We wanted our relaunch issue to be extra-special and with fantastic contributions like these, how could it have been anything else? After all the fun we’ve had putting this together, we’re looking forward to the Summer Solstice edition already! Read on for an interview with Lucy from the Pagan Friends Forum, original work from Dave O Butnu, Beth Holtum, Hal O’Leary and much more.

If you enjoy the webzine, why not join the forum for a chance to talk about pagan issues and make some new pagan friends? Many of our contributors are already members of our friendly online community. Visit us at http://paganfriends.myfreeforum.org/

Wishing you a fantastic Beltane from everyone at Pagan Friends!


Readers’ Poll
How will you be celebrating this Beltane? , tell us how you will be celebrating and find out how other readers have voted.

Interview
An interview with Lucy from the Pagan Friends Forum , questions by various Pagan Friends Forum members

Artwork & Photography
Bluebells , by Suzannah Defoe
Flowers , by Rebecca L. Brown
Cornish Coastline , by Suzannah Defoe
Altar Candles , by Rebecca L. Brown
Waterfall , by Suzannah Defoe

External Images
Obsidian Bowl from the grave of ‘Queen’ Pu-Abi ,
© Trustees of the British Museum (Used with permission and in accordance with the Museum’s non-commercial image service)
Tablet of Shamash an example of cuniform text from Sippar, Southern Iraq ,
© Trustees of the British Museum (Used with permission and in accordance with the Museum’s non-commercial image service)

Opinions & Questions
Paganism & Technology , by J. Dudley
Not Being on Fire & Other Positive Ritual Outcomes , by Rebecca L. Brown

Articles & Advice
Meditation Guidance , by Beth Holtum
Good Witch, Bad Witch.. or maybe even a plastic witch , by Rachel Orchiston
Ancient Sumer: Origins of Cuneiform Writing , by Christopher Cressey
Amber Meditation a guided meditation , by Beth Holtum
Politics, Media and Paganism , by Simon Cash
The Green Man , by Dave O Butnu

Tips, Tricks & Tools
Essential Oil: Lavender , by Rachel Orchiston
Gemstone: Obsidian , by Rebecca L. Brown
Aromatherapy Oil: Clary Sage , by Suzannah Defoe
Herb: Basil , by Rebecca L. Brown

Personal Experiences
Recollections of Beltane , by Suzannah Defoe
My Pagan Tattoos , by Dave Elias
Magical Combat , by Simon Cash

Fiction
The Wishing Well , by Linda Gibson
Road Kill , by Erik Knutsen

Poetry Corner
Connected , by Sylver Ravenstar
Genesis (According to Hal) , by Hal O’Leary
A Certain Path , by Rebecca L. Brown
Care Givers & The Lapsed Coverage of Some Dehydrated Martyrs , by Colin James
Aqua , by C.B. Anderson

Want to contribute to the 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!



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An Interview With Lucy From The Pagan Friends Forum

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to get Lucy from the Pagan Friends Forums to step into the spotlight and answer our questions! All of our questions were submitted by members of the forum.

What would your perfect pagan day be?

This answer isn’t going to be very exciting, but my perfect pagan day will be when PFF have their first camp in the summer and I will be surrounded by people I have known for a long time but still need to meet. I have never done a pagan camp before so this will be quite an experience!

Earth, Air, Fire or Water??

Earth. I am at my best when I am in the hill country and far from the city. When I am in the Pennines and Peak district I feel alive and tingling with energy. My affinity with rock means my altar has small rocks and stones from anywhere that I feel attuned. However, I must also include Water, but not as a liquid. I work a lot of my magic in the cold and ice on the Yorkshire Moors.

What’s the best thing to you about Pagan Friends Forum?

The members and the relationship everyone has formed. many forums I have been involved with is a meeting place and a community of like-minded – some not so like-minded. On PFF we are the closest a forum can ever get to being a family in the true sense of the word. It is that bonding between the members that I think is the best and strongest thing we have.

Lucy I know you are very interested in Tulpas/thought forms. Have you an experience you could share with us of any that you have created and if they actually helped you with your goal at the time??

Thoughtforms and tulpas are a backbone to my working and quite possibly the most potent tool we have available. For me, a working knowledge of the subject is invaluable. If, for example, I have a new tool, an athame, as example, I will not only cleanse it, I will also create a resident thoughtform to reside in it. Something like that doesn’t do much more than personalise the item, and in turn act as a guardian. But a friend who could sense things through handling objects picked up something that had a guardian thoughtform and she put it back down very quickly, telling me there was something she didn’t like about it.

I have used them for a great many things over the years, guardianship, finding things, finding people, and as the example with the athame, helping me create an intimate bond with working tools and objects.

What is the motto you live by?

Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will’

I think we tend to feel daunted and intimidated a lot of the time and so fail to achieve our best and some of our dreams simply because we convince ourselves we can’t – This is something I learnt very late in life.

Did you have a moment of enlightenment with paganism?

I spent a good deal of my life trying to find something more to life than the materialistic, and this was difficult for me to do as I was not a ‘religious’ person. I did however look into many faiths and belief systems but everything just seemed to be lacking a certain ‘something’. I looked into Christianity, Buddhism, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism, Theosophy and Spiritualism. Of all this, only the last two have had a deep and lasting effect so much so, I integrated them into my wiccan path. Then I met my beloved mentor and soul-mate, she must have recognised my spiritual hunger because she began opening her library of occult and spiritual books to me, even some diaries she had written herself when she had been a coven high-priestess. This simply sparked something deep within me, I had a sense of instant recognition with it and knew this was what I had spent my years looking for.

Is it important to have pagan lineage/family history?

No, I don’t think so at all. I imagine it is nice if you do have a pagan lineage, but it’s not important and probably more exciting and relevant because rather than following a family tradition you are following your heart and your own defined spirituality.

What ritual/spell has worked best for you?

I don’t do them now, but runic spells and runic charms are very powerful and I had so much success with them, usually in helping people with issues of relationships and work.

How did your Lady Cerridwen come into your life, and how did you know She was right for you?

Cerridwen has developed since my return to my path after a lapse of several years. I was tutored by a Wiccan who venerated Hekate, and Cerridwen is often considered to be the same goddess, therefore Hekate and Cerridwen are interchangeable on my altar. So it would be reasonable to say Cerridwen was introduced to me from day one and she has been with me steadfastly since then. I still wear owls on my hat, they are sacred to Hekate, and I still honour her. Likewise The goddess known as Cailleach is the winter embodiment of The Goddess, she is the dark mother, the harvest goddess, the crone. Appearing in the late fall, as the earth is dying, and is known as a bringer of storms, and portrayed as a one-eyed old woman with matted hair. So in essence my wicca revolves around a triple-dark goddess.

How did you know your path was right?

Because I’m confused at the moment, I’m not getting any pull towards Kemet like I was, more towards Druidry in particular, and Hedgewitch.

My path is wiccan – note the lower-case ‘w’, that’s because the roots of my practice is from that religion but adapted to myself. I know what I have is right because it simply feels so, which I know isn’t really the kind of answer you are looking for. I would say that Kemet acted as an introduction, something used to inflame your initial interest, but maybe you are moving towards what you really belong with, which sounds like druwitchery. Go with the flow and don’t try to cling to what you don’t connect with any longer.

Have you always been on the path you’re on now, or has it been changeable along the way?

My path has not changed significantly over the 29 years I have practiced it, some opinions have changed and my approach has been adapted through clearer learning. Most of that has been since the rise of the internet, we are so lucky that we can share so many views and opinions than through the single voice of whichever author we are reading.

Tell us about your business, Pagan Planet…
I left my ‘day job’ on 8th November 2010 and followed my long held ambition to work full time at my spiritual interests. I had already fufilled part of this with Pagan Friends Forum. But I wanted to do more and so within weeks of leaving my job and finding many routes, including Social income blocked, I was forced onto a route I had long wanted to do. One of my dear friends on the forum started this road by urging me to start telephone tarot readings, this was quickly followed by establishing a small market stall to sell a modest selection of pagan accessories.

