The sun has been shining, the flowers are in bloom and it’s time for the Summer Solstice issue of the Pagan Friends webzine. We’ve got plenty of exciting stuff for you to read, including an exclusive interview with Phil Hine, an extract from Gary Budden’s ‘New Lexicons’ and pieces from Jill Malenoir, Raven Kaldera and Melanie Marquis. So pour yourself a glass of something summery, put your feet up and enjoy!

And if you enjoy the webzine, why not visit the Pagan Friends Forum? There, you can make new friends from around the world, chat to other pagans and even take part in the forum’s quiz.

Interviews

An Interview With Pagan Friends’ own Liz

An Interview With Phil Hine

An Interview With Aidan Kelly

Articles

Crystal Elixirs & Gem Essences by Beth Holtum

Summertime Tarot Magick by Melanie Marquis

Quantum Physics is Wyrd by Eoghan Odinsson

Oft-Overlooked Dangers in Indoor Workings by Jill Malenoir

Element Meditation: Fire by Beth Holtum

Excerpts from Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches by Aidan Kelly

The Occult connection to the Third Reich by Simon Cash

Tricks, Tips & Tools

Litha Moonlore by Liz

Gemstone: Moldavite by Beth Holtum

Resin: Labdanum by Rebecca L. Brown

Herb: Nettles by Rebecca L. Brown

Personal Experiences

Seabhac: The Wounded Hawk by T. Fox Dunham

Being The Change by Raven Kaldera

Three Sculptures: Inspiration and Creation by Ama Menec

The Sacred Clay by Rebecca Brown

Fiction

I Hear Your Cry by Lynne Gibson

In The Green (Excerpt from New Lexicons) by Gary Budden

Excerpt from the Novel Goddess Murder by Aidan Kelly

Poetry Corner

Incantation for a Summer Solstice by Dawn Walls Thumma

Our God by Hal O’Leary

Flight of The Wizard by Hedgewizard Erb

Reality by Aidan Kelly

Ancient Tribes by Ron Koppelberger

Willow Road by C. B. Anderson

My Epitaph by Hal O’Leary

At My Age by Aidan Kelly

The Unborn Goddess by C. B. Anderson

Hearthfire Remedies by Ron Koppelberger

To Remember Thomas DeLong,

Who Wrote as Gwydion Pendderwen,

On the Second Anniversary

Of His Going into Eternal Lifeby Aidan Kelly

Summer Solstice by Hedgewizard Erb

Puti Poems:

Flower-Picking Mudra by Changming Yuan

Sky-Reaching Mudra by Changming Yuan

A-Mi-Te Mudra by Changming Yuan

Artwork & Photography

This issue’s photography was contributed by Cai Thomas

Want to contribute to the Lammas 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 Liz From Pagan Friends


Q: What’s the most important tool for a Pagan to have?

I can’t answer for every Pagan, of course, but for me, apart from having an inquiring mind and a very big heart, that has to be my lighter. Mine’s a little silver refillable one, with a picture of a glittery purple and pink fuschia flower fairy on the front, and it has an unusual pretty green flame.

Brian, my Hubby, got it for me when we were in Galway, Ireland for my 40th Birthday in 2000 so it has a lot of sentimental value and it came from a very cool place.

Sadly, it’s packed away in my box of my most precious Pagan stuff because we are moving house again before Yule, so for now, I just use a black plastic throw-away lighter, instead, but I miss it, loads, and can’t wait to have it back in active service along with all my other important working tools.

Q: Have you ever felt awkward about being a Pagan?

Yep, only the once, that was last year, sat at a table in the beer garden of our local pub, The Ferry Inn, with my Son’s girlfriend, Jo.

She’s devoutly Christian, and when I told her I was Pagan, she said, “Oh, that’s OK, just as long as you aren’t one of those witches who do spells, or put curses on people….” *gulp* I’ve never been known to fall so silent. Cat got my tongue, big time. Talk about being put on the spot….. For Dan’s sake, I didn’t answer. But I suspect she kind-of guessed, anyways, I don’t see her so often now

Q: Do you have a threshold guardian?

Tricky one, that, I guess it all comes down to personal definitions of a threshold guardian.

If you mean in a practical sense, like does a guardian protect my doorstep, then yep, I charged a dragon to do it for me, and he does an excellent job.

If you mean in a spiritual sense, then it’s not so straightforward to answer right now, no.

I’m going through a lot of changes in my path life at the present time, and some of the protective forces I enjoyed previously have sadly gone awol, but I am sure others will replace them eventually if the need should arise.

Q: What number is most significant to you? (3, 7, 13….)

Having numerical dyslexia, I’m not big on numbers at all, I kind-of see them as the enemy.

I’ve tried getting into the whole numerology thing, many a time, but it’s isn’t happening. Lol- but I think 13 tends to be lucky for me rather than unlucky, so I’ll go with that one.

Q: The dark Moon affects your moods, does it affect you when you try to do magik, or rituals?

Oh, yes, enormously! I can’t do much at all at Dark (New) Moon, other than get depressed, cry a lot, eat chocolate, drink lots of wine, or port, or rum, and sleep a lot – 14 hours a time some times.

Equally, I go into over-drive at Full, cat napping here and there, picking at my food like a bird, de-toxing like a nutter, surviving on adrenaline, doing all sorts of meditating, scrying, cleaning, healing, making charms, changing my alter over, collecting nature’s gifts for my casting, just call be Bi-Lunar. Lol!

I still manage to do my morning “greeting the day” and evening “giving thanks” rituals at Dark (New) Moon, they never stop, (even still did them in hospital when my kids were born and when I had my hysterectomy,) but meditation, healing or other spell work is out of the question, I just don’t have the motivation or energy to do it.

It’s like my elastic snaps, and I’m useless for about a week, some months are worse than others.

The recent lunar eclipse at Dark moon was a particular low for me, and I’m only just starting to recover from that a week on.

Q: How do you celebrate the Summer Solstice?

It’s my wedding anniversary too, this year it’s our 31st, so we usually go out to dinner in a swanky restaurant somewhere for a double celebration, then when I come home, I tend to light a candle, do a meditation, perform a little scrying for the second half of the year,then I kind-of get a bit excited knowing the wheel is turning, the dark half of the year is approaching, nights will start drawing in, and my beloved Mabon/Samhain/Yule isn’t very far away. Yay!!!

This year I have been invited to a moot with a friend called Becky who lives in North Pembrokeshire.

I think we might have a little musical event as she wants to learn to play the celtic harp like me and I’d quite like to take up the drums like her.

Q: What is one of the earliest acts of magic you attempted with any degree of success?

Lol! That would be winning over a teacher who didn’t like me in Primary school.

Her name was Miss Tideman.

I’ve no idea why she took dislike to me, but I suspect it was more to do with my Mother having a go at her for something rather than me, I thought she was lovely, but she seemed so hostile.

I got hold of a photo of her from a school magazine, took it home, placed it in a dish with a rose quartz crystal and an amethyst crystal, lit a sandalwood candle beside it, carved with my name on one side and hers on the other, I made an offering to my (then) Deity, Lugh, (of soda bread soaked in honey), then I placed an apple in my lap, and envisaged Miss Tideman sitting me on her lap reading me Enid Blighton’s Faraway Tree – my favourite book at the time. I gave her the apple for her lunch the next day and she ate it.

Did it work? Yep. Sure did! I was sitting on her lap listening to her read my favourite book later the very same day. Woo-Hoo!!!

Q: There is a great deal of symbolism and activity associated with Romanii – is there a God/Goddess generally favoured?

I am thinking in relation to lives hinging principally on travel and (more so in olden days,) horses as a vital element.

The majority of Rom Pagans I knew back in my youth actually chose “Black Sara” as their Patron Goddess. Her image is that of the Black Madonna, and Her links seem particularly strong with the sea. That might explain why I am bonding with my lady Yemaya now that I am turning more toward root work in my own path as thewre are many things in common between the two of them.

http://kopachi.com/articles/the-romani- … onald-lee/

Q: Have you ever seen a spirit person or animal?

I was quite young when a Policeman rushed passed me on my GrandMa May’s stairs as I was coming down them one day. He was stout, with a red bushy beard, and I knew he was Irish by his accent because he was muttering away under his breath as we drew side by side. He had come to arrest Grand-Dad for violence. When I told Grand-Ma, she went pale, the Policeman who arrested Grand-Dad was actually shot dead before I was born, she had a newspaper clipping to show me all about it, and she told me that what I had seen was the Policeman in spirit still coming after Grand-Dad, something she had seen a few times herself, and it was precisely the reason GrandMa never went upstairs in the house again for the remaining 10 years of her life. Grand-Dad had moved her bed into the living room after that.

Q: Are you like your lovely Grandma Maud?

In many ways, yes I am, to look at, a chip off the old, especially when it comes to the round face and thinning hair, the ample figure and problem with the swollen legs and feet, so it’s not all good, however, behaviour-wize, I am very self-motivated, very community-minded, and capable of many things, some of which might be considered to be more “mens work” than womens’ work, like my love of brick building and plastering, putting up shelves, and car mechanics, and I know that makes her very happy and proud of me. Her attitude was always don’t be hanging on a man to get by, do it yourself. So I do. She used to be the local agony aunt, friend to the friendless and Mother to the Mother-less, and so was I before I moved out of London. I see a return to that once I get back into paid employment and start circulating in society a lot more. I’ve already got plans to kick the Pembroke Dock Civic Society into the 21st centuary soon by getting it out there onto the web, and meeting with the local council to see how I can imporove my new area to better serve the residents, plus I’m considering starting an annual Welsh Pagan Pride event, possibly in Cardiff, then there’s the Goddess Temple project in Pembrokeshire, and I can feel Maud approving of all those things, already.

My artistic and musical talents and gardening skills come more from May, my other GrandMa.

I know she approves of my harp and zither playing, and shes been nagging me from over in Summerlands to get back to gardening and drawing, something I plan to do when the move has happened.

Q: If and when Liz, you feel disconnected with your path/beliefs/nature, what helps you to re connect?

Normally, I get some sort of psychic wake up call or proverbial kick up the backside from either of my GrandMa’s, Maud or May, or my M-I-L Joyce over in Summerlands, that usually works, but failing that, I take a walk down by the river, or pay a visit to the forest, or try meditating on a Full Moon night or something like that. Camping is always a good way because it fetches you closer to nature.

