ as a cm and there the whole…..you need a working knowledge of at least 3 languages, Greek, Hebrew and English you need to learn a lot. I say its about as much learning, hitting the books as university degree so its not a easy option or shortcut

What, if anything, would you recommend instead?

Depends what you want from life….if you ant more money, study and get a better job, if you want women, then hit the gym and lay off the takeaways if you want some kind of spiritual enlightenment then study the occult it will make you a better person but it also takes its toll on you its a bit of complicated one, because some of the rituals will change you, they change your perspective on things.

How do you feel about Otherkin?

I don’t do Otherkin.

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Corn Sunset by Cai Thomas

The Magic of the Earth

By Alex Sumner

Our mother the Earth pulses with the vitality of Spiritual Energy. The psychic imprint of every living being that has ever existed remains within the aura of this planet. But more than this – there exists the energetic signatures of spiritual beings that have ever remained unseen in the purely physical world. Yet more remarkably – the warp and weft of lines of force stretch across the surface of our world in a manner which no one can explain, save by positing the idea that our planet itself lives and breathes and thinks and feels – and remembers. The born-psychic, the clairvoyant who has spent many years developing his or her faculty, and even the complete beginner who can boast no other qualification except for an open mind: all of them – all of you – can detect and interact with these phenomena right now, even as you read these words.

A magical library of ancient wisdom lies scattered across the Earth, and its sacred places represent those points where we can gain access thereto. All parts of the Earth have a sacred character to a greater or lesser extent. However – for practical purposes – one can more easily detect this at sites traditionally associated with worship.

What does this library contain? If you search hard enough – the answer (or at least the method of working out the solution) to any question you might reasonably want to ask. I call it a ‘library’, though, because it takes some searching and not a little ingenuity to discover the correct answer and where it lies. Yet everyone who searches diligently will soon realise that the potential for exploration has no limits.

The Initiated Meaning of Ley Lines

I would like to share a series of practical methods for accessing this spiritual heritage of the Earth.

Ley Lines exist. Some have so much power that the ease of finding them can easily surprise – I speak from personal experience. Commentators on them have long observed that Ley Lines connect places of worship in the ancient world, including both megalithic monuments and sites where now stand modern churches.

But… the question arises: Why do they exist? What purpose do they serve? From one aspect this line of enquiry has little point to it: assuming they predate humanity one can say that ‘they exist’ and ‘they serve themselves.’ Looked at from the viewpoint of the beings that live on the planet – of which humankind comprises but a fraction and not necessarily the most important one at that – a clear tradition exists. Ley Lines serve the function of ‘Spirit Roads,’ i.e. routes used by spiritual entities to traverse the landscape.

A tradition exists, certainly in the British Isles, that the road leading from a church to the local graveyard lies on a perfectly straight path. The folk-belief that arose around this practice held that spirits travel in straight lines – whereas a curved or winding path confuses them. When one examines the layout of the old towns where such beliefs exist, one invariably notices that the church, the graveyard and the connecting corpse-road form part of a Ley Line.

I now believe that this arose from a dimly remembered recollection of how ancient magicians used Ley Lines. The folk-belief held that the “spirits” which used a spirit-road were those of the dead: I, however, say that in the secret tradition they comprised Spirits of the Living, i.e. magicians. (Incidentally I reached this conclusion after having consulted an astral entity of the kind I describe later on in this article.)The magician would memorise every point on the line – every cairn, anvil-pool, earth mound, standing stone, stone circle, etc – in the correct order. He (or indeed she) would visualise each location in turn, mentally traversing the length of the Ley line and coming back again.

Those who have studied astral projection will recognise this as a method for inducing an Out-of-the-Body-Experience (you can practice this for yourself to try this out). The act of successively visualising each point on the Ley Line naturally causes the Magician to enter an altered state of consciousness, loosening the ties to the physical body, and enabling him or her to astrally travel to the sites along that line, and interact whilst there – for example – by receiving psychic impressions at the place in question.

Shamen in South America relate that tribes in Amazonia used this or a similar method to communicate across the whole rain forest, without ever physically leaving their village.

‘Genii Loci’

But Ley Lines do not just exist as paths between one point and another, but as connections between magical and sacred sites.

In spiritual terms nothing – i.e. no physical thing – is truly ever ‘dead.’ Everything, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, has at least some ‘spiritual life’ to it, though the extent to which each one does varies greatly in each particular case.

The experienced psychic can make contact with each instance of spiritual vitality and communicate with it – but that does not mean that he or she would necessarily find it useful to do so.

However – speaking from personal experience – certain locations upon the Earth have such a large aggregation of spiritual vitality that the energy there behaves as a sentient and intelligent being. These locations coincide with the sites of ancient worship – the very same places that Ley Lines connect together.

The living wisdom of such a site has the traditional term of ‘Genius Loci’ – meaning ‘the spirit of the place.’ If one communicated with a Genius Loci it would appear to ones clairvoyant vision as an actual being – perhaps a person, deity or spirit traditionally associated with such a place. The Genius Loci might exist as an actual being in its own right, or an artificial elemental created by the egregore of the people who worshipped at the site – or a combination of both.

Despite the great age of many sacred sites, one can still find their respective Genii Loci there, even after thousands of years. One can do this by physically visiting the place in question – or by doing so in the astral – hence the reason for them lying along Spirit Roads or Ley Lines.

This too you can attempt yourself. ‘Go’ to a sacred site which you know, and ask its Genius Loci to appear to you clairvoyantly. It can talk to you about such things as what went on at that particular site, the nature of local deity or the people who worshipped there, or about the nature of psychic questing generally. Remember to be respectful towards it, and always thank it when you have finished.

Stonehenge, for example, has one of the most helpful Genii Loci I have met. And no wonder, since it has lain at the centre of British spiritual awareness for over three thousand years, since before even the time of the Druids. From this I can extrapolate a tip for beginners to the practice of contacting Genii Loci: start with major sites as these will prove easier, and move on to more obscure ones as you gain in confidence.

Another practical method: how can one use these Earth mysteries to help solve everyday problems? E.g. health, money, love, etc? Do some research and find a sacred site associated with a health deity, or a money deity, or a love deity – or any deity in the habit of granting boons to devotees. Or maybe a place which, whilst not associated with a know deity, does however have the reputation of bestowing good luck upon its visitors. Go to that site either physically or astrally, and commune with the Genius Loci there, for if anyone can help you out, they will.

Advanced Work

However… where to find all these sites, these nexus-points of ancient energy? Available literature can tell you so much – and some of admittedly has more reliability than most – but ultimately finding them oneself satisfies to a far greater extent than book learning ever will. If I were to say to you: “There is a Ley Line in such-a-place, running in such-a-direction” – that will not do you much good. The subject of ley hunting will only come alive when you find one yourself. And this means going on a field trip.

In this connection I would like to relate my experiences of the first time I went dowsing. I had no specially constructed equipment, nothing consecrated or blessed by some wizard or bought from a magical supply shop. A pair of L-rods created from coat-hanger wire, and a mind open to the possibility that dowsing could indeed work formed the only equipment that I had in my possession that day. I also had a teacher, a quite down to Earth woman who possessed absolutely no shred of superstition whatsoever. She had the attitude of “Dowsing is real – don’t ask me how!” She spent half an hour explaining the basic techniques, put the L-rods in my hands, and set me off.

I explored an archaeological site, and noted that the rods crossed at certain points. This I did not think remarkable… until I noticed other people in the same party also had their rods crossing at the very same points.

Some time later I had the opportunity to visit Avebury, and surprised myself by detecting a line of energy passing through the centre of the village via Silbury Hill, a few miles away. But this surprised increased even more when I checked on a map and found that several hundred miles to the south, the same line passed straight through the giant megalithic site at Carnac in Brittany.

I do not claim any talent in dowsing. I found this Ley Line not because of any great ability which I have, but because the energy of the place lay there for me or absolutely anyone else to discover. This incidentally would make a good beginner’s tip: get used to the art by starting from a known power-centre and go from there. Stone-circles make the best such sites at which to practice ones dowsing skills. Arm yourself with a pendulum and a compass – or indeed the Compass app on your iPhone! – and stand in the centre of the circle. Get in the zone, establish your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ signals, then face each stone in turn, asking: “Is there a ley line in this direction?” When you get a ‘yes’, make a note of the bearing so you can check it later. Do not stop when you get at your first ‘yes’, but check the remainder of the stones to see if there are more than one Ley lines.

Earth energy exists. One can sense it not only psychically but – via the rod or pendulum – physically as well. The potential to explore it and its many mysteries has no end.

You can find more of Alex’s work at www.solascendans.com

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Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and The Solomonic Path

By Aaron J. Leitch

The medieval systems of “grimoiric” mysticism (of which the European Solomonic tradition is a part) are outlined in such manuscripts as The Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia, the Book of Abramelin, The Magus, etc.[1] The authors of these texts (many of them members of the medieval Catholic Church) drew magickal secrets from the cultures they found around them – such as Jewish Merkavah Mysticism and Qabalah, classical Gnosticism, Arabic Sufism and the rich traditions of European pagan folklore.[2]

The mysticism that evolved among these Christian mages was fairly shamanic. It called upon the Angels and spirits of nature. It described methods of exorcism and acquisition of spirit familiars. Wax images, sacrifices, incantations and necromancy all proved a marked pagan influence on the texts. Yet, they were unquestionably the work of devout Christians, who invoked the name of Jesus, used standard Christian prayers (such as the Pater Noster and the Psalms) as magickal spells, and presented a blatantly Christian mythos.

The Solomonic mystics were unique because they were among the first humans in history to have access to the technology of paper and bound books.[3] (They were very often scholars, scientists or scribes.) Therefore, they naturally recorded much of their tradition into manuscripts called textbooks or “grammars” (French: grimoire). The appearance of these grimoires shocked Roman Catholic and many Protestant authorities so deeply, it triggered the Inquisitions and mass book burnings. What we know of Solomonic mysticism today comes largely from the grimoiric manuscripts that survived.

After the Inquisitions, the Age of Enlightenment dawned in Europe. The surviving grimoires had vanished into private collections and museum archives – mostly guarded by the Masons as occult curiosities. There was the odd scholar or quasi-Masonic group (most of them students of Hermeticism) who discovered the texts and made use of some of the material. You might recognize many of the names – Elias Ashmole, “Dr. Rudd”, Francis Barrett, MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley are just a few. However, few of them practiced the texts on their own terms. The more pagan elements of the grimoires vanished, and the mark of Masonic lodge-style magick was eventually imprinted upon them.

Today, there are many ceremonial groups that make limited use of the Solomonic material – most of them descended from or influenced by a late Victorian quasi-Masonic lodge called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There have even been a number of modern Orders that focus entirely on the grimoires,[4] though even they are influenced by post-Golden Dawn magickal methodology. Toward the end of the 20th Century, several books were released that present methods for summoning Angels and spirits based upon (or influenced by) Golden Dawn techniques.[5]

While the modern ceremonial systems may draw names, sigils and talismans from the medieval grimoires, the techniques they utilize are no older than the late 1800s – and in some cases are even younger. The grimoires are not composed of lodge-style ceremonial magick. You’ll find no “Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram” in the Key of Solomon the King. You will not see instructions in the Goetia to inscribe geometric figures in the air. No Tarot-based Elemental Weapons or Lotus Wands are found anywhere in the vast corpus of medieval Solomonic literature.

At the time I wrote my book on grimoire magick, I was operating under the impression that the “living grimoiric tradition” – as recorded by the medieval mages themselves- had long-since ceased to exist. I focused strictly upon the historical European Solomonic tradition, along with suggestions for following a similar path in the modern world. (In fact, I was hoping my book would help to re-ignite the Solomonic tradition, and provide a textbook – grimoire – for it.)

However, over the past several years, I have discovered that I was fundamentally wrong about the passing of the “living grimoiric tradition.” It was not stamped out by the Church, nor has it been dead and buried in Masonic vaults for the past 400 years! Indeed, it survived the inquisitions, migrated to the New World with European immigrants, and – true to its shamanic nature – mutated to a new form. It has been with us right here in America for nearly as long as the nation has existed – and it is currently becoming part of a larger occult revival. I have been shocked to discover just how many people are currently out there really working with this material! Their procedures may or may not differ from what I describe in my book. I may or may not always agree with their philosophies about the magick. Yet, one way or the other, they are using the old methods and getting results.

Thus, contrary to what you may read in my previous work, the Solomonic tradition is alive and growing today. In this essay, I will trace this slightly mutated “grimoiric” trend from Europe to the New World (both New England and the American South), and finally discuss how it is currently affecting aspirants searching for the Solomonic path. Overall, I hope to give the reader a solid impression of what it means when someone – right here in the modern world – calls him or herself a “Solomonic magician.”

European Folk Magick in the New World

The medieval Solomonic grimoires are, in fact, a sub-set of a larger literary genre – the folkloric “receipt-book.” (The word “receipt”, used in this sense, is an archaic form of the word “recipe.”) A receipt-book was a hand-written journal of family and local folklore, passed down from generation to generation.

The typical receipt-book contained such things as agricultural lore, cleaning tips, beauty aids and “home remedy” medicinal secrets. For an example of such domestically-useful content, take this recipe for a plaster that aids healing:

A Very Good Plaster.[6]

I doubt, very much whether any physician in the United States can make a plaster equal to this. It heals the white swelling, and has cured the sore leg of a woman who for eighteen years had used the prescriptions of doctors in vain.

Take two quarts of cider, one pound of bees-wax, one pound of sheep-tallow, and one pound of tobacco; boil the tobacco in the cider till the strength is out, and then s train it, and add the other articles to the liquid: stir it over a gentle fire till all is dissolved.

Or this recipe for curing fatigue:

Another Remedy for Weakness[7]

Take Dittany and St. John’s wort, and put them in good old rye whiskey. To drink some of this in the morning before having taken anything else, is very wholesome and good. A tea made of the acorns of the white oak is very good for weakness of the limbs.

The receipt-books also contained occult lore – in the form of incantations, spells and simple conjurations. Depending on the source, this occultism is variously known as European folk magick, witchcraft or “collections of local superstitions.” For example, here is a folk remedy for the fever:

How to Banish the Fever.[8]

Write the following words upon a paper and wrap it up in knot-grass, (breiten megrich,) and then tie it upon the body of the person who has the fever:

Potmat sineat,

Potmat sineat,

Potmat sineat.

Or, how about this helpful hint for ranchers:

Another Way to Make Cattle Return Home.[9]

Feed your cattle out of a pot or kettle used in preparing your dinner, and they will always return to your stable.

There are also more involved spells, which should sound very familiar to any student of the Solomonic tradition:

To Prevent Bad People From Getting About the Cattle.[10]

Take wormwood, gith, five-finger weed, and assafœtida; three cents’ worth of each; the straw of horse beans, some dirt swept together behind the door of the stable and a little salt. Tie these all up together with a tape, and put the bundle in a hole about the threshold over which your cattle pass in and out, and cover it well with lignum-vitæ wood. This will certainly be of use.

This kind of magick was a hold-over from the paganism that existed in Europe before the domination of the Church. While the pagan religions themselves may have been destroyed, local and family traditions and folklore often survived. Many of them simply adapted to the new Christian environment. By the time the receipt-books were penned, Biblical scripture and prayers to Jesus and Saints had become intermixed with the older pagan material:

Another Well-Tried Charm Against Firearms.[11]

Blessed is the hour in which Jesus Christ was born; blessed is the hour in which Jesus Christ was born; blessed is the hour in which Jesus Christ was born; blessed is the hour in which Jesus Christ has arisen from the dead; blessed are these three hours over thy gun, that no shot or ball shall fly toward me, and neither my skin, nor my hair, nor my blood, nor my flesh be injured by them, and that no kind of weapon or metal shall do me any harm, so surely as the Mother of God shall not bring forth another son. + + + Amen.

At the same time, aspects of Judeo-Christian occultism (such as we see in the Solomonic grimoires) were incorporated into the receipt-books. Perhaps the best example of this is the famous SATOR/ROTAS magickal square:


We have seen this square on Solomonic talismans, and a (slightly altered) version even appears in the Book of Abramelin.[12] Meanwhile, the lesser-known receipt-books grant this talisman various powers. If written on either side of a plate and cast into a fire, it can extinguish the flames without water. If written on paper, ground up and added to cattle’s feed, it will protect the beasts from evil witchcraft. If built into the structure of a door or window, it will keep evil spirits from entering.[13]

Another folk remedy for the fever should be familiar to students of European occultism:

To Banish Convulsive Fevers.[14]

Write the following letters on a piece of white paper, Pew it on a piece of linen or muslin, and hang it around the neck until the fever leaves you:

A b a x a C a t a b a x

A b a x a C a t a b a x

A b a x a C a t a b a

A b a x a C a t a b

A b a x a C a t a

A b a x a C a t

A b a x a C a

A b a x a C

A b a x a

A b a x

A b a

A b

This talisman is obviously adapted from the “Abracadabra” formula, which adopts its principal from Qabalistic philosophies on the power of words. The fever is symbolically linked to the word “Abracadabra” (or, in this case, “Abaxacatabax”), and should diminish as the letters of the word are reduced one by one. (Most folks are familiar with “Abracadabra” because stage-magicians in the early 1900s – who sometimes claimed real occult power – adopted the word into their acts.)

The receipt-books were grimoires in every sense of the word- and were sometimes known as “wonder-books.” In fact, it could be said that the Solomonic grimoires were merely the receipt-books (or wonder-books) of one group of medieval Christian mystics.

Once the Inquisitioners had finished searching for grimoires on the shelves of their clergy, they began seeking out the local healers and midwives who often had receipt-books of their own. (From this grew the legends of “witch-burning” that characterize the Inquisition to this day.)

It was this atmosphere of religious persecution throughout Europe that prompted many individuals and entire communities to seek their fortunes in the New World. Those whose faiths were labeled (or bordered upon) “heresy” migrated especially to the colony of Pennsylvania, which had been founded (in 1681 CE by the Quaker William Penn) on the principal of religious freedom. It quickly became a haven for Quakers, Mennonites, Anabaptists and other obscure (and often mystical) religious sects. By 1683, German settlers had established the community of Germantown near Philadelphia – and they brought their receipt-books with them.[15]

Once in the New World, the lore we find recorded in the books combined with Native American herbalism. (The immigrant cunning-folk and healers would have wanted to learn about the local plant life as soon as possible, in order to make necessary medicines and potions.) The information then began to appear in published works in the late 1700s and 1800s. Thanks to mass distribution through mail-order catalogues,[16] books like the Farmers Almanac, and John Hohman’s Pow-Wows, or the Long Lost Friend (first published in German, in 1820, as Der Lange Verborgene Freund) became the foundation of the New England folk tradition.

This New England folk tradition is sometimes called Hexcraft – though this may be a modern convention. Alternately, it has been called braucha in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, speilwerk in the German, or “Pow-wow” after the title of John Hohman’s book. (He had simply borrowed an Algonquian word for “shaman.”)[17]

Practitioners of Pow-wow magick were known by the German term Hexenmeisters (spell-masters). Besides their spells and conjurations, they were most famous as herbologists and healers. In most cases, the tradition could only be handed down from a male to a female, or from a female to a male – especially from mother to son. (Modern students of Wiccan history may find that information of interest.)

Receipt-books had been kept within families since the invention of paper and bound books, and they continued to appear even as late as 1950s America. Eventually, the advent of the Industrial Age and the nuclear family destroyed the transmission of such folk wisdom from the older generations to the younger, and the receipt-book finally disappeared.[18] Today, it is unclear how many hexenmeisters are left, or whether or not the tradition will be handed down to another generation.

Nonetheless, Mr. Hohman’s book eventually became the quintessential American grimoire, and was the principal (but not the only) source of spells for Pow-wowing. (In fact, all of the above examples of receipt-book folklore were taken from The Long Lost Friend.) Another text of importance was Egyptian Secrets, (supposedly) by Albertus Magnus, which was one of the main sources for Hohman’s book.

Even more interesting for us here, there were several classical grimoires that made it through the Inquisition and across the sea to America. The most important to the Pow-wow tradition were the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, the Black Pullet and possibly the Goetia as well. The hexenmeisters were not very interested in the purification rites and conjuration ceremonies. Instead, they merely adopted the elaborate seals and sigils – which they charged according to their own tradition. For instance, merely placing a grimoiric seal inside a Bible for seven days was often enough to make it magically viable.

Unfortunately, these classical grimoires were often associated with “black-magick” by Pow-wow healers. Even owning such a book was seen as an indication of satanic influence- and they were strictly avoided by those who wished to present Pow-wow magickal lore as lawful within Christian dogma.[19]

The Magick Moves South: The Hoodoo Tradition

While the European immigrants were bringing their religions and folk magick with them to New England, the slaves were bringing theirs to the South. In places like Cuba, the Caribbean and the American southern states (like Louisiana), we find a strong presence of the African Diaspora religions – such as Santeria, Palo and Voodoo (or Voudoun).

These initiatory shamanic faiths were themselves combinations of the original African religions and elements from religions in the New World. Santeria adopted much from Catholicism, so that Saints were invoked as indistinguishable from the African Orishas (gods). Both Santeria and Palo drew from Allan Kardec’s Spiritism (an offshoot of Spiritualism) to replace their lost ancestral worship- resulting in the mesa blanca (white table) séances.

It would also appear that, unlike the New England hexenmeisters, the Diaspora faiths had no compunction against making use of the European grimoires. [20] For example, at some point, several of the seals from the Goetia and related texts were adopted by the Voodoo priests as veves (sigils) for the African Loas (gods).[21]

For example, compare the following two sigils. One is from the Goetia, representing the spirit Gomori. The other is the Voodoo sigil for the Loa Ezili-Freda:

The next example is also from the Goetia – the seal of the spirit Marbas. Compare this to the sigil of the Loa Ibo:

the Grimoirum Verum, representing the spirit Frucissiere. Corresponding to this, we have the Voodo sigil of the Loa Papa-Legba:

As one should expect, these African-descended religions also brought with them a rich tradition of African folk magick. Crossroads magick, “foot track” magick, “laying down tricks”, crossing and uncrossing, gris-gris or mojo bags, ritual sweeping and bathing are all African survivals. And, as usual with folk traditions, these things were not strictly contained within the Diaspora religions. Instead, during the late 19th century, they disseminated among the lay-people as well – intermixing freely with the folklore and occultism of surrounding cultures. Included in the mix were Native American herbalism, Spiritism, European folk magick (especially Pow-wow), and the medieval grimoires.