But even the market stall was short lived as I soon found Affleck’s Palace in ther middle of Manchester which offered everything I needed to establish a small retain trade, and conduct my one-on-one tarot readings.
That is how Pagan Planet was established. I am just entering my third week of trading and already I am building a substantial clientele for my services.

I am in no doubt that I have been closely guided into doing this because so much has worked out so perfectly with little or no planning.

I want to gradually expand things as time goes on because Manchester lacks any decent source for pagan supplies and services, and at the moment I see no reason why Pagan Planet should not fill that void.
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Paganism & Technology
by J. Dudley

For most of my life I have felt like an outsider. Musing on whether this was truly the case or not at the time is better debated by future historians…and my shrink. I was brought up in a C of E environment but by my teens I was Atheist and I’m currently firmly Agnostic, if one can say they are firm about uncertainty. I admit it; sometimes I still mock the fundamentalist and the wackier practices and beliefs. I apologise, but people were mean to me as a child, and humour was my only defence at the time. But beyond that there is curiosity. I understand faith as I once felt it myself. I find Paganism particularly appealing because of my love of biology: the complex cause and effect webs of evolution, the cycles and balances of energy and matter seem magical. The question I want to pose to readers today though is: can Pagan traditions survive modern technology? My focus here it not on the technology that is destroying the environment here, but the internet. The introduction of new technology always creates fundamental changes in culture. Is it possible to protect these traditions from those who would create dogma to attain power and financial advantage? Also in those groups that promote mystery in their practices, such as Wicca, how can you keep tell all stories or videos from leaking out? Finally, how can you deal with the many Trolls lurking on the servers who seek to damage communities for fun?

Any replies or responses to these questions will be included in the Summer Solstice edition
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Not Being on Fire & Other Positive Ritual Outcomes
by Rebecca L. Brown

Okay, so long sleeves are very pretty and I’m sure have their place, but that place isn’t over the top of a candle mid-ritual. The same goes for long, loose, flowing hair; all it takes is a run in with a ritual candle (or, depending on your practices, a ritual bonfire), and you’ll start wishing you’d opted for fire retardant robes and a buzz cut.

Nobody tells you when you get started that if, like me, you work with fire regularly, you’ll need a pair of ritual oven gloves and a ritual fire extinguisher. Nobody advises you how to get that burnt smell off of your hair when you fall into bed after a late-night ritual and wake up too late to wash it (fabric softening sheets are the way forward, trust me). And don’t get me started about the dangers of pets and fire; all I’m saying is that sometimes curiousity really does kill the cat.

So next time someone asks how your ritual went, forget about ‘positive feelings’ and good omens. All you need to tell them is that at no point were you on fire.

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Meditation Guidance
by Beth Holtum

Here’s some guidance on preparing for meditation/visualisation.

I think of the meditation as having three stages:
1. You relax, ground, centre yourself and go into the meditation.
2. The meditation takes place.
3. You close yourself down, ground and centre yourself and return to normal consciousness.

Here I’m hoping to share my way for stage 1 and 3. It’s a way of looking after yourself and getting in the right ‘space’ for each time you do a med.

Firstly, work out where you’ll be. A quiet place where you can relax and be undisturbed for around half an hour is best.

Make sure it’s a comfy and safe place to sit or lie, so you can relax your muscles and mind, and open up to the experience with ease.

So, here’s my guide to stages one and three:

Get comfortable and settle yourself into a position where you can relax and not be distracted by any physical discomfort or irritation.

Take 3 gentle, slow breaths, visualising that you are breathing in calm blue and exhaling darkness – releasing stress, anxiety and worldly cares.

For the next 7 breaths, draw energy from the Earth below you. Visualise the energy rising up your central column, going higher with each breath.

With the 1st breath, the energy reaches your hips where it glows red and you feel grounded.

The 2nd breath stops below your belly button, where it glows orange and you feel a warm sense of security.

The 3rd rises up to your diaphragm, glows yellow and gives you a sense of self-confidence.

The 4th reaches your heart area, where it radiates green and pink energy, and fills you with unconditional love.

The 5th comes up to your throat, shines turquoise. Swallow/cough, then relax your throat, and feel a sense of creative ease and personal freedom of expression.

With the 6th breath, the energy rises all the way up to your Third Eye, resting above your nose and in between your eyebrows. It places an oval sapphire stone on your Third Eye which you can almost imagine you feel against your skin. Visualise the stone, its deep blue colour and cut facets, then see it open up like a music box, and unfold like an origami flower. You have opened up your inner eye and intuitive ability.

The 7th breath brings the energy all the way up to your crown, bringing a purple cap to your head. It gives you a sense of cohesion and understanding.

As you exhale this last breath – imagine pure white light gently hovering over you, offering you healing and protective energy. The light sprinkles down over you in a spiral creating a sacred circle around you. You remain centred and connected to the light through the meditation.

Stage 3 –
When the meditation or visualisation is complete, slowly become aware of your breathing again.

Close your circle by thanking and bidding farewell to the light, imagining it spiral back around you and recoil back into its source. Draw the energy and your consciousness back into your physical body. Then, starting at your crown and working back down, close down your chakras by imagining each one in turn as an aperture like an old camera lens, with overlapping plates that spiral inward together. So firstly you’ll imagine the purple ray at the top of your head and visualise the camera lens closing shut as you take the first breath in. Don’t completely or tightly shut it, leave it relaxed and safe. As you exhale, move down to the next chakra, closing it when you inhale again. Here they are in turn:-

Third Eye – deep blue
Throat – turquoise
Heart – pink and green
Solar Plexus – yellow
Sacral/Navel – orange
Base/Root – red

After you’ve reached the base, visualise roots slowly reaching down into the Earth below you, and branching out into the soil. Connect back to the place you are resting and slowly bring your consciousness more into the physical world. Wiggle your toes, shift your position a little. When you’re ready, open your eyes.

It’s a good idea (and jolly nice ;)) to have a small drink and snack.

Visit Beth’s store Rainbow Spirit at http://www.rainbow-spirit.co.uk/ where you can purchase beautiful hand-picked and cleansed crystals.

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Good Witch, Bad Witch.. or maybe even a plastic witch
by Rachel Orchiston

In today’s society it is so easy to learn about new topics and issues, You can practically learn everything you would ever need to know online, from how to make a coffee to passing the bar exam. This has got me thinking. Is being a witch all about practicality, or is knowledge as important; is learning from a book just as valid as learning from your instinct?

I do not learn much from books, This may be because I cannot afford to go and buy books or it may be because I do not want to simply learn someone else’s opinion before I have formed my own. However; does this stop me from learning? To be honest, no I don’t feel it does. I feel I learn what I want/need to learn as I go along. A very good friend of mine told me about a god that I wasn’t aware of. Usually I wouldn’t act on what someone else has said about there gods, but I respect this friend a lot and she has a special place in my heart, so I had a look online for this god, and I have found that it has excited me a lot. I have enjoyed finding out as much as I can about this god, so much so my other responsibilities have suffered.

My daughter Lauren fell over on the floor the yesterday , she cut her knee and without a second though I put some tea tree oil onto the cut and sent her off to play again. My mother was horrified and put a plaster on her knee. Which was better? Was it my way, the natural way, with the pure essential oils and allowing Laurens body to do what it can easily do, or was her way correct, putting a plaster on it, accompanied with sympathy? That’s for you to decide,

So does learning from books make you a better witch? Does having the best equipment and tools for your craft make you better at it? Does knowing the difference between the capital W or the lowercase w make you better at it? Does knowing the entire life story of Gerald Gardner make you better or does making do and using your instinct make you just as good? Well I don’t believe that it’s the books or tools that make you the witch, I believe its what’s inside that makes you the witch, the passion, the intent, the feeling of needing to do what you are needing, emotion plays a big part in what you are and what you are doing. Without emotion even the best written spell will not work.