Q: What piece(s) of music would be your preference to honour your passing to Summerlands?

I jokingly once said Monty Pythons’ Always Look On The Bright Side of Life, but I don’t think that’s really Gothy enough, do you? so it’s gonna have to be Funeral Bell by Black Label Society.

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An Interview With Phil Hine (part 1)

Q: At your new blog, enfolding.org, you have already explored some very interesting ideas. Are you happy with how the project has developed so far, and where do you see it going in the future?

Yes, I’m very happy with it so far. It’s really helped me get back into writing – and it’s already taken me into unfamiliar territory. Last year, for example, I thought it would be interesting to do a short post on Richard Payne Knight, author of Discourse on the Worship of Priapus – written towards the end of the eighteenth century. So I started digging around into his life and social milieu, and found it so fascinating that I soon had enough material for a lecture, which I gave at Treadwells Bookshop in February, and I’ll eventually get round to writing it up for publication. I’d never really looked into eighteenth-century history before that, and I’ve kept that interest going – now I’m researching the relationship between shamanism and sexuality in the eighteenth-century.

The original idea for Enfolding came up in a conversation with a few friends about creating a place to explore some common interests – tantra, queer paganism, history, etc.. It was originally intended to be a “group blog” but at the moment it’s mostly me posting, with occasional posts by various friends. I’d like to get more of my friends to contribute, but that’s largely a matter of me hassling them to write – and recognising that, like me, they’re often busy with other projects.

As for the future, I don’t know. I’d like to get more book reviews posted, and I’d like to get back into interviewing people – something I used to really enjoy when I was editing Pagan News but probably with a camera this time.

Q: Do you think that shamanism and alternate genders are intrinsically linked or that any link between them is based on perceptions external to the culture within which they exist? Does the shamanic practice in itself perhaps relate to an additional and wholly separate gender?

It’s complicated. I’m going to restate part of it simplistically as: (in culture x) do you become a shaman because you’re gay, or become gay because you’re a shaman? (i.e. because the spirits tell you to). This is a question that anthropologists have spent a long time grappling with – and tends to look weird because in the West we’ve used to thinking of gender-preference in terms of identity rather than related to a specific social role.

If you look at any culture, you’ll find that the relationship between “shamanism” (and by extension, any other kind of ritual or magical specialist) and gender is highly complex and variated, and anthropologists’ attempts to represent such complexities has shifted accordingly – with an increasing trend to, rather than use broad categories such as a “third gender” – actually find out how the persons they are studying represent themselves. So in India, for example, not only are there Hijras, but there are also other subjectivities, such as kothis, zenanas, jogappas, siva sathis, as well as men who identify as gay in much the same manner that we are used to in America or the UK. Generally speaking, Hijras themselves distinguish between three gender identities – panthis, kothis, and narans – panthis are masculine men who take the penetrative role in sex (with kothis or women) kothis are “feminized” men (“not-men”) who desire the receptive role in same-sex encounters and like to do “women’s work” and narans are women (regardless of age, marital status, etc) – and Kothis are “like women” but not women. So for Hijras, gender identity revolves around who does what to whom, rather than anatomy – sexual behaviour rather than identity. The more you look at it, the more complex it gets, and some researchers have also stressed that western categories such as “heterosexual” or “homosexual” are just not valid for India. Shivananda Khan a few years ago, quipped that “there are no heterosexual men in India – just married men and men who will get married.”

One of the things I want to concentrate in the series I’ve started on Enfolding.org is to look at the way the relationship between shamans and gender has be represented historically in “western” accounts of indigenous peoples. It can be interesting to do this because not only can this kind of discussion highlight the complexities of the relationship between shamans and gender, but also show how they’ve changed over time – and – how accounts of gender often say more about the people giving the account than the people they’re talking about.

For example, I do feel that there’s a tendency sometimes, for pagan authors to assert that – either in “ancient times” or in “tribal cultures” (sometimes both) gays and lesbians were “special people” who were honoured were often shamans – and from there it’s very easy to go from there to a rather simplistic, romantic view that those peoples are “just like us” or that cultures where there appear to be gender-variant magical specialists are honoured in the same way, that perhaps, we’d like to be.

Just doing a quick search around the net, I found this blogpost:

“One of the most interesting theories is the existence of a ‘third gender’ – that there are certain sacred people “between the genders”. These people serve their community in some priestly or spiritual capacity. Examples given include the ‘two-spirit’ shamans in some Native American traditions, the hijras of India (men dressed as women who bless newborns, among other things), or the Galli, the ancient priests of Cybele.”

Which I think illustrates the problem, for me – because Hijras are not the same as “two-spirit shamans”. Reading this (and I’m not trying to single this post out, just using it as an illustrative example) there’s a tendency to focus on “sacred people … serving their community” and it’d be easy to assume that as such, Hijras are (a) thought of as sacred and (b) get respect back from the community they serve. What it’s easy to forget (or perhaps avoid thinking about) is that Hijras are widely viewed as “outcasts” in India and are regularly subjected to tremendous abuse – arrest, rape, eviction – and have virtually no legal rights.

I feel quite strongly, that if we as pagans are going to draw strength/inspiration from the identities of people in other cultures, then we need to do so ethically – which entails respecting their histories, material conditions and present struggles and not reproducing simplistic stereotypes just because they make us feel good.

Here’s a great article For All Those Who Were Indian in a Former Life which highlights some of these issues:

“The New Age movement completely trivializes the oppression that we, as Indian women face: that Indian women are forcibly sterilized and are tested with unsafe drugs such as Depo-Provera; that we have a life expectancy of forty seven years; that we generally live below poverty level and face a seventy-five percent unemployment rate. No, ignoring our realities, the New Age movement sees Indian women as cool and spiritual and therefore, available to teach white women to be cool and spiritual.”

Q: Why do you think some pagan (and non-pagan) authors are so keen to present gay and lesbian people from other cultures as being honoured and special? Is (as suggested by interpretative archaeological theory) any ‘re-reading’ or interpretation of the past necessarily subjective and if so can any interpretations be more or less valid than others?

In a way, I think its a perfectly understandable consequence of the way that – up until fairly recently (roughly, the last thirty years or so) LGBTQI persons have been characterised in western culture as deviants or outsiders who had no “place” in society or history, and certainly no right to speak for ourselves. And let’s face it, this hasn’t gone away.

I recently remarked on a blog post that I remember when almost no one was writing positively about LGBTQI themes in mythology, occultism or paganism and what sparse references there were to LGBTQI people in pagan/occult texts was overwhelmingly negative. There was a widespread belief that “only heterosexuals” could engage in magical/pagan practice which I encountered on more than one occasion – and it was not uncommon to find authors stating that “homosexuality” was “black magic”; that “homosexuals” were elementals occupying human bodies, or that “sexual deviance” was due to people’s chakras being blocked. I met a couple of quite high-profile British pagan authors in the 1980s who both told me that if they came out as gay, their pagan workshop audiences (from which they gained much of their income) would “go away”.

I think, given these circumstances, it’s understandable to go looking for evidence – from history or from other cultures where things might be different.

In the late 1980s, Mark Thompson edited an anthology called Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning A theme central to Thompson’s introduction was the idea that -for gay men – the “coming out” process was very similar to “the shaman’s journey”. What’s quite revealing though, is his footnote – which makes it clear that he’s drawing on the work of Eliade – particularly the idea that shamans undergo an initiatory crisis and that shamans are “separated from the rest of the community by the intensity of their own religious experience” (footnote, introduction, p14). Thompson is, as I read him, making an explicit plea for gay men in terms of their similarity to shamans (in that they have roles (healing, mediating, leadership) yet are at the same time “separate” from their communities. Later in the book, he makes a case for viewing drag queens as shamanic “trickster” figures – again, citing the prevalence of sacred transvestites and cross-dressing shamans. Thompson wasn’t the first person to make an explicit connection between non-normative sexuality and shamanism, but when I first read his book at the end of the 1980s, I wasn’t aware of that. But I wasn’t really convinced by this argument. I’d become very interested in shamanism in the mid-1980s (see my “shamanic trilogy” downloadable here ) and kind of went through a “shamanic phase” of practice. One of the “convictions” which came out of that was that it doesn’t matter what label you attach to yourself – i.e. that you can call yourself a shaman if you want to – but if you’re serious about taking on that role, it entails having some kind of community within which you are recognised as a specialist – doing things like divination, rituals, or healing for people. I couldn’t really take seriously the idea that all gay men were “potential” shamans – just by virtue that they were gay.

One of the critiques of archaeology/anthropology is that the disciplines treated “facts” as though they were context-free objects passed around much like commodities. Now in the context of shamanism and gender-variance, there’s a tendency to treat shamanism in this way – as an abstracted, “universal” category which is found everywhere (often with the implication that it is pretty much the same everywhere). a variation is that all magical (or “shamanic”) techniques are essentially similar, irrespective of culture, context, history etc. This is a view I’ve becoming increasingly critical of over the last decade or so. Eliade is often critiqued nowadays because his work did a lot to promote this universalised image of “the shaman”.

Stephen Breyer has done a useful critique of Eliade’s approach here and again, I’ll get around to looking at some of these issues on enfolding.org in due course.

Your invocation of interpretative archaeology, followed by the question about subjective interpretation is particularly interesting as Interpretative archaeology is often accused of cultural relativism – the belief that there are no universal criteria that we can use to compare or judge values, customs, beliefs, interpretations. So yes, how can one interpretation be more “valid” than another? It’s a question that I get asked quite frequently by pagans & occultists, who are often surprised that I have opinions (and beliefs) on the basis of which I (perhaps sometimes too readily for some people) reject theories and positions.