This new southern American folk tradition was eventually labeled Hoodoo – also known as root-working and conjure sorcery.[22] Because of its close ties to Voodoo, Palo, etc, it is often mistaken as a Diaspora religion in its own right. However, Hoodoo is not a religion, nor does one have to be an initiate of any of these religions to practice. Like the Pow-wow tradition, it was taught and practiced by common folk within families or close-knit communities. (Pre-WWII blues music is known for references to Hoodoo – such as Crossroads Blues by Robert Johnson and Hoodoo Lady by Memphis Minnie.)

Of course, for this essay, we are most interested in the influence of European folklore and occultism on Hoodoo. The southern rootworkers (or root-doctors) were great fans of what they considered “Jewish Kabbalistic” works like Hohman’s The Long Lost Friend,[23] Magnus’ Egyptian Secrets and grimoires like The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, The Black Pullet, The Key of Solomon the King and The Goetia. In fact, there is some speculation that the term “Hoodoo” may descend from the Latino word Judio, pronounced “hoo-dee-oh”, and meaning “Jewish.” It could easily have come into the culture via Palo, within which is a path named Palo Judio. If this is the origin of the word Hoodoo, then it is likely the practice was named for its association with so-called “Jewish magick”; the medieval grimoires.

However, much as we see with New England folk magick, the southern rootworkers were not interested in the grimoires’ ritual instructions – they wanted books with lots of seals and words of power associated with them.[24] These seals were then drawn on paper and placed in sachets, buried in pathways, built into doors, placed upon wounds, etc. – similar to the manner in which the SATOR square is used. They could be empowered via several simple methods such as intonation of their words of power, anointing with oil, recitations of scripture and/or enclosure within a Bible for seven days.

Another European magickal tradition adopted into Hoodoo was the use of the Biblical Psalms as spells or conjurations in their own right.[25] This was largely (but not entirely) thanks to the publication of a text called Secrets of the Psalms: A Fragment of the Practical Kabala by Godfrey Selig.[26] (Possibly based upon a medieval Jewish book entitled Shimmush Tehillim – On the Use of Psalms.) Selig’s book described the Qabalistic philosophy that the Psalms (especially those attributed to King David) contain hidden “seed syllables” that will produce magickal affects if pronounced aloud.

In practice, however, the use of Psalms in Hoodoo magick is much like the conjurations of the Solomonic tradition. The magickal effect produced by the scripture is directly related to the subject-matter of the passage- rather than to Hebrew “seed-syllables.”[27]

For instance, if one wants to bring fortune to his home, one might recite Psalm 61 which says:

Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Thy tabernacle forever, I will trust in the covert of Thy wings.

If one has need to travel by night, one might invoke protection via Psalm 121 which says:

I will look up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

For headaches or backaches, one can recite Psalm 3 (traditionally used in exorcism) which contains the line:

Thou, o Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter of my head.

In this manner, Secrets of the Psalms outlines Psalms for numerous uses- such as release from prison, business success, safe childbirth, success in court, defeat of enemies, general protection from evil and more. Psalm magick remains central to Hoodoo practice to this very day.

Hoodoo reached its greatest popularity during the early 1900s – largely thanks to the growing mail-order industry and companies like King Novelty Co., Valmore Beauty Products, the Lucky Heart Co., and R.C. Strong. These companies specialized in beauty products (like Sweet Georgia Brown Hair Pomade, Bleach Cream and Face Powder), cleaning supplies, and “spiritual curios.” The spiritual curios are what interest us- the basic components of conjure-spells like roots and herbs, incenses, anointing oils, lodestones and herbal washes.

Within these same catalogues, rootworkers could find such grimoires as The Long Lost Friend, The Black Pullet, The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, and the Secrets of the Psalms, right alongside of books like The Art of Kissing, the Book of 1000 Ways to Get Rich and The Egyptian Witch Dream Book and Fortune Teller.

Eventually, an expanding market lead to several new books that blended the European occultism of the grimoires with the growing lore of Hoodoo. Lewis de Claremont[28] released a number of books, among them The Ten Lost Books of the Prophets, The Seven Keys to Power, and The Ancients Book of Magic. Also of particular interest to us is Henry Gamache’s The 8th, 9th and 10th Books of Moses, which is similar to the older grimoire, but includes a lengthy introduction by the author that links African tribal beliefs with (so-called) anceint Jewish and Egyptian practices.

Henry Gamache also wrote an important Hoodoo book called The Master Book of Candle Burning. The folk use of candle burning likely originated in the Catholic practice of lighting votives to the Saints and the dead. Then, thanks to mass-production in the early 1900s, candles of all sorts of shapes and colors became easy to obtain from local drugstores. This led to the central role that candle-burning magick played in Hoodoo.[29]

The practice was fairly simple. One merely needs to take a candle of an appropriate color (such as green for money, red for love, black for curses, etc), anoint it with a related dressing oil (Money Drawing Oil, Healing Oil, Follow Me Girl Oil, Aunt Sally’s Lucky Dream Oil, etc), and light it with an appropriate Psalm or statement of intent.[30]

Today, Hoodoo candles are available in a plethora of types and shapes. The most popular are glass-encased seven-day candles with pictures of Saints on their labels. (They usually have a prayer to the Saint on the back of the lable as well.) Some of them are multi-colored for spells designed to have different effects at different stages. You can even buy candles with one color on the outside and another on the inside- for removing jinxes and returning them to their senders. You can even buy candles shaped like men, women, penises, and other shapes that aid in magickal sympathy with the object of the spell.

It is very unlikely that Hoodoo is in the same danger of dying out as Pow-wow. (This is likely due to the fact that Pow-wow put heavier restrictions upon its transmission.) As Hoodoo once disseminated itself through mail-order catalogues, it is now gaining popularity through the Internet. Websites like the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.[31] make the obscure spell ingredients, altar tools, talismans, and books easy to find.

Rootworking and conjure-magick is alive and well. One reviewer of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires suggested the release of my book was well timed, because it met with an “…increased interest in operative magic…”[32] I suppose what they meant by that was a rising interest in good old-fashioned witchcraft. The kind of folk-magick that requires a crossroads at midnight and railroad spikes, rather than initiations and lodge-style ceremonies. The kind of magick our ancestors used and passed on to their children, but was sacrificed to “scientific reason” and the nuclear family before our generation came along. As the world becomes an increasingly hostile and dangerous place, perhaps the younger generations desire to reconnect to the healing spells, protective spirits and results-oriented “operative magick” we have lost.

The Modern Solomonic Path

In this essay, we have traced grimoiric shamanism from medieval times to the present day, and we have seen that it followed two specific paths: One path was with the Masons and Hermeticists. They eventually borrowed the grimoires’ talismans and words of power, but applied them to their own lodge-style magick. The second path was with the immigrants who took the grimoires with them to the New World, packaged with their native folklore. However, they also ignored the ritual instructions in favor of the talismans and words.

The modern Solomonic Path differs from these in that it does not eschew the instructions recorded in the grimoires. The purifications and preparations, robes and magickal tools, conjurations and ceremonies are what define the Solomonic Path. However, at the same time, the Solomonic mage is just as interested in the “rootworking” aspects of the grimoires that have been dismissed by the magickal lodges. The wax images, virgin-spun thread, sacred herbs, etc.

The Solomonic mages in medieval Europe had borrowed what they could from local pagan folklore. Likewise, modern Solomonic mages are drawing pagan material from systems like European folk-magick, the African Diaspora religions and Hoodoo. (In fact, the practice of borrowing material from European and African folklore is a hallmark of Hoodoo itself.)

When I began to explore the Solomonic material (during the 1990s), I was unfamiliar with the traditions of Pow-wow and Hoodoo. I knew that Pow-wow existed, but I knew very little about it and had no idea it was connected to the medieval grimoires. Of Hoodoo I knew even less – except for a vague understanding that some members of the Afro-Caribbean communities were using the Books of Moses and possibly a few other medieval European texts. In fact, I had heard there was a growing “Solomonic trend” within these communities, though I had no clue where this movement was taking place.

For some years, I had used the grimoires in the modern ceremonial fashion; with acceptable results. I knew it was not a true reflection of the magick presented in the medieval texts – however, the grimoires were not easy to understand on their own terms. Besides being jumbled and obscurely worded, they were missing a lot of material that had likely been transmitted orally from teacher to student. Plus, their instructions often directly contradicted what I “knew” to be true about magick.

Eventually, I stumbled upon Santeria and Palo Mayombe through a friend who had been initiated into both faiths. At first, my interest in his knowledge was purely academic. I love to speak with people of differing faiths and worldviews, and especially of different magickal systems, in order to widen my own perspective. In this case, I was wildly successful – because my discussions with the Santero radically altered my worldview. Those long conversations were my first real introduction to magickal principals outside the influence of Neopaganism or the Golden Dawn. It was my first direct encounter with established systems of shamanism.

It all came together when the Santero and I realized that his descriptions of African-descended magick were coming awfully close to my descriptions of the Book of Abramelin, the Key of Solomon and several other grimoires. Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy did not contradict his own at all. (He was particularly fascinated by Book I of the Three Books…- dealing with “natural magick,” or what we have been calling folk-magick.) Many aspects of the grimoires that made no sense to me, and were often called “blinds” by others, were perfectly logical when viewed through his shamanic worldview. (Frog skin? Blood from a black cat? Ritual sacrifice??)

Before long, I was bringing the grimoires to him for clarification. I would ask him about the obscured and missing aspects of Solomonic magick, and he would fill in the gaps by describing similar practices in Santeria or Palo. He could tell me why certain things were done, and even where to find the obscure ingredients. (The co-relations were so close, I began to suspect the African and Solomonic traditions had crossed paths before.) Eventually, my girlfriend decided to explore the path of Palo with my friend as her spiritual god brother, and the two of them have been invaluable sources of information and practical experience ever since.[33]

In some cases, the grimoires and folk traditions like Hoodoo match almost exactly. A great example is the parallel folklore about crossroads found within both. Hoodoo teaches that a crossroads at midnight is a place of convergence – between days, human destinies and “between the worlds” of human and spirit. At the crossroads, spirits are met, deals are made and power is gained.[34]

Meanwhile, grimoires like the Key of Solomon the King insist that evocations (especially necromancy or goetic work) are best performed at a crossroads “during the depth and silence of the night.” [35]In The Magus, we find an operation for binding a number of familiar spirits to a magickal book – including both a crossroads and the hour of midnight.[36] One is to prepare the book with all the prayers and conjurations necessary to call the spirits. Then, at a crossroads at midnight, one must prepare a magickal circle. The book is consecrated and the spirits are summoned. The book must then be buried in the center of the crossroads and (after wiping away all traces of the circle) left for three days. On the third night, one must return again at midnight, reform the circle, offer prayers of thanks and retrieve the book. That is the kind of magick any good rootworker can appreciate!

We can find even more examples of folk magick in Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy, Book I, “Natural Magic.”[37] In fact, I would suggest that it stands on its own as a root-worker’s manual- especially for someone geared toward the Solomonic path. It is certainly the most neglected book of Agrippa’s trilogy, merely wanting rediscovery by modern aspirants.

A wonderful example is found in Chapter 16, “How the operations of several Virtues pass from one thing into another, and are communicated one to the other“:

Therefore they say that if any one shall put on the inward garment of an Harlot, or shall have about him that looking glass, which she daily looks into, he shall thereby become bold, confident, impudent, and wanton. In like manner they say, that a cloth that was about a dead Corpse hath received from thence the property of sadness, and melancholy; and that the halter wherewith a man was hanged hath certain wonderfull properties.

[…] If any shall put a green Lizard made blind, together with Iron, or Gold Rings into a glass-vessel, putting under them some earth, and then shutting the vessel, and when it appears that the Lizard hath received his sight, shall put him out of the glass, that those Rings shall help sore eyes. The same may be done with Rings, and a weasel, whose eyes after they are with any kind of prick put out, it is certain are restored to sight again. Upon the same account Rings are put for a certain time in the nest of Sparrows, or Swallows, which afterwards are used to procure love, and favor.

This sounds like something one would expect to read in a Hexenmeister‘s receipt-book. It is an example of sympathetic magick- or “like attracts like”- the hallmark of most primitive shamanic and folk traditions.

Agrippa makes much of magickal sympathy in his book on Natural Magick. Another example can be found in Chapter 19, “How the Virtues of things are to be tried and found out…”

Moreover thou must consider that the Vertues of things are in some things according to the species, as boldness, and courage in a Lyon, & Cock: fearfulness in a Hare, or Lamb, ravenousness in a Wolf, treachery, and deceitfulness in a Fox… So is boldness in a Harlot, fearfulness in a Thief. And upon this account it is that Philosophers say, that any particular thing that never was sick, is good against any manner of sickness: therefore they say that a bone of a dead man, who never had a fever, being laid upon the patient, frees him of his quartane.

Extending from this philosophy of sympathy, we find healing practices in faiths like Santeria wherein an animal (usually a bird) is applied to the body to “absorb” a sickness. This is described by Agrippa in Chapter 21, “Of the Virtues of things which are in them only in their lifetime…”:

So they say that in the Colick, if a live Duck be applyed to the belly, it takes away the pain, and her self dies.

Agrippa gives many further examples in Chapter 51, “Of Certain Observations, Producing Wonderfull Virtues“:

So they say that quartanes may be driven away if the parings of the nails of the sick be bound to the neck of a live Eel in a linen cloth, and she be let go into the water. And Pliny saith, that the paring of a sick mans nailes of his feet, and hands being mixed with wax, cure the quartan, tertian, and quotidian Ague, and if they be before Sun rising fastened to another mans gate, will cure such like diseases. In like manner let all the parings of the nailes be put into [anthills], and they say that that which begun to draw the nailes first must be taken, and bound to the neck, and by this means will the disease be removed. They say that by Wood stricken with lightning, and cast behind the back with ones hands, any disease may be cured…

Also the Spleen of Cattle extended upon pained Spleens, cures them, if he that applies it, saith that he is applying a medicine to the Spleen to cure, and ease it: After this, they say, the patient must be shut into a sleeping room, the door being sealed up with a Ring, and some verse be repeated over nineteen times.

I find the following quote – from the same chapter – to be particularly fascinating from the root-working perspective:

It is said also in gathering roots and herbs, we must draw three circles round about them, first with a sword, then dig them up, taking heed in the mean time of a contrary wind.

Space prohibits me from giving more excerpts – though I certainly could continue at some length. Agrippa continues to describe auguries by animals, the power of “enchantments” (incantations), and many more tidbits of use to modern sorcerers. The entire book discusses the philosophies behind Natural Magick in depth – all based upon the four Elements and the seven Planets.

As we can see, there is plenty of material within Solomonic literature to appeal to members of Afro-Carribean religions and Hoodoo rootworkers. For this reason, it would seem, the modern Solomonic movement has become wedded to a parallel “ATR” (African Tribal Religion) movement.

There is currently a growing interest in the ATRs, as cultural intermixing in America has slowly opened them to Caucasians.[38] Many are taking the full initiations, while some are choosing the Hoodoo route of merely drawing folklore and folk-magick from the religions. The modern Solomonic sorcerer usually falls into the latter category, though I know of some Diaspora full-initiates who also engage in Solomonic practice.

Therefore, when we encounter the records of a modern grimoiric practitioner, we are likely to find a kind of hybrid between Solomonic magick and African rootworking. Let us take a look at some examples:

The Goetia tells us that King Solomon bound spirits into a brass vessel. The book also tells us how to make a brass vessel of our own, including the Hebrew Divine Names and the Seal of Solomon. However, it tells us nothing at all about what to do with the thing. One can assume the vessel should be placed in the Triangle of conjuration (with the spirit’s sigil traced on the ground beneath it), and perhaps a metallic seal of the spirit placed inside. Beyond that, where it comes to working with such a spirit in a vessel, the grimoire is silent.

Meanwhile, if we look to Palo we also find familiar spirits bound to vessels, called ngangas, and a practice backed by an elaborate and ancient tradition. They know the secret ingredients to include inside the vessel to provide a living environment for the spirit. They know how to feed and care for it. And they know how to get it to work for them.

The modern Solomonic mage can draw from such lore to “flesh out” the instructions of the Goetia. The brass vessel could include its own set of ingredients to provide the Goetic spirit with a harmonious environment. A Goetic “King” (a Solar spirit) like Belial would be in sympathy with the metals gold (from which his Seal should be made) and pyrite, solary plants (like saffron, sunflower, laurel and frankincense) and solar stones (such as ruby, yellow topaz and carbuncle). Small figurines of a sun, a hawk, a king, a scepter, and/or a throne (and better if they are fashioned from gold) can be included.

Also dirt from places like local hospitals, courthouses, police stations, etc. will grant the spirit a direct astral link with the places from which the dirt was taken. This gives the shaman some amount of protection from and influence over the organizations at those locations.

Adding fresh hot peppers to the vessel is an obscure secret. Paleros include them to add “spiritual heat” to their Ngangas; to excite the spirit and discourage it from lapsing into sleep.

Further ingredients could be included, such as tools for the spirit to work with. A writer would make sure to include a pen and paper. An artist could add a paintbrush and easel. A police officer could include a badge and bullet, or even a gun. Much like the dirt, the tools you give the spirit will give it influence over the arts that utilize those tools.

Santeria makes use of a special water it calls Omiero as a kind of offering to newborn Orishas. Simply put, it is water that has been strained through sacred herbs while a Santero sings shamanic songs over it. The Santero then uses this sacred water to wash the Orisha’s sacred objects before sealing them in an urn. The practice appeared in Hoodoo in the form of various herbal washes- usually sold in the catalogues as floor washes and baths. They can even be purchased today.[39] Or one could make their own by straining Solomonic holy water through herbs sympathetic to the spirit (i.e.solary herbs for Belial, etc). For the right Psalms to chant, one could reference Secrets of the Psalms[40] and/or read up on Psalmody in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.[41] Then, the resulting water could be used to wash the objects placed into the vessel, and even poured directly into the vessel itself during the Conjuration.

After the Goetia’s conjuration rites are complete, the brass vessel could be placed on a simple altar or shelf decorated in sympathy with the spirit; objects, colors, stones, plants, etc. Light a candle and incense when consulting the spirit, and don’t forget to feed it![42]

I’m afraid I must now bring this discussion to a close. If you are a Solomonic mage, I hope these practical examples have fired your imagination. If you are a student or aspirant seeking to discover the “Solomonic Path”, I hope I have given you some idea of the spirit behind the tradition and its history. (Make sure to explore the links in the footnotes!)


AGRIPPA, H.C., April 11, 2004-last update, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa: Of Occult Philosophy, Book I. (part 1) [Homepage of Twilit Grotto: Archives of Western Esoterica], [Online]. Available: http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/agrippa1.htm.

FRATER ALASTOR, February 21, 2004-last update, sigils and veve [Homepage of The Magick Circle], [Online]. Available http://www.frateralastor.com/veve.htm.

BARRET, F, unknown-last update, the magus [Homepage of Internet Sacred Text Archive], [Online]. Available: http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/magus/index.htm.

GRASSO, S, unknown-last update, hoodoo [Homepage of philhine.org.uk], [Online]. Available: http://philhine.org.uk/writings/ess_hoodoo.html.

KONSTANTINOS, 2003. Summoning Spirits. 2nd edn. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

KRAIG, D.M., 2002. Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts. 2nd edn. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

KRIEBEL, D., July 21, 2003-last update, powwowing: a persistent american esoteric tradition [Homepage of Esoterica], [Online]. Available: http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeIV/Powwow.htm.

LEITCH, A., 2005. Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

MATHERS, S.L.M., PETERSON, J.H., December 3, 2005-last update, the key of Solomon (clavicula salomonis) [Homepage of Twilit Grotto: Archives of Western Esoterica], [Online]. Available http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/ksol.htm.

MATHERS, S.L.M., 1975. The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. 2nd edn. NY: Dover Publications, Inc.

REGARDIE, I., 1985. The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic, Four Volumes in One. 6th edn. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

RUNYON, C., 1996. The Book of Solomon’s Magick. Silverado, CA: Church of the Hermetic Science, Inc.

SELIG, G., 1958. Secrets of the Psalms. NY: Dorene Publishing Co., Inc.

STAVISH, M., unknown-last update, voxhermes review of ‘secrets of the magickal grimoires’ by aaron leitch [Homepage of Aaron J. Leitch], [Online]. Available: http://kheph777.tripod.com/secretsrev2.html.

STRASSER, B.D., 1999. Pennsylvania German Mysticism & Folk Spirituality. Allentown, PA: Allentown Art Museum.

YRONWODE, C., December 28, 2005-last update, hoodoo in theory and practice: an introduction to african-american rootwork [Homepage of Lucky Mojo], [Online]. Available: http://www.luckymojo.com/hoodoo.html.


1. See http://kheph777.tripod.com/secrets_chap1.html for an introduction to the medieval grimoires.

2. In fact, one of the grimoires- the Book of Abramelin- chronicles the journeys of one Aspirant who investigates all of these sources in his quest for the True and Sacred Magick. See Mathers (1975).

During the medieval period, both Gnosticism and Hermeticism were nearly dormant, and Rosicrucianism had yet to be introduced. These three, along with the Christian Qabalah, would arise later during the renaissance era and become the foundations of Christian Mysticism.

3. Paper was invented in China in the first century CE. However, they guarded the secret of its manufacture for quite some time, and the technology did not reach Europe until the 13th Century. This is the late medieval period. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper#History

4. See http://www.templeofastarte.com/ for the Order of the Temple of Astarte.

5. Regardie 1985, p.402; Kraig 2002, pp.371-420; Runyon 1996; Konstantinos 2003.

6. Excerpts from John Hohman’s Pow-Wows, or the Long Lost Friend. See http://www.locksley.com/llf/

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. In the Key of Solomon the King, see the Second Pentacle of Saturn (where the square is written with Hebrew letters).