What about deities? We don’t have the same ways of learning information as we used to. No longer do people sit with there grandparents by the fire, no longer do they know the poems or stories, so people turn to books for this. I don’t think turning to books for this is a bad thing, but what I do think is if you are relying on these books you need to go outside, see the world, feel the wind in your hair, feel the trickle of a stream on your toes, listen to the sea. This is where you will find the real answers; this is where nature is really nature not on the pages of a book.

So what makes a good witch, a bad witch or even a plastic witch? Well, I don’t have the answers to that, what I do know is, if you feel something, deep within yourself, if you just know the old ways are the best ways, if you instinctively now that magic is something you can do, if you want to heal, but see the other side to things as well, then you are a witch.. Good or bad, well its your choice.

Rachel is a woman, a mother and a pagan.
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Ancient Sumer: Origins of Cuneiform Writing
by Christopher Cressey

Writing: An achievement that we take for granted, as a modern-day society. But why and how did it start? Modern-Day Iraq is home to some of the most ancient of civilisations with Sumer and the Ubaid tribe being the oldest. This pragmatic and gifted culture must be explored further in order to understand why this happened. In this article we will also be exploring the Sumerian educational system; as this gives us a glimpse into the mind-set of this ancient race.

In a modern ‘middle’ school we are taught the basics of the origins of writing, however from that time we are given no other information in order to pursue this avenue. But even this basic information lacks the reason and the ideas of why the Sumerians developed writing in the first instance! This article will attempt to explain how writing was developed and the reasons behind it; from the viewpoint of an amateur Sumerologist.

The Sumerians, Who, What and Where?
In the first instance what we call the ‘Sumerians and the land of Sumer’ is not the original name of the people and of the region of southern Iraq. Spanning from the most northern city that of Urim to the most southern point that of Eridu. Of course we simply know the former most city as Ur (pronounced as oo-a-ur) however this is a Semitic name of this city; with the original Sumerian name being ‘Urim.

The actual word ‘Sumer’ was an Assyrian name given to the peoples of southern Iraq; with the true name for this land referred by the inhabitants of ‘Sumer’ as Ki-Ga-Gir (place of the black heads) In addition the Sumer’s referred to themselves as ‘The Black Heads’- possibly for the reason that they were dark haired much like Iraqis are today; however the reason for this is still yet to be proven.

For the sake of clarity we shall henceforth refer to the inhabitants of this region as ‘Sumerian’

The Ubaid Period
At around 8000 to 4500BCE the original inhabitants of the region of southern Iraq were the Ubaid Tribe’ Of which are named after a local mound Tel-Ubaid, where their culture was first discovered. This society had basic pottery and developed the ‘Potters Wheel’-even though this is often incorrectly attributed to the Sumerians. This tribe lived in crude villages (in comparison to Sumerian standards) and where often subject to the flooding of the marshes and of the Tigris rivers during winter; with a drought during the summer. Arable farmland was scarce at this time and population growth was very limited in addition to the development of pottery for this reason.

The first Sumerian Cities
In 4500BCE everything changed with the entrance of the Sumerian tribe. Their original origins have been postulated, but in truth their true beginnings are currently unknown. However what is known that the forerunners of the Indus tribe (now known as Pakistan aka Southern India) and the Sumers were originally one and this tribe split in half, with one side to eventually form the Indus and the other the Sumerian societies (Kramer S.N, History Begins At Sumer)

When we refer to the year 4000BCE we know that at this time the Ubaid tribe was eventually supplanted and pushed to a more northerly region; with the descendants of the Ubaid civilisation now known as the ‘Marsh-Arabs’ today. At this time we see the formation of the first cities, with Eridu being the first. However in truth the beginnings of the first city that being of the aforementioned Eridu (meaning good city) being of Ubaid in origin, as even the Sumers themselves were of the opinion that this cities origins began at around 8000BCE. With necessity being ‘the mother of invention’ an explosion of ideas occurred at this time and the first cities began by one simple idea and that was to protect arable farm land from rival villages or townships. To protect the aforementioned farmland crude walls were built around these proto-cities.

The Time of Irrigation Farming
Moving onto the Year 3800 BCE Irrigation farming was discovered by the use of canals dug (from the Indigna and the Burannu rivers) and maintained by the inhabitants. Maintaining these was such a central part of their culture that the king or even the En-Si (lord priest) of the city often worked as a part of the community in order to clear the ‘black’ silt and moss from the canals. At this time not only barley and dates were cultivated, but most shocking of all Poppies and their seeds were first used. Most people today are under the impression that these originally came from China, however this is false as they were first cultivated in ancient Sumer and much later sent on the sea-born trade route to China. The forerunner to opium was also used in the land of Sumer and was referred as Hul-Gil in other words ‘Joy-Plant’ for many of their religious ceremonies with the most notable being the ‘bit akitu’ festival.

At the same time as the formation of irrigation farming, alcohol was first fermented and the use of barley bread known as Bappir was first used. The first crude form of alcohol was made by crumbling pieces of Bappir into water to form the first form of alcohol. For the common man of Sumer this was the mainstay of their diet and was so much an important part of their lives that they had a ‘goddess’ of brewing called ‘Nin-Ka-Si’ literally translated as ‘Lady Dark Beer’ However later the Sumers would develop a much more potent version of alcohol by the use of Bappir mixed with the juice of dates.

Clay Tokens and Accounting
With all these new developments, one needed a system of accounting of whom owned what and of that product and how many? Clay tokens were used (though there is some evidence that the first use of these were much earlier) with the impression of the product (essentially an image) for each item owned. As previously mentioned an impression of a sheep was used on a clay token to signify that this person owned ‘one’ sheep and this ‘token’ was kept in a clay ‘wallet’ called a Bullae (pronounced as Boo-La)

This was a great way of keeping track of who owned what, however it was not very good at ‘how many? The reason for this is if one had five hundred sheep, fifty pots of beer and thirty cows then it stands to reason that one could not walk around with all these tokens, specially if you loose some of them, with the added addition of the sheer weight of all that clay.

Later a system of showing whom owned what and how many was used, essentially a way of impressing the same image but in ‘short hand’ so to speak by the use of a wedge.However, instead of making the same sign of a sheep three times to represent three items, the scribes used the sign for a sheep, which eventually became just a wedge, to denote quantity. A wedge came to represent “one”, and a circle denote “ten”. So to write five sheep, the scribe impress a wedge five times, and then make the sign for sheep.

However these were only the basic beginnings of the Sumerian form of writing and at around 3500BCE things started to change for the better. To understand the Sumerian language and its writing system then one MUST understand the mind of the Sumerian and how they saw the world

The Sumerian Mindset and their Views on Life.
Most people today are under the impression that Sumerian Cuneiform is compromised of sounds much like our language. This would be indeed incorrect, as we have previously discussed the Sumerians saw things as ‘literal’ in many ways due to the past and first forms of ‘writing’ with symbols such as an image of a sheep,cow, bird etc. on tokens. The first forms of Sumerian cuneiform writing (after the clay token period) literally stood for concepts and ideas, rather than sounds. It was not until the Ur III period where Cuneiform added sounds as well as concepts that Sumerian became a proper conversational language were stories could be told in written form. This was in the period of 2500BCE

To understand early cuneiform one had (as I previously explained) one had to think like a Sumerian. For example the Sumerian sign for the concept ‘kur’ was originally an image of a mountain, however it also meant ‘whole land’ with the addition that it was the same sign for the ‘netherworld’ the afterlife or as most modern person would see it as the ‘underworld’ At first glance one would not be able to fathom why the same sign could mean so many differing concepts? However if one understands the Sumerian mind then the connection becomes apparent. Between Modern Day Iraq (Sumer) and Iran (Elam) are the Zargos mountains. The Elamites (from Iran) used to attack the plain of Sumer through these mountains, so much so that the mountains became associated with death, danger and the afterlife as well as the concept land, and mountain. To emphasise this viewpoint the Sumerians had a goddess called Ninkursag (Nin-Kur-Sag) literally meaning Lady-Mountain-Head.