Some archaeologists & anthropologists have proposed that no actions can be separated from their cultural context – from frameworks of meaning. These “frameworks” are not universal, and so the same act conducted in two different societies will not necessarily carry the same significance. The consequence of this relativistic approach is that it is held to be impossible (or very difficult) and problematic to abstract a practice from the framework of meaning that renders it comprehensible. This perspective was popularised by anthropologists such as Boas – their original intention being to highlight the problem of basically judging other cultures by our own standards – and was a reaction against earlier methodologies which unquestioningly assumed that, for example, western civilisation was the pinnacle of human progress and that “primitive” races either had to become civilised or become extinct – or that they were evolutionary dead-ends who would probably die out anyway which would be no great loss to “evolution”. I’m going to look at some of these theories and how they related to historical interactions with regard to indigenous peoples as my “Shamanism and gender-variance” series of blogposts develops.

History is always going to be partial, incomplete. We are not neutral (“objective”) when we read the past, and how we interpret the past (or other cultures) is going to depend on what we are looking for, and what our commitments are – our politics. So you can accept a pluralistic perspective but still be capable of making moral or ethical judgements based on your own commitments. So, readings of history/culture which promote and underwrite genocide; that support violence towards persons by making them “less human” than oneself – because of race, gender-identification, etc., are all abhorrent to me. So I can’t accept that fascist ideologies, or the kind of Christianity espoused by the likes of Fred “God hates fags” Phelps are as equally valid as a commitment to view the world as pluralistic, richly diverse and complex. If that’s going to be viewed a failing on my part, then I’m okay with that.

But going back to this appeal for being special/honoured. As I say, it’s understandable, but its tricky because its often rooted in an appeal to sameness. Appeals to sameness are always problematic because once someone has defined what a “real person” is – in terms of a particular identification, then it becomes very easy to start excluding people on the basis that they are not “proper” persons. A lesbian friend in India tells me that she is frequently accused of not being a “proper Hindu” because her lesbianism is a “western import” and women who love women never existed in India prior to the foreign. colonial influences of the Mughals and the British. When the movie Fire first showed in India, nationalist groups firebombed cinemas and made death threats to the director and cast and petitioned for the film to be banned on the basis that if “women’s physical needs get fulfilled through lesbian acts, the institution of marriage will collapse” and “the reproduction of human beings will stop”.

Over the years I’ve been involved with paganism I’ve seen various attempts to define what paganism in terms of condition-statements. Projects which are, IMO, doomed to failure as paganism is extremely diverse and heterogeneous, and any attempt to set up a sense of paganism in terms of “principles” (i.e. “all pagans believe “x”) is going to be tricky, as sooner or later you’re going to encounter people who identify as pagans but don’t agree with the conditions that have been set up. And its very easy to say “well x isn’t a ‘proper pagan’ because they’re not a vegan, or they don’t honour the god and the goddess.” And this is a problem of identity-based politics in general – that essentialised and homogenised identities tend to erase differences and have the potential to silence and erase others. Which is one reason why I referenced Andy Smith’s essay in my response to the previous question.

Q: As you’ve already said, it has been proposed that specific actions are inseparable from their cultural context and the ‘frameworks of meaning’ surrounding them. In relation to your explorations of Tantra, how does your Western background affect your experiences? How important is it to you to understand the cultural context of Tantra?

I first became drawn to Tantra in the early 1980s after experiencing a recurring dream in which I met the goddess Kali in a cremation ground. At that time, the only sources of information I had access to were occult texts, many of which produced an explanation of tantra which was rooted in western concepts and terminology or emphasised the “sacred sex” and – a predominantly psychological approach to the subject. I wasn’t really interested in “new age” (for want of a better term) approaches to tantra – I wanted something more directly “magical” – which an emphasis on ritual, if you like. By 1986 I’d moved to Leeds, and met a guy who was an initiate of an East-West Tantric “order” known as AMOOKOS. AMOOKOS was my entry into the “magical” tantra that I’d been searching for, as a lot of its practices were rooted in historical Indian tantra practice – streams such as Patanjali’s Yoga, Sri Vidya, Kaula. Under the guidance of my initiator – my guru – I began to perform these practices. I was very much focussed on the practice itself – the doing, and not really concerned with the “theory” (the philosophy, if you like) in which these practices were rooted. But gradually, I began to understand that something was missing. I’ve been writing about the problem of assuming that our concerns, aspirations, etc. are universal. So, during this initial phase of my involvement with tantra – which was about ten years – I’d more or less assumed that what I was practicing were just “techniques” and that the context which underwrote them, wasn’t important. Probably because I’d internalised a set of western understandings of ritual, meditation, selfhood, etc., to the point where I’d stopped questioning them. And I’d probably been influenced by a western picture of tantra that had grown up – one which says, effectively, that tantra is just “techniques” and is completely “separate” to the rest of Indian religion – and that is isn’t a religion at all.

I think that I began to change my view primarily because I began to get interested in how these western understandings of tantra arose, historically. I found that western “imaginings” of tantra – and indeed, the very notion that there was this particular thing called “tantra” arose when western scholars in the 18th-19th century tried to understand Indian religion, and how a lot of the ideas about tantra which are circulating in occult texts are rooted in a set of misconceptions which come out of the nineteenth century. I became very interested in this, because by that time I was doing a lot of workshops and lectures – occasional on tantric themes, and would have to deal with other people’s misconceptions as well as my own. At the same time, I was beginning to read tantric texts themselves – which is interesting in itself as many western accounts of tantra don’t seem to be aware that there is a vast tantric literature out there – or indeed that there are different tantric “traditions” – and trying to make sense of them. I gradually came around to the realisation that assuming that tantric ideas were basically “the same” as the ideas that I was familiar with – from my background of western ceremonial magic and Wicca, was a mistake because they were actually very different – based on very different understandings of the world and how we relate to it. So in “translating” a term, a concept or a “technique” from one culture to another, often things get lost, misinterpreted, or erased if we do it from the point of “sameness” rather than difference.

Let me try and give a basic example. In western magic we’re very used to the idea that there is a distinction between the spiritual and the material – and so when we perform ritual, for example, we are “creating sacred space” and thereby separating ourselves from the mundane, everyday world. But in the tantric streams which I was increasingly beginning to drink from, that “hard” separation just isn’t there. All space is sacred, because the entire universe is the body of the goddess. When we perform ritual, we’re intensifying or coagulating our sense of the sacred temporarily, but nothing is itself, not sacred. So we don’t denigrate the “everyday world” or try and separate ourselves from it. Does that make sense?

Another fairly fundamental example is that in the west, we’re used to thinking in terms of a basic mind-body divide – or that the individual is separate to society. A lot of occult texts assume that there is a division between “inner experience” and outward forms. Now there are Indian philosophies which look similar to this, and so tend to get interpreted as “dualistic” – although I would argue that even Indian dualistic philosophies – such as Samkhya (which was very important for the development of Yoga), are different in important ways to western ones. But in explicitly “tantric” philosophies those divisions are not present. The gods, for example, are held to be simultaneously immanent and transcendent, and we experience them through our bodies, our senses, our experiences.

Similarly, how we translate terms can be tricky. In European and American accounts of chakras, you’ll often see the term “nadi” translated as “nerves”. So there is a tendency to conceptualise nadis in the same way that we think about nerves in the human body – as being fixed in place. But if you translate nadi as “stream” as in a stream of water – it instantly becomes more dynamic, because streams dry up, run at different speeds, change their course, etc.

And these issues/problems become much more difficult when one tries to make sense of a tantric text. I’m going to take an example from the Saundaryalahari – “the flood of beauty” which is a key text in the Sri Vidya tradition (one of the traditions I am drawing inspiration from). Verses 7-8 are part of a description of the goddess Lalita (“she who plays”) suitable for meditation or ritual:

“Banded with a tinkling girdle, heavy with breasts like the frontal lobes of young elephants,

slender of waist, with face like the full moon of autumn,

bearing on the palms of her hands bow, arrows, noose, and goad,

let there be seated before us the pride of him who shook the cities.(7)

In the midst of the Ocean of Nectar, where covered with groves of heavenly wishing trees

is the Isle of Gems, in the mansion of wishing jewels with its grove of nipa trees,

on a couch composed of the four gods Shiva, your seat a mattress which

is Paramashiva – some few lucky ones worship you, a flood of consciousness and bliss.(8)”

Yet there is much more here than just an image for meditation. Let’s go through just a few of the imagery. Firstly, the text, likens Lalita’s face to the full moon of autumn. This reinforces the radiance of her face to the devotee. India’s autumnal period (approximately mid-October to December) is relatively free of clouds, allowing the moon to shine brightly and clearly. Then there’s “bearing on the palms of her hands bow, arrows, noose, and goad” – these are four weapons often associated with Lalita (although of course other deities bear them as well). The bow is the mind, the arrows are the five senses. The noose can be thought of as Lalita’s capacity for drawing Her devotees towards her, or a reminder that Lalita is the source of all attachments; the goad for encouraging devotees on Her path – to be unwavering in their devotion/practice. Together, the noose and goad can represent attachment/desire (noose) and aversion/anger (goad) – both of which emerge from Lalita – one implication being that in order to experience Lalita fully, one has to not be bound by either. The bow Lalita holds is often described as made from a piece of sugarcane, with a drawstring of bees, the five arrow-senses, as flowers.

“him who shook the cities.” is a reference to Siva in respect to one of his deeds as recounted, for example, in the Siva Purana. The four gods who make up the couch (they are the four supports, or legs, of her seat) are Brahma (southeast), Visnu (southwest), Rudra (northwest) and Isvara (northeast). The Isle of Gems and the mansion of wishing gems may be taken as references to the nine layers or chakras of the Sri Yantra – which is Lalita herself in multiple form. It can also be a reference to the human body, which is composed of nine constituent parts – hair, skin, etc.. which can be found in Ayurveda and tantric alchemy. The Ocean of Nectar is both the bindu of the yantra and the devotee’s heart-space in which Lalita is eternally present. Nectar – which can be thought of as the joy of experience, flows from Lalita. This is reinforced by the reference to Nipa trees (“water coconuts”) are a type of palm tree, bearing clustered fruits, from which can be extracted sugar. Its sap ferments very quickly. The flowers of the Nipa are sometimes associated with inciting feelings of love, particularly in classical poetry. Having Lalita seated on a couch made up of four important deities, with Paramashiva – “supreme Shiva” as Her mattress emphasises the primacy of Lalita over all other deities, and the entire description of the “island” is very similar to that of royal pleasure gardens – emphasising Lalita’s royalty and power.