In the Book of Abramelin, see Book III, Chapter Nineteen (For Every Description of Affection and Love), the ninth Talisman (By a Maiden in General). The square is there written:






The earliest known appearance of the SATOR / ROTAS magickal square was in first-century Pompeii, where it was written on a the wall of a residence, as “graffiti.” (It was more likely someone casting a Roman folk-magick spell.)

13. For further discussion of the folk use of the SATOR square, see Strasser (1999)

14. Hohman, op. cit.

15. Ibid. for further discussion of the migration of German mysticism to America.

16. Yronwode (1996, Online), “Admixtures: European, Spiritist and Kabbalist Influences on Hoodoo.”

17. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pow-wow_%28folk_magic%29 for a short introduction to the subject of American “Pow-wow” magick; also Kriebel (2002, Online) for a lengthy discussion of the Pow Wow tradition.

18. However, the receipt books would become source-books for later spiritual traditions. No doubt, Gerald Gardner and the founders of British Traditional Wicca had access to such books (the “family traditions” to which many of them laid claim?) and drew much witchcraft lore from them.

19. Kriebel, op. cit.

20. In Leitch (2005), I made a small case for the idea that the African religions had affected the European grimoires during the time of their writing. If this is the case, then the favor was returned in the New World once the African Diaspora religions began to adopt material from the grimoires.

21. Alastor 2003, Online.

22. Yronwode 1996, Online; Grasso 2004, Online.

23. Yronwode 1996, Online, Powwows – http://www.luckymojo.com/powwows.html

24. Even today, you can purchase the Seals from the Books of Moses in Botanicas or even from online curio suppliers. See http://www.indioproducts.com/webstore/index.php?cPath=580 for an example.

25. We can see this throughout the Key of Solomon the King, as well as other medieval grimoires both Christian and Jewish.

26. Yronwode 1996, Online., “Secrets of the Psalms: The Kabbalist Influence on Hoodoo” – http://www.luckymojo.com/secretspsalms.html

27. See Barret (Online), Book II, “Of The Consecration Of All Magical Instruments And Materials Which Are Used In This Art.” – “Then in the prayer by which the consecration is made it derives its virtue either from divine inspiration, or else by composing it from sundry places in the holy Scriptures, in the commemoration of some of the wonderful miracles of God, effects, promises, sacraments and sacramental things, of which we have abundance in holy writ.”

28. See Yronwode (1996, Online), “The Enduring Occult Mystery of Lewis de Claremont, Louis de Clermont, Henri Gamache, Joe Kaye, Joseph Spitalnick, Black Herman, Benjamin Rucker, and the elusive Mr. Young.”

29. Grasso, op. cit.

30. Again, Wiccan scholars may wish to take note, as this could be the origins of modern Neopagan and New Age candle magick.

For Hoodoo anointing oils, see http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatoils.html#hoodoo

For Hoodoo ritual candles, see http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatcandles.html

31. See http://www.luckymojo.com/catalogue.html

32. Stavish 2005, Online.

33. Both of them appear in the acknowledgements for Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, as their influence is found throughout the book.

34. Grasso, op.cit.

35. Mathers (1975), Book II, Chapter 7, “Of Places Wherein We May Conveniently Execute the Experiments and Operations of the Art”

36. Barret (Online), Book II: The Perfection and Key of the Cabala, or Ceremonial Magic, “Of the Invocation of Evil Spirits, and the Binding of and Constraining of Them to Appear.”

37. Agrippa, Online.

38. As always, the Internet is helping this along. Plus, there was an entirely new Diaspora in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – which spread the lower classes of New Orleans across America. This should result in further dissemination of Afro-Caribbean folklore.

39. See http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatbaths.html

40. Selig (1958). The original version of this book, Schimmusch Tehillim, or the Use of the Psalms, can be found online here: http://www.esotericarchives.com/moses/67moses2.htm#appendix4

41. Leitch (2005).

42. See Mathers (2005, Online), Book II, Chapter 23, “Concerning sacrifices to the spirits, and how they should be made.” I would feed the spirit at the time the Goetia prescribes for its conjuration.

Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and The Solomonic Path first appeared in The Journal of Western Mystery Tradition Volume 1 Issue 10, 2006. You can find more of Aaron’s work at http://kheph777.tripod.com/indexaol.html.

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By Jessica Howard

The study of the use of herbs in medicine is known under many names, such as Herbalism, Herbology, Botanical Medicine and Herblore, and has been around for thousands of years. A 60 000-year-old Neanderthal burial site, “Shanidar IV”, in northern Iraq has was discovered holding large amounts of pollen from 8 plant species, 7 of which are used now as herbal remedies. The first written accounts of Herbalism come from the Sumerian culture roughly 5,000 years ago. However, despite its lengthy history, Herbalism has not always been an accepted form of medicine. At one time it was forbidden for anyone except a specially trained doctor to practise medical Herbology; anyone else who dabbled in Herblore was likely to be labelled as a witch and hung. And up until the early 18th century, there was much confusion in botany in general; a single plant could be given many names, and likewise the same name might be given to several different plants. That was until Swedish botanist Carl von Linné, better known as Linnaeus, developed the system of binomial nomenclature, giving a unique Latin name to every known species. This also allowed a more defined division between Botany and Herbalism.

Herbology took a back seat at the arrival of modern medicine: with pills to combat nearly every sort of disease imaginable and antibiotics to combat infections, it seemed that disease and suffering was a thing of the past. However, that didn’t happen, and herbal medicines are making a big comeback. Nowadays you can find herbal substitutions next to synthetic medicines in supermarkets and pharmacies, combating everything from depression to sleep deprivation. The majority of medicines prescribed today by doctors are of herbal origins. For example, Salicylic acid, a precursor of aspirin, was originally taken from white willow bark and the meadowsweet plant. Vincristine, a medicine used to treat particular types of cancer, comes from periwinkle. The opium poppy yields morphine, codeine, and paregoric, was the favoured tranquilizer in Victorian times. Even today, morphine remains the standard against which new synthetic pain relievers are measured.

Medical Herbalism can be used in many forms. Below is a brief description and some examples of the different ways in which herbs can be utilized.

Essential Oil:

The distillation of oils was first accomplished in the eleventh century and has been used in medicine ever since. Oil can be distilled from the root, the leaf, or the actual flower, depending on the plant itself, and can be used in many different ways. One of the most popular way is to burn oil in a burner, an effective way in permeating a large area with a certain scent, slightly more subtle than incense and without the smoke which some people can find irritating. Another popular use of oils is in massage, with properties varying from soothing and relaxing to rejuvenating and invigorating oneself. If you don’t have the time or the extra pair of hands for a massage then a few drops of oil added to a warm bath can be very effective.

Rubbing oil directly onto the skin is another common use, but one must use caution. There are only two types of oil which can be applied directly to the skin, Lavender oil and Tea-Tree oil. Both are extremely effective when applied to skin afflictions such as acne or cuts and wounds, as not only do they act as an antiseptic but they also draw any infection out to the surface. Other oils must be diluted either with water or with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil, as they can be harmful to the skin. Take for example, cinnamon oil. At the age of 16 I decided to try a simple beauty spell on the night of my high school prom, which involved applying cinnamon oil directly to the skin. Unfortunately, I did not know that you had to dilute it, and was horrified once I had performed the spell and looked in the mirror to see not a beautiful prom queen staring at me, but a podgy teenage girl with a deep red rash across her face and hands. Luckily it had faded by the time I arrived at the ball, but even so-not a mistake I will make again! However, oils are commonly blended into creams or lotions in safe quantities.

Popular Oils and Their Uses:

Lavender oil: Can be applied directly to the skin. Apply to wounds or acne to help heal, and to burns to stop them blistering. Place a few drops unto a cloth and place by your pillow to help you sleep. Or, add to boiling water and inhale to help soothe sore throats, and place on the temples to help alleviate a headache.

Sage: Generally it is the herb that is burnt, but for those who can’t stand the smoke or who only wish to fill a small room, burning sage oil is excellent for ridding unwanted energies.

Citrus: Citrus is great for burning if you are after something uplifting and refreshing, or to generally rid the room of bad odours.

Mojo or Herb Bags:

Mojo bags are known under many different names, such as gris-gris, trick bag or jomo. The term mojo comes from the African-American hoodoo tradition, and consists of a pouch or cloth filled with various magical items, including herbs. Carrying a pouch of herbs is a popular practise, and can be used for many different purposes, from healing to attracting prosperity.

Once the pouch is full of herbs chosen with a specific goal in mind, they are usually charged through various methods such as visualization, chanting, or dipped into oils or potions or sometimes in whisky (known by some as ‘the water of life’). Once created the mojo bag is carried on oneself, usually hidden away under clothing or worn around the neck, as it is thought that if anyone but the carrier should touch the bag then the ‘luck’ will be lost.

Herb Bags and Their Uses:

Rosemary: A pouch full of rosemary will help keep negative energies away.

Catnip, Rosemary, Rose petals and Thyme: Use this mixture to bring love closer to you.

Cloves: Add an equal number of cloves to two pouches, and give one to a friend and keep one for yourself to ensure a strong and lasting friendship.

Herb Baths:

As mentioned, herbs can be added to you bath, either with a particular intent behind them, or simply to make yourself smell scrumptious! Some people leave the herbs to float loose in the water, whilst other fill a pouch up with herbs and leave that to soak in the water. Of course, essential oils can be used instead, it all comes down to personal preference. The bath can be a ritual in itself, or part of a larger ritual. Many witches bath in a specific herbal blend before a ritual, to cleanse themselves and help themselves attune to divinity.

Herbal Bath Mixtures:

Protection: Add bay leaves, rosemary, and cloves to a bath to help protect you from negative energies.

Peace: Add lavender, chamomile and passionflower to relax you after a hard day.

Psychic Power: Add bay leaves, peppermint, and mugwort to your bath to help put you in tune with your psychic powers.

Cooking with Herbs:

Sprinkling herbs over food can be more than a culinary attribute, but a magical one too. Choose herbs with a specific purpose in mind, but also one that compliments the food you will be serving it with. Empower the herbs before use, either through chant, prayer, or visualization. As you pour drawing something towards you, such as love, and anti-clockwise if you are trying to rid yourself of something, such as an illness.

Chili Powder-Add to food to spice up a relationship or partnership.

Lavender Shortbread: Whilst it is common belief that lavender in any form will help soothe and relax, some people maintain that ingesting lavender actually energises oneself. Lavender is one of the easiest herbs to bake with, and one of the yummiest. To make lavender shortbread, take one or two tablespoons of dried English lavender, depending on the size of the mixture, and use a rolling pin to gently crush the seed out from the flower. Add the whole lot to the mixture and bake as usual.

Herbal Teas:

Tea is another popular method of utilizing herbs for their various purposes. You can either add the herbs to the hot water as they are, or mixed with tea-leaves, depending of course on the herb and its taste. Herbal teas area great way to incorporate herb magic into your everyday life as they are cheap, easy and highly effective. Remember to always check before hand to ensure that any herb you are using is fit for consumption as some could be poisonous.

Herbal Tea Blends:

Rosemary: Drink rosemary tea to improve one’s concentration.

Chamomile and Lavender: Drink before bed to help you sleep.

Nettle, Chickweed and Burdock: Drink preferably twice a day to aid weight loss.

Herbal Incenses:

Herbs can also be used as incense. Choose the herbs you require, and the amount of each you need, and gently crush them together either using a mortar and pestle, herb grinder, or even a small blender. Once ground, sprinkle onto a lit charcoal block. The only problem with using this method of incense is getting the mixture just so that it creates a pleasant scent and is not too overpowering.

Incense Recipes:

Banishing Negativity Incense: Crush bay leaves, rosemary than bay, a very small pinch of lavender, a slightly bigger pinch of mugwort, and a very small pinch of rose or flower petals to rid an area of negative energies.

To Aid Concentration: Burn rosemary mixed with balm of Gilead and chamomile, with a greater proportion of rosemary, to aid in concentration.

Divination Incense: Mix camphor, mugwort, and dandelion and honeysuckle together and burn when performing divination.

Growing Herbs:

Herbs can be difficult to grow from scratch, which is why many people prefer to buy herb plants that have already taken root; out of a standard packet of seeds, most of the time you will be lucky to get five plants taking root and growing successfully. Each herb plant needs to be nurtured in different ways; for example, some require planting in May and some July, some need to be covered or kept in a greenhouse and some can take weeks longer than others to start sprouting. Each packet will have specific instructions written on the back, so make sure you check these out before planting your herb garden.

Take a shallow seed tray and fill with soil about two thirds of the way. Water liberally. Distribute the seeds evenly, making sure to note what seeds you have put where, as it is very hard to tell within the first couple if weeks which herb is which. With your pinky finger, make a small dents in the soil and scatter the seeds in. Cover lightly with soil, and water again. Keep in sunlight, perhaps bringing them indoors during the night when even in the British summertime the weather drops. Try to use a soil-based compost, as very few herbs will grow in a peat-based composition, and is also better at holding in the moisture. Also, water in the morning, so if the temperature rises during the day then they have more of a chance.

You may find it necessary to prune your herbs, once the flower dies if you have not used it. To do this, cut back to the leaves, roughly 1/3 of the plant down, to ensure that it flowers successfully next year.

If your herbs are having problems growing, try the following to give them an extra boost:

Green Fingers Spell:

To promote growth of herbs and plants, especially with pot plants

You will need:

. A Plant

. Three Seashells

. Three Pebbles

Hold the shells and pebbles in your hands and say;

“From the sky above and the earth below I call upon the elements To help these plants to grow Spirit, breathe magickal life into all I sow.”

Place the pebbles into the pot around the stem of the plant, or maybe slightly under the soil. Feel free to recharge them whenever you think you need it.

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Selenite Meditation
A meditation of alignment
By Beth Holtum

This meditation calls upon Selenite’s property of ‘alignment’

When you’re ready, free yourself of the daily, physical world and prepare yourself in your usual way for meditation.
Visualise a gigantic rod of Selenite gently entering your space. See it’s clean, white lines and linear structure as it moves closer. They are like fibre optic cables, fine rods that transmit light from one end to the other.

The Selenite moves slowly and freely closer to you, and you allow it to hover over you. It attracts a beam of universal light which it then transmits down to you, so you are enveloped in a column of gentle white light.

Feel it tingle and release any tension and blockages as it gradually passes from the top of your head down through to your feet.

Visualise stretching your hands out to play with the light, running your fingers around to find that the beam of light is made up of many rods of light. Close your hands around one of the rods and become one with the Selenite. Feel yourself in perfect balance in space and time, with equal forces holding you above and below.

Ask the Selenite to show you that which you are free to move away from, and allow it to move into the distance of your vision. Then turn to the future, and see the bright light of positivity that shines on the way ahead. Ask for guidance and confirmation to take with you.

Stay in the light until you feel ready and comfortable to return.

You can purchase Selenite and other stones from Beth’s online shop Rainbow Spirit

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By Nik

Batty about Bats

By Liz

Love ‘em, or hate ‘em, bats have been around for a very long time. Since moving to our temporary home on the banks of the river Pembroke, we have been lucky enough to have 2 bats flying around our garden in a loose kind of figure eight pattern every evening at dusk, hunting for moths and other insects which we have here in abundance. Their arrival for me is a happy one for I am, like them, very much a creature of the night!

I am yet to be sure of their identification but I rather suspect they are greater horseshoe. I call them ‘my’ teddybears with wings because for me that’s what they are like! Getting good pictures of them is notoriously difficult because they are so fast, but we have tried several times now to varying degrees of success.

Longleat Bat By Cai Thomas

Thanks to Andy from PFF for help in making the image of one clearer for me. One of my first ever familiars was a bat, a common pipistrelle called Hermann who came to me when I was on a visit to distant family in Dymchurch. I went for a walk around the garden of the house where I was visiting and he landed on my shoulder. I was startled at first but I wasn’t afraid; in fact, I felt very blessed. I tried to put him back in the tree several times but he just kept on returning, each time landing on a different part of my body. I actually thought I had managed to return him to the tree until I was getting out of the car having gone back to the place I was living only to find him again firmly gripping a bag I had put in the boot of the car! Clearly we had formed a bond and that was how it was.

He lived under the bookshelf I had on the wall in my bedroom.

I left the window ajar and he used to come and go as he pleased for about 18 months. One day he went out and just didn’t return; I never did find out why, but I sensed it was just “call of the wild”.

He is very missed!!!

So, what have I learnt about Bats? Bats are an important part of our natural heritage and indicators of a green and healthy environment. Their future is directly linked to our quality of life and the quality of our environment.

As their natural habitats have been gradually lost bats have been forced to find alternative places to roost. Some species will make their homes in a variety of houses, from large and old properties to modest and suburban ones.

Thousands of householders across the UK have bats roosting in their roof or loft space. For the majority it is a wonderful experience and many of them enjoy watching the bats emerge on a Summer’s evening. These householders are playing a vital role in conserving our native bats.

Bats are flying mammals. Their forelimbs are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Bats don’t flap their entire forelimbs to fly like birds do. Instead, they flap their spread out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane.

There are about 1,240 bat species worldwide. This represents about twenty percent of all classified mammal species.

About seventy percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters. A few species such as the Fish-eating Bat feed from animals other than insects, with the vampire bats being the only mammalian parasite species. Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.

The smallest bat is the Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat, measuring 29–34 mm (1.14–1.34 in) in length, 15 cm (5.91 in) across the wings and 2–2.6 g (0.07–0.09 oz) in mass. It is also arguably the smallest extant species of mammal.

The largest species of bat is the Giant Golden-crowned Flying-fox, which is 336–343 mm (13.23–13.50 in) long, has a wingspan of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) and weighs approximately 1.1–1.2 kg (2–3 lb) – this is my favourite kind.

Flight has enabled bats to become one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals. Apart from the Arctic, the Antarctic and a few isolated oceanic islands, bats exist all over the world. Bats are found in almost every habitat available on Earth. Different species select different habitats seasonally — ranging from seasides to mountains and even to deserts — but bat habitats have two basic requirements: roosts, where they spend the day or hibernate, and places for foraging. Bat roosts can be found in hollows, crevices, foliage, and human-made structures; and include “tents” that bats construct by biting leaves.

Some bats have been recorded as seasonally travelling from the Baltic states: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and possibly even Finland, to Northern Spain or Italy.

They sure get about!

How they communicate and navigate

Bat echo-location is a perceptual system where ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes the brain and auditory nervous system can produce detailed images of the bat’s surroundings. This allows bats to detect, localize and even classify their prey in complete darkness.

At one hundred and thirty decibels in intensity, bat calls are some of the most intense airborne animal sounds.

Most bats are nocturnal and are active at twilight. A large portion of bats migrate hundreds of kilometres to winter hibernation dens, some pass into torpor in cold weather, rousing and feeding when warm weather allows for insects to be active. Others retreat to caves for winter and hibernate for six months. Bats rarely fly in rain as it interferes with their echo location and they are unable to locate their food.

The social structure of bats varies, with some bats leading a solitary life and others living in caves colonized by more than a million bats. The fission-fusion social structure is seen among several species of bats. The term ‘fusion’ refers to a large numbers of bats that congregate together in one roosting area and ‘fission’ refers to breaking up and the mixing of subgroups, with individual bats switching roosts with others and often ending up in different trees and with different roostmates.

Studies also show that bats make all kinds of sounds to communicate with others. Scientists in the field have listened to bats and have been able to identify some sounds with some behaviour bats will make after the sounds are made.

Breeding habits

Most bats have a breeding season. This is in the Spring for species living in a temperate climate. Bats may have one to three litters in a season, depending on the species and on environmental conditions such as the availability of food and roost sites. Females generally have one offspring at a time, which could be a result of the mother’s need to fly to feed while pregnant. Female bats nurse their youngsters until they are nearly adult size; this is because a young bat cannot forage on its own until its wings are fully developed. Female bats use a variety of strategies to control the timing of pregnancy and the birth of young, to make delivery coincide with maximum food ability and other ecological factors.

Females of some species have delayed fertilization, in which sperm are stored in the reproductive tract for several months after mating. In many such cases, mating occurs in the fall, and fertilization does not occur until the following spring.

Other species exhibit delayed implantation, in which the egg is fertilized after mating, but remains free in the reproductive tract until external conditions become favorable for giving birth and caring for the offspring. In yet another strategy, fertilization and implantation both occur but development of the fetus is delayed until favorable conditions prevail. All of these adaptations result in the pup being born during a time of high local production of fruit or insects.

A single bat can live for over twenty years, but the bat population growth is limited by the slow birth rate.

Associations with witchcraft and vampires and folklore

Bats have long been associated with witchcraft, black magic and darkness. The witches incorporate bat in their brew in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The fact that bats are mammals, yet can fly gives them status as liminal beings in many cultural traditions. The bat is sacred in Tonga and is often considered the physical manifestation of a separable soul.

Bats are closely associated with vampires, who are said to be able to shapeshift into bats, fog, or wolves. Bats are also a symbol of ghosts, death, and disease. Among some Native Americans, such as the Creek, Cherokee and Apache, the bat is a trickster spirit. Chinese lore claims the bat is a symbol of longevity and happiness, and is similarly lucky in Poland and geographical Macedonia and among the Kwakiutl and Arabs.

Pre-Columbian cultures associated animals with gods and often displayed them in art. The Moche people depicted bats in their ceramics.

In Western Culture, the bat is often a symbol of the night and its foreboding nature. The bat is primarily associated with fictional characters of the night, both villains like Dracula and heroes like Batman. The link between fear of the night and bats was treated as a literary challenge by Kenneth Oppel, who created a best selling series of novels, beginning with Silverwing, which feature bats as the central heroic figures much as anthropomorphized rabbits were the central figures to the classic novel Watership Down.

An old wives’ tale has it that bats will entangle themselves in people’s hair. One likely source of this belief is that insect-eating bats seeking prey may dive erratically toward people, who attract mosquitoes and gnats, leading the squeamish to believe that the bats are trying to get in their hair. Contrary to popular belief, there are no vampire bats in Europe, and only one fruit-eating bat (the Egyptian fruit bat that belongs to the sub-order Megachiroptera).