Later the name was changed slightly to Ninhursag (Nin-Hur-Sag)

Another few examples on this trail of thought would be the sign for ‘Munus’ or ‘Woman was literally a loose drawing of the female genitalia area; that is a triangle with its apex pointing down and a line drawn to the centre from the triangle from the apex. Another would be the concept of god, gods, heaven, the god of the heavens Anu this concept is easy to understand and its connections. The sign for this is the asterix or eight rayed star in Sumerian the concept is ‘Dingir’.

Later in Sumer two dialects would evolve in regards to the female and male dialects. This is the time around 2500BCE when the influence of the Akkadians in the north became apparent. The former being Emesal and the latter Emugal. For example if a Sumerian male scholar wrote about a goddess then he would change from the male into the female dialect even though the writer was male.

Upon ending this article one like to point out that Sumerian writing was heavily enforced in ‘Sumerians schools’ each ‘student’ had to labour in their work from sunrise to sunset and mistakes were not tolerated in the least. Whilst good work was actively praised, poor work was punished severely. A Sumerian scribe had to prepare the clay tablet to the correct consistency before hand and to exactly copy the text that was prepared for them by the teacher called the school-father. Failure to do so merited a beating by the class monitor then by the teacher and then finally by the principal of the Sumerian school. A Sumerian school life was a hard one, however this was justified by the fact that these scribes were entrusted with high offices later in life.

Putting it all together
In order to further demonstrate how the lanugage fits together, here is a genuine Sumerian religious ritual or rather an incantation.

This was performed when a person would enter from the profane (unclean) area (the outside) to the scared and clean area of the temple.

The Su-Luh Ceremony

Transliteration:
En (meaning lord) su-luh-ha-me-en su-luh-ha-me-an
su-lu-ha-me-an ku-ga-me-en su-luh-ha-me-an sikil-la-me-en
suh-luh-ha-me-en sen-sen-na-me-en su-luh-ha-me-an dadag-ga-me-en
su-luh-ha-dadag-ga-am su-luh-hasikil-la-am
su-luh-ha sen-sen-na-am su-luh-ha dadag-ga-am
lu-ul dumu-dingir (remember what i said about the dingir concept?)-ra-na an-gim he-en-ku-ga
ki-gim-he-en-sikil-la sa-an-gim he-en dadag-ga
eme-hul-gal bar-se he-im-ta-gub

Translation:

Your hands are washed, your hands are washed.
Your hands are washed you are holy; your hands are washed you are pure.
Your hands are washed-your resplendant. Your hands are washed- you are clean
He whos hands are washed is shining. He whos hands are washed is pure.
He whos hands are washed is resplendant. He whos hands are washed is shining.
May this man the son of his god (remember Dingir?) become holy like the heavens!
May he become pure like the Earth May he shine like the holy heart of Heaven!
May the evil tongue stand aside!

I leave you with this old Mesopotamian proverb:

The scribe that does not know Sumerian; then what scribe is he?

Thank you for reading
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Amber Meditation
A guided meditation

by Beth Holtum

Sit or lie comfortably, facing North and holding a piece of Amber.

Close your eyes and shift into a meditative state in your preferred way.

Imagine that there is a semi-circle on the floor that spans around you from the West at your left side, round behind you to your right and the East. Visualise it as a green line on the floor. Gradually imagine that arc rising over you, shrouding you in safety, rising as a dome that covers you with protection. It passes behind you, over you and slowly down in front of you until it gently touches the floor in front of you and you are completely contained within a large semi-permeable dome.

Settle yourself into this safe stillness.

You are seated in a ploughed field with a weak, fading sun receding below the horizon to your left. As the sun fades, a strong full Moon starts to light the sky behind you and cast moonbeams down to the landscape around you.

Start to observe the field you’re in, as the coolness of the night sky takes over, gazing at the light and shade of the moonlight as it shines on the rise and fall of the ploughed furrows You feel a tingling freshness from cooling air, but retain your core body temperature by drawing heat from the ground below you. You are settled on the warm soil, enjoying your connection to Earth.

Suddenly there is a rumble and the ground begins to shake beneath you.

Instinctively you draw your arms into your sides, gathering precious possessions to you. Look down at what you have hold of and understand their significance to you. Are they really the most important?

The ground continues to move around you, but you realise that it’s not threatening, but is allowing you to settle yourself deeper into the Earth, giving you stability and security to weather potential storms and to grow as a person.

Slowly the soil gathers around you, covering your legs. You put your possessions down to one side, and open your hands to bury them into the Earth, feeling its texture, allowing your hands to grow brown. Childish joy rises in you as you enjoy this experience. As you gaze at the ground you manipulate with your hands, you appreciate its component parts – all the life giving minerals. What is it that you most need at this time from the Earth?

Put your hand in your pocket and find a bulb you didn’t know was there. Hold it in both hands, empowering it with the wishes and desires that you wish to materialise. Plant your bulb carefully in the ground in front of you, holding your hands over the ground after to infuse it with your will.

Rest a while in your union with Earth, drawing nourishment.

Slowly adjust you to your everyday surroundings.

Return to thoughts to your breathing, and slowly come back to normal consciousness.

Visit Beth’s store Rainbow Spirit at http://www.rainbow-spirit.co.uk/ where you can purchase beautiful hand-picked and cleansed crystals.

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Politics, Media and Paganism
by Simon Cash

Quite often we are treated as a Joke or even worse abused by the Media. And while we are regarded as a minority group that dresses in strange ways and displays some unusual habits regarding matters of faith. One thing that seems to be overlooked by the Politicians and the Media is the fact that we see ourselves as more responsible citizens of society and tend to get more involved with the world around us. We notice what’s going on, because as a minority group its in our best interests to do so. We do not live in a crushed velvet bubble, protected from the problems of the world by our many Gods. Indeed one of the many lessons that our Sagas and Tales tell us, is not to rely on our Gods and to be more hands on, and to take responsibility for our own actions a fact that was true thousands of years ago and still stands true today.

To be a Pagan is to have many other interests, interests in Literature, History, in academic subjects (Look on this board, there are casual discussions raging from Mathematics’sto the Transgender issue) And while we aacademicallyinformed and active. We are also more hands on in our own community’s. We take notice of issues, be it the elderly snowbound in their homes, or the problems with vandalism and gangs hanging around the shops and bus shelters. Many of our paths, whatever particular path we choose on a personal level, teaches that its better to be more socially aware and more pro active regarding friends, neighbours and community.

Very often we do this without seeking recognition or reward. To us its part of the way of life these actions are of course not Newsworthy. They fall outside the Media’s “look at the silly robed and drumming pagans” point of view.

The point I a making is that Pagans while perceived as outside society are actually a integral part of it. And its worth remembering that all Pagans over the age of eighteen have a vote.

And are more likely to vote because of the points raised above. While traditionally the Politicians may have discounted the Pagan Vote, as a vote “wasted” to the Green or Natural Law Party. I think those attitudes will change. Parties which only campaigned from one particular platform, Green issues or Immigration issues have never been successful because of their single platform. But what happens when the issues they campaign on become absorbed into the mainstream? As has happened with both the Green issue and the Immigration issue?

The issues have to be seriously addressed by the Politicians. And the the Voters once written off as fringe voters become mainstream voters and their votes start to count.

Now unless you have been living in a bunker its no stretch of the imagination to see that the next few years will be hard. Hard on everyone except the select and privileged few.