So you can see, even in these brief two verses, there is quite a lot of “context” to understand. Now the Saundaryalahari is a fairly popular text, and there are many commentaries available which will help understand its various meanings and interpretations. But even with these to help, it can often be difficult. There is no one book – or indeed one person – who can tell you everything you need to know. So I find myself coming back to a text again and again, as my understanding deepens through practice and reflection. Tantric texts are not really literal instruction in the way that we often relate to texts in the west. They are often cryptic, dense and richly layered, and were often complemented by an oral and commentarial tradition. They were, by and large, written by and for practitioners – so you’re not going to find any “tantra 101”-type texts from within the traditions themselves, and one often finds assertions that the “mysteries” of a tradition cannot be found just by reading a book. It sounds complicated – and it is, but if, for example, I’m mediating on Lalita’s presence in all experiences at any one moment, be it the feel of the sun’s warmth on my skin, the traffic noises, outside the house, the smells around me, the sensation of fingertips touching fingertips, it becomes much simpler.

Our interview with Phil Hine will be concluded in our Lammas issue.

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An Interview With Aidan Kelly

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’ve been working on recently; who is Aidan Kelly these days?

Being 70, it’s often a mood of:

At my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.

I come from a long-lived family and I’m in good health; so I do have a good chance of seeing Bella, my youngest, now 8, graduate from college. I’m still working—teaching part-time for ITT Tech to supplement the Social Security—but I spend as much time as I can, allowing for home schooling our three kids, on my writing. I’ve gotten three books—a history of the NROOGD, a wild novel called Goddess Murder, and my collected poetry—up for sale on Amazon. (I think the Print on Demand technology is wonderful. I don’t have to argue with agents about whether I know what I’m talking about. The corporate publishers are doomed; their ecological niche has evaporated.) Next I’m completing an overall history of the Craft in the US and Canada from the 1960s into the 1990s, to be called A Tapestry of Witches. But largely all that’s to get stuff out of the way, so that I can work on my autobiography and on a theology of the infinite, which relates to religions in general about the way that quantum mechanics relates to Newtonian physics and common sense. One can get some sense of what I’m doing by looking at my blog at aidanakelly.blogspot.com. I’m continuing to work on improving my now 17-year marriage to my beloved Melinda and on being a better father to our three children, Evan, Chloe, and Isibella. And I’m hanging with the Gnostics; they do exist; fascinating!

Q: You’ve talked about several of your experiences of the mystical, including your first spontaneous mystical experience at fifteen. What has been your most recent mystical experience? And which (if you can pick just one) do you think was the most important to your spiritual development?

I have described those experiences in essays that will be incorporated into my autobiography; one was at 14, the other at 23. They certainly gave me a view of reality different from that of most people, even though such experiences are actually not very rare. What they showed me was:

(a) we are aspects of the divine, despite our illusion of being separate beings;

(b) our minds are not what we think (at least two meanings there);

(c) what the Catholic church had been teaching about sexuality for about 1900 years was thoroughly pathological.

I really haven’t had acute experiences like that since, although getting sober in AA, getting my Ph.D., and surviving being in a manic state for 20 years were all quite transformative.

Q: What was your original intention when you established the NEW Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn? Are you pleased by how it has developed since then?

I and my friends were primed to create an adequate spiritual path for ourselves in the late 1960s, and I was merely the catalyst for that. In effect, I was hired by three powerful women to serve as their mouthpiece. Our goal was certainly to create something better than what we had often suffered from in the institutionalized Christian churches. I’ve described all that in my Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches: A Social History of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (available on Amazon for $25; crass commercial, sure, but look, guys, I’ve got three kids at home I need to feed, clothe, and educate, so I promise to spend your money wisely). As for how it developed: it’s one of the oldest active traditions in the US. I was quite surprised and pleased by Chas Clifton’s argument in Her Hidden Children that the NROOGD has achieved a viable balance between keeping the essential concepts of Wicca intact, yet encourages creativity, and in that sense represents the genuine mainstream of the whole Wiccan movement. I thank you greatly for that, Chas.

Q: For several years, you withdrew from the Pagan community and became a practicing Roman Catholic; I know you were raised as a Roman Catholic but how did you reconcile the two different kinds of worship (if, of course, you felt you had to at all)?

No, I didn’t have to reconcile them. They, like all other genuine religions, don’t conflict, because they all are talking about ultimately different issues—which is why they are all needed. I tried being a practicing Catholic again in order to maintain my sobriety, since in 1977 I could see no way to do that in the Craft, as well as to resolve issues left over from my youth, but to do so in an adult way. As I said to Lisa Lawrence, I didn’t stop being a Witch; I just didn’t practice it for a while. I still have my original athame from about 1968, and when I reactivated in the Craft about 1987, I found that there were now Pagan AA meetings; the movement had matured that much. I did not have my fingers crossed while being a Catholic again—you can’t stay sober that way—but I finally could not stomach being a member of a church that still owns all the machinery of the Inquisition. And I did manage to insult in print the guy who has become the current Pope. I’ve heard backchannel that he knows who I am.

Q: You’ve had an uneasy relationship with the Gardnerian tradition (and with certain Gardnerians in particular) for quite some time now. You have been accused, for example, of being an oath-breaker. How do you feel about this?

I feel that many of those critics are simply malicious, jealous gossips. They don’t seem to get that all my research on how Gardner recreated the Craft was done as an outsider using publicly available sources in the mid 1970s, and that I did not accept Gardnerian initiation until about 15 years later (I’m still not sure that was a good idea at all). As it was, Lady Brigit (Meredydd) let me add a codicil to my oath stipulating that the oath did not apply to anything I had learned before my 1* initiation. Much of the rest of that brouhaha resulted from my ignoring rules invented by one small faction among the Long Island Gardnerians in about the late 1970s, rules that neither I nor the British Gardnerians had ever agreed to. Some of that got cleared up when I was finally able to prove to the COG BOD that a certain HPS in Alberta had simply lied to them—not that that shut the gossips up. Enough. Such discussion simply feeds energy down a rat hole, and I have important work to do now. Actually, the best way to evaluate the merits of my critics is to read their books.

Q: You’ve admitted that you’ve made mistakes in the past (as, of course, everyone does). What do you think has been your biggest mistake and would you do things differently if you knew then what you know now?

Hard to pick just one, most had nothing to do with the Craft, and most occurred during the 20 years I was in a mild manic state because of being on the wrong medication. I look at all that and think, “If I had made any decision differently, I would not have Evan, Chloe, or Bella now—and I would not trade them for the universe—so, no regrets.”

Q: How did you handle being at the centre of all the controversy your books, particularly ‘Inventing Witchcraft’, caused?

Mostly I ignored it. Most of the complaints about my research came from people who would benefit from taking a freshman course in religious studies and who have no idea what doctoral studies in that field involves. As an analogy, I am not obligated to explain the tensor calculus to people who cannot do algebra, who are not paying tuition, and who therefore have no clue that they should be learning anything new.

Q: How do you think Paganism has changed since the mid 1990’s as a result of the internet’s influence? With information more readily available, the Pagan community has expanded, but do you think this is an advantage?

I’m aware of the tremendous growth since the Internet became available in the 1990s, but I really have not looked at it carefully. That growth is the major reason why I’m using the mid-90s as the cutoff time for my history book. The history since then will have to be someone else’s problem. I know my colleague Doug Cowan has made a good start on studying it.

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Crystal Elixirs & Gem Essences

by Beth Holtum

Elixir OF Crystal Life

An elixir, or essence is a liquid preparation made to hold the vibrational qualities of the base material being used. Here’s a guide to the varying methods which you can choose from, depending on your time, intent and purpose.

Crystal Water

Purify water from psychic impurities by placing a small Clear Quartz crystal which has been cleansed in the bottom of a glass contained filled with tap water. Allow it to remain undisturbed for twelve hours, preferably in natural sunlight. When drunk, this crystal clear water will have a wonderful cleansing affect on the bloodstream. When taken with other essences, such as flower essences or vitamins, the crystal water will promote their action.

Gem Water

Gem water is made in the same way as crystal water, with the addition of a cleansed gem instead of a quartz crystal. Drinking gem water is an excellent way of becoming aware of the healing properties of different gems. Label the gem water so that you know which gem was used. Keep notes on your feelings before taking the water and the differences you feel afterwards. You can keep gem water for 2-3 days, but if you want to keep it for a longer period of time, you will have to make a gem essence.

Gem Essence

A gem essence provides a balanced pattern of specific energy that operates like a recording, playing the same pattern of vibrations each time it is taken. While taking herbal remedies affects the etheric and the physical body, gem elixirs also affect the emotional, mental and spiritual subtle bodies.

To make a gem essence, place a stone in a clear glass container that has been sterilized by pouring boiling water into it. Add spring water or distilled water. Ask the Devic kingdom for help in charging the water for healing. Cover the container and place it in the sun for several hours. You may wish to leave it out for twenty-four hours under a full moon. This allows both the dynamic energies from the sun and moon to activate the gem.

When the gem water is ready, sterilize a number of brown glass dropper bottles. Half fill the bottle with your gem water and fill to the remainder with a good quality drinking alcohol (Gin, vodka, or brandy).

Label the bottle with the gem name and give the essence a use-by date of a few months for the best effects.

Taking Gem Essences

Add between two to five drops of gem essence to a glass of spring water. Sip this at intervals throughout the day. It is best to determine intuitively how much to take.

Please note- always seek medical advice for any long term or severe condition.

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As with all alternative practices, care should be taken to check the details of each remedy, and seek GP medical advice if a condition is serious or persistent.

Some stones and crystals are not suitable for making elixirs or essences. My rule of thumb is if they look metallic or one of the colours associated with copper or lead secondary minerals – then avoid. It’s always worth checking their mineral composition for copper, lead, sulphur or arsenic. Most crystal guide books will specific if a stone is not to be used in an elixir.