Bats are not only good at reducing insect populations, but they are also one of the best natural indicators of the health of the environment around us. If you think bats are roosting in your house, some things to be aware of are:

Bats are not rodents, and will not nibble or gnaw at wood, wires or insulation.

Bats do not build nests and therefore do not bring bedding material into the roost; neither do they bring their insect prey into the roost.

All bats in the UK eat insects, so they are a great form of natural pest control!

Their droppings are dry and do not putrify, but crumble away to dust.

Female bats usually have only one baby a year. Most bats are seasonal visitors to roosts in houses – they are unlikely to live in that roost all year round, although they are loyal to their roosts and so usually return to the same roosts year after year.

The risk of catching bat rabies from UK bats is miniscule. Rabies is transmitted through a bite or a scratch from an infected bat, or by saliva from an infected bat getting into an existing cut or coming into contact with a person’s mucus membranes. It is not spread through urine or faeces. Therefore you are at no risk if you do not handle bats.

In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.

This means you will be committing a criminal offence if you:

Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat.

Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats.

Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time).

Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat.

Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost.

All European bats are, to a greater or lesser extent, endangered with extinction. Some have even become extinct in certain countries. The reasons for this are mainly:

– loss of roosts

– loss of feeding areas and increased use of pesticides, both in agriculture and in the protection of building materials against pest action, which in turn poison the bats who consume them

– misunderstanding and prejudice arising from ignorance about bats and their lives and habits.

I found it interesting to learn recently that the roost in Carew castle is under such stringent protection law that the owners CADW are unable to do the restoration works the castle desperately needs and it’s therefore at very real risk of falling derelict. Also, there are high wire fences now along the road to the ferry port specifically put there by the Pembrokeshire council to protect the bats who live in the trees just outside Milton from the lorries who head for the ferry because their were reports of some in flight being injured.

So, if you’ve got bats in your belfry this Autumn, call the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228

Sources of information for the above:

The BCT (Bat Conservation Trust) http://www.bats.org.uk/

EUROBATS http://www.pembsbats.org.uk/

CMS (Convention on Migratory Species)


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Working With Boji Stones
By Beth Holtum

I’ve found Boji Stones fascinating. When I first met some, I didn’t like the sensation they give when you hold one in each hand and wouldn’t hold them for long. But I loved the ‘male and female’ difference between the two of a pair.

Boji Stone is a registered trademark name for a spherical concretion of pyrite that was formed in a mass and then river tumbled. They are worked with in pairs – male and female – with one being smoother (female) and the other having the pyrite cubes visible (male).

They bring self-awareness, solidity and cleanse all the chakras. Try holding one in each hand in the centre, solar plexus reflex point of your palm and feel a negative or positive drawing sensation. Then swap them over for the opposite sensation. Work with them in the position that feels most comfortable.

Now I’ll grab my pair and pop them in my trouser pockets (or bra if I’m wearing leggings or a skirt!!) for instant grounding on days when I’ve been ‘out there’ and at risk of bouncing too much, and be totally dysphasic.

I also work with Boji Stones for myself, and with others, to explore the shadow self. I’ve found that they create a spiralling sensation. When held one in each hand, (eg female in left hand and male in right) you can feel a gentle sensation as if you are swaying in a circular motion. If you swap the stones over, (eg holding male in left hand, female in right) you’ll notice a change in the nature of the sensation. One way it is like a downward spiral – quite a heavy sensation, drawing you to introspection. Swapping them over gives a lighter, more lifting (but still grounding) sensation.

I’ve found them most useful for using the introspective, inward and downward sensation to visualise going down a spiral staircase of the self, meeting negative aspects that have been hidden or ignored by the compensated self, in order to shine a light on them, acknowledge what their need is, and visualise offering them a gift (eg a mirror for vanity, a deck of cards for the bored inner child) or understanding a way they can be satisfied (playing Squash for the competitive/aggression) etc.

I hope you have a chance to explore the mysteries of Boji Stones sometime.

Boji stones are available to purchase at Beth’s online store, Rainbowspirit

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By Nik

East Anglian Scarecrows, the Crowman and the Pagan origins of saying “Grace”

By Liz

Definition of a scarecrow – That which frightens or is intended to frighten without doing physical harm. Literally that which scares away crows, hence the name scarecrow.

The Scarecrow is one of the most familiar figures of the rural landscape not only in the United Kingdom but throughout Europe and many other countries of the world. His ragged figure has been recorded in rural history for centuries.

His image has proved irresistible to writers from William Shakespeare to Walter de la Mare as well as to film makers since the dawn of the silent movie. Yet, despite all his fame, the origins and the development of the scarecrow have remained obscured in mystery.

A Traditional Scarecrow from the cover of Scarecrow Fact & Fable, by Peter Haining, Published in 1986 by Robert Hale

A scarecrow is essentially a decoy, although traditionally, a human figure (or mannequin) dressed in old clothes and placed in fields by farmers to discourage birds such as crows or sparrows from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and tender delicate growing crops.

In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan (compiled in the year 712), a scarecrow known as Kuebiko appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world.

Spending 4 years of my childhood in the early 70’s as I did living and working on a farm in East Anglia, a highly agricultural based area as it was at the time, I became very used to seeing Scarecrows in the local fields. I grew fond of them and feel sad that you don’t really see them any more these days. For me, they were as much a part of English life as red telephone boxes, red route master buses, black taxi cabs, and red letter boxes, all part of the turning Wheel of the Year, all part of the cycle of life – death – rebirth. A symbol of fertility and of hope. Scarecrows were made from two wooden poles tied together in the form of a cross. The head was usually a potato sack stuffed with straw, dressed with discarded clothes from the farmers’ family, the scarecrow was traditionally made every year around the end of July beginning of August.

The East Anglian farmers knew that around the third week of August was the best time of year to plant their beets, onions, turnips, and other rootcrops, along with planting out seedbeds and flower gardens. Then, around the bank holiday weekend, they would sow grains, winter wheat, oats, rye and flowers, plus other days in September for carrots. Of course, all of this brought the hungry crows down out of the trees. The work of the scarecrow was very important because it helped to safeguard the farmers yield and put food in the mouths of the villagers.

In the United Kingdom, where the use of scarecrows as a protector of crops date from time immemorial, and where dialects were rife, they had wide range of alternative names. These include:

Tattie Bogal (Isle of Skye)

Mommet (Somerset)

Murmet (Devon)

Hodmedod (Berkshire)

Tattie bogle (Scotland),

Bodach-rocais (lit. “old man of the rooks”)

Bwbach (Wales)

Alternative names for scarecrows also include these localized versions:

Tao-tao (Philippines)













Espantapájaros (Spanish)

Nuffara (Maltese)

Espantalho (Portuguese)

Epouvantail (French)

Vogelscheuche (German)

Vogelverschrikker (Dutch)

Kakashi (Japanese)

Spaventapasseri (Italian)

Bijuka (Hindi)

Scarecrows appear as popular characters in Magazines, Books, Films and on television:-

L. Frank Baum’s tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has a scarecrow as one of the main protagonists. The Scarecrow of Oz was searching for brains from the Great Wizard. In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz The Scarecrow of Oz was portrayed by Ray Bolger. In the 1914 film His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz the Scarecrow of Oz was portrayed by Frank Moore.

Worzel Gummidge, a scarecrow who came to life in a friendly form, first appeared in series of novels by Barbara Euphan Todd in the 1930s, and later in a popular television adaptation.

The Scarecrow is a character in the DC Comics universe, a classic supervillain and one of Batman’s greatest enemies.

Similar characters, known as Scarecrow and Straw Man, have appeared in Marvel Comics.

A scarecrow called Mervyn Pumpkinhead is one of the dreams who serve Dream of the Endless in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (Vertigo) series. Mervyn is a builder of dreamscapes as well as a caretaker or maintenance worker of sorts.

Decline is scarecrow use is due to the change of farming technology started with the industrial revolution. The hectic life of the farmer means that he doesn’t have time to even feel the earth or walk it. He sits in his combination machine i.e J.C.B. He is protected against the elements and maybe listening to music. He is high off the ground and the earth and its magical properties are lost in a kind of factory floor. The hedges have gone to make larger areas. Lots of wild life has gone but somehow ‘The Crow’ survives. The farmer of old would once a year sow his land by hand after the land had been lovingly prepared and tended.

Now this is all done by machine.

The farmer used to discard his old clothes and create a friendly chap and put him to guard his crops.

He worked and still does.

Farmers of today rarely make a Scarecrow. On talking to them young and old still have a love of them. They try electronic ones and pop up balloon types. They are still trying to find an answer as the birds soon get wise to these methods. I believe if the Scarecrow is going to do his job he has to have a mystical feel about him. The ones made by the farmers in East Anglia back in the 60’s and 70’s used to conceal certain “charms” about their person; perhaps a sprig of “lucky heather” safety pinned to their lapels, maybe a white rabbits’ foot in their waistcoat watch pocket, maybe a black swans’ feather in their cap, or whatever, but there was usually something deeper in it’s meaning than just a representation of a man in the field guarding those crops. The 1881 Household Cyclopedia of General Information gives the following advice:

Machinery of various kinds, such as wind-mills in miniature, horse rattles, etc., to be put in motion by the wind, are often employed to frighten crows; but with all of these they soon become familiar, when they cease to be of any use whatever.

The most effectual method of banishing them from a field, as far as experience goes, is to combine with one or other of the scarecrows in vogue the frequent use of the musket. Nothing strikes such terror into these sagacious animals as the sight of a fowling-piece and the explosion of gun powder, which they have known so often to be fatal to their race.

Such is their dread of a fowling-piece, that if one is placed upon a dyke or other eminence, it will for a long time prevent them from alighting on the adjacent grounds.

Many persons now, however, believe that crows like most other birds, do more good by destroying insects and worms, etc., than harm by eating grain.

—Henry Hartshorne, The Household Cyclopedia of General Information

Crows can be a substantial problem for gardens in the springtime: they can work down a row pulling up recently sprouted corn to eat the remaining seed/seedlings. In some parts of the world common methods of scaring off crows were the use of a dead crows hung upside down from a pole, the deployment of sparrow hawk decoys or even real sparrowhawks.

Modern scarecrows, though still essentially decoys, seldom take a human shape. On some farmland, highly reflective aluminized PET film ribbons are tied to the plants to create shimmers from the sun. Another approach is automatic noise guns powered by propane gas.

Here in Pembrokeshire where I live now, they seem to grow a lot of the crops under a sea of plastic membranes. It looks like the fields are flooded with water across the landscape to the unaware. One or two of the farmers still use sparrow hawks. I’ve yet to see a scarecrow doing his proper job, and it’s a real shame.

But I live in hope.

Scarecrow Festivals

Isle of Skye, Minginish. Tattie bogal event, Workshops, Scarecrow trail, Family fun Day, and Ceildh & Barn Dance happens each year. In the UK, the festival at Wray, Lancashire was established in the early 1990s and continues to the present day. In the village of Orton, Eden, scarecrows are displayed each year, often using topical themes such as a Dalek exterminating a Wind turbine to represent local opposition to a wind farm. Norland, West Yorkshire has a festival. Tetford and Salmonby jointly host one. In Teesdale, the villages of Cotherstone, Staindrop and Middleton-in-Teesdale have annual scarecrow festivals. The village of Meerbrook in Staffordshire holds an annual Scarecrow Festival during the month of May. Kettlewell in North Yorkshire has held an annual festival since 1994.[6] Scotland’s first scarecrow festival was held in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire in 2004, and there is also one held in Montrose.

In Dymchurch on Romney Marsh a man dressed as a scarecrow rode down the street annually since 1964 in celebration of local author Russel Thorndike’s Dr Syn books, however in 2008 he was required to walk due to health and safety regulations.

Tonbridge in Kent also host an annual ‘Scarecrow Trail’, organised by the local Rotary Club to raise money for local charities. In the USA, St. Charles, Illinois hosts an annual ‘Scarecrow Festival’.

The ‘pumpkin people’ come in the fall months in the valley region of Nova Scotia, Canada. They are scarecrows with pumpkin heads doing various things such as playing the fiddle or riding a wooden horse. Cats and pigs made from pumpkins are also present. Hickling in the south of Nottinghamshire is another village that celebrates an annual scarecrow event. It is very popular and has successfully raised a great deal of money for charity.

A Poem By Barbara Euphan Todd

Ye Scairey-crows of dry-land,

Your little fields have bounds,

Come sail with me and you shall see,

The sun upon his rounds.

The sea-flowers bloom year out,year in,

The Plough is in the sky.

As you sail, as you sail,

And the time goes passing by,

And you will forget the fields you knew

As the times goes passing by.

Here where I live in Pembrokeshire, the good people of LLangwm used to hold an annual Scarecrow festival every June, but sadly this year it has cone to an end because the organisers are unable to find anyone keen enough to take over the running of it, despite putting out heartfelt pleas in the local press and other means of contacting people. I for one will sadly miss it.

Something a lot of folk don’t know is a long time ago, back in the 1800’s, there used to be real life human scare crows, called crow men. These men would be employed by the farmers to keep their crops safe from hungry birds. It was believed they had special magickal skills and powers and that they could literally “charm” the birds to stay away. Their skills were much sought after and the good ones rose in status to the elevation of almost God-like standing because if they failed the villagers starved. It put them in a very powerful position and if they turned up at the farm expecting hospitality no farmer could refuse. It was believed that every meal successfully put on the table meant another reason to thank the crow man. It is easy to conclude that this was the Pagan origins of saying Christian Grace.

Real life crow men were replaced with the wooden pole variety when war broke out and all the labour went into the military.

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Floral Treat by Cai Thomas

Origins of Writing: Magic or Accountancy?

By Christopher Josiffe


It is striking to note that myths from many of the ancient world’s cultures ascribe a divine or supernatural origin to the art of writing. Thus, Nisaba, the Sumerian goddess, was patroness of scribes and writing, as was the Babylonian Nabu. According to another Sumerian myth, Inanna and Enki: the Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Erech (translated by Kramer, 1972, pp.64-65), it is the god Enki who gave the arts of woodworking, metalworking and writing, (together with many other skills necessary for civilization) to the goddess Inanna, and thence to humankind. The Egyptian Thoth was said to be the inventor of writing, and the Egyptian word for ‘writing’ (m.d.w-n.t.r) may be translated as “the speech of the gods”. According to the Norse tradition, Odin hung on the world tree Yggdrasil for nine days, and by this ordeal was granted the secret of the runes, which he then gave to humankind. The Irish deity Ogma is associated with the invention of writing, the Ogham alphabet being named after him. The mythical Chinese god-king Fu Xi is credited with the invention of writing, as is Brahma, who, in the Hindu tradition, is said to have given the secret of writing to humankind. Gelb (1952, p.252) noted: “Everywhere, in the East as well as in the West, the origin of writing is ascribed to a divinity.”

This article will seek to demonstrate that, whilst the origins of the Sumerian writing system are closely connected to an emergent trade economy (and thence the need for a written method of accounting), there may have been alternative driving forces – namely, magico-religious imperatives – which led to the development of other ancient writing systems. Early Chinese (‘oracle-bone’) scripts, and the ‘Old European’ script of the Balkan Vinča culture, will be examined.

To begin with, it would perhaps be as well to establish what is meant by ‘writing’. Gelb (1952, p.11) differentiated between what he styled the “semasiographic stage of writing (expressing meanings and notions loosely connected with speech) and the phonographic stage (expressing speech)”. He argued that general linguists, having defined writing as a method of recording spoken language by means of certain marks (whether they be on clay, stone, wood, paper etc), and seeing such a method as being a faithful representation of its spoken equivalent, were unable to appreciate the development of writing from its earliest stages. They failed to understand that such a definition could not be applied to writing at its very earliest stages, where the marks only loosely approximated the spoken language. Similarly, he criticized philologists, who (he claimed) believed that writing, even after the introduction of phonetization, was still used to record both sounds and ideas. In fact, Gelb claimed, once humankind had established a method of exactly recording spoken speech in a written form, writing then lost its independent character and became ‘simply’ a substitute for speech.

It follows from this that Gelb regarded certain ideographic systems (such as that of North American Indians) as not being ‘proper’ writing as such, if defined as a system which faithfully represents speech phonetically. He differentiated between what he calls ‘primitive’ writing systems and more sophisticated ones, by looking for a ‘full phonetic system’. But the mere appearance of some sporadic phonetic elements (e.g. Yoruba cowrie shells) is not on its own evidence of a ‘high level’. Neither is a system’s sophistication and elaboration evidence on its own of its being ‘true writing’. Gelb argued (1952, p.56) that whilst the Mayan and Aztec systems are on a ‘higher level’ than their North American counterparts, they were, nevertheless, not ‘true writing’, since they lacked the full phonetic element:

“The best proof that the Maya writing is not a phonetic system results from the plain fact that it is still undeciphered. This conclusion is inescapable if we remember the most important principle in the theory of decipherment: A phonetic writing can and ultimately must be deciphered if the underlying language is known.”

However, it should be noted that the Mayan languages are still spoken in the present day, and are therefore “known” languages. Furthermore, it is no longer the case (as it was in 1952) that the Mayan script remains undeciphered; the last 40 years have seen major breakthroughs, following, in particular, the academic conference Mesa Redonda de Palenque, held at the Mayan site of Palenque in 1973. It is now possible to read and understand the majority of Mayan writings. These successes were kick-started, ironically, by a work published in 1952, Yuri Knorozov’s Ancient Writings of Central America.

The general thesis of Knorozov’s paper was that early writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian, hitherto believed to be predominantly logographic or even ideographic in nature, were in fact possessed of a significant phonetic component. The Mayan system is now known to be a logosyllabic one, that is, an individual glyph may represent either a word or a syllable. But it is the phonetic element which conforms to Gelb’s criteria of ‘true writing’.

Hooker (1990, p.6) restated the point that pictographs in themselves do not constitute writing as such: “Pictographs have no linguistic reference of any kind; they depict an event, or convey a message, by means of a series of drawings. Such a medium can hardly be called writing.” Nevertheless, he does appear to part company with Gelb, who drew a sharp distinction between what he termed ‘primitive’ and ‘complex’ systems. Hooker (ibid) wrote that “so-called ‘primitive’ societies using pictographs may be just as complex in their modes of thought as users of other methods but it is a different order of complexity” and argued that pictograms were developed mainly amongst hunting or farming societies (e.g. North American Indians), whereas the ‘other methods’ tend to develop in urban societies with more advanced technologies (e.g. Sumer). Whether pictograms may be regarded as the precursors to writing proper, or whether logograms developed independently of pictograms is still a matter for debate. Hooker noted that the Egyptian (1st Dynasty; c. 3,100 BC) Narmer Palette features both. It is interesting to note that, in his research into the earliest writing of Mesopotamia (4th millennium BC: Uruk IV site), Falkenstein (1936) observed that purely pictographic signs were rarely employed; ideographic-abstract signs being far more common.

The earliest stages of the Sumerian system have been subjected to close scrutiny, and it is now generally accepted that – following Denise Schmandt-Besserat’s pioneering studies – the need for a means of accountancy was a determining factor in the origin of Mesopotamian written language.

Mesopotamian writing systems & Schmandt-Besserat

Schmandt-Besserat is strongly associated with the economic theory of writing origin, following her investigations into the clay tokens which are found in such profusion throughout the ancient Near East. Amiet (1966) had first proposed the idea that these tokens represented some form of recording system, but Schmandt-Besserat went on to develop and expand this theory. She described (1992, pp.7-8) finding these tokens, by chance, amongst:

“.Near Eastern archaeological clay collections dating from 8,000 to 6,000 BC stored in museums of the Near East, North Africa, Europe, and North America.[where] I.came across a category of artefacts that I did not expect – miniature cones, spheres, disks, tetrahedrons, cylinders, and other geometric shapes. The artefacts were made of clay.some were in the shape of animals, vessels, tools and other commodities.I sensed that the tokens were part of a system because I repeatedly found small and large cones, thin and thick disks, small and large spheres, and even fractions of spheres, such as half and three-quarter spheres. But what were they for?”

She also examined a hollow clay ‘tablet’, dated to the second millennium BC, discovered at Nuzi, a site in northern Iraq, which bore a cuneiform inscription, reading:

Counters representing small cattle:

21 ewes that lamb

6 female lambs

8 full-grown male sheep

4 male lambs

6 she-goats that kid

1 he-goat

3 female goats

The seal of Ziqarru, the shepherd

(Rudgley, 1998, p.50)

Upon further inspection, the object was not a tablet, but rather, a clay envelope that contained 49 clay counters. This sum corresponded to the total number of animals inventoried in the inscription on the outside. It then became clear to Schmandt-Besserat that this constituted some form of accounting system, and she connected the counters found inside the envelope with those tokens found in huge quantities all over the Middle East and Turkey. Over the next 15 years, she made this her main area of study, setting out a large body of supporting evidence for her theory that this system of accounting tokens was the precursor for both the earliest forms of writing (the Uruk archaic texts) and of a written numerical system.

She differentiated between two types of token, the first being those more simple forms, dating from c. 8,000 to 4,400-4,300 BC, which she termed plain tokens, nearly always composed of clay, between 1 and 5 centimetres wide, and forming geometric shapes such as spheres, cones, disks and so on. The second type, termed complex tokens, were of a later date, beginning to be created from 4,400 BC onwards.

The plain tokens were associated with commodities, so that the conical type of token represented a measure of grain, the ban (approximately a litre), and the sphere, a larger measure of grain, the bariga (approximately a bushel). Similarly, the cylinder represented a domestic animal, the tetrahedron, a unit of labour, and so on. The complex tokens she assigned to finished products as opposed to raw materials, so that incised cones, ovoids and rhomboid tokens represented bread, oil and beer respectively (Schmandt-Besserat, 1979).