It’s very true that the current Government may have inherited problems stemming from the previous government. But so far their way of dealing with them, U-turns, Pledge breaking and so far turning a blind eye to the 100 plus Billion owed in taxes, by large corporations. Has not endeared them to the general pubic so far. The Police are in a unenviable situation, they have been accused of being heavy handed in their dealing with the student protesters. But it is not their doing that the students felt the need to exercise their democratic right to protest in the first place. The Police made a mistake in treating students like the groups of protesters they are more used to dealing with. A mistake made once should not be repeated. Only time will tell if it is.

What time will tell though is this:
Dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs will lead people to try other paths, one of these paths will be Paganism So the numbers of ‘casual’ Pagans trying out the lifestyle will increase many will turn their backs on it finding it not form them but some will stay, Slowly our numbers will increase.

In times of economic strife. Large gatherings become a outlet. There will be a increase of people who just want to have a good time and forget their worries for a while, so Music Festivals, Royal Weddings, Sporting tournaments, will all become more poplar and more expensive. The “free” gatherings become more attended, the celebrations at Stonehenge and Avebury, the Solstices will see a increase in attendance-granted not all of these people are Pagans, but the media will report these events as Pagan gatherings.

History shows that the recessions in the 20th Century led to a increase first in the 1930’s in Pulp Horror fiction, then in the 1970’s in Horror Movies, As people turn to a more darkside to allay their worries. This is a starting point for some people to delve into the darker and more Occult side of Paganism. (Not to mention the uneasy relationship between Fascism in the 1930’s and the Occult, that no one likes to talk about.)

This is all history though, these are trends which have been seen and documented before.

We are at a unique point in our social history.

We no no longer passively accept every item of News as fact.

We have our own disposal devices, Smartphones, Laptops, Cameras, Websites and Search Engines which can give us the power of a journalist or documentary maker. Also the tools that have been used to divide and conquer, to spread misinformation have now fallen into our hands.

We are the first generation that can interact directly with the media. We can comment and question the News stories as soon as they appear. Our Politicians are no longer untouchable and unreachable, Those that do no embrace the new technology ways will be left behind. Look at how many MPs now Twitter.

Its been said that 87% of the population follows and 13% leads, The 13% that forms the opinion that the 87% follows for the first time no longer all in the Media.
Pagans fall more into the 13%, because we are more pro active, opinionated and less content to blindly follow.

Pagans fall more into the active voter category, because we are, opinionated and less content to blindly follow.

While the Media will continue to ridicule us. Politicians should be aware of us and the votes we shall and will cast, based on their results not their promises.

We have slowly made headway towards becoming recognised, Druids have recognised status, We can declare ourselves Pagan on hospital admission forms on Census and other Official Documentation. If we chose to do so, we can apply the laws designed to protect people from Hate crime and religious persecution to ourselves. We are in the legal sense “recognised”.

Simon is a practising Ceremonial Magician based in South Wales.
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The Green Man
by Dave O. Butnu

With this year’s coming of Floralia, the Roman Festival of the goddess Flora, it’s hard not to turn our attention to the multitude of new life that is emerging from the verdant soil. Nature’s bounty is with us once more and everything seems so positive. However, with all this in mind, it is hard not to think about some of Britain’s more indigenous beliefs relating to the idea of fertility.

As fertility symbols go there aren’t many as endearing as the green man. When Christianity arrived on our shores, here in Britain, they cunningly placed many early churches on pre-existing sites of local religious importance. However, due to the use of local labourers and craftsmen doing most of the building work, little touches of their symbolism and rituals were sneaked in to the majority of British church buildings. Next time you find yourself in a church with some time on your hands; have a look around and you’re likely to spot one.

At one time the green man was depicted with antlers, which is quite rare to see medieval carvings of them now. The antlers were declared to be the horns of the devil by the Catholic Church and such images were banned. However, in modern times the green man with antlers is a representation of the Wiccan Horned God. This has spurred not only a new love for the green man, but also a return for his antlers.

The green man has also survived through the folklore of the English pub sign. Even now there are still thousands of pubs that take their name from the green man. Through the winter the green man would bring shelter and through spring and summer rebirth by allowing us to feed from the earth, much in a same way a pub would.

As an island that relied from ancient times on cultivating food from the land and hunting, the green man must have been so much more significant than we could ever imagine now. He would have provided the first farmers with the intuition to assist their crops in growing and he would have helped the first hunters find their prey.
As I walk around for the next few months, soaking up the empowering energy of the earth, I’m going to be looking out for the green man and spare him a thought for all he has given to our ancestors and what he still gives to us today.

Dave O Butnu has a passion for flora, fauna and folklore. He is vegetarian and a keen gardener, plus an awesome cook. I reckon. He has been writing on a number of subjects for well over a decade now and he enjoys nothing more than stringing different words together to make sentences.
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Lavender
by Rachel Orchiston

Lavender is the oil obtained from the Lavender plant, its botanical name is lavendula officinalis. This is one of the most commonly used essential oils in the home, it is known for its calming properties and you will find many items around the home contain it, from cushions to shampoo. Lavender really is one of the most all round oils in use today.

The list of uses for lavender is almost endless, here are a few possible uses. Acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete’s foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, diarrhoea, earache, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insect repellent, itching, labour pains, migraine, oily skin, rheumatism, scabies, scars, sores, sprains, strains, stress, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough.

The common method of extraction is steam distilling. It takes an incredible amount of lavender flours to make one mill of lavender oil and this has contributed to lavender becoming expensive in the past. Please be aware when buying lavender for medicinal purposes, that you must be careful to obtain pure lavender oil; some of the cheaper oils are mixed with rape seed oil to produce the volume but this will only give you the scent, unless you intend to mix it with rape seed oil anyway in a blend, but the actual amount of lavender present will not be sufficient to heal. This is commonly sold for oil burners not healing. Please take extra care to ensure you have the correct oil for the purpose you require.

A good example of blends to use lavender with is a sleep aid. Add 2 drops lavender and 2 drops camomile to a warm bath, please ensure the bath is not overly hot because it will cause the oil to evaporate, and you will still smell the oil but it will not be on your skin. Bathe in this for ten minutes before your normal bed time routine, you will find you are able to drift off to sleep much easier.

Please note, even though I am a qualified aromatherapist , I am providing this information for educational purposes only and accept no liability for allergic reactions or issues arising as a result of using the oil named above.

Rachel is a mother and a pagan.
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Black Obsidian
by Rebecca L. Brown

Obsidian is a kind of volcanic glass (and so not strictly a crystal) made of lava which has been cooled rapidly through contact with water. This means it is extremely hard and does not have a crystal structure. It has been used historically to make luxury goods and tools (see, for example, the beautiful obsidian bowl found in the grave of ‘Queen’ Pu-Abi in Ur, which dates to around 2500BCE) and more recently in the manufacture of surgical tools as it can be made into a smooth, exceptionally sharp cutting edge. Obsidian can also be used to create mirrors; these are used by some scyers.

Black obsidian is used as a protective stone to absorb negative energies and protect against negativity, both from the environment and from psychic attack. It is also used to force people to face the negativity within themselves and realise their true selves.
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Clary Sage salvia sclarea
by Suzannah Defoe

A tall woody plant Clary Sage is native to Southern Europe in particular the Mediterranean. Growing up to a metre tall this biennial is covered with small flowers in a climbing stem arrangement. The flowers vary in colour from lilac purple through pink to white. These days the primary cultivator is Russia.

The oil is usually pale yellow in colour and slightly thicker than water. Viscocity depends on the purity of the oil as addition of leaves to the steam distillation process results in a thickening of the end product.

Clary Sage is a sweet, nutty aroma with earthy, herby undertones. it can be quite overpowering and should be used sparingly. Blending the essential oil with a base, adding it to a bath mix and mixing with a lotion are the most practical ways of using the oil although it is pleasing in an oil burner.