Here’s a quick reference guide to ones to definitely avoid:

Copper – Amazonite, Atacamite, Azurite, Chalcopyrite, Chrysocolla, Cuprite, Dioptase, Gem Silica, Malachite, Mowhawkite, Quantum Quattro, Smithsonite

Lead – Antimonite, Barite, Galena, Stibnite, Vanadanite, Wulfenite

Sulphur – Boji Stones, Chalcopyrite, Pyrite, Realgar

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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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Summertime Tarot Magick

By Melanie Marquis

Summer is a time when magickal energies associated with solar influences are at a high point in their yearly cycle. It’s an excellent season for divination and magick in all its forms, and is especially fortuitous for love magick, mood-lifting magick, and spells to bring success and opportunity. Here are some tarot spells to help you make the most of summer’s power.

Tarot Magick for Love

Who doesn’t like a Summer romance? Try these simple spells based on the principles of attraction magick and see what happens! Attraction magick can be carried out with different methods. One technique is to combine the energies of what you wish to attract with your own energies. You simply weave the energies together, entwining them, through visualization, will, and symbolic action. So for a tarot love spell based on this principle, you can choose a card to represent yourself, a card to represent your ideal lover, and a card to represent the feelings you wish to share. Place the Sun card above these cards to amplify the spell with summer’s magick. Imagine all the energies shown in the cards combining. Look at the images and stack the cards on top of one another. You can say an affirmation if you like, a positive statement in your own words such as, “These energies are now entwined, in love, united.”

Another way to work attraction magick is to project the energy you wish to attract. This principle is based on the rule of three commonly used in the Craft, that whatever energy you send out is returned to you threefold. Choose a tarot card that represents pure love, such as the Ace of Cups, conjure this feeling within yourself, meditate on the card to amplify this feeling, and then release the energy out into the world to bring you what you seek.

Tarot Magick for Happiness

Here’s a good summertime spell for inducing happiness. One of the ways to work mood-lifting magick is based on the principle of expelling and absorbing. You simply let go of and neutralize your negative emotions, and then absorb the energies of the emotion you wish to feel. So for a tarot spell to bring happiness, you would simply choose a card through which you will release your negative emotions. You can pick a card that represents these feelings, or a balancing card such as Temperance. Explore your sadness or anxiety, and then touch the card and visualize the negativity flowing away from you, coming out of your fingertips and going into the card. Now blow hard across the surface of the card, or shake it in the air, thinking, “Neutralize!” You can visualize the colour gray if you like, to help neutralize and dispel the negative, unwanted energies. Now look through your deck and choose a card that represents the emotion you want to feel. The Sun, The Magician, or The High Priestess are effective cards to consider. Feel the energies symbolized in the card, then hold it high above your head upside down, pouring these energies into yourself and feeling your joy expand.

Another way to work mood-lifting magick is with a shielding charm. For a shielding charm, you simply build a shield around yourself comprised of the energy you wish to be surrounded with. The shield will help keep you immersed in this energy while protecting against the intrusion of unwanted emotions. For a tarot shielding charm to increase happiness, choose a card that represents positive strength and positive emotions, such as The Sun, Strength, or the Ace of Cups. Hold the card face out and turn around in a circle, visualizing an orb-shaped shield of this energy forming around you, much like a witch might cast a protective magick circle.

Tarot Magick for Success

It’s summer, the season of golden sunshine and fierce energy, so dream big and put tarot’s magickal power towards achieving those dreams. One way to work a spell for success is with the combining principle of attraction magick. You’ll simply weave your own energy together with an energy of success. For this tarot spell, choose a card to represent yourself, and choose a card to represent the success you seek. The Sun, the Ace of Pentacles, the Ten of Pentacles, or the Ace of Cups are fine options. Place the two cards together as you visualize yourself being entwined with a successful energy. Imagine the energy wrapping around you, making you shine brightly. Stand confidently and proudly, just as you would if you were extremely successful. You can carry these cards with you to act as talismans, if you like, or you can leave them sitting someplace safe underneath a citrine crystal or other success-bringing stone.

Another way to work attraction magick to manifest success is to project an energy that will attract what you seek. For a tarot spell to attract success, you could choose a card that represents leadership, ability, willingness, or desire. The Magician is an excellent selection, but be sure the card you pick is one that holds personal meaning to you, that shows a quality you feel you would have in abundance if your aims were achieved. Hold the card and visualize yourself having the success you desire, and feel this powerful energy coursing through you. Now focus your thoughts on the qualities you have within you that make you worthy of this success; you might think of your strength, passion, wisdom, talent, vision, determination, or creativity. Write your full name on a piece of paper, and place the tarot card on the paper above your name. Magnify your feelings of success as much as you can, willing the energy to grow and glow within you. Now project this energy into the card and into your written name, touching each separately then both together as you feel the magickal power flow out of your fingers. If you like, say an affirmation such as, “Here I am, ready for success! Opportunity and tools, come to me, and I will use you well!”

A Magickal Summer

Summer is a great time to try new things and explore new horizons. Why not try some tarot spells as you soak up the sunshine and power of this magickal season? Take a deck on your travels for emergency charms work on the go, cast a tarot spell to attract a summer romance, or just lay back and relax with a tarot spell to release tension. Although the summer’s not endless, the potential of magick is, and tarot is a ready key for opening the door into unlimited possibility.

Melanie Marquis is a lifelong practitioner of magick, the author of The Witch’s Bag of Tricks (June 2011, Llewellyn), and the founder of United Witches global coven. Find more ideas for personalized, powerful magick in her book and on the web at www.melaniemarquis.com

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Quantum Physics is Wyrd

By Eoghan Odinsson

Ok, firstly, I am NOT a Physicist. I did take a Physics class at University, but that’s was years ago, and not my area of expertise. So please take what I say with a grain of Salt, and feel free to set me straight if I’m off base.

For those of you who are new to the Northern Traditions, Wyrd is somewhat like fate. The word “Wyrd” is cognate (related) to many words in the Germanic languages and roughly means “to come to pass, to become, to be due”.

Wyrd is not your fate or destiny carved in stone, we are not trapped by Wyrd, but our lives are shaped by it. For example, suppose you were born with no legs. Would that mean you would be fated to never run a marathon? Certainly not. It would make it a big challenge, but with today’s technology could be over come – via prosthetics for example.

So Wyrd sets us on a certain course, but we have the ability to alter course, and change our lives – so our forefathers believed.

My thoughts one day happened on Wyrd, and my belief in it. From time to time I like to consider what I “believe” in…..we all change, and sometimes it’s good to re-examine old beliefs in light of new experience, evidence etc.

Here’s where we get to the Scientific stuff (cover your ears if you must).

The Physics our grandfathers learned were heavily dependent on the works of Sir Isaac Newton – you know the guy who thought up gravity after being hit on the head by an apple . So we know that branch of physics as Newtonian Physics. I like Newtonian Physics; it’s neat, tidy, and certain. You can calculate things, and know what to expect.

If the multiverse were governed purely by Newtonian Physics, then the Universe should be totally predictive…that is, if I had all the information, I could predict any event with 100% accuracy. So life would be pre-destined, which would contradict our understanding of Wyrd – which we can influence. Hmmm….so do we throw out the concept of Wyrd in favour of Newtonian Physics? Not yet.

Quantum physics or mechanics, tells us that there is no certainty, only probability (things exist in multiple states simultaneously), there can be no prediction of a single outcome, all outcomes are viable, and do occur. So we likely have layers of realities – multiple universes, or the multiverse – a bubbly frothy foam of possibility.

So actions I take, according to Quantum Physics, will affect things in a way nobody can predict ahead of time. We can only talk about probable outcomes. So then my “fate” is not set in stone! My “Wyrd” is mine to manipulate, and even the Gods don’t know where I’ll end up.

So, Quantum Physics gives me faith in Wyrd!

Canadian born Eoghan Odinsson is an award winning journalist and author with a lifelong passion for the knowledge of our Northern forefathers – or “folk lore”. Literally, the knowledge of our people. Graduating from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland with his Masters of Science degree, he subsequently taught for the University, and was a dissertation advisor for graduate students. In addition to his academic background, Eoghan also holds a Black Belt in Shito-Ryu Karate, and has taught Martial Arts in Canada and the USA. Eoghan has just returned from a 10 year stretch working in the Washington D.C. area, and is now back in his native Ottawa Valley where he lives with his wife, son and three dogs.

You can find out more about him and his book at www.northernlore.com

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Oft-overlooked dangers in indoor workings

By Jill Malenoir

Especially for those who always work indoors, there are certain dangers to beware of.

If you often find you need to cleanse your home of bad vibes, etc., it could be that you are unaware of the ways some entities gain access.

One way is a circle cast without considering certain safeguards.

Mirrors, tvs, computer screens, Glass tabletops, glass doors and windows, pictures and other reflecting surfaces need to be covered, as they can allow entities in. Mirrors and pictures can be turned to face the wall, or be covered with a sheet or similar cloth.

Clocks should be stopped or removed from the room, although I’m not expecting you to get a hernia trying to remove the grandfather clock! Watches too need to be kept out of circle.

Phones should be unplugged or turned off, including mobiles.

There are good reasons for all of these measures, inside your circle you are out of both place and time, and you do not need a clock chime or a phone ringing whilst you are meditating, it can cause you to come out of trance too quickly resulting in a mental shock, as well as ruining your working.

Mirrors have a special place in magic and folklore. We all know the superstition of seven years bad luck for breaking one, but there are many reasons to be wary of them.

Getting between two mirrors (take care at the hairdressers) is supposed to take a part of your spirit, in the same way as photographs. The more reflections you can see, the more is taken from you.

Conversely, entities multiply in multiple reflections as they seek to gain entry, they are drawn by energy workings.

They are not all bad though, there are plenty of spells using mirrors, just take care when using them.

Take reasonable precautions and you should have less trouble with unpleasant entities and atmospheres.

Happy Circle Raising.

Jill Malenoir has been openly Pagan for 45 years, Coven trained, she now works with a blend of Witchcraft and Druidry, is a Hospital Visitor and celebrant.

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Element Meditation – Fire

By Beth Holtum

As it’s the Litha edition of the Pagan Friends’ Webzine, I thought I’d share a Fire Meditation.

If you wish, start by casting a circle in your usual way around the area you’ll be working in. Place a Carnelian crystal, or object you associate with the Fire element at the South of your circle. Alternatively, you could hold the crystal/item – try it and see what works for you.

You may also wish to light a candle that can burn safely while you meditate, and have that in the South too. I associate the colour red with Fire and the South – but go with what makes sense to you.