Schmandt-Besserat saw these two types of device as leading to a duality in the subsequent writing system. Plain tokens were contained within a clay envelope, which was in turn impressed with tokens. This, she argued, evolved into a representation of the quantity of items being counted, i.e. numerals. Complex tokens were hung on string with an accompanying bulla, which was itself inscribed with a stylus (the incised nature of the complex tokens making them unsuitable to be impressed onto clay). The ensuing pictographs represented the nature or quality of the items being counted; these in turn, she argued, led to the development of phonetic signs. At some time around 3,500-3,100 BC, a further development occurred, whereby “the accountants realised that the notation on the outside of the envelope made the tokens and the envelope itself redundant” (Rudgley, 1998, p.54). In other words, a tablet, suitably impressed or inscribed, would serve the same purpose; there was no need for the tokens themselves.

It should be stated that there has been some criticism of Schmandt-Besserat’s theories. Jasim & Oates (1986), whilst not disputing the validity of her interpretation, regarded it as being over-generalized, in the sense of its universal application across the entire Near East, when the evidence so far only points to her thesis being valid for certain localized sites such as Susa: “Certainly, there was no ‘universal’ system” (p.351). They also suggested that the tokens may have had different functions from those proposed by Schmandt-Besserat, noting that at Tepe Gawra, a child’s grave contained a set of alabaster spheres, implying a gaming function, and that another tomb was found to contain only marble spheres, as grave goods, implying high status objects. They asserted that:

“.we cannot assume comparable function for all small geometric objects; certainly they are not all ‘accounting tokens’, though ceremonial or ritual symbols may have had an economic derivation.” (p.352)

Whilst we may attempt to make a sharp distinction between an ‘economic’ and ‘ritual’ usage, Jasim & Oates made the sensible point that “the two functions are not necessarily as distinct as our terminology implies.” (p.355)

Nevertheless, perhaps as a result of Schmandt-Besserat’s undoubtedly exhaustive ancient Near East research, an economic origin is sometimes regarded as being the sole cause for the development of any written system anywhere in the world. As Powell (2009, p.63) observed:

“The undoubted economic character of the protocuneiform tablets has coloured general histories of writing, suggesting that all writing has appeared in response to economic behaviour.”

In opposition to such a view, Powell pointed out that Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in order to glorify its rulers, as may also be said of early Egyptian writing, and that the earliest Chinese writings were oracular in character.

Shang ‘oracle-bones’

The Chinese ‘oracle-bone’ inscriptions of the Shang dynasty (1,751-1,111 BC) constitute the earliest known writing system in East Asia, and form the basis of all later forms of Chinese writing. The so-called ‘oracle-bones’ were, in fact, either turtle shells, or the shoulder bones of oxen, and were employed in the forms of divination known as plastromancy, or scapulimancy, respectively.

These shells or bones would first be cleaned and prepared so as to create a flat surface. Indentations would then be bored into the surface at regular intervals. The shells or bones would then be subjected to intense heat by means of a heat source being inserted in one or more of the holes. This heat would induce stress fractures on the surface; the ensuing patterns would then be interpreted or ‘read’ by the diviner. It has been argued (e.g. Marshall, 2001) that there is a connection between the ‘oracle-bones’ and the 3,000-year-old Chinese I Ching or ‘Book of Changes’, used to this day by millions for the purposes of divination or for advice of a philosophical nature. Certainly, the similarity between those regular patterns produced on the ‘oracle-bones’ by the process described above, and the broken or unbroken lines which make up the hexagrams of the I Ching, is indeed a suggestive one.

This pyromancy was a relatively widespread form of divination, being attested throughout much of Asia and also in North America. The practice is perhaps very old, but the earliest evidence in China dates back to around 3,500 BC (at Fu-ho-kou-men in Liaoning), where the fractures were random. The Shang dynasty’s innovation was to produce more regular patterns by means of the drilled holes. The other singular factor is that amongst all the worldwide instances of such pyromantic divinatory practices, only the Shang Chinese made a written record of their divinations, by carving signs into the oracle-bones themselves.

The divination process would begin with the shell or bone being anointed with blood, and inscribed with the diviner’s name and the date, in a process known as the ‘preface’. The subject of the divination would then be posed. Typically, enquiries would be concerned with the health of the king and members of his royal family; the outcomes of forthcoming military endeavours; the prognosis for that year’s harvest, and so on. These enquiries were directed at ancestors as well as gods (Keightley, 1978).

Although the characters were mostly carved into the shell or bone, there are a few instances where the writing has been drawn onto the surface in red or black ink, using a brush. Keightley (1989, pp.182-184) observed that there is relatively no aesthetic component to the brush-writing:

“.the aesthetic influence of the brush appears to have been minimal; the brush-written script looks stiff and angular, resembling the carved script. That the Shang scribes could have written all their inscriptions with a brush but chose not to do so raises the interesting question of why they expended considerable time and labour to carve the characters into the bones. One cannot be sure of the answer, but two facts are suggestive. First, the diviners also carved out some of the cracks as well, rendering them deeper and more visible, and second, the diviners frequently filled the incised graphs and the cracks with red- or black-coloured pigments. These practices suggest that the carving itself served some aesthetic function – permitting the colouration of the writing – and that it may also have served some magical function in which the actual carving, by establishing a sympathy between the crack and the record, helped to “fix” or induce the desired event.”

So the act of carving the signs itself was somehow part of the magico-ritual process.

As regards the nature of the script itself, Bagley (2004, p.198) stated quite unequivocally that it was to be regarded as ‘true writing’ and not just a set of simple pictograms:

“As to the script, specialists are agreed that it is full writing at the moment when we first encounter it; that is, a Shang scribe could probably have written pretty much anything he could say.”

Similarly, Bottéro (2004, p.258) stated that “the Chinese script is obviously an original system of signs created to record an ancestral form of the Chinese language”, and, whilst pointing out the fact of its origin being problematic, still regarded the Shang ‘oracle-bone’ script as being, if not the first, then one of the very earliest such:

“First, it is hard to find any social requirements for writing prior to the Shang dynasty…Second…the graphic style of the Shang script, with its rather pictographic shape, strongly suggests a writing close to its first steps or its beginning…” (ibid).

So, until such time as earlier examples of archaic Chinese writing are discovered, it would seem to be the case that the ‘oracle-bone’ script appeared fully-formed during the Shang period.

Keightley (1989, p.184) noted the “considerable continuity” between the Shang signs and those of later Chinese scripts:

“Literate Chinese of today, untutored in oracle-bone script, would probably find much of it incomprehensible at first glance.but after only a few moments of study they would begin to identify some of the early graph forms that preceded those of the modern script.”

A pattern of development may be observed when one compares the Shang characters with those of the later Western Chou (‘greater seal’) script, the Eastern Chou (‘lesser seal’) script, and finally, the modern forms.

Keightley (1989, p.195) also suggested that “social or technological activity in the late Neolithic” may have led to the development of a writing system – the need for measurement and calculation for constructing pots, and compared this with Renfrew’s argument (1972) of a similar imperative in the Mediterranean:

“Writing in the ancient Aegean seems to have arisen partly to assist in problems of mensuration and calculation. The archaeological evidence suggests that it was indeed the cultures of the Neolithic East that were primarily concerned with such problems. For componential pot construction implies attention to scale and measurement, particularly when three-footed vessels are involved, which must be made of equal size. The parts – legs, handles, spouts, lids – have to be measured so that they will fit the vessel body.” (Keightley, ibid)

The present writer finds this argument unconvincing. Would such a requirement as measurement – admittedly important – have been the driving force for the creation of an entire writing system, rather than just a numbering system? Rather, it would seem more logical to view the oracle-bone characters as being the precursors of later Chinese scripts, and to regard early literacy in China as having been driven by the imperative of magico-ritual demands, namely divination – and as Keightley himself observed, literacy was employed for divinatory purposes 500 years before it was put to any more ‘practical’ use.

‘Old European’

Another writing system, whose origins may also lie not in economic but in religious practices, is the ‘Old European’ script espoused by the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, and by later writers. It must be emphasized that the signs (found on pottery, and upon clay tablets) which are claimed to be ‘Old European’, are by no means universally accepted to be writing. Even if this sign system is accepted as being a written language, it is, as yet, an undeciphered one. But, as this article will hope to demonstrate, the work of Gimbutas, Winn and Haarmann builds a strong case.

The discovery, in 1961, of three inscribed clay tablets in a sacrificial pit at Tărtăria, near Cluj, Transylvania (now in Romania), ascribed to the Neolithic Vinča culture, was a perplexing one for prehistorians. Hitherto, the consensus had been that all technological and other innovations had arrived in Europe from the Near East, via diffusion (Childe, 1925, 1929). It was recognized that Neolithic cultures (e.g. the Vinča, Tisza, and Karanovo cultures) in the Balkans were the earliest in Europe to have employed techniques of metallurgy – using copper at c. 5,000 BC – but these techniques were thought to have been developed first in the Near East. Similarly, writing systems were regarded as having first arisen in Mesopotamia. So the discovery of the ‘Tărtăria tablets’ and their having being radiocarbon-dated to 5,500 BC, clearly conflicted with a Near East origin, given that Uruk IV proto-writing evolved in the later 4th millennium BC.

It should be pointed out that the early date ascribed to the Tărtăria tablets has been challenged, on stratigraphic grounds (Zanotti, 1983). But these inscriptions were by no means the only ones to have been discovered in the Balkans region. Clay tablets, bearing incised signs, found at two Bulgarian sites, Gradeshnitsa and Karanovo, were in both cases radiocarbon-dated to 4000 BC at the latest.

Regarding these incised signs, Renfrew (1999, p.193) observed:

“More than 200 examples have been described from the important settlement of the Vinča culture at Tordos in Romania. Some of them are very simple – just a few strokes on the base of a pot, or a straightforward cross; others show more complicated motifs.”

Whilst the simpler forms might be thought to have been potter’s marks, it was these “more complicated motifs” that aroused the interest of Gimbutas, described by Renfrew (1999, p.193) as “the leading American authority on the prehistory of eastern Europe.” She used the evidence of widespread incised signs found at these early Balkan Copper Age sites, together with accomplished sculptures, mainly depicting female figures – upon which signs were often inscribed – to posit a sophisticated matrifocal Old European Neolithic culture in existence between c. 7,500 and c. 3,500 BC.

Certainly the figurines are predominantly representative of the female form. Markotić (1984) stated that, of 558 figurine discoveries attributed to the Vinča culture, 541 depicted females. Whether these figurines represented goddesses or ordinary human females is uncertain, although Gimbutas (1991, p.308) insisted that these objects were religious in nature:

“Votive offerings – gifts to the divinity in accordance with a vow, a wish, or desire – inscribed on religious objects usually found in clusters or rows, are characteristic finds of the Neolithic and Copper Ages, particularly in east-central Europe.”

Whilst noting that: “the invention of a script some eight thousand years ago has seemed so unthinkable that to this day the possibility is ignored and its evidence given very little attention” (1991, p.308), Gimbutas went on to declare that:

“Although the Sumerians are generally thought to be the inventors of written language, a script in east-central Europe appeared some two thousand years earlier than any other that has yet been found. Unlike Sumerian script, the writing of the Old Europeans was not devised for economic, legal or administrative purposes. It was developed, instead, from a long use of graphic symbolic signs found only within the context of an increasingly sophisticated worship of the Goddess. Inscriptions appear on religious items only, indicating that these signs were intended to be read as sacred hieroglyphs.” (ibid)

These claims may seem incredible to some, but it should be noted that Gimbutas, although the first to portray the many archaeological finds in the Balkan region as being representative of a coherent whole Old European civilization, is not alone in her claims. Winn undertook what is still the most comprehensive study of the Vinča signs for his 1973 dissertation (later published in 1981). It features an extensive sign catalogue, incorporating hundreds of examples from 50 sites identified as belonging to the Vinča culture. 210 basic sign types were identified (Winn, 1981, pp.60-65), which could be subdivided into 18 categories, and further classified as belonging to five core signs – (1) a straight, unbent, unbroken line; (2) two straight lines intersecting at the centre; (3) two lines intersecting at one end; (4) a dot or stipple; and (5) a curved line.

The signs – inscribed on pottery, figurines, spindle whorls, and other more unusual objects, sometimes unidentifiable – were sometimes found in isolation, or as part of a sign group. Arguing against an identification of isolated signs as mere potter’s marks, Winn (1981, p.13) noted:

“Isolated signs are found more frequently on pottery, but they may also occur on figurines, rarely on spindle whorls and occasionally on other subjects. Some of the basic sign types appear restricted to figurines and/or whorls. Therefore, these signs cannot be identified as mere pot marks.”

Winn (1981, p.14) also distinguished between mere decorative, aesthetic elements found on the objects, and the signs proper: “A distinction has been made between decoration and signs on the basis of their integration into overall ornamentation or independence from decoration”. He claimed that it was easy to tell which was which, although in some cases, a few decorative elements resembled signs (e.g. the ‘M’ sign, to which Popović and Gimbutas ascribed a religious meaning). He theorized that these had more than just an aesthetic value, with a symbolic meaning also, such that they may have formed the basis for the later origin of the signs proper (1981, p.12): “In a minority of cases the signs may be influenced by decorative prototypes, as there are certain decorative elements which may be related to the origin of signs.” Interestingly, one decorative element identified by Winn, organized or deliberate scratch marks, was found in abundance at one site, Jela (in modern Croatia), at the very northwest limit of the Vinča culture’s sphere of influence. He suggested that these scratch marks had been made as mimicry of the signs themselves, in imitation of an admired culture (one thinks of Romano-British coinage, where British chieftains sought to emulate Roman coins, reproducing the design whilst not understanding the script).

Winn (1981, p.76) also observed that the signs were inscribed on various parts of the objects: on the rim or upper body; on the lower side near the base; and on the base itself. In his catalogue, these various locations formed a further means of classification. It was noted that certain signs, or groups of signs, tended to be found on certain parts of the objects. For example, the Tordos signs were found to occur “in very high proportions on the base” whereas pictograms were found “principally on the body” of the objects:

Arguing against their identification as mere potter’s marks, he wrote (p.79):

“It is difficult to understand why more complicated signs.should be placed on the base. The general view, of course, has been to dismiss them as proprietary marks, but in my estimation this is an over-simplification. Certainly, some may be proprietor’s marks, but this view does not provide an adequate explanation for the majority of recurring signs. These signs are noted at various sites and do not seem to be intuitively distinguishable for such a basic purpose as ownership, where owners could hardly be cognizant of identical signs elsewhere, unless the identity was entirely the result of chance or there were certain standardized signs, which then must have had an attached concept with which the owner was familiar when he utilized the sign as a pottery mark.”

Instead, Winn maintained that the above observations denoted “purposeful distinctions in sign usage and, therefore, an intention to communicate something meaningful”, concluding (p.235) that the signs form a “conventionalized and standardized” semiotic system, rather than individual signs being merely discrete magical symbols (p.267):

“The suggestion that the signs represent nothing more than magical marks is untenable, although some simple signs, particularly on pottery vessels, may have been inscribed as part of magical formulae. The evidence shows deliberate sign usage at various sites according to object and function; this usage over space and time illustrates its meaningfulness in the world view of the society.”

Whilst the system could not be termed ‘true’ writing, on account of insufficient attestations of group sign repetition, Winn nevertheless argued against its being, fundamentally, a pictographic one – the majority of signs being abstract linear ones which occur alongside earlier pictographic signs, which in turn have been observed in isolation, at the earlier Tordos site. Thus the Vinča system may have developed from an earlier pictographic one, much like the development of Sumerian logograms and syllabograms.

Regarding the origin and source of the Vinča signs, this has been the source of much debate. Following the discovery of incised signs from the Tordos site in 1879 (during Zsofia Torma’s excavations of this very large site, yielding some 10,000 objects, from 1875-1891), and others found during the first Vinča excavation by M. Vasić in 1908, it was the general view that the script must have arrived in the Balkans by means of diffusion from elsewhere. Torma (1889) argued for an Assyro-Babylonian influence. The prevailing view at the turn of the nineteenth century was that early Troy and early Dynastic Egypt shared a common script. Vasić (1908) argued firstly for a Trojan influence, and then later suggested (1957) that there had been an Ionian colony at Vinča. And the enormously influential V. Gordon Childe (1927, p.83) claimed “an ethnic connexion between the first settlers at Vinča and the peoples of the Aegean”, also noting (p.88) analogies between the cultures of predynastic Egypt, Troy, and Vinča.

However, the application of C-14 radiocarbon dating techniques in the 1950s, which gave a date of 4,240 BC to the earliest Vinča finds, meant that such ‘diffusion’ theories of origin were untenable, the earliest date for the foundation of Troy being at least 1,000 years later. Whilst the implications of these startling dates were still being assimilated, the discovery in 1961 of the three Tărtăria tablets added further controversy. The excavator, N. Vlassa (1963) drew attention to the Tărtăria signs’ similarity with those of the Uruk IV and Jemdet Nasr tablets (late fourth to third millennia BC), a view with which Falkenstein agreed (1965). Vlassa claimed the earliest level of the Tărtăria site to be no older than 2,700 BC, this making a Mesopotamian origin tenable. Other writers such as Popović (1965), Hood (1967) and Makkay (1969) concur. Popović, taking a similar view to Gelb, does not regard the Balkan civilization to be sufficiently advanced as to develop a system of writing, and thus claims a Sumerian origin. Hood also adheres to a Childe-like diffusionary theory, arguing that the magico-religious attributes of the Vinča signs may have resulted from religious conversion via Near East influences. And Makkay (1969, p.14) compiled a list which compared Vinča signs with those of Mesopotamia, admitting that he is compelled to make such Near East connections for want of any possible European influences. Nevertheless, the Tărtăria signs aside (which this writer considers to be something of a red herring, on account of their debatable date (see Zanotti, 1983) and similarity with Jemdet Nasr/Uruk IV pictograms), there is clearly a problem for an ex oriente lux argument, given that C-14 dating ascribes a date of 4,240 BC to the earliest Vinča finds. Indeed, with radiocarbon calibration (the method by which a more accurate date may be found), an additional 500-800 years must be added, so that the dates are pushed back still further! Accordingly, we are faced with a well-established Balkan civilization flourishing in the 5th millennium BC, reaching its pinnacle around 4,000 BC, with its decline or destruction coming some time in the 4th millennium.

As noted above, Winn argued that the Vinča signs were derived from five core elements. Noting the prevalence of such signs as the zigzag or meander, the spiral, and the cross or X, he further noted (1981, p.237) that “such signs/motifs can be considered symbolic: fertility, good fortune or welfare, duty, water, etc.The association of such symbolic decoration with figurines is clear”. Gimbutas (1991, p.314) claimed a Palaeolithic provenance for certain core Vinča signs:

“Independent abstract signs, not pictographs, such as V, X, and Y, originated during the Upper Palaeolithic. A number of them, engraved on stone, bone, and antler, continued through the Mesolithic into early phases of the Neolithic. In Old Europe and Anatolia they consistently recur on ceramics in various arrangements: duplicated, triplicated, multiplied, inverted, opposed, and associated with meanders and parallel lines. Some signs are continuous from the Upper Palaeolithic Gravettian and Magdalenian cultures into the Neolithic, Copper Age, and even early Bronze Age of Europe and Anatolia, a span of 15,000 years.”

She further attributed religious meanings to these signs; thus, the V sign was said (1991, p.315) to derive from the vulva or pubic triangle, “one of the earliest symbols known from prehistoric art…Its repetitiveness in homologous contexts speaks of its central role in the symbolism surrounding certain aspects of the Goddess.” One might, at this point, note this sign’s similarity to the Sumerian sign for ‘female’ (‘MUNUS’; Labat, 1948, no.554), although it should be noted that I am not arguing here for diffusion, an Old European influence on Sumerian; rather, that such elementary signs may have had an independent origin in different parts of the world at different periods.

Noting (p.315) that “multiple V’s or chevrons appear consistently on both articulate and schematic effigies of the Bird Goddess, and on objects associated with her veneration, such as ornithomorphic vases…”, Gimbutas observed (p.316) that:

“Examination of the repertory of symbols on figurines leads to several observations. Signs surrounding the image of the Bird Goddess, for example, (such as V’s and chevrons combined with X) identify her, while V’s associated or connected with meanders, zigzags, or parallel lines emphasize her intimacy with the aquatic life-giving sphere, suggesting her function as a giver of moisture and life waters.I believe that the Old European sign system developed into a script from extensive use of very ancient symbolism. It is possible that certain symbols could have had a phonetic sound much earlier than the 6th millennium B.C.”

One might note that the Sumerian sign for ‘water’, (‘A’; Labat, 1948, no. 579) in its very earliest forms (e.g. Jemdet Nasr or Uruk IV periods) resembles a zigzag. Rudgley argued that the zigzag’s association with water had a very early origin (1991), citing Marshack’s (1972, 1976) detailed examination of deliberate marks found on Upper Palaeolithic animal bones – in particular, the discovery of a zigzag on a fragment of bone found at a Mousterian site (Bacho Kiro, Bulgaria), suggesting a possible Neanderthal date.

Naturally, the idea that writing may ultimately have a Palaeolithic origin is very problematic, and has met with opposition by some in the academy. Forbes and Crowder (1979, p.359) wrote:

“The proposition that Ice Age reindeer hunters invented writing fifteen thousand years ago or more is utterly inadmissible and unthinkable. All the data that archaeologists have amassed during the last one hundred years reinforce the assumption that Sumerians and Egyptians invented true writing during the second half of the fourth millennium. The Palaeolithic-Mesolithic-Neolithic progression to civilization is almost as fundamental an article of contemporary scientific faith as heliocentrism. Writing is the diagnostic trait, the quintessential feature of civilization. Writing, says I. J. Gelb, ‘distinguishes civilized man from barbarian’. If Franco-Cantabrians [i.e. Ice Age European peoples] invented writing thousands of years before civilization arose in the Near East, then our most cherished beliefs about the nature of society and human development would be demolished.”

This is not to say that a Neolithic origin is any less controversial! Winn himself was unable to bring himself to describe the Vinča signs as true writing – hence, when his 1973 dissertation, The Signs of the Vinča Culture was published in 1981, it was titled Pre-Writing in Southeastern Europe: The Sign System of the Vinča Culture [my bold]. Winn was unable to determine the Vinča system to be a logographic one, due to the insufficient attestation of long strings of signs – whilst qualifying this with the cautious remark (1981, p.238) that “the system may be partially logographic, i.e. some of the signs may represent words or concepts.” Neither was he able to describe it as a phonemic one, and therefore concluded that it was a system of pre-writing rather than writing proper.