In aromatherapy clary sage is useful for treating many ailments however primarily it is for the relief of stress, anxiety and fear, any problem associated with menstruation and menopause, insomnia and muscle pain. Some people find that the use of Clary Sage can lead to extremely vivid dreams. Due to it’s intensely relaxing nature it is inadvisable to drink alcohol after using or to drive anywhere. In cases or overuse headaches can develop and as with the majority of essential oils Clary sage should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Clary sage blends well with most other oils but in particular should be considered with lavender if treating sleep problems, juniper if treating menstrual issues and black pepper if treating muscular pain.

As always please consult a practicing qualified aromatherapist before using an essential oil as many of them can cause side effects and can also interact with prescriptive and herbal medication.
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Basil
by Rebecca L. Brown

Basil is one of those herbs you can find in almost any kitchen or supermarket. It is used fresh to add flavour to meals and is a key ingredient in pesto. The seeds also have culinary uses and are used to make some drinks and desserts.

In ancient times, and in the modern Hindu religion (where it is known as ‘tulsi’, meaning ‘the incomparable one’), Basil is a sacred herb. It was said to be able to protect against the actions of the Basilisk (after which it is named) and as a result it became a traditional remedy for poisoning. The French phrase semer le basilic (‘sowing basil’), used to mean ‘to rant’ is based on the archaic tradition that the most powerful basil plants were sown whilst swearing or cursing. The plant is symbolic of both love and hate.

Basil wood is sometimes worn as jewellery as a ward against lightning. The leaves are associated with success and money. The smell of basil leaves is said to calm tempers and it is used in some divinations relating to love and relationships. Basil plants in the house bring good luck and are protective, making them a fantastic housewarming gift.

As a herbal remedy, Basil has a range of traditional uses including helping to lower blood pressure, relieving itching and alleviating indigestion.
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Recollections of Beltane
by Suzannah Defoe

My first Beltane with other pagans was spent in the small village of Padstow, Cornwall. The day had a classic balmy early summer feel to it with the sun beating down and a gentle breeze playing off the waves in the estuary. Seagulls were plaguing the harbour front with their harsh strident calls for food and people were joining together for the grand tradition of the ‘Obby ‘Oss.

For those of you that have never heard of Obby Oss Day it’s always held in Padstow on mayday. The Oss itself is a whirling circling costume with great swathes of material billowing out as a skirt. Any fair maiden caught under the Oss’s skirt was meant to fall pregnant. Needless to say I wasn’t keen on the idea and being only 17 I’m pretty sure my Mum wouldn’t have been thrilled either.

Crowds gathered from all over Cornwall and beyond to watch as the procession began at the top of Padstow’s hill to the central square at the bottom where the maypole had been erected. There’s nothing quite like symbols of fertility to celebrate the spring equinox.

Once the Oss had been ushered away to allow the poor man inside to catch his breath, and probably a good long drink, our pagan party gathered around the pole to share a good cup of mead and to hug and kiss our way through the group. Splintering off some went for a picnic on the cliff tops, some for a pasty and an ice-cream in the harbour and undoubtedly some of our good friends wandered away to find a pub. Me and mine stayed in the central square finishing off the mead and honey cakes whilst enjoying the good weather.

Sitting in the sun with a group of your favourite people after dancing around like crazy is without a doubt my favourite way to spend Beltane and actually my favourite way to spend any festival or even a weekend. This year I will be sitting on a beach instead of a harbour wall in a different part of the country but I’m sure the drinking, merrymaking and good friends will be just the same. I just wish I could guarantee the same sunshine and breeze to go with it.

Suzannah is a student and a pagan. She enjoys good cheese, good cider and good company. She is well on her way to being a crazy cat lady.
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My Pagan Tattoos
by Dave Elias

I had this done many moons back..I wanted something that encapsulated my Welsh/Transylvanian/Wiccan/Pagan upbringing..in the album, it was only 2 inches high, but when John (my tattooist) slapped the stencil on my arm it was huge!!

So I ended up paying £30 for this wonderful piece of artwork. I’ll never forget John wishing me a blessed Beltane as he strapped me up!!

My pagan flame means so much..it is part of my heritage, and I’m proud to wear it. The next tattoo is my bat, the most special one in my life. The bat is me, my spiritual self, and the knots are my earthly existence and my pride in being bound to my paganism and my friends. The knot never ends, and neither will my bond as a pagan

Light your fires and be wonderful people…

Dave is a bass-guitar playing pagan native to Cardiff, South Wales. And you know what they say about bass players…
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Magical Combat
by Simon Cash

Magical Combat is a right pain in the arse.

On one of the boards I frequent, there is someone asking for submissions and experiences of Magical Combat because they want to write a story about it.

Well I feel like messaging them and saying that magical combat, its not “romantic” at all, the reality is sleepless nights, nightmares and wondering about your own mental state.

But I feel comfortable sharing it on here:

It started with nightmares. Not so unusual as well all have them occasional, but in this case I turned to my Partner and said “I had a very strange dream last night”

It turned out we had had a shared dream experience. She had dreamt she was being attacked by something and I had dreamt I was trying to pull the same something off her.

At first we put it down to a one off event. And carried on as normal-because normal life goes on around you no matter what is happening.

And then the attacks continued, this figure started to appear in our waking hours too. A flash out of the corner of your eye, a space where the cats would avoid or stare at.

So we discuss it. What is it, where does it come from, and why was it sent.

Now at the time my Partner was recuperating from a Operation and it had latched onto her. And that really annoyed me. I knew that had we both been well, we would have been far too strong for it. And it wouldn’t have managed to gain such a foothold in the house.

(and of course, having something like this in the house, makes you doubt yourself too. Which is never a pleasant feeling)

So I got angry at this situation. A full on righteous anger a “How dare they!!” kind of anger.

And I dealt with it. I used a combination of Witchcraft, CM and Elemental banishing. We set up the living room, I sat in the centre of the circle, burnt offerings and banished good and strong, then disposed of the burn offerings in the outgoing tide.

And things quietened down for a short while. Till a good friend of ours a well respected Witch came to stay for a few days…funnily enough this Witch had been ill and was still recuperating.

The Entity promptly came back and attacked her. And she sent it away. We haven’t seen or experienced it since, and its been a good 18 months now.

Leaving aside the moral arguments for and against Cursing. All I can say is that after being on the receiving end of a “Attack” it wasn’t some kind of Wands at Dawn Potteresque event and its given me the mindset that should I ever be attacked again, I will send it back, harder and stronger.

Simon is a practising Ceremonial Magician based in South Wales.
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The Wishing Well
by Linda Gibson

It was a beautiful June morning and hot already, although only ten o’clock. The Evans’s had arrived at the Victorian villa, and were sat on the doorstep of the big porch for shade. The villa was surrounded by Devonshire countryside, and used to be the Manor House for Aylesbere Village.

‘I wish we’d brought the cool bag with us. The mineral water’s are in it,’ said Sandra.

‘The removal people shouldn’t be long now, we’re early. Talk of the devil, they’re here now,’ said Clive as the lorry pulled into the long, wide driveway.
Megan, their seventeen year old daughter, had the sensation of being watched, ever since they’d arrived an hour ago. The house felt oppressive, and Megan shivered again despite the heat – she didn’t know why. It was a beautiful house and had been completely renovated to its original state with restored wooden flooring throughout, and decorated in period colours. The huge kitchen was fitted with cream Shaker-style units with real teak worktops and a big Belfast sink. The floor had been changed from quarry tiles to slate. The refectory dinning table completed the room.
Clive nudged Megan as they took the boxes from the removal men.

‘I think that young man’s taken a shine to you.’

‘Dad, behave, he’ll hear you,’ she blushed.

Megan was getting to be a beautiful young woman, and her mahogany hair glistened with copper and gold in the sunshine. Her flawless ivory skin enhanced her big emerald green eyes. She was the image of her mother, except Sandra’s eyes were violet. Megan took her boxes up to her room. It’s stuffy in here, I can’t breath. I need to open this window. She looked down at the driveway, and noticed the young removal lad smiling up at her. She smiled back, but then she saw something from the corner of her eye. When she looked to see what it was, there was nothing there. Then it happened again, and again. I must be losing it, maybe it was just a bird.