Sit in the middle of your circle facing South (preferably on a cushion or chair if you need back support, to avoid physical distraction from your meditation).

Settle yourself into a comfortable position and read through the meditation to familiarise yourself with it.

Remember to have a notebook and pen with you for taking notes afterwards.

The Meditation

Sitting comfortably, facing South. 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 West to East, your right side round behind you to your left. Visualise it as a dark line on the floor. Gradually visualise that arc rising over you, shrouding you in darkness, rising as a dome that covers you in a protective shell. 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 darken dome.

Settle yourself into this safe stillness. Accept the silence and solitude. Focus again on your breathing, with each breath inhale tranquillity and exhale tension.

Slowly you sense heat building around you and light rising in front of you. The Sun is starting his ascent for a new day in your life. The light starts to fill you with warmth and anticipation.

Beneath you, the Earth responds to the sun’s presence and conducts heat to your body. You sense heat building from the Earth below you – it is a sensual heat that caresses you and awakens you. The heat rises, and suddenly a spark ignites within in you – lighting your inner fire. Visualise it as a glowing coal that sits below your belly that compels you to stare into it.

Your inner fire holds the power of your will; your creative ability and sexual expression. It sparks your anger, your fear and your ability to take action. Enjoy the heat without fear of being burnt. Stay a while, gazing at your inner fire and how it burns. How bright is it? What fuels it?

Your attention moves on as you hear the rhythmical, metallic beat of an anvil and hammer, and you gain vision of a blacksmith at his forge. You approach to watch him at work. It reminds you of your own creative ability.

He’s making a sword of power, and it is a gift for you. Watch as he shapes and forms the metal, seeing it glow red as he takes it from the fire and transforms it from a rod to a powerful tool. What does this sword mean to you? Feel the anticipation of waiting for it to be ready. What power do you wish to weald with it?

When the sword is ready, accept it as a gift to take with you. Study your sword, its texture, shape, decoration and the scabbard that will hold it safe. Know its purpose. How does it feel to hold it? Your sword remains with you as you settle back into your physical being and return your inner gaze to the horizon in front of you and the light that surrounds you.

When you are ready, visualise the dome rising over you, slowly adjusting you to your everyday surroundings. Return to thoughts to your breathing, and slowly come back to normal consciousness.

You can purchase Carnelian crystals from Beth’s shop Rainbow-Spirit

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Excerpts from Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches

By Aidan Kelly

At some time early in our evolution, certainly by about 1969, our core group one evening was discussing the classic question from The Wizard of Oz: “Are you a good Witch or a bad Witch?” Naturally, we all wanted to be good Witches, and therefore we would need to work White Magic rather than Black Magic—but we quickly discovered that the difference in practice between those two types of magic was not at all obvious.

Someone proposed that White Magic is used to help people, Black instead to harm. Then we began trying to define what constituted help and what harm. Such definitions also proved to be not obvious. Someone suggested that the Golden Rule might apply—but Glenn objected to that line of thought.

“You don’t have the right to decide what is good for someone else,” she said. “They have the right to decide for themselves whether something would help them or harm them. After all, the Inquisitors said they were burning the witches for their own good. You have to ask if people want you to do magic to help them. They might not.”

“You mean we would need to ask permission?” someone asked.

“Yes,” Glenn said. “That’s what it means.”

“But what if a person is unconscious?” she was asked.

“You need to ask someone with the right to give permission for him, or her,” she said.

This now led us into an almost Talmudic dialog.

“Can a mother give permission for her child?”

“It is allowed.”

“A husband for his wife?”

“It is allowed.”

“A boyfriend for his girlfriend?”

“If you know they are committed to carrying each other’s karma, yes. Otherwise, it is not allowed.”

And so on.

We had many more discussions of how ethics should work in the Craft, and in about 1971 I wrote these up in the document entitled “Aporrheton1 Five: The Craft Laws,” which began to be circulated during the following years. The principle that one must ask permission before doing anything that would affect another person, whether by means of magic or physically, thus became generally accepted among Wiccans in America. As far as I know, Glenn Turner should be credited with having stated it first.

From 1969 on the Order began holding regular public circles for the Sabbats and has continued to do so ever since. The circles were held in public parks in good weather, in rented halls during the rainy season. It was not unusual for several hundred people to attend a Sabbat, even though one could hear of them only by word of mouth. That is, the NROOGD Sabbats were larger than many of the later festivals in the 1980s. In the San Francisco Bay Area of the late 1960s, beset by student revolts, war protests, and civil rights marches, the peaceful NROOGD circles attracted no official attention whatsoever. The success of these public circles was one factor that helped overcome the initial secrecy of the Wiccan movement and led to the creation of regional and national festivals beginning about 1979.

For our Mabon Sabbat in 1969, we decided to hold a weekend campout at Samuel Taylor State Park in Marin, a central location that we could all get to. At that Sabbat we gave white cords to a few people who hadn’t been able to get to the Lammas Sabbat. The strain of commuting had begun to tell on our northernmost members; so perhaps what happened that night resulted as much from a premonition that this would be the last gathering of our original hardcore as from my spontaneous additions to the ritual.

I knew we were meeting on the night when the Eleusinian Mysteries would have begun if the classical Greek calendar were still being used; so I broke the order of our usual ritual, by leading all off in a torchlit procession, crying “Kore!” and “Evohe!” and “Iakkhos!” down the hillside, across wooden bridges, down to a spring, where, as I recall, I first spoke the myth of Kore’s gift of immortality, then back to the circle, where we invoked the full Ninefold Muse with nine priestesses, whom I, like Orpheus, audaciously let in a chain dance about the fire; then all joined the circle, and we danced until all but Catherine and I had dropped from exhaustion, until again that silent energy rose and lapped its waves around us, filling the entire campground with a warm mistiness that was everywhere except where I was looking. . . .

Given our excitement at having been able to raise such energy, given that we now had our white cords, for whatever they were worth, and given also that the dust of moving had settled somewhat, we finally met for our discussion about esbats on October 25, 1969, at the new home of Joe and Glenn in Lagunitas. We had a potluck dinner and listened to a BBC interview by Theodore Roszak with a London witch, Zachary Cox, who was then (I learned later) the High Priest of Gerald Gardner’s original coven. (Geoff B. later commented, “It wasn’t until I heard that tape that I was certain this whole thing was not just Aidan’s headtrip!”) I also explained to the group what I had recently learned about Soviet psi research. Late in the evening, after a few people had already left, we finally turned to talking about our main business: could we hold nude esbats? It soon became clear that everyone there wanted to hold them. Okay, but how do we get started?

At this point, Fritz — and may the Lady preserve him in Canadian winters! — stood up, said, “The only way to have one is to have one,” and started taking off his clothes. We all looked at each other, got up, and began taking off our clothes too — and there we stood, naked, grinning shyly at one another. Glenn got out her tools, and we began the ritual. For lack of space we danced with our arms around waists or shoulders chanting, singing, stamping our feet — and the energy came: we got high, and higher, and even higher. “Goddam, stoned again!” Joe sang out, and we all giggled. Finally, we were too tired to go on. We broke the circle, and got dressed, and drifted homeward in a pleasant glow that lasted for days afterward.

Thus our coven began. As Larry S. commented later, it should have been obvious, and of course at the time it wasn’t, that our first esbat would have to happen spontaneously.

1 “Aporrheton” was Greek for “that which may not be spoken,” and referred to the lesser secrets of the Eleusinian Mysteries; Athenian law made it a capital offense to reveal those secrets to the uninitiated. However, the greater secrets were “arrheton,” i.e., impossible to state in words and therefore needed no protection by a mere human law.

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Healing Victor

For Beltane 1973 the NROOGD Red Cord Council decided to try having a skyclad Sabbat, for initiates only. We were all used to being skyclad at esbats and to going skinny-dipping at the nude beaches, but we thought that having a concentration of several dozen skyclad Witches to raise a cone of power might be an interesting experience. As it turned out, this experiment also had a useful purpose.

We were holding the Sabbat on a Sunday night, since that was when we could rent the Unitarian hall. On that Sunday morning, Alison Harlow phoned at 6:00 a.m. to tell us that Victor had awakened at 4:00 a.m. vomiting blood, and had been rushed to the hospital; he was in intensive care, and his prognosis was guarded. Could we work for him at the Sabbat? Well, yes, we should be able to do that.

After some local calls to the other people running the Sabbat, at 11:00 I got through to Herman Slater at the Warlock Shop in New York City. He in turn phoned Lady Theos, who had recently become the reigning Queen of the Gardnerians in America after the Bucklands had retired, and at 11:30 she, to my surprise and delight, phoned me. We chatted; she offered to send me what information she could on Gardnerian practices. She said most covens had already met, but they’d at least get a circle of Elders together to work for Victor. I phoned her back at 2:00 to double-check time, and she said that covens had been contacted in Chicago, Philadelphia, Texas, Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere; and many were reconvening to work for Victor. She was quite astonished; this was the first time that all the traditions were getting together, despite the squabbles, to work for a common purpose. Thus the plans were laid for a national cone of power to be transmitted to Victor at 9 p.m. PDT, and it worked out that Alta would be the Priestess who would focus it. She wrote the following account of that experience.

This was to be a special Sabbat for our Order: the first closed, skyclad Sabbat, with only coven members attending. We had all expected it to be a special evening—and now we had work to do for a dear friend. Since I was to be the Green Priestess for this Sabbat, I was already “keyed” for the occasion, but the thought of energy, not just from our group, but from other groups as well, passing through me to Victor was a little awesome. I tried to spend the day becoming and keeping as psychically clear as I could. I fasted and meditated, and by the time the ritual was starting, I was very trancy, but determined to catch our energy, gather what was sent, and send it on to Victor, without being knocked off balance by it.

I stood in the center, facing south, as forty skyclad people danced wordlessly around me, stomping out complex rhythms. I was filled with a fantasy that the walls of our temple had become a giant grove of trees, that I was surrounded by massive beasts shuffling in the darkness. Off to one side was the sound of a drum, and the drumbeat became a collective heartbeat. The energy began to build and rose like a pulsating wall around me. At the cardinal points the heat and tension of it was magnified. The energy peaked over us—and the group held the feeling. The circle moved faster, and we entered into a time vortex. The smell of warm bodies, the sound of rasping breaths, began to press in on me.