In a linguistic study, Haarmann (1995) examined the Vinča sign system, in comparison with those of ancient Mediterranean civilizations such as that of Crete – Linear A & B – and the Cypro-Minoan script. He noted Winn’s refusal to ascribe ‘true writing’ status to the Vinča signs, but pointed out Winn’s adherence to an American definition of writing (Haarmann, 1995, pp.31-32): “[i]n American terminology, “true writing” or “full writing” is reserved to mean ‘phonetic writing of some sort'” He suggested that instead of ‘pre-writing’, the term ‘nuclear writing’ be used to describe early writing systems which, whilst essentially logographic, were not yet phonetic.

Haarmann (1995, p.28) believed that the Vinča signs comprised a ‘sacred script’, a genuine writing system, albeit one as yet undeciphered:

“The close relationship to objects which were used in burial rites or magico-religious rituals, that is, votive offerings and cult vessels, and the presence of inscribed objects with a potential usage such as offering gifts in the residential areas of the Chalcolithic settlements is indicative of a sacred function of the Old European script.”

Renfrew (1999, p.204) refused to ascribe to the Vinča signs the status of ‘true’ writing:

“To call these Balkan signs ‘writing’ is perhaps to imply that they had an independent significance of their own, communicable to another person without oral contact. This I doubt.”

Rather, he compared them to the signs on the rongorongo wooden tablets of Easter Island (sacred objects surrounded by taboos), which, he argued, functioned as mnemonic aids for religious chants within an essentially oral tradition, citing Metraux (1957, p.206):

“The rongorongo of Easter Island bards used staves to augment the effects of their recitations. On these staves the engraved sacred symbols, like the notches on the staves of the Maori orators, may originally have been aids to memory; later the decorative or mystic aspect of the symbols gained over their pictographic significance.We may suppose that the signs were arbitrarily associated with chants, each symbol representing a significant word, a phrase, a sentence or even a verse.”

In a comparison with the Vinča script, Renfrew (1999, p.204) argued that the rongorongo tablets demonstrate how an elaborate sign system might arise in a “relatively small society, which, despite its hierarchy, had no permanent central bureaucracy, and no full-time specialists.”

However, he also suggested that, further comparing the rongorongo tablets with the Vinča script, we may infer the latter to have had mnemonic value only, rather than being anything so sophisticated as ‘true writing’ by which ideas might be communicated to any other party who was able to understand the script. And, citing those Vinča signs that are found inscribed on pottery, Renfrew compared them with potters’ marks from other cultures and periods, for example, those of Phylakopi in the Cyclades, c. 2,000 BC. These, he argued (1999, p.204), were merely a “private code, significant only to the potter who made [them].carrying a meaning only at the moment they were made.” This seems an unfair comparison, when one recalls Winn’s extensive catalogue of the Vinča signs; from the thousands of occurrences found in museums in Europe and the US, he identified recurring attestations of 210 signs, which themselves could be analysed as belonging to one of five core sign groups. Further, these signs had been found at sites with a wide distribution throughout the Balkans region, not one single local area. Clearly, the Vinča signs were not merely a “private code.”

By way of contrast, Renfrew (1999, p.204) noted that “the writing of the Near East, like that of Crete, grew up in another context, that of the emerging palace economy, with the need to record in- and out-payments and to indicate ownership.” In such an emerging trade economy, the need for written signs which form a codified system which may be readily understood by others, without the need for oral explication, is clear. The agricultural society of the Vinča culture had no such economic imperative, and as Renfrew pointed out (ibid), in terms of archaeological discoveries, “there is no evidence for a redistribution system like that of early Bronze Age Greece, where the seals and sealings were functional objects of real economic significance.” Instead, the inscribed figurines and tablets of the Vinča culture:

“.testify to a very real absorption in religious affairs: and it is in this context that the signs on the tablets and plaques have to be understood. I suggest, indeed, that this “writing” emerged in a religious context, not an economic one.”

Thinking of the Vinča signs as mnemonic devices, aides-memoires for participants in religious ceremonies (as per the Easter Island rongorongo tablets), Renfrew compares them with Navaho sand paintings, which were designed according to strict conventions and laden with symbolism, were made specifically for use in a ceremony, after which they were destroyed. Had they, he suggested (p.204): “.been in a permanent medium they would have been – like the Balkan tablets – enduring repositories of symbolic information, indeed a form of writing.” So the Vinča signs may also be a ‘form of writing’, although:

“.while we can agree with the Bulgarian scholar Vladimir Georgiev that these Balkan signs had an independent origin and held a real meaning for those who made them, to talk of writing, without careful qualification, may not be appropriate.”

Renfrew’s refusal to view the Vinča signs as comprising a script has been criticized (Haarmann, 1995, p.77), on the basis that “his opinion was based on scarce iconic material in the first place, and [that] he [had] inspected only a few specimens of Old European writing then known.” Winn’s investigation, involving the analysis of thousands of inscribed figurines and other objects, was far more rigorous. Perhaps Renfrew hesitated to talk of the Vinča signs as being ‘true writing’, because of the fantastical and unacceptably unorthodox implications of a writing system from Europe which pre-dated that of Mesopotamia by several thousand years.

The language spoken by these Neolithic Balkan peoples is totally unknown to us today. It was not an Indo-European language, since, according to Gimbutas’ hypothesis, Kurgan invaders from the Russian steppe first brought an early Indo-European language to Europe, when they over-ran the Balkans and displaced the ‘Old European’ civilization and peoples. (For a geneticist’s findings which lend support for this theory, see Cavalli-Sforza, 1997). We are thus unable to map the Vinča signs (as written language) against a spoken counterpart. Therefore, Gelb’s distinction between a ‘semasiographic stage of writing (conveying meanings and concepts loosely connected with speech) and phonographic stage (expressing speech) is inapplicable – since we are unable to say whether the signs merely conveyed certain ideas and notions that were expressed by the spoken language, or whether they directly expressed speech (e.g. phonetically). It will be recalled that Gelb would only ascribe the status of ‘true writing’ to a phonetic system. It does seem unlikely that the Vinča signs are phonetic representations of a spoken language; there do not seem to be sufficiently lengthy ‘strings’ of signs (as one observes in, for instance, Sumerian tablets), so are they more likely to have been pictographic or ideographic in character?

Again, one recalls Hooker’s argument that a purely pictographic system is not ‘true writing’, since it depicts an event or message by purely visual means, rather than referring to any linguistic content; this also reminds us of Falkenstein’s observations (1936) that the earliest Mesopotomian signs (at Uruk IV) were seldom pictographic in character. Whilst we cannot be certain, it would seem likely (for the reasons stated above) that the Vinča signs are pictographic or ideographic, rather than syllabographic. Nevertheless, Hooker refused to follow Gelb’s lead in distinguishing between ‘primitive’ and ‘complex’ writing systems. He argues that pictograms were developed mainly amongst hunting or farming societies. So, in this sense we may claim a highly developed ‘order of complexity’ for the Vinča system, whilst not according it the status of writing. Hooker wrote (1990, p.6) that “so-called ‘primitive’ societies using pictographs may be just as complex in their modes of thought as users of other methods but it is a different order of complexity”, arguing that pictographic systems tended to arise in hunting or farming societies rather than urban ones – like the Balkan ‘Old European’ civilization.


As noted above, there is disagreement as to whether the Vinča signs may be regarded as constituting ‘true writing’ or not. Winn ascribed to them the status of ‘pre-writing’, and Renfrew, by way of comparison with the rongorongo tablets, suggested that their function was a mnemonic one, an aide memoire for oral religious practice. Haarmann and Rudgley, however, insisted that the signs were a fully-fledged – if as yet undeciphered – writing system.

It should also be stated that Gimbutas has been criticized in some quarters. Such criticism tends to focus on the speculative nature of her theories – based on an ‘archaeo-mythological’ approach – which posited the existence of a peaceful, artistic and matrifocal ‘Old European’ civilization. Partly because the script (if it is indeed a script) remains undeciphered, it could be asserted that her ideas concerning the wider ‘Old European’ culture lack foundational evidence to support them (although see Cavalli-Sforza, 1997). In addition, it has been argued that her theories were motivated by a desire to promote a feminist agenda (e.g. Hayden, 1986; Sommers, 1995), although for stout rebuttals of such criticism, see Christ, Goldenberg & Spretnak (all 1996).

However, whether or not one accepts the existence of the ‘Old European’ civilization as described by Gimbutas, the existence of a Vinča sign system is surely incontrovertible (following Winn’s rigorous and scholarly analysis).

Notwithstanding the above controversies, Winn, Renfrew and Haarmann are all in agreement that the signs originated in a ritual-ceremonial-religious domain, rather than an economic one. The same may also be argued as to the development of early Chinese scripts, namely, that the motivation was magico-religious in essence (i.e. divination) rather than economic. For this reason, both Renfrew and Haarmann compared the Vinča script with that of the ‘oracle-bones’. As noted above, the act of carving the ‘oracle-bone’ signs itself was a part of the magico-ritual process, so perhaps a tentative analogy might be drawn with the Vinča signs – particularly those carved on figurines which apparently depict goddesses.

However, until such time as a Rosetta stone equivalent is discovered, bearing the Vinča characters alongside those of another (known) script, the former will continue to remain the subject of speculation as to their nature and meaning. But, whether we accept the Vinča script as being ‘true writing’ or not, it is, I believe, reasonable to regard religion rather than economics as the driving force behind the ‘invention’ of the signs. As Winn (1981, p.255) concluded:

“In the final analysis, the religious system remains the principle source of motivation for the use of signs. The thousands of [inscribed] excavated figurines impressively demonstrate the cardinal role of domestic ritual in Vinča society.”

With thanks to Professors Mark Geller and Andrew George, for their suggestions and advice. And thanks to NISABA, Goddess of writing and learning.


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Christopher Josiffe works at Senate House Library, University of London, as a library cataloguer. He has a MA in librarianship, and has also studied the Ancient Near East at SOAS. He has previously been published in Faunus, the journal of the Friends of Arthur Machen Society, and the Fortean Times. His interests include: Northern Soul and roots reggae, fine cheeses and beers, and visiting prehistoric sites.

Copyright Christopher Josiffe 2011

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MoonLore for Mabon week
By Liz

Thursday, 22nd of September 2011 Mabon Eve – The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, leaving Cancer, and entering Leo. Being a Thursday, it will be all about the money, investment, expansion, prosperity and generosity and Moon in Leo puts the spotlight on self, time to express one’s needs, to listen to one’s own ideas, to become a little introverted and reflecting, perhaps. A good day to “take stock” of one’s position in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, 23rd September 2011– Autumn Equinox – Mabon – The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, still in Leo. Being a Friday it’s going to be all about Love, Friendship, Reconcilliation and Beauty. Moon in Leo this day will draw us away from people with emotional needs. A day for not letting negativity influence your mood. A good day for some alone time. A great day for some self discovery if the fates are being kind.

Saturday 24th September 2011 – 3 Nights away from Dark (New) Moon – The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter still, remaining in Leo. Being a Saturday, it will all be about Longevity, Exorcism, Endings, Homes and Houses, and Moon in Leo today warns us folk may be a little over-the-top and melodramatic. A good day to keep perspective.

Sunday 25th September 2011 – 2 Nights away from Dark (New) Moon – The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, leaving Leo and entering Virgo. Being a Sunday, it will all be about Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection while Moon in Virgo this day reminds us it’s all in the details and fine print. Not a day for taking short cuts or papering over cracks, A day for taking care of business properly.

Monday 26th September 2011 – ! night away from Dark (New) Moon – The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, in Virgo still. Being a Monday, it will be all about Peace, Sleep, Healing, Compassion, Friends, Psychic abilities and Fertility, while Moon in Virgo this day warns us to pay attention to our health and daily routines. A good time to start a new self care regime in a less-is-more kind of way.

Tuesday 27th September 2011 – Dark (New) Moon – leaving Virgo and entering Libra. Being on a Tuesday, this Dark (New) Moon will be about Passion, Sex, Courage, Agression, and Protection, while Dark (New) Moon in Libra favours social activities and spending time with friends. A good time to have a good time.

Wednesday 28th September 2011 – 1 Day after Dark (New) Moon – The Moon is Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Libra. Being a Wednesday, it’s all going to be about travel and study, while Moon in Libra this day will be about balance and partnership. Learning from friends is a great way to learn.

Thursday 29th September 2011 – 2 Days after Dark (New) Moon – The Moon is Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, leaving Virgo and entering Scorpio, This being a Thursday it will be all about the money, investment, expansion, prosperity and generosity and Moon in Scorpio will mean it’s a good day for scrying, for interpreting dreams, and for other psychic endeavours. A day fro trusting your instincts and going with your gut reactions.

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Should we take another look at the Gods & Spirits?
By Jonny Blake

When I was 13 I had a conversation with a classmate during religious studies, and he had this idea that what ancient people thought were gods were just a more advanced mortal race. Hypothetically speaking, if we discovered this was true then it would mean this ‘’fact’’ would only be comprehensible by anyone born in the last 100 or so years; as someone who wouldn’t know anything about the concept of a galaxy (and other life bearing planets) or a parallel dimension, or a species that got there before humanity in evolution back in ancient Egypt or Central America and so on. So with that ethos, I found myself re-interpreting mythology and lore throughout many pagan cultures throughout the years.

My last article ‘a new way of thinking’ ties into this one for the sake of argument (that making these speculations are mere thought and harmless to paganism and one’s chosen path), on it’s own it seems to present no purpose; but that’s my fault for being a blog newbie so sorry about that!

I’ll start with the classic alien intervention (using the name lightly as not to invoke images of green dudes) which is popular among conspiracy theorists the world over. If we take the Egyptians who are usually chosen under this theory next to the Mayans and Sumerians, what they saw a gods and works of magic may only be works of very advanced technology (read into the Aztecs and the way they described the Spanish invaders). But then, if this happened in Egypt exclusively then why did cultures all over the world develop mythologies and religions? The only answer I can think of is that this race would have to had watched the earth from above and designate groups to particular locations then descend when the time was right (say they had a rule like the first signs of agriculture and permanent structures = intervention time).  A modern mind would want to know their motivations behind this, surely enlightening an entire species and helping them build things must cost a lot of time, effort and space dosh. I thought that they could have several possible motivations. One would be having their own spiritual goals that include bringing knowledge to lesser species or just the act of altruism (we look after animals and expect nothing in return; however humans would be able to show their appreciation via worship and festival). Perhaps they could be scientist’s conduction a grand experiment, looking for answers about their own evolution or just ‘’seeing what happens’’. With this idea it brings up the question ‘’why did they go?’’, well rather than controlling the variables a much more insightful experiment would be to plant the foundations and just leave it to progress along it’s own path and return at a later date. Something like this would lead us to certainly question their morality, as they may have just signed the earth’s death sentence with all the industrialisation and war that has happened and can possibly get worse. Also it is noteworthy that different groups within said race may have dividing motivations: say if 3 people immigrate to another country, one does it for business and success, another for adventure and exploration, and the last to get away from their current country. This would correlate with the different alignment and types of deities; some are good, evil, neutral, or ambiguous as to what their take is.

But say the scientific and logical theories are all wrong, as we are still not as advanced as we can be yet, so perhaps our logic is flawed or missing some gears in its system that haven’t been uncovered yet. Some ancient people were totally aware of their lack of knowledge; sage’s had to employ ‘circular’ thinking instead of logical X + Y = Z thinking, and Plato wrote the Allegory of the Cave to demonstrate how limited people’s perceptions were. In reference to my first article, the more we find out about the world, the more mysteries we discover and therefore we realise we still don’t know much about it. However today because of the amassed knowledge and using the gift of thought, we can speculate more about what we don’t know than the first pagans did. So let’s go with the idea that gods and spirits are in fact immortal and capable of manipulating the world with powers not given to them by evolution or technology. We are still left with these questions like ‘’well why would they come into the mortal world? At what point did they physically present themselves? When were they most active? And if they are still here then why do they not have as much power?’’ Metaphysical realms such as the spirit world and the way (Tao) share the idea of being ‘’formless’’, I thought that perhaps a reason why beings who exist in a formless world may latch onto a physical world (this one) may be something similar to a symbiotic relationship. I’ve noticed that humans by nature become quickly contempt with the reality they live in, we don’t like the idea of looking around and someone saying ‘’and that’s it I’m afraid, nothing else to see’’ despite the world having so many beautiful places, many (but not all) people won’t fully appreciate it unless they are spiritual. What if the spirits are in the same position? The idea of a world where everything is made of energy and matter and that only physical actions make a difference would appeal to someone who can’t ‘sense’ or ‘do’ anything, if a human soul stumbled into their world, with no physical boundaries they would be able to ‘look’ into the human and experience what its like to touch, see, smell, hear and taste reality, some shamans claim to meld with spirits so both beings are experiencing both worlds. Maybe an alternative would be that this world provides them a canvas for theirs, when they experience our reality, they can fill up their blank and chaotic dimension with ideas taken from mortal minds, giving them something they can connect to as their own creation and ‘live’ within it. The novel ‘’American Gods’’ also proposes an idea I thought I came up with first. The books story revolves around old gods living in modern times, the book makes up its own lore that gods depend on mortals to believe in them to simply exist. My own version was that a god could not be godlike unless it had gained influence over the people, then this way it would be able to have influence over the environment they lived in, how much depended on how much the people incorporated the god into their life. This would mean that what is just seen as pantheons with a lot of schism going on now look like chess games in competition for power (Greek and Norse gods were always in willy waving contests).

From a psychological point of view, this would make every god a bit of an a-hole! As they are just using mortals to gain power over the other gods and pantheons, so what about benevolent gods or ones who are made out to be neutrally aligned? And why don’t they ever go the other way or do anything else but stick to their role? At this point I thought that they must be an embodiment of their role and their idea of free will is different to ours. If a mortal one day is a fisherman then decided to learn an instrument and be an entertainer, then a god who couldn’t do that should be a bit embarrassed if the hairless apes are multi-talented and they’re not. So perhaps the gods take an interest in humans because of free will (only really achievable by sapient creatures, as animals follow instinct), say they always existed but when we came along they started learning that maybe they could be capable of achieving other things like killing their dads and cursing people who steal their volcanic rocks, and the benevolent gods took a liking to err being benevolent perhaps each god learning from different humans. Problem is this leaves so many holes in mythology that the speculation spins off into a million questions, which leads onto the argument that spawns from something like this: do we stick with what was left behind or adapt it to the times and changes that happened since? A paganfriends member ‘Summer Shudder’ started a thread asking whether recon or individualism is better to employ as a modern age neo-pagan. I personally never ‘’believe’’ lore whether original or re-interpreted, one reason being that the original stuff may not be so original, who’s to say that people didn’t tamper with it since it’s creation? I don’t really trust human perception to present the facts as neutrally as possible; then again re-interpreting a mythology to personal taste makes the philosophy of that path obsolete and shares the same flaw that handed down accounts may have. I accept all sides of the debates that surround a path, like with Hel where some see it as innately a dark place but others say it was just another afterlife underground and very icy, with accepting all sides I can eventually reach a consensus. When it comes to speculations, I only ever consider them while not fully accepting the original source, so just in case you might have felt offended about what I said on gods then don’t worry as I don’t actually hold it to be true, I just believe that we should always be wondering and using nature’s final gift that is our brains, thoughts won’t hinder you from your path, but if you want an answer then you must first ask a question.

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True Magick in a Virtual World
T. Fox Dunham

Part of being a shaman is traversing the other planes, the inner and outer wilderness. We travel in metaphor and reality with the same substance as this world. To a shaman, a virtual plane or reality like Second Life is second nature. It exists as its own plane, a metaphysical reality generated from the spirits and minds of the denizens who dream it. It’s just another plane to us, no different then the planes we’ve always traveled.

In Second Life, there is a rich pagan community, travelers from around the world who gather in this virtual world, divided in body, but joined in spirit and mind. There are myriad witches, wiccans, covens, druids and all sorts of seekers. Many teach or work their magick online.

Let me explain Second Life to those who have not dwelled as avatars in symbolic and protean photon flesh. To join this online world, you only need to download the viewer, pick a name and log in. You can pick from a selection of generic avatars—or virtual people. You wear your avatar as an extension of your body and use it to interact with others and the world. You can customize this avatar to be anything you like, from a natty dressed gadabout to a little otter. One of my best friends is a mischievous otter.

Second life exists as a world of SIMS. SIMS are virtual planes, cubes of space with great distance that are turned into worlds. There is a building system in Second Life similar to a C.A.D. program, and if you can imagine it, it can be built. I’ve walked through eldritch forests, visited live music clubs and even recreations of the battleships of Pearl Harbor or the starship Enterprise.

The pagan community in Second Life has created a universe of SIMS devoted to their spiritual study and growth. Many of the covens and pagans meet in worship just as we do in this ‘real’ world, and their magick is no less valid. Does distance really matter? Are these bodies of physical flesh the only container that can possess a soul? So much of a magick is about intent, metaphor, symbolic representation. We burn incense and use it as a symbol for wind. A symbolic candle in Second Life would have no less value as a metaphor, as the intent of magick. Altars and circles are created and blessed just as they would be here in this world.

It’s all about the soul, about imbuing elements with our energy and the energy of the cosmos. Second Life in essence is a world of energy, less material and more protean than this world. It is wet clay, a realm of pure potential that can be imbued with the spirit at the root level. Since it is a world composed entirely from human creation, we can seed the spirit at the heart, at the beginning and lay this foundation of magick into the worlds we create. Powerful magick can be woven in a virtual world like one great altar.

Samhain is a special time for me. It is when I died while battling lymphoma and returned, thus granting my initiation as a shaman. To celebrate it, I create a month long festival in Second Life. My team and I have created festival grounds. I’ve hired several live musicians to perform for us in the evenings. These are actual performers playing live as they would on stage or in a club. We also have literary and poetry events, themed dances, live storytelling and other ways to celebrate the turning of the year. To come join us, you only need to download the viewer from the Second Life Website, make an avatar and send me an instant message. My name is Fox Ravenheart.