‘That’s all of it, the last of your boxes, love; Oh Meg I’m sorry, didn’t mean to make you jump. I thought you heard me coming,’ laughed Sandra as Megan whirled around gasping.

‘I was miles away. I didn’t notice that old well, did you?’

‘Yes I noticed it last week. It was hidden by the hedges until they were cut right back. Hey, you’ve got loads more light now that Virginia Creeper’s been cut back from the window. Don’t forget to make the bed up in the spare room. What time is Amy getting here tomorrow?’

‘The train is due around eleven. She’s going to text me just before it pulls in to the station. It’ll only take ten minutes to walk over to meet her.’

Amy had been Megan’s best friend since nursery school, and had lived next door to the family. Megan hadn’t wanted to move away until Clive told her that Amy would be spending weekends with them. The girls were more like sisters than friends, and Amy’s parents had become close family friends too.

She unpacked the last of her stuff and made the beds up. Both rooms had been painted a pale duck egg blue, and were furnished with mahogany wardrobes and big chest of drawers. The metal framed Victorian bedsteads stood in the center of each room, and in the corner of Megan’s room was a white wicker chair next to a tall bookcase crammed with books. She would spend hours reading and couldn’t bear to part with any of her hoard.

That evening, Clive ordered from the local Chinese takeaway. Sandra said that there was no way she was cooking this weekend. Megan waited in the driveway with the money for the food. She went over to the well for a closer look. It was deep and the bucket seemed to be stuck halfway down. She turned around suddenly, feeling the hairs prickle on her spine as though someone was standing behind her, but no-one was there.

‘No way, shove that! I’m not staying here,’ she stammered, and hurried over to the porch to wait. The takeaway arrived soon after and she paid the driver and dashed indoors. She tried to forget the incident as she ate her meal, and went for a walk in the village with her parents after the dishwasher had been loaded. The lanes were narrow and lined with thatched cottages.

‘The Estate Agent valued the house at one and a half million now. I think we made the right decision to buy when we did,’ said Clive as they strolled along.

‘You sold the company at the right time, too. I like this early retirement, I will get quite used to this. It’s nice to be a family, without you being abroad for most of the year,’ said Sandra. She’d been so happy when Clive had sold his web design company for just over ten million pounds to a big corporation. They had seen the house for sale six months ago, and bought it at a bargain for five hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
‘Let’s just pop into that shop for a coke,’ said Megan as she saw it was open. As she paid for her bottle, the lad from the removal company was at the counter.

‘Hi, I was at your house this morning,’ he said shyly. ‘I’m Jake.’

‘Yes I remember you, I’m Megan. So you work here too? You get around,’ she laughed.
‘Oh, this is my Gran’s shop; I just help her out at weekends. We live in the cottage next door. My parents died in a car crash when I was ten, and Gran here took me in,’ he explained as he smiled at middle aged woman stood next to him.

‘Hello, I’m Selina Morgan, I noticed you this morning as I walked past,’ she said to Clive and Sandra as she shook their hands, ‘perhaps I’ll see you around the village.’ She moved away and went back to her stock-taking. Sandra bought some hand-made soap and bath oil scented with Lavender.

‘Did you make these?’ she asked Selina, ‘they smell divine.’

‘I did, I make toiletries and medicinal remedies. Locals around here swear by them,’ she replied. ‘It’s an old craft handed down by the women folk of my family through the generations. I’m a Hedge Witch, and we work with nature. I’m the last in the line as I have no granddaughters to hand the craft to.’

Clive teased Megan about Jake again when they got outside, making her blush.

‘Selina’s nice,’ said Megan as they headed back to the house. ‘She reminds me of Nan, she’s even got the same long grey bob and blue eyes.’

‘Yes she does, I thought so too. You miss her don’t you,’ he sighed, hugging his daughter. Sandra kissed her husband. Her mother-in law had been a treasure and had left a big gap in their lives when she died.

‘I can’t believe she’s been gone four years already,’ she said.

It was getting dark when they got home, and Megan said goodnight and went straight to bed after a cool shower. As she drew her curtains closed, she shrieked. Looking out of the window, she saw a little girl dressed in Victorian clothes standing next to the well, and pointing down inside it. She closed the window, drew the curtains quickly and got into bed. It didn’t take her long to fall asleep, and she started to dream. She dreamt that she was in her room but it wasn’t her bed, or her lying in it. It was the girl from the well, and a man was bending over her, his arms held out clutching something. Suddenly the girl started screaming.

‘No Daddy, please no!’

Megan sat bolt upright, waking herself up. She shook as she tried to take a glass of water from the bedside table. Then to her horror, the girl appeared at the foot of her bed. ‘What do you want from me?’ whispered Megan, tears streaming down her face.

The girl pointed to the bedroom window saying ‘Look in the well. No Daddy, please don’t’.

Several times during the night Megan had the same dream, but in the last one the man stabbed the girl, and she could see his bearded face and moustache. She was still tired when she went to greet Amy at the station.

‘You look like death warmed up. What have you been up to, any nice looking boys around here?’

‘Trust you, you’re boy mad. I couldn’t settle that’s all. Come on, Mum and Dad can’t wait to see you,’ laughed Megan as she hugged her friend.

‘Wow,’ exclaimed Amy as they walked up the drive. ‘My Dad will want to move in when my folks come over for the barbecue next weekend.’

‘Wait until your Mum sees the kitchen then,’ said Megan. Clive and Sandra came out to them and helped carry Amy’s bags for her.

‘What have you got in here, I think she’s here for the month, never mind a weekend,’ Clive joked. ‘We’re out for lunch tomorrow girls, going to the pub for a carvery, that do you?’

‘Yes please,’ they said in unison.

After settling Amy into her room, Megan told her about the dream and sighting from last night. Amy thought that Megan was messing around, but one look at her face told her that she wasn’t.

‘Do you know anything about the history of the house?’ she asked.

‘No, but we should be able to look at the archives at the library. It’s only a small place, but I’m sure they’ll have computers and records of local history. I just hope its open on a Saturday.’

So they told Megan’s parents that she was showing Amy around, and headed to the library. It was open so they booked a computer for one hour and started looking through the records. It didn’t take long to find the house, and Megan found that it had once belonged to Jeremiah Black, a local clergyman, and his wife Amelia. They had a daughter, Emma, aged nine, but she was said to have gone missing and no trace of her body was ever found. Megan scrolled the page down and nearly fell off her seat.

‘That’s her!’ she hissed, ‘and that’s the man I saw, he was stabbing her again and again. He killed his daughter, she didn’t go missing. That’s what she’s trying to tell me.’

‘Poor kid, I feel so sorry for her, that’s a horrible way to die. Do you know that boy over there?’ asked Amy, nodding towards the doorway.

‘Hi Jake,’ said Megan as he sauntered over to them. ‘This is my friend Amy; she used to live next door to me.’

Amy grinned at Megan and winked at her knowingly. Megan shot her a warning look.
‘What! I’ve done nothing,’ said Amy innocently. Jake laughed at the banter and asked Megan what she was researching.

‘You’ve seen Emma then,’ he said. ‘The last owners wouldn’t stay at the house, that’s why they sold it cheaply. She won’t hurt you, Gran says that Emma just wants to rest in peace, but can’t until they bury her. She’s been seen loads before by other people.’

‘Why choose me?’ said Megan.

‘She doesn’t trust adults, she must like you. There’s a rumour that Amelia never wanted kids, she used to beat Emma, burn her with a poker and treat her like a slave. Emma was never seen out playing. My Gran told me about it years ago, said her own Gran remembered it all. They say that the old man did it to stop his wife torturing the kid. He killed himself just after that.’

Megan shivered at the thought of the poor child going through that. They had to help her somehow, but they needed to find out where she was first.