From the middle of my upper back, a warm, tingling feeling spread to my chest, through my throat, to my forehead and crown. There was an urgent feeling of pressure in me—I called for the group to drop. As they dropped, the collected energy entered my heart, flew up into my head, passed through me into the wand I held. But the energy from the East hadn’t arrived yet. Somehow I had to hold that energy poised, and wait. I stood, holding the wand before me, both hands outstretched, feet braced against the floor, rooted to the center of the circle. Now, finally, a door seemed to open, and energy from elsewhere began to pass through me, into the wand. I held on as long as I could, and when I could hold no longer, I spun the tip of the wand, forming the energy into a ball, and threw it with the words “Victor! Catch!” The ball streaked out, leaving a bright tail connected to the wand.

I tried to sit down, but found that my knees were locked. Finally I managed to sink slowly, awkwardly, to the floor, and sat crosslegged, holding the wand before me, as the group chanted and Om’d, and more energy flowed through me to Victor. A century or so later—fifteen or twenty minutes, at least—the power stopped flowing, the group was quiet . . ..

When the ritual ended, I was very high. I had no doubts it had worked, nor had any of the 40 or so others there . . . . It was not until the following Tuesday afternoon that I was . . . out of my altered state of consciousness.

Alta was and is the most gifted clairvoyant I have ever known. The preceding is not metaphor, but is a factual description of what she felt and perceived.

The doctors had planned to operate on Victor Monday morning, but he was feeling so much better that they postponed the surgery and did another examination. To their surprise, they could not even see where the bleeding had been coming from; the wound had already healed. The technicians were also quite puzzled, Victor said, about why all the instruments attached to him had gone crazy at 9:00 Sunday night.

Gwydion did some counting and found that exactly 13 covens were working that night. However, since many covens had already met on Saturday night and simply could not reassemble the next night, many Witches were also working for Victor individually at the appointed hour; Gwydion estimated there might have been about 500 people altogether. Alta had commented after the meeting that there had been enough energy to blow a battleship out of the water, and that Victor had taken only what he needed and had sent the rest back, or on, or somewhere. It was thus not surprising that everyone at the Sabbat was high afterward and that it turned into quite a party. . . .

Alta also said that when she started focusing in on Victor, she kept seeing a room with two beds, which seemed odd, since most intensive care rooms have only one. But in fact there were two beds in Victor’s room. On Monday, when Victor was feeling much better, he began chatting with his roommate, who turned out to be of Hawaiian extraction also. They had a fine discussion of Hawaiian folklore and suchlike, and after a while the other man got up enough nerve to ask Victor, very circumspectly, where all that mana in the room the night before had come from. Victor laughed heartily over that. He was home by Wednesday, feeling quite well.

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The World Parliament of Religions

The Second World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1993, marking the centennial of the first such parliament, was a major step toward world ecumenicism. For the first time delegates from many major and minor religions, including COG and the NROOGD, met face to face and have remained in contact ever since. Many amateur papers on things religious were read to diverse audiences, as well as a few by recognized scholars. The renowned Hans Küng authored a manifesto on religious rights and freedoms that was adopted by the parliament. Deborah Light, the only person present who was a member of COG, of the Fellowship of Isis, and of the Church of All Worlds, signed it as the representative of the Pagans.

Not all was sweetness and light. The Greek Orthodox delegation walked out of the parliament to protest the presence of the Witches, whose request to hold a circle in the nearby park was initially denied by the Parks Department. However, in preparation for the grand entrance procession that began the parliament, a spectacle modeled after the entrance parade at the Olympic games, the groups were arranged alphabetically in the staging area. Thus it happened that the Covenant of the Goddess was stationed right next to the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, and Phyllis Curott, lawyer, author, and then First Officer of COG, was able to chat casually with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the archbishop of Chicago.

After COG’s request had been denied, Phyllis turned to Cardinal Bernardin on live television and asked him if he could please use his influence to ensure that the religious rights of other American citizens would be respected. The Cardinal could hardly have refused. The permit was issued, and the COG circle was held on the spot (carefully chosen) where the riots had broken out at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. The ritual, led by Phyllis, was spectacular, and the huge circle included Hindus, Moslems, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and members of many other religions. The worship of the Goddess made front-page news and could no longer be ignored, at least, not so easily.

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Litha MoonLore

By Liz

The approaching Solstice on June 21st (Summer for those of us in the Northern half of the globe, Winter for those in the Southern half) this year falls on a Tuesday when the Moon is Waning in it’s Third Quarter, in Piscies and 10 days away from dark (New) Moon.

Tuesdays are all about love, passion and sex, courage, aggression and protection, fire in the belly, and burning desires,

and Piscies being all about dreaming, nostalgia, intuition, psychic impressions and a good time for spiritual and adventurous social activities, it should find us all looking back to early encounters and previous conquests with fond memories

and preparing for good times ahead, but maybe with some caution thrown in for good measure.

The Sun also enters Cancer on the 21st, so this is where things should get rather interesting.

So begins a short period of contentment and enjoyment for your midweek so long as finances allow. If the money situation is pulling you down, now might be a good time to shop around to get a better deal and make the money coming in go just that little bit further. There’s a bargain to be had that could make all the difference if you can find it.

Also those of us who tend to bite our tongues and keep quiet really should speak up for ourselves a little more around this time, or it will be a case of too little too late.

Saint Johns’ Eve (and Cornish Golowan) on the Thursday 23rd June coincides with the Moon entering it’s 4th Quarter in Aries.

Thursdays are all about money, cash, cheques, banking, loans, prosperity, expansion, generosity and investment,

and Aries is good for starting things but lacking in staying power, rapid changes, and folk being somewhat argumentative and difficult to get on with, so we should find it a time when we are needing to continue to be extra careful with out money.

We could find ourselves faced with changed plans, or caught up in some kind of disruption. Perhaps we ought to distance ourselves from those who aren’t being very sociable.

Traditionally a good night for jumping bonfires, taking a dip in moving waters and making special “wishes” to fetch good luck! And I can think of much less enjoyable ways to spend the evening, of course!

The following weekend should be quite grounded for us as the Moon progresses through to Taurus, but be prepared to become quite selfish and greedy as we all know that’s the sign of wanting instant gratification and longing for sensory experience. We could develop a taste for the finer things in life.

The end of June sees the Moon moving into Gemini and for a few days away from the next dark (New) phase, our courage may be riding a little on the low especially if put to the test.

As Wane turns to Wax and we start July at Dark (New) Moon, in Cancer, on a Friday, the focus will be on meeting new friends and making changes in our surroundings.

So there we have it, exciting and challenging times ahead and mixed blessings for us all!

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The Occult connection to the Third Reich

By Simon Cash

Did the Nazi party utililise Occult means to gain power and how deep did their interest in the Occult go?

In order to understand the rise of the Nazi Party to power in the 1930’s, it is important to step back in time a little to the formation of Germany in 1871 from a mixture of many smaller German-speaking territories which were all divided in turn into several hundred kingdoms, principalities, duchies, bishoprics, fiefdoms and independent cities and towns. Suddenly, this new young country formed out of all of this was thrown into Europe against the background of social change that was the late 19th and early 20th century. So there was a young nation with no sense of History and very little sense of identity.

At the same time, there was a wind of change all across Europe. The established authority of the Church had been shaken by Darwin’s “Origin of the species”. There was a time of spiritualism, fuelled partly by Queen Victoria’s interest in contacting the deceased Prince Albert. From their very beginning, the Ripper Murders were tagged with a occult significance. Occult and Masonic type lodges flourished among the upper and middle classes, both in Britain and the European continent. New fiction was putting forward some radical ideas; Bram Stokers Dracula was published in 1897, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had been published 1818 but found popularity in the later half of the 19th century. Jules Verne and H G Wells explored some speculative ideas which a century before would have been deemed heretical by the church. Science was moving at a fast rate and the effects of that science could be seen. Electric street lighting and radio; devices like these had a immediate effect on the general population, factories were becoming more mechanised and mass production had its effect on social order.

It was the era of the “Gentleman Scientist”. Along with Darwinism and the microscope, these were the early days of psychology and sociology. Exploration into the ‘wilder’ areas of the world such as the Amazon basin and New Guinea led to new theories in anthropology as for the first time explorers came face to face with so called primitive tribes. This led onto the theory of eugenics. These ‘Gentleman Scientists’ were of the upper middle classes, the same people who were members of Lodges.

It was a time when the established pillars of religion and science were being shaken and out of this Spiritual mix came several key characters in what would be the eventual rise of Nazism. Its important to remember that at this time no one foresaw what would eventually happen; with the value of hindsight this essay is easy to write.

Starting with Helena Blatskavy and the Theosophical society; Blatskavy claimed she was in telepathic contact with a race of homo superior called the Aryans, that they had been a highly developed and evolved race like the Atlantis and the Hyperborians and that they were a “root” race (that is to say the current world races, were mongrel mixes of the Aryans and other less developed primitive races). The once mighty empire of the Aryans was now nothing more than a couple of outposts in the Himalayas and they had travelled to northern Europe where they had seeded the Nordic races. And while Blatskavy certainly influenced British Occult Lodges such as The Order of the Golden Dawn, she influenced the European Occult lodges too.

The Godfather of Nazism was Guido Von List. Von List popularised the notion that Runes had magical properties, much in the same way that the Kabbalistic scholars attributed magical properties to the Hebrew alphabet. He studied heraldry and incorporated a lot of occult meanings into coats of arms. He believed that in the middle ages there was a secret society a kind of Templar society called “Armanashaft” who were Warrior/King/Priests who ruled the richer European lands from behind the scenes. Its very doubtful this society ever really existed, but List projected all his nationalistic fantasies onto them. He also wound into this fantasy the dominance of the Roman Catholic church in Germany as a kind of “Occupation of the German states by the Roman Empire.”