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Rosa Damascena – Rose Absolute
By Suzannah Hill

Rose essential oil is an expensive addition to any aromatherapist’s repertoire due to the nature of its production. Rose oil is extracted from the petals of the flower and thousands are needed to produce even the smallest amount of oil. Luckily a little of the oil goes a very long way and in many blends a single drop is sufficient.

The oil itself is a strong fresh floral aroma that blends well with the majority of essential oils and is also useful on its own in light base oil. If the cost were not so high it would probably be every bit as popular as lavender for its multiple uses.

Rose Otto is useful for calming emotional distress, easing respiratory problems and balancing female hormonal issues. Rose is most useful however in skincare for elderly dry and irritated skin being highly moisturising and soothing. For those that suffer from extreme facial redness from broken capillaries rose is useful in reducing the redness and associated soreness.

Rose oil is a pleasant addition to many face creams and lotions is popularly used in perfumery and works well in an oil burner or vaporiser. Care should be taken when purchasing as cheaper alternatives are commonly diluted with base oil. While the oil is non-sensitising and non-allergic all essential oils should be used with care and a qualified aromatherapist consulted. Rose oil should not be used during pregnancy.

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Meet the Family – Tourmaline
By Beth Holtum

Tourmaline is one of my favourite families of crystals – not only for it’s fine rod form and gemmy appeal, but also for the wide array of colours that it comes in. It pretty much covers the spectrum – black, brown, yellow, green, pink, red and blue, but sadly no purple. From a Crystal Healing perspective, the Tourmaline family deals with relationships. Here’s my take on the most common members of the family . . .

Starting with the main-stay, most well known, Black Tourmaline – also called Schorl Tourmaline – with it’s dark, often crisp nature – deals with the need for a barrier from negative relationships/situations. It’s a protective stone, that can provide an energy shield when we need to deflect matter away from us.

Dravide is the name for the brown variety of Tourmaline that corresponds with relationships in the wider group. It brings clearance and grounding, freeing us from emotional constraints and fostering an ability to engage within a community – be it family or society.

Verdelite is Green Tourmaline – which can range from bright green, to a colour so dark that it can be mistaken for black. This variety of tourmaline is like the King of Cups in a Tarot deck – a gracious and strong man in a position of authority. It fosters the ability to be ‘cruel to be kind’, and to give tough love when necessary.

Rubellite, (Red Tourmaline) pounds with the beat of the heart, and emotional unrest in which there’s been a need to guard your heart against others words or actions. It nurtures energy for recovery and the ability to overcome difficulty for the physical/emotional body, soothing a way forward.

Watermelon Tourmaline is probably the epitome of the relationship qualities of Tourmaline. This variety forms with a central core of pink which is encased by an outer band of green. This resonates with both aspects of the heart chakra – the male and female. Watermelon Tourmaline is used to improve relationships by fostering gentle love and friendship, encouraging patience and tact. Its property is to alleviate fear and depression through boosting inner security.

Indicolite is the blue variety of Tourmaline, associated with the Third Eye and the sometimes tricky realms of intuition. Blue Tourmaline is my No.1 crystal for depression when the trigger is lack of control and being restricted by another person’s actions – for example, when a more than capable employee is worn down by frustrations of barriers and controls imposed by their boss.

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By Charles Vella

Recently, we spent a couple of days in Vilars, Arbeca in Spain where we studied ruins dating back 750 BC. The astonishing thing about the Iberian tribe is the way that religion led their lives and the daily rituals that were conducted each day. As many of us know, the word Pagan is used for a person who follows a belief ‘from the village’ and it is not necessarily itself a religion. This tribe used to have a fire lit on a daily basis no matter what type of weather controlled the environment. This fire was looked upon as not only a powerful element but, along with water, the two elements were respected and treated like deities.

A small table would sit near the fire and on top of the handmade wooden structure were placed ritual items used to conduct their rites. The items consisted of a cup, knife, and a plate of earth. Unwanted items were tossed into the fire – in a form of thanks. With the knife, they would close the ritual and sprinkle water into the fire to unite the two elements.

Of course, Christianity was not known back then and the belief in a form of religion was not something that entered a person’s mind. To those people, the mysteries of life remained in the power of the universe. The moon played a large part in their daily lives and the changes in it’s pattern from new to full moon were considered to be magical. For example, holy water was made by leaving a jar of water outside on a full moon throughout the night. It would then be collected in the morning and used for special purposes.

The tribe lived in ranks; the higher the rank the larger the house and the bigger the altar. Each believed in their “faith” though there is uncertainty about whether a high priest or a person in a religious position existed within a tribe.



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Review: The Spellcasting Picture Book: Visual Tools For Grown-Up Magic 2nd Edition By Diana Raichel

I have to admit that when I first read through The Spellcasting Picture Book, I didn’t find what I was expecting. This isn’t another 101 spells for the busy housewife-esque paperback with a selection of spells for every occasion. If I’m honest, at first glance I wasn’t sure exactly what I was reading.

When I’d finished I flicked back through the book, this time starting with the last page and working my way back to the beginning (a ‘bad habit’ of mine), paying a little bit more attention to what was there instead of what I was expecting. I spent a little more time looking at each page, made a little more effort to understand what I was looking at instead of expecting all the answers to be presented up front.

Diana’s bright, primitive images made me work to get something from them, to find a meaning which I could personally relate to. The images (and I hope you’ll forgive me for saying so Diana) might not be the most polished or perhaps the most artistic, but instead they are honest and heartfelt, a little glimpse at something which feels far more personal than a how-to guide or ‘recipe’ book. This is a book that you have to work at as a reader, but in my opinion it was well worth the effort.

For me, The Spellcasting Picture Book was an inspiration and a reminder; rather than teaching me something new, it reminded me of things I already knew, a simplified and straightforward way of working. When I finish writing this review, I’m going to get out my crayons, my scissors and some glue and get to work creating something of my own. I only hope that the results are as honest and without pretense as Diana’s.

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By Gaynor Lewis

Gaynor Lewis is a Derbyshire-based artist and writer. Her work includes landscapes, pet portraits and work with a fantasy theme in a variety of media. Gaynor’s artwork is both sensitive and bold, often combining a delicate use of colour with bold lines and delightfully intricate detail.

In Sleepy Oaks Woods by Gaynor Lewis as Fearneve

In In Sleepy Oaks Woods, an Autumnal and almost desolate background is offset with a splash of colour to create an enchanting otherworldly effect. The boldness of the lines bring to life the subtle shades whilst the tentative and organic outlines of the grass, leaves and mushroom are beautifully complimented by the curves of the door and windows.

The Green Man by Gaynor Lewis as Fearneve

Of all Gaynor’s pieces, The Green Man is one of my favourites. With a few simple lines, the she has created an image with a great deal of character and charm. The softness of the eyes contrasts beautifully with the crisp texture of the leaves and twigs and the deep shadows create a depth which suggests the furrows and lines which come with time.

Castle Glimpse by Gaynor Lewis

Castle Glimpse captures perfectly the beautiful contrast of the natural and the man-made. The castle Gaynor has chosen to paint, Dartmouth castle, watches over the calmness of the waters almost like a sentry and yet the painting has an almost overwhelming serenity to it.

Higher Lodge by Gaynor Lewis

Again, like Castle Glimpse, Higher Lodge uses a contrast between natural landscape and architecture to create a poignant and beautiful painting. The bold lines of the cottage in the distance contrast with the gradual shadows of the bushes and tree to create a stunning but peaceful effect.

More of Gaynor’s work can be found at http://www.gaynorlewis.com/ and (for her fantasy art) http://www.fearneve.co.uk/.

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Decorated Skulls By The Pagan Friends Forum’s Tas Mania

Goat Skull With Acrylics

Deer Skull With Acrylics

Sheep Skull With Acrylics

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Lucy’s Tale

By Logos Tartaros

Lucy woke up in a bed of grass on a warm summer day. She knew she was in the place she was supposed to be, after her long journey. She knew this was the place she would never leave, and if she were human she would probably realize that she was in shock, and dying.

But being a cat, an especially old cat, has its advantages. And now, all she was aware of was that she was simultaneously sinking into the ground and, and at the same time, floating away. Things seemed to be brighter and Lucy was about to jump into the light coming for her when she heard a man’s voice.

It was a soft voice that settled over her and insulated her from the light; which paused, and spoke back to the man in deep tones that Lucy could feel in her bones. The light receded and Lucy was aware of the grass tickling her side, her tired shoulders, and sore pads that were caked with the blood of her long walk. But more than anything, Lucy was hungry.

The heat from the man’s hands, which was strangely warmer than the summer sun beating down on her, helped Lucy raise her head so she could lap at the milk in the saucer in front of her. The taste of the milk and the warmth on her fur stirred a memory in Lucy. She lapped greedily and then slowed as the memory tugged her into unconsciousness.

Lucy dreamt she was small, and with her first owner. She lapped at milk from a large spoon that was offered to her by a small girl. Lucy cleaned the spoon, and the little girl picked her up; instantly they were outside; walking in a garden.

The kitten clung to the little girl as the sounds, smells, and sights enveloped them. Curiosity got the better of Lucy and she bravely crawled up the little girl’s arm and perched on her shoulder. The sounds went silent and the little girl stopped. Lucy’s fur fluffed on her tail and eventually, her entire body; her claws reflexively dug into the little girl’s shoulder, who flinched.

The little girl was also startled by the garden’s sudden silence. Something was there, with them; but the little girl couldn’t see it. Lucy, could. It was a very tall woman swimming in black clothes; her eyes focused on the little girl, but the woman called out to Lucy.

The kitten went limp and fell to the ground. The little girl squealed and went to reach for Lucy; but Lucy rolled away and after finding her feet went to chase the woman the little girl couldn’t see; beckoned by the voice the little girl couldn’t hear.

The voice called to Lucy through the brush, while the little girl pleaded for her kitten to return. As she ran, Lucy could hear the little girl in the brush behind her; but the kitten couldn’t stop and scurried as fast as she could through the underbrush.

The woman, swimming in black clothes, was waiting in what looked like a clearing. Lucy bound for the woman, but the ground disappeared from under her claws. Lucy rolled, uncontrollably, to the bottom of a shallow ravine. Startled, Lucy mewled, only stopping when she heard the scream of the little girl; who fell into the ravine beside her.

The little girl gasped for breath from the wind being knocked out of her, and then froze; for she could now see the woman swimming in black clothes, hovering above her, and descending.

The black clothes never touched the ground as the woman bent over the little girl. The woman’s outstretched pale hand covered the girl’s mouth ending Lucy’s first owner’s life with a brutal calculated swiftness.

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Apple Time

By Joan McNerney

Red yellow brown carpets

of crunchy leaves spread

out to welcome you.

You are coming home to aromas

of cinnamon and me. I’ve been

waiting so long

to touch you

feed you

juicy apples.

Finally you are here.

Red giant stars


our names


in neons

for eons.

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Pink Skies by Cai Thomas

September Song

By Hedgewizard Erb

The September sun comes dancing across the land

Golden month, peaches and corn, fairs and school

The beginning of autumn, sunflowers bow their heads

Soon the rains and winds will echo winter and a new year

Beginnings, endings, golden rays before the colors of October

The great wheel of life turns and we all go along for the ride

When I was young, before computers, I would look forward

To a new pencil box, comic books, new things in school

September was a new start, we collected nature things

Watched the sun go down over the Pennsylvania hills

And drink coffee and eat crumb cakes for breakfast

Savoring everything in between day and night

The silver full moon shown over the rooftops, a glow

Would light up the early evening with its own magic

And we were all in awe of the world in September

By Nik

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The Sock Puppet Poppet
By Rebecca L. Brown

Into this sheathe, her sheathe
She has sausaged five fat toes
Haired and sweat-salted
Still grimy from the kitchen floor.
A stray hair caught between the fibres
Calloused skin rubbed free by a too-tight boot,
Unwashed, unclean, the fabric holds her scent
Bittered and foul, ground in by time.

The toe becomes her crook-pointed face,
The heel the overstuffed curve of her pimpled arse,
A tuck here, a stitch there
Threading in intent, drawing out her essence,
Until her face stares back at me
From a patchwork of new stitches
And old, pressure-worn darns.
Then all that is left is to slip my hand inside…

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A Deserted Place
By Linda Gibson

This looks like a deserted place
But there’s life under the surface
If you take look again
There’s a spider on the window pane
Her webs are scattered all around
It teams with life on the ground
At night there’s the squeak of mice
Beneath rotting stumps crawl woodlice
Over loose rubble beetles scurry
To unknown destinations they hurry
The floor’s been reclaimed by weeds
On which a lone honey bee feeds
It’s not really deserted you’ll see
Just take a closer look, like me.

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By Linda Gibson

Graceful Butterfly
Oh, so beautiful colours
As you flutter by.

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It’s that time of year again, and we’re celebrating Lammas with an issue packed full of great content. Read on for articles by Richard Smoley, Peter Carroll and Starhawk, interviews with Andy Letcher and Damh the Bard, part two of our Phil Hine interview and much more!


An Interview With Phil Hine (Part 2)
An Interview With Andy Letcher
An Interview With Mel Fleming
An Interview With Damh The Bard
An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Own Tas
An Interview With The Lady Selene (Part of T. Fox Dunham’s Herbal Magick)


Planetary Magic by Peter J. Carroll
The Pollok Witches by Tas Mania
Organisational Astrology by Fern Spring
Corn Dollies by Liz
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Not-So-Occult Foundations of Nazism
by Apuleius Platonicus
A Pagan Christ? by Richard Smoley
Sator Squares by Simon Cash
A Maypole in Prison by Starhawk

Personal Experiences

Going Into Brick Ain’t All It’s Cracked up to be by Liz
Pentre Ifan by Liz
John Barleycorn Must Die by Liz

Regular Columnists

Harvesting the Karma by Jules Harrell
‘A New Way of Thinking’ by Jonny Blake
Evolution of Change by Caledonia
Herbal Magick
With An interview from The Lady Selene
by T. Fox Dunham
Lammas Moonlore by Liz

Tools, Tricks and Ingredients

Dandelions by Rebecca L. Brown
Jet by Rebecca L. Brown


One Turning: Poems for the wheel of the year,
by Miriam Axel-Lute

Upcoming Events

Treadwells Events


An extract from Pelzmantel by K.A. Laity

Poetry Corner

All of a Lammas Evening by Elizabeth Barrette
Castoffs by Elizabeth Barrette
Firefly Harvest by Miriam Axel-Lute
Beauty in the Fertile Autumn; a Villonette by Julie Smith
Fire-Feast by Patricia Monaghan
Garland Sunday And She Calls Her Lover to Join Her on the Mountain
by Patricia Monaghan
Lost Harvests by Olivia Arieti
Harvest Time by Olivia Arieti
The Bounty of Nature by Olivia Arieti
God Bud by Danielle Blasko
A Rooster’s Tale by Hedgewizard Erb
Comfort of The Dove by Hedgewizard Erb
Lawn Care by Jackie L. Simmons
Looking Down From Uffington by Annabel Banks
Epiphany by Rose Blackthorn
Last August Light by Penn Kemp
Wild Craft by Penn Kemp
Stirring Not Stirring by Penn Kemp

Want to contribute to the Autumn Equinox issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Autumn Equinox issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it. For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

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The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.

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An Interview With Phil Hine (Part 2)
(Part one appeared here in our Summer Solstice Issue)

Q: You’ve talked about the difficulty of translating some terms into English (see (part one of the interview). Would you say that some ideas are so inherent to a cultural framework that only the language native to that culture can express them in their entirety? Do you think is it possible to completely master a language which is the product of a different cultural background and if not to what extent can Tantra really be understood by the western world?

Well to some extent I do feel that interpretation and understanding will always, like history, be partial – and I think its okay to acknowledge that. Having said that, I do know people who are very fluent in Sanskrit, Tamil, and some of the other languages that “tantric texts” are written in, as they’ve spent thirty-odd years reading, writing, and thinking in those languages – often living in India for years and practising themselves. I recently went to a presentation by Mark Dyczkowski, a highly respected scholar-practitioner who’s devoted most of his life to practising and understanding Kashmir Shaivism – and he was saying that the material he was giving us had taken him twenty-odd years to understand – so don’t expect that you will take it all in instantly. It takes time. My own understanding of particular tantric ideas has changed dramatically over the last twenty-odd years, and will continue to do so. So I’m very aware that, in many respects, my understanding of tantra is partial and limited. It’s too vast a field for anyone to claim absolute knowledge of.

Tantric studies, as an academic field, has changed drastically in my lifetime. Back in the 1980s, when I was first getting interested, there didn’t seem to be much information available apart from Arthur Avalon’s books, which were written in the early 20th century. Nowadays its very different, there’s a vast amount of material available, some of which is highly specialised, and I do “consume” a lot of it. Which can be a challenge in itself, because I then have to get up to speed on the theoretical disciplines that the scholars are drawing upon. There’s a wealth of translations of primary texts and commentaries available, as well as secondary literature which examines the various traditions which are labelled as “tantric” in terms of their historical and cultural settings.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about how you personally practice Tantra? How did you first experience the goddess Lalita and what kind of relationship do you have with her?

Practice has been on my mind a lot, lately, as in “what is a practice?” For many years, I’d say that I practiced unreflectively, in that I would do things such as meditations, rituals, attentive exercises etc. – because that what one has to do – in order to “make progress”, but I didn’t necessarily think too deeply about why this was necessary. Also – and I think this is related – I thought of “magical practice” as something very different to “everyday practices” (walking around, cleaning my teeth, working). You have to set aside time and a special place for “magical practice.” By the early 1990s, I began to get interested in the notion that how? “practice” gets conceptualised in two particular ways – firstly, by making magical practice seperate to the rest of our life-activity, we reinforce the idea that there is a difference between the magical world and the mundane world (spirit-matter, if you like). Secondly, magical practice becomes “work” – something you have to do, a discipline to be suffered, rather than something you want to do, or something that you do because you enjoy it. I think a lot of this emerges out of the eighteenth/nineteenth century (although you can trace it back to medieval monasticism) that work is the Raison d’etre of our lives – the kind of Protestant Work Ethic attitude. People say, “I’m working with this deity”, “I’m working with this energy”. I started to write about “playing with x” or “flirting with so-and-so” or “just messing around” – and its amazing how quickly you get judged by other people when you say “I’m just messing around with this stuff. I’m not taking it seriously.” Because by not being serious, more often than not (particularly on internet forums) you then get classed as a “newbie” because you’re not doing it properly, you’ve not made the commitment, gone the distance, “put the work in.” And sometimes, the requirement that you set aside a regular time and place for practice is really difficult if you’ve say, got kids, or or are on call 24/7. Another problem with the work ethic view of practice is that it’s very easy to get tied up in knots about thinking “I’m not doing enough practice” or “I’m not progressing fast enough” etc. Okay, sometimes you have to push past your own inertia. I’ve had some amazing unexpected moments come out of staggering about of bed at 5.30am still hungover from the previous evening’s revelry to do a daily meditation, but I don’t think that was because I felt I had to do that, but that I wanted to. Another thing, which I think is related to how we conceptualise practice is the way you get a distinction made between “basic” (or “beginners”) practices and “advanced” practice. I think this often leads to the conception that “basic” practices are boring, something you just do for a set period (or avoid completely) and then never go back to, and the “advanced” stuff which is interesting (and “powerful”) – and of course it’s nice to think of oneself as an “advanced practitioner” isn’t it? Rather, I would draw a distinction between “core” practices – things you do all the time, and “specialised” practices which are restricted to a particular domain of activity – but of course the two are not seperate really, they inform each other. So for example, at work I occasionally do animation, which is a specialised activity for me, but in order to do that animation, I obviously need to have a core set of practices (design skills, an understanding of how applications work, and the ability to visualise the outcome I want) which are in continual use?

In my tantra practice nowadays, I don’t make the distinction i used to between mundane-magical. In fact, that whole notion is kind of foreign to Indian life as a whole. So whilst i still do meditation, rituals, etc I don’t think of them as “seperate activities”. I meditate as I walk to work every morning. There’s a lovely stanza in the Saundaryalahari (“the flood of beauty”) which is a Srividya text devoted to Lalita which expresses the orientation I’m talking about:

“Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer,
my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture,
my walking a ceremonial circumambulation,
my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice,
my lying down prostration in worship,
my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself,
let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.”

Which brings me onto Lalita – “she who plays”. How do I relate to Lalita? Well, I don’t see Lalita as a particularised being – a person, if you like. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how books on paganism/magic tend to place limitations of deities. I’m thinking of the kind of approach you get in a lot of books, where you get a short “biographical” sketch of a god or goddess – what they “look like”, what their likes/dislikes are, a myth or two, and what their “function” is (i.e. you call on god x for healing, god y for courage, etc). It seems very reductive, to me. Like for magic to happen, everything has to get neatly filed away in little boxes.

For me, Lalita is everything, and everything is Lalita, so it’s about how I relate to everything – a much bigger proposition. And that, i think, comes down to making a commitment to live in a particular way, to recognise Lalita’s potential presence in every moment, every encounter. There’s this idea, in some tantric texts, that we are most close to the divine when we experience moments (no matter how fleeting) of astonishment, wonder, joy or delight, so my basic orientation to the world is to be open to being surprised, to being playful, because the world? is Lalita’s play. of course there are days when I forget this, and yet there are days when it seems I can barely contain the joy and wonder I feel for the diverse, playful, wonder of the world, and find my marvelling at the flight of birds, or retractable ballpoint pens. This comes out of the last decade or so, when my guru began to take me through some of the core practices associated with his approach to SriVidya, which is an approach to tantra oriented around Lalita. Doing that practice led to me questioning a lot of the stuff I’d done previously, and coming to think of tantra as being basically about attempting to live my life in a particular way, rather than simply doing a particular set of practices??

Q: When did you last experience a moment of wonder or delight?

Oh I have them all the time. The morning I received this question I was emptying the pots out of the sink in preparation for doing the washing up. It was about 5.30am and the sun was rising, but the sky was very overcast. A ray of sunlight must have broken through the clouds because it seemed to me that a ray of light passed through me and everything – pots, pans, knives forks, scrubbing brush, my hands, was lit up and shimmering. And for a moment, everything danced.