‘I don’t think that my Dad would appreciate me digging holes in the garden, so we can’t do that. But I think she’s pointing to the well for a reason. The bucket is stuck halfway, I tried to pull it up yesterday but it wouldn’t budge.’ Megan recounted the dream and the writing on the wall to Jake. He had the same thought as Megan.

‘She’s down the well; I’ll put money on it.’

So they all went back to Megan’s to investigate. When they got to the house, Sandra was searching around the kitchen.

‘You haven’t seen where I put my rings have you girls? I’m sure I put them on the windowsill but they’re gone.’

Megan could see Emma standing next to Sandra. She had the rings in her hand and was admiring them before putting them on the table.

‘Oh, there they are, I must have moved them,’ said Sandra shaking her head. ‘Hello Jake. There’s cold lemonade in the fridge, Meg. Help yourselves.’
The three teens went to sit on the porch steps. Megan could see Emma standing by the well again.

‘He put you down there, didn’t he? That’s where you are,’ she whispered.

‘I can see her too, she had your Mum’s rings,’ muttered Jake as he looked at the well.
They took turns to pull on the rope, but still it stuck fast. They kept on trying for nearly two hours. Megan had almost given up, but Jake suggested that they all try pulling together. The bucket was still stuck, and then suddenly it shot up the shaft, tipping Amy over unceremoniously onto the lawn. She laughed it off and joined her friends again, and they managed to get the bucket out. Inside it, they found the bones of a small child. Megan and Amy started to cry and hugged each other. Jake went to fetch Clive, and he told him about Emma. Sandra called the police, and forensics confirmed that it was likely to be Emma Black’s remains. Clive paid for her funeral and had a marble headstone made for her. He had discussed it with Sandra, and she had agreed.

‘She’s just a child; she needs to be at peace.’

‘I still keep seeing her,’ Megan told Jake a week after the funeral. ‘I thought she would be gone now.’

‘My Gran needs to come and cleanse the house. She can sense spirits and communicate with them and knows a ritual to help them pass over.’

So Selina brought herbs and salt and drew a pentagram with the salt in every room of the house. She scattered the herbs around and recited a chant as she walked throughout the house. Immediately afterwards, Megan felt the negativity lift and they all felt a sense of peace.

‘She’s gone, she’s at peace now,’ whispered Selina, ‘and her father is with her. He didn’t want her to suffer any more at the hands of Amelia’s awful cruelty. Emma doesn’t blame her father, and she’s asked me to thank you, Megan.’
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Road Kill
by Erik Knutsen

The lights were crashing by with incredible noise, breaking the water in sheets that spread out like wings. Humphrey emerged from the bushes timidly. He blinked slowly, but did not look both ways. A vicious urge drove him forward. He had to move. East, over the plain, there was somewhere he needed to be. Directed by his instincts, his individuality was obscured. He was now primal matter, invested as a force, soulless and driven.

The deadline drew near, for his destination was time as well as place. He had to go forward despite the danger from the roaring lights. He placed his foot on the unyielding surface. His knees buckled as the ground refused to give way beneath him. Each step felt as if he was kicking up rocks.

A set of lights roared up and over him. The massive bulk behind the glowing eyes became visible like a can rising to the surface of a pool. He tried to pull his head in to protect himself, but he was struck anyway. Violently he was smacked around and thrown aside. His blood oozed everywhere, his limbs splayed and broken. Agony electrified his frame, pulsing in convulsions.

Car after car drove by his shattered body. The lost life at the side of the road meant nothing to any of them, but it meant a great deal to him. As his vitality waned, so did the need that had screamed through his flesh. He was restored to himself; the heavy hand of his ancestry left him to face his death alone.

Erik Knutsen is the son of a Buddhist, a Witch and a Skinhead. And they think he’s weird. His blog is at http://erikknutsen.blogspot.com/
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Connected
by Sylver Ravenstar

Taking a break from writing, I
gaze out into the garden, see
the wind dancing with the willow
two magpies cling to its branches

The plants, dressed in autumn,
seem to reflect in the sunlight,
a swan floats by on the canal,
carried by the shimmering water

A leaf drops from the tree,
dancing on a soft gust of wind
before falling on the blanket
of leaves covering the tired soil

Two seagulls drift by, floating
on the same air that carried
the leaf from my willow tree,
and suddenly I feel at peace

Tears slowly roll down my cheeks
like the leaves drift from the tree,
and my mind is still, as if it is
the swan, floating on the water

Sylver Ravenstar is a green witch, poet, fantasy writer and artist. She lives in the Netherlands with her husband and their two cats.
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Genesis (According to Hal)
by Hal O’Leary

And man arose out of the sod.
He was no longer just a clod.
There was no doubt that he was awed,
And even though he wasn’t shod,
Across his wondrous earth he trod,
In search of what? What else? A broad
With a facade that wasn’t flawed
And what is more, a shapely bod,
(Or would ‘bod’ be a little mod.)
The kind he’d like to poke and prod
And when she gave a little nod,
He ravaged her and how he pawed,
(Or might I better say he clawed.)
He even on occasion gnawed.
Then soon, like two peas in a pod,
This gentleman had shot his wad,
And out of that there came a quad,
Which in good time became a squad.
It’s safe to say, he was no fraud.
Then out the heavens, something odd,
While strolling down the esplanade
This man became a lightning rod.
His love of life was somewhat thawed.
And thoughtfully he hemed and hawed
Was someone riding him roughshod.
Someone that he had better laud.?
No matter, it could be no fraud.
This man who rose out of the sod,
A man no longer just a clod,
Who never more just hemed and hawed.
Said, “Since I need a thing to laud,
It’s in my image with a nod,
l think I’ll make for me a God.”

Hal O’Leary is an eighty-five year old veteran of WWII who now renounces all war as nothing more than a get rich scheme for a very few. As a Secular Humanist who has spent his life in the theatre, he believes that it is only through the arts that we are afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University
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A Certain Path
by Rebecca L. Brown

Not the first feet to walk a certain path;
No, not the first uncertain feet
To tred the freshly dewed grass
And yet
To these feet
There is a newness to the world
Which waits just a little further along the track.

Rebecca is a writer, a photographer and a pagan. She lives in South Wales with her partner, her cats and various other animals.
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Care Givers & The Lapsed Coverage of Some Dehydrated Martyrs
by Colin James

Only briefly is a stone obelisk
cognizant of its contours.
In the factory, then much later
after shipping and installation.
Styrofoam works wonders.
How did modern man then,
without the assistance
of stone age technology,
transport these huge monoliths
while coordinating the solstices
into the representation of light?
All the dead and dying
will tell you it wasn’t easy.

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Aqua
by C.B. Anderson

She lives in lakes
among freshwater eels and loons
and takes her morning meals
in warm lagoons, the shallow places
sunlight touches first. She often feels
the afterglow of faces drowning in their thirst
to be a swimmer on the wilting mist
engendered by her guiltless undertow.

Her gaze, a moat:
one look can castle kings who spy
her floating waterwings,
though they deny such east capture,
claiming that their eyes on other things
were fixed besides a rapture they are far too wise
to contemplate. There’s wisdom here, but more
the kind as when one’s fear in courage hides.

In wintertime
ice fishermen replace brisk waves
that climb the welling race
warm weather paves; they give attention
to their baited hooks. Through some low grace,
they can survive the mention of her stirring looks
adrift below if they sit still and wait —
stay dry, to span the killing cold alive.

In spring the fish
swim free, with quickened flesh that seems
delicious in the mesh
of pressing dreams for frequent feeding
and for sex. Unfrozen rills refresh
her appetite, and breeding moves in secret flows
when Aqua celebrates a private dance
as moonlight’s cool arrival fills the night.

Lacustrine miles
break silence on a farther beach —
her isles!– a seminar
ordained to teach what one may never
hear: as Aqua turns, prepared to spar,
it’s not to creel the clever catch with whom she yearns
to procreate; her deepest love spills out
when she moves in to hover near a meal.

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and India.
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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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