Along with List was a ex Cistersersian monk called Jorg lanz Von Liebenfrels. Jorg was living in Vienna in 1904, where he published his book Theozoologie (“Theozoology”) in which he advocated sterilization of the sick and the “lower races” as well as forced labour for “castrated chandals”, and glorified the “Aryan race” as “Gottmenschen” (“god-men”). Theozoologie could also be said to encompass what has now come to be called cryptozoology. Lanz justified his Neognostic racial ideology by attempting to give it a Biblical foundation; according to him, Eve, whom he described as initially being divine, involved herself with a demon and gave birth to the “lower races” in the process. (A mixing of the “Lilith” Story of the Hebrew’s into the Book of Genesis. )Furthermore, he claimed that this led to blonde women being attracted primarily to “dark men”, something that only could be stopped by “racial de mixing”. One year later, in 1905, he founded the magazine Ostara, Briefbücherei der Blonden und Mannesrechtler, of which he became the sole author and editor in 1908. Lanz himself claimed to have up to 100,000 subscribers, but it is generally agreed that this figure is grossly exaggerated. Readers of this publication included, amongst others, Adolf Hitler and Dietrich Eckart. Lanz claimed he was once visited by the young Hitler, whom he supplied with two missing issues of the magazine. Also in 1905, Lanz and some fifty other supporters of List signed a declaration endorsing the proposed Guido-von-List-Gesellschaft (Guido Von List Society) which was officially founded in 1908. He also founded his own esoteric organisation, the Ordo Novi Templi (Order of the New Templars) in 1907. These movements were supposed to “further the racial self-confidence by doing pedigree and racial research, beauty contests and the founding of “future sites” in underdeveloped parts of the Earth” (“das Rassebewusstsein durch Stammbaum- und Rassekundeforschung, Schönheitswettbewerbe und die Gründung rassistischer Zukunftsstätten in unterentwickelten Teilen der Erde zu fördern”). To further this agenda, he purchased the Werfenstein castle ruins in Austria. Neither organization really managed to attract a large member base, though; it is estimated that the order had around three hundred members, the most prominent of whom was the poet Fritz Von Herzmanovsky-Orlando. Lanz’s claim that the organization was already founded prior to 1900, and that he met with August Strindberg in 1896 and managed to convince him to join the order, have been shown to be fabricated. Even though the order was small in number and some of its claims unfounded its influences were sadly very wide reaching. Prior to all of this Jorg Von Libenrfels had made his name as a Bible scholar, which lent an air of authenticity to his later work.

Now the young Adolf Hitler joined the German Army at the outbreak of hostilities and his job all through the War was a communications messenger on the front line. He ran messages from trench to trench, a job which had a short life expectancy due to the dangers involved. However, Hitler thrived in this environment; he had extreme ‘luck’ and was awarded the Iron Cross, though never made it past Corporal on the promotions ladder. Hitler was temporarily blinded in a gas attack towards the end of the First World War and some say he had a epiphany while recuperating in hospital. While he was in Hospital the German High command surrendered, not because of a military disadvantage (in fact the German Army was “winning” in 1918), but because in Germany itself its infrastructure was collapsing. Citizens in Germany were starving, the workers in the factories which supplied the war machine the were striking and it is this severance in supply which prompted the end of hostilities. Germany was more or less starved into submission, something that along with the hyper-inflation of the 1930’s fed the German peoples sense of being unjustly treated, especially among the Military. The old Solders believed they could have won and blamed the Surrender on the strikers, labelling them Communists and Trade Unionists.

On some photographs and newsreels of the First World War, German Solders had decorated their kit with the Swastika and Runes for luck. The ideas of Von List had filtered down from the intellectual upper classes to the solders in the trenches, Its possible these ideas and concepts of people like Von List and Liberfrels had been used as propaganda on the front line troops.

After the War Hitler, still in the employment of the Army travelled to Munich, Also in Munich was the “Thule Society” one of many Occult Lodges which had sprang up after the War, who’s membership was a mixture of Aryan promoting intellectuals and War hardened veterans. The “Thule Society” decided to create a political wing and called it “The German Workers Party”. Hitler was sent into to gather information on communist groups and he had been sent to gather information on the German Workers Party. Hitler, however, found himself in agreement with their ideas and within a few months was leading the Workers Party. The Thule Society found this Iron Cross decorated war hero and began to “Groom” him, they introduced him to the upper classes and industrialists, he received lessons off a drama coach to improve his ability and charisma as a public speaker. This is the start point of Nazis here in Munich with the Thule Society and people like Alfred Rosenberg (Hung in the Nuremberg trails) and Dietreich Eckart. Rosenberg was a anti Semitic and anti Communist, and published the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; a hoax or propaganda document of the alleged minutes of the 1896 world conference of Jews where the high ranking Jews all over the world have a summit and take minutes of their master plan?

This document still resurfaces every now and then as different factions try and pin their own agendas to it. The most recent one being that Rosenberg substituted Jews for Masons and its actually a Masonic plan to take over the world! The Thule Society wasn’t just a intellectual society though; they became active. The closest analogy I can give is that the Thule Society were the IRA and the German Workers Party, Sinn Fein. The Thules got their hands dirty and committed violence against other political groups, especially in their home base of Munich. Hitler’s relationship with the Thule’s was symbiotic, they needed a charismatic spokesman and he needed power, suffice to say Hitler manoeuvred himself to power as his power grew his methods of gaining power became more sophisticated. Hitler however saw the Occult side as a means to a end, there were more active and occult practising members of the Nazi party who gained power along with Hitler in the 1920-1940 time period.

So the base for Nazism was certainly influenced by Mystics, Occultics, Proto Historians and Spiritualists.

Heinrich Himmler and Rudolph Hess were probably the two most occult driven members of the Nazi Party, Hess was fascinated by Astrology where Himmler was much more Aryan influenced. It was Himmler a academic who had studied classical literature who founded the “Ahnenerbe” (A think tank that promoted itself as a “study society for Intellectual Ancient History.” Founded on July 1, 1935, by Heinrich Himmler, Herman Wirth, and Richard Walther Darré, the Ahnenerbe’s goal was to research the anthropological and cultural history of the Aryan race, and later to experiment and launch voyages with the intent of proving that prehistoric and mythological Nordic populations had once ruled the world). This group is the base for the Nazi Artefact hunters in the Indiana Jones films and while the Indiana Jones films are fiction, historical research shows that the Ahnenerbe funded expeditions to, Iceland, The Crimea, Italy, The Ukraine and Tibet to search for proof and artefacts that could be shoehorned into the Nazi Propaganda machine. The Ahnererbe members were usually members of the SS or given “honorary” commission in the SS as in the case of Otto Rahn who’s Homosexuality was conveniently overlooked as long as he was achieving results… Of course when Otto Rahn’s search for the Holy Grail began to fail it was a different matter.

Hummler’s SS adopted the double Sieg rune as it’s symbol, again going back to the theories of Von List and fallen SS solders had a different gravestone, another rune instead of the cross. This was again to set them apart as a different race. They celebrated different holidays and swore some very Occult sounding Oaths on joining the SS.

Himmler himself thought he was a reincarnation of a King Heinrich of the 10th century who ruled over the lands west of Rome and was thought to be one of the mythical Armamanaschaft. Himmler also devised a practical method of reintroducing the Aryan race, Membership of the SS was based on physical and genealogical characteristics, Polygamy was encouraged among the SS and there were what now would be called Breeding and Nursemaid programmes. This reached a point where Aryan looking children and babies were being removed from their parents in the occupied countries and taken to the Aryan Nursery. Himmlers plan was a expansion of the German peoples “living room” eastwards across the Baltic states and eventually Russia. He was also in charge of the “Race and Resettlement Had the ideas of the Third Reich come to pass and they succeeded to some romantic notion of a pre industrial society, where majority of the population were peasants but the ruling over-class had the upper hand in all things including technological superiority inventions of the age (Rockets, jet aircraft, Television) would be under the control of the Armanashaft ruling class. As well as the mystical icons and spiritual well-being of the Third Reich.

Hess was one of Hitler’s original groupies. Introduced to Hitler through the Thule society. Its debatable what the reasons for Hess flying solo to Britain and trying to broker a peace treaty, some say it was a plan by secret agents who used Hess’s interest in Astrology and his personal Astrologer to manipulate Hess into doing so, some say it was a independent action of Hess and he believed he was acting in the best interests of Germany and Hitler for doing so. Whatever the reasons, Hess failed in his mission and ended up a prisoner. (Its interesting to note that Ian Fleming proposed that Hess should be debriefed by Alistair Crowley in a attempt to lean any Nazi occult secrets and plans.)

In Germany however, days after Hess’s flight Hitler (who had Dictatoral power over the German people by then) decreed that all Astrologers, Fortune Tellers, Palm readers etc. were to be arrested. Many were and subsequently to disappear into the concentration camp system. The Occult Lodges were systematically raided by the SS and their books and artefacts confiscated, most ending up at Himmlers’ Wewelsburg castle in the Alme Valley which was the headquarters of the SS. This put a end to German occultism at least for a while and it is interesting to note though, that for all its occult themed Propaganda, any actual successes from the rituals of the SS seems to be ill documented.

A myth has grown up around the Hapsburg Spear, supposedly the Spear of Destiny, the Spear thrust into Jesus’ side by a Roman Solider at the Crucifixion. Indeed one of Hitler’s first actions once he annexed Austria was to have the spear removed to Nuremberg and it is said that on the 30th April 1945 (the day Hitler committed suicide) the spear fell into the hands of the 7th American Army.

Whilst the American Space program certainly benefited from the Nazi scientists and debate still rages on should current Medical Science should use the results of Nazi medial experiments, Nazi occultism is a forgotten field. Were all the successes of the Nazi Occultists successfully eradicated? Or is it far more plausible that they never really achieved success in the first place and even at the highest levels of their most secret societies the practices were nothing more than ritual without any tangible Occult Result?

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Moldavite

By Beth Holtum

Here’s the low down on another of my favourite crystals, which I use for protection; pursuing a spiritual path and for transformation through life.

Moldavite is a baby of the crystal world, having been formed relatively recently, compared to the other rocks and minerals we use.

A natural glass formation, Moldavite is a green variety of Tektite that formed 14.8 million years ago when a large meteorite entered our atmosphere so fast that it melted before it crashed and exploded on impact in the Czech Republic.

The impact was so great that it formed the Bohemian plateau and Moldavites are found across the vast area