A couple of days ago, I was on the train home and there was some bird shit on the carriage window. I glanced at it and suddenly I was seeing the most amazing unicorn shape, with different shades of birdshit forming its mane, its flanks. I couldn’t stop looking at it after that.

For more musings by Phil Hine, visit his current project http://enfolding.org/

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An Interview With Andy Letcher

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been doing recently?

Well, I’m just back from a Summer Solstice pilgrimage, walking forty two miles along the Ridgeway to Avebury, where I met up with old friends and fellow bards – proper wandering minstrels! I’ve just finished writing a piece, ‘Dead Reckoning,’ for an academic book about our relationship to the dead (title and publisher tbc) and I’m halfway through writing a module, ‘Festivals in Religion and Culture’ for the Religion and Theology course at Oxford Brookes University, where I teach part- time. That’s on top of all my various musical projects, Telling the Bees, Wod, playing in sessions and so on. You could say that life is pretty varied. It’s certainly full of riches (metaphorical if not literal!)

Q: What was it that let to your interest in paganism?

Like so many people I discovered paganism in my teens. It put a name to the profound feelings I had towards nature (I was born grew up in rural Devon). Over the years I’ve followed various pagan paths, including Wicca and Druidry, but now I do my own thing, drawing eclectically from what I can glean about pre-Christian worldviews. And much of what I ‘do’ as a pagan isn’t obviously ‘pagan’ at all: hiking, learning bird song, watching wildlife, trying to understand the weather and so on. I try and foster what I call an ausculatory (listening) attitude towards the other-than-human world. It’s an ongoing process.

Q: In what way do your pagan practices relate to your activism?

I wouldn’t describe myself as an activist now, though many of my songs have a political or protest angle. However, I was very involved in the anti-roads movement during the 90s and my paganism was a big reason why I got involved. In fact I rather regarded protesting as a kind of applied paganism. At the time I saw the land as sacred and therefore felt it was my duty as a pagan to do what I could to protect it. My view is a bit more nuanced now (ten years of academic questioning have left me uncertain as to what ‘sacred’ actually means) – I see it as our responsibility to curb our impact so that the other-than-human people with whom we share the world can flourish alongside us.

Q: As a “modern troubadour”, do you feel you have a responsibility to fill a social niche or requirement? Did you choose this role, or did it ‘happen’ to you?

Well, I feel strongly that the role of the bard, troubadour, minstrel or whatever you want to call it – a role that was once recognized and given social sanction – is important and in need of reviving. In this I am obviously out of step with modern society, which is why like most artists and musicians I know, I have to find other sources of work to pay the rent (in my case, teaching part-time)! It was obviously my choice, but I feel that something in me was always reaching towards the role. I don’t want to go all Jungian on you here, but let’s just say that the figure of the troubadour always excited my imagination, and when I saw others performing in that guise, I wanted it to be me up there on stage.

The Bard strikes a deal with the audience: give me your attention and I will take you somewhere. Something extraordinary will happen and we will all be changed by it. It’s not something you can measure, or quantify, or put a monetary value to, or even name, but we’ll all know it’s happened. And to do that the Bard has to employ emotional honesty, a heightened sensitivity to others, skill achieved through years of hard work, all bound within the traditions of the art: scales, modes, metres and rhythms. It’s the antithesis of everything the modern, disposable, youth-obsessed music industry espouses. We need it back.

Q: What draws you to the bagpipes as an instrument? When did you first decide you wanted to play them?

I think I’ve always liked the sound of bagpipes but I first got excited about them when I heard the music of the late David Munrow (the man behind the British Early Music revival). When I first came to Oxford in 1991 I used to play whistle in the Irish sessions. One day a man called Simon Owen (now also sadly deceased) came in with a set of Spanish gaita. I had never heard anything like them and his minor scales electrified me. I was lucky enough to be given my first set of pipes, a knackered old set of gaita, by Giles Lewin and that got me started. Now I play English border pipes made by Jon Swayne of the band Blowzabella. They’re quieter, more flexible and can easily be played with other acoustic instruments. I can practise indoors too.

A lot of people find drone-based music stark, austere and repetitive but it speaks to me profoundly: I listen to a lot of drone music from around the world, especially India. The ancient function of the pipes (which haven’t substantially changed in design in seven hundred years) is to make people dance. I love the repetitive, trancey nature of bagpipe music, its power to get people on their feet. The pipes are the ancient precursor to the electric guitar or the Roland TB-303. They’re a design classic. It feels like a privilege to be playing them and to be part of the English piping revival. On the subject of which…

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about your involvement in the Bagpipe Society and the revival of British bagpipes?

I’ve been a member of the BagSoc since 1998 and haven’t missed a Blowout (their annual piping festival) since. Their aim is to promote interest in the pipes you won’t have heard of (at least sixteen kinds of pipes are played in Britain, with many more across the whole of Europe, North Africa and the near East). These days I’m their publicity officer and have just been rebuilding the Society website, with new artwork by the phenomenal Rima Staines. The evidence from iconography, church carvings and other historical sources is that bagpipes were a common feature in England up until the seventeenth century, from which time they fell out of favour. There’s a lively piping revival in Southern England, very much influenced by what’s been happening in Brittany and Central France (piping in the North of England has never really gone away, but the music doesn’t quite speak to me in the same way). Various makers have arrived at a kind of standardized pipe that is more or less chromatic and has a range of an octave and a half. You can play minor and unusual scales in other words, and the pipes are becoming a popular folk instrument again.

Q: You’ve written and talked extensively about the history of the magic mushroom and psychadelic experiences in general. Your book Shroom recieved mixed reviews; why do you think that was? Why did you decide to write the book and would you consider re-writing it to take into account new evidence in the future?

Ronald Hutton (who examined my PhD thesis) was very much my inspiration for writing Shroom. I wanted to set the history of the magic mushroom on the evidence and to discover what, exactly, we know about its use in the past. My argument is that the claims made my the pagan/psychedelic community – that psilocybin mushrooms have been used in Britain for millennia – typically rest on very shaky evidence, or no evidence at all. The absence of evidence, of course, means that you can believe what you like – there’s just no evidence, for or against!

In fact I’ve had very good reviews of the book, especially by the academic community, but some people have missed the subtlety of what I was trying to say. But then I’m tampering with people’s mythology – always a dangerous pursuit – and many have a lot invested in the idea of a secret, oppressed, psychedelic tradition to which they are heirs. The question I always ask is, why does it matter so much to you that the story you hold dear is true? What have you invested in it? Why is the idea of changing your worldview so problematic?

I’ve also been accused of being anti-psychedelic which those who know me find laughable! That’s very far from the case. But I dislike ‘isms’ and the way that beliefs become ossified into systems, in this instance ‘entheogism’, and I’m all for shaking up received opinion. Using psychedelics in no way means you have to abandon reason. Indeed, I think the only way we can grapple the psychedelic experience is through critical enquiry – how else are we to make sense of something that is so alien and other?

I have no plans to update Shroom at present – to date no evidence has surfaced that would make me change my thesis – though of course, if it does I shall be the first to champion it!

Q: What does shamanism mean to you?

I know from my studies that the word shamanism is problematic: it’s a term that’s been stripped from its original Siberian context, romanticized by the West and universalized. But given that, the kind of shamanism that interests me is the kind that uses psychedelics. The glib answer is that the shaman is the guy who can take higher doses than anyone else and still function! The less facetious answer, again drawing on this profound animistic idea of other-than-human people, is that shamanism is all about forging relationships, especially with plants – listening again – for the benefit of the community, either through healing or en-visioning. As with all these things the name is unimportant. Anyone can call themselves a shaman: it’s what you do that counts.

To find out more about Andy Letcher, visit him at http://andyletcher.co.uk

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An Interview With Mel Fleming

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a 53 year old man in Riverside, California. I’m also a survivor of decades of abuse from the Catholic and Christian churches. I grew up as a child, both physically and emotionally abused by the Catholic church, and then later in adult life by the evangelical church, due to my progressive social and political beliefs. I fell into paganism by accident, when I first moved to Riverside. I was walking along the markets, happened into the DragonMarsh bookstore and for some reason, happened upon two books by Scott Cunningham on Wicca. After reading and putting the principles from the book into practice, my path into a more eclectic form of paganism, became more embraced. I’m currently very eclectic, and my principle Goddess is Lilith and God is Bacchus. I have a group in California, named The Pheonyx Circle of Sacred Sexuality where we study, discuss, and celebrate the blending of the magickal, spiritual and physical planes to establish balance and harmony. The study of sexual magicks is becoming an emerging science within the pagan community having been long too neglected. I published a book on divination and sexuality; The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex, published by Ostara Publishing, owned by Cynthia Joyce Clay. I am one of sexual noted pagan authors, among Lasara Firefox, Donald Michael Kraig, Jason Newcombe, Karen Tate, Stella Damiana, Dr. Stuart Berlin, Inara Luna of the Red Lotus Temple, and Margo Anand, who are of the opinion that by living in a world of self denial, making it a virtue, that we’have lost sight of that which is both natural, normal, as well as a gift from the Goddesses and Gods. We see sexuality in ancient texts, practices, even with ceremony, such as the Great Rite. There is also a plethora of Deities, who have sexual connotations attached to them.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about why you decided to write “The Tarot & the Mysteries of Love & Sex”?

Sexual magick is a much neglected aspect of our magickal lives. The aforementioned authors, and myself feel, that the pagan communities still carry a very fundamentalist christian viewpoint, that their bodies are “sinful” to a degree and harbour societal and religious instil, and indoctrinated guilt about natural sexual desires. Many in our community either are ignorant of this fact, have never bothered to study this aspect, or believe that sexual magicks are for people who are “weird,” or have abnormal motives. Others have body issues: “too short, fat, not attractive enough” types of attitudes. Many come from abusive environments where self esteem is an issue. Others believe that the magickal practice should be limited to “spiritual values.” However is not our physical self part and parcel of our spiritual self/ And if not then why are there so many Goddesses and Gods with sexual attributes? Why are so many documented rituals filled with sexual connotations. For example, “The Chalice and the Blade” where the Blade, represents the male genitalia, and the Chalice the female? From the ancient times we see documented history of sexual rites, the sacred courtesans priestesses and priests. Regretfully, even with all this rich history, we modern pagans, wrap ourselves in the robes of “piety and self denial.” It is absolutely sad, and shameful. We are better people than that.

Q: You’ve written about the idea of having a Pagan sexual life; what do you feel *is* or *isn’t* ‘pagan’ in terms of sex? Is there always a definite link betweeen religion and sexuality and where there is, is it always a bad thing?

Well sexuality is certainly not a religious invention, although their institutions wanbt to either regulate or deny it altogether. however, allow me this opinion. We are born, both biologically, and chemically as sexual beings. If not, then we would not be born with sexual organs. The brain is our most sexually oriented organ, and the genitals complete the process. Spiritually in any group, Coven, Circle, whatever pagan tradition, I do stress some reasonable rules. All sexual rites among participants be consented to, without emotional or mental reservation, all participants must be of legal age of consent in their area, state, and country. And the rituals must have a specific spiritual purpose and not just be an excuse to simply have sexual activity. If your group follows those guidelines things should proceed smoothly. And there are things in my book, and the other people I’ve mentioned, who are wonderfully gifted, in their books writing as well. If I might “plug” a few places. The Temple of the Red Lotus, has a training program. Paganspace.net has groups on Sacred Sexuality. Karen Tate and LaSara Firefox-Allen. The resources go on, and people are welcome to contact me on these as well.

Q: What makes the Tarot of the Divine Union set so special? Do you think there is a link between sexuality and the tarot in general?

The cards, designed by Cynthia Joyce Clay, my publisher, and owner of Oestara Publisher, designed the cards, specifically to perform readings on love, sex, romance, intimacy and your sexual personality. And the text meanings are geared only in those directions. So, they are not suited for general type readings. Also, the Tarot Card artwork by Cynthia is both highly artistic and extremely erotic in design. I consider them a blending of works, based upon the great masters, and a bit of surrealism. People have commented favorably on the artwork. by the way we have a separate tarot deck with a booklet, as well, so people who desire, do not have to cut out the cards from the back of the book.

The Pagan imagery uses the Theban Code, and in the tarot and sexual relationship. The imagery of certain cards such as the Empress, High Prietess and the cups and wands are sexual imagery.

People will absolutely find them entertaining and a joy to have.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your experiences with these cards?

Being that it’s a new deck, I have done readings for people, based soley on the focus of the cards, as aforementioned. However, people who have purchased the deck have enjoyed the insightful meanings in the main book and report their sexual lives are improving, even if slowly. That makes it all the more worthwhile.

Q: To what extent do you think that tarot reading is about personal interpretations rather than other people’s divination meanings? Is it important to have a balance between the two?

Well you need to be careful about reading into what the cards mean instead of their actual meanings. Don’t do readings from a personal bias. Too many people do that. In fact do a confirmation reading with a single card. Now, that’s just a suggestion, not a rule. Be calm and perhaps do a bit of peaceful meditation, beforehand. come to any tool of divination in a balanced manner, otherwise you will direct negative energies into a reading, then receive a result that is highly incorrect

Q: Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes. a book on Astrology and Love matches. I also do life coaching in this area of sexual spirituality by email, and Astrology/Numerolopgy charts for love and sexual questions People may contact me at; acknchip@pacbell.net. I do not charge. I accept gratuities based upon their generosity.

If there are those in California, who wish to participate in my Sacred Sexuality group, they may join the Pheonyx Circle of Sacred Sexuality, at http://www.meetup.com/pheonyx-sacred-sex-and-pagan-rite. If you are on PaganSpace.net or WiccaOnlineTogether.com search for Mel J. Fleming II, PhD.

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An Interview With Damh The Bard

Q: Your music seems to be very much inspired by myth, folklore and legend; what led to you interest in these things?

Since I was a child listening to my Mum tell me stories I’ve always loved myths and legends. I’ve always felt like there was something else behind them, some hidden aspect of truth. They get my heart pumping. When I visit a site linked to a legend, such as Dozmary Pool in Cornwall with its Arthurian links, I will just sit and open my imagination (or some would say use my psychic abilities) to see through the modern into that world of myth. To tune into why this place has become so linked with myth. Often I find the energy just lurking under the surface, ready to be seen and heard.

Q: Is there a big difference for you between performing for an audience and playing music for yourself? Do you play differently when you are alone than when you are on stage?

The energy is still the same. When I’m playing to myself I’m often in a natural environment, such as a woodland, or on the moors. And although I’m playing music ‘alone’ I’m often very conscious of ‘Other’ ears listening too. See, that’s the drive behind my music and always has been – to give voice to how I feel about the land, the myths, the Faerie, the sacred sites and to give that voice I have to listen first. And just as I listen to the land, so you have to listen to an audience and judge what it is they want from my music on that particular night. Sometimes it’s to sit and listen, others times it’s to dance and have a party.

Q: Are there any legends or ideas you’ve come across which you wouldn’t want to use in your music and why?

Not so far. There are some that I’ve found more difficult to tune into and put into words, but I haven’t found one that I wouldn’t touch at all, not yet anyway.

Q: If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be doing? How different as a person do you think you would be without your music?

Wow. I have no idea really. I’ve been playing music since I was eight and singing and driving my parents mad even before then!

Without my music I would be a very different person. During my teens and early twenties I was a drummer in a rock band. That intense drive of rhythm probably saved me from many of the traps of the teenage years. I had a real outlet for that frustration and aggression. But my introduction at 8 was through acoustic folk music, so my musical life has come full circle. I just would not be me without my love of music.

Q: Is music and rhythm a key part of your beliefs and practices? Is your interpretation of myth and folklore affected by the way your music takes shape as much as your work is by those myths?

When I discovered Druidry, and within that the tradition and lore of the Bard, it was at that moment my life began to make sense. So my spiritual beliefs influence my music, and my music influences my spiritual beliefs, they are like two great circles that overlap within my soul.

Q: Outside of your musical acheivements, what has been the greatest achievement of your life so far? What would you most like to achieve in the future?

My two sons are without doubt my greatest achievements. There is not a day that goes past that I don’t think of them and how proud I am of them both. In my music, my aim is to one day play the Royal Albert Hall. Can you imagine that? To have a Pagan musician play a concert there? If it was successful it would be one more thing that places Paganism firmly on the map in the world. It’s going to happen one day, I know it will.

Q: How did you come across druidry and in what ways has it affected you as a person?

I was just coming out of a Ceremonial Magic group and was looking for something more earthy. So I sent off for details of all of the groups in the classifieds of a magazine called Prediction. Fellowship of Isis, Guild of Pagans, Pagan Federation, and a small ad for the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. The cost of that stamp changed my life completely. It was like coming home.

Q: And finally, how would you sum yourself up in five words?

Ha Ha!! Ok, ‘I find music in Nature’ 🙂

Visit Damh at www.paganmusic.co.uk for more news and updates

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An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Own Tas
(Questions by other members of the forum)

This issue, the members of the Pagan Friends Forum were lucky enough to be able to interview Tas. Almost no restraints were involved at all! To chat with to Tas and other forum members, why not join us at The Pagan Friends Forum?

From Liz:

Q: Have you always been a solitary eclectic, or have you worked in a coven or followed a more specific path in the past maybe?

Put the kettle on folks – this could take some time!

I began my forays into the world of paganism by attending a meditation class run in a witchy shop in the city. I and a friend went, and when the lady who ran it decided to start a coven, we were first on her list of takers. It didn’t suit – long story, but as always, ego played a large part.

So for a long time I worked and studied alone, always seeking. Then I joined up for an online course, which – contrary to opinions that have made their way onto the WWW, was not a rip off, nor was it as dodgy as it was made out to be by the Magister’s detractors; sadly, some people have an axe to grind and don’t care how they do it.My teacher latterly was an amazing Lady who has now sadly passed over. On her death, I was offered the opportunity of working with her replacement, but I had misgivings, for reasons which are and will remain private. Suffice to say, a number of us left, and now sometimes work together, having moved on from what remains of the original group. I wish them well and acknowledge what I learned whilst a part of their teachings. I believe I made the correct decision.

Q: Do you think Scottish Paganism has ways about it that are different to Paganism in other parts of the world?

Of course! For one thing, we wear specially reinforced knickers when traversing the moorlands cos it gets damned chilly up here!

Q:What’s your favourite time of year and where would you spend it if you were free to choose?

It has to be the Autumn, Keat’s

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

I’d spend it on the Isle of Mull, in my dream cottage by the shore, harvesting and preserving against the coming of the Cailleach Bheur…

Q:What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while engaged in your witchery?

As I will mention again later in the interview – attempting not to give away my thoughts when watching someone who was so totally out of her depth it was laughable, and the fact others were being taken in by it – I had a real struggle that night!

Q: Do you have a home altar, and do you get much chance to do much path work at home?

I have an altar in my bedroom, on top of a cabinet, also one in the main room of the house with a goat’s skull, candles, and my Badge of the Wards on it, plus always flowers or greenery and anything else that speaks to me – same with the bedroom one. Neither of these are working places though – they are more for my own perusal and an expression of my beliefs.

Q: Or do you prefer to take yourself off somewhere more private and work in nature, perhaps?

I work outside, apart from the rare occasions I might want to use a still candle flame. Also, because of the way I have been taught, we no longer need to do an actual working in the physical. This may seem odd, but you can reach a stage in your development as Witch wherein you can work on, for want of a better word, the astral. One’s visualisations make the space and one works outside one’s physical self. We do of course meet up for various rites both as a working group, and as solitary workers when one’s secular life precludes meeting up. These latter solitary workings may be done as individuals, or if need be we time our own workings to coincide and work together although apart to do whatever needs to be done.

Q: Does the Moon make any difference to how you go about things?

It does and it doesn’t! The 3 days before a full are when we can access most power. The dark we tend to use for working with darker heavier energies, but we will do a working regardless of moon phase if it needs to be done.

Q:Are you into Astrology at all?

Other than a perfunctory glance at the horrorscopes in magazines in the Dr’s waiting room, I don’t pay much attention to astrology. I know it does work though, having read up about it and heard of how accurately it can predict things. Horoscopes and star signs just don’t appeal to me that much. However, the stars do have a lot to tell us about our past and our mythologies, the memes, and the very real and powerful forces that drive us. Caput Algol for one.

Q: Have you had any strange experiences like picking up on energies, hearing sounds, seeing orbs or feeling cold when visiting less familiar locations?

Where would you like me to start LOL! Umpteen, though I now know how to keep it all in check so it’s liveable with – for a while, especially when my own powers were first being awakened, I seriously began to doubt my sanity!
I do do something unusual from time to time and the way I choose to describe it is “a telling”. This comes more or less unbidden and it’s as if a switch gets thrown and I begin telling a person about themselves – past, current and future. This is a bit heavy and scary to some, but also unnervingly accurate. This can also happen via a held object.I have a tale or three to tell!

I also transmogrify.

Q: What are your dreams and aspirations for the future in realistic terms?

Realistically? To keep body and soul together and manage to keep earning until I can survive on whatever pension I get. On retiral, I intend taking my exams to become a Celebrant so I can work at that, also set up a website dealing solely with witchy things, without fear of losing my job! Maybe artwork? And writing. And sewing.

Q: And if money were no object, what then?

A plot of land. An architect built house on one level for easy maintenance, with a forest and a river and on the shore so we could sail. And spend the winters sailing in the Med! My stepdaughter and her kids would live with us (she’d have her horses and separate accommodation) so she could care for the chickens, goat and pig, plus all the moggies and the Irish Wolfhounds whenever we buggered off to the warm.

Q:If you could do things all over again, what would you change, if anything?

My initial reaction is to say that I’d never have met my exes, but then, I’d never have my lovely daughters. Or that I’d have a had a loving mother and a father who hadn’t topped himself. If I had had the funding, I’d love to have taken my PHD when it was offered. But I am what my life has made me, for better or worse.

Q: What’s in a normal day for Tas when she’s not at work?

Apart from gibbering at the wall you mean?! I do whatever takes my mood wherever possible. That may be a walk in the park, or reading, using FB, drawing. Usually though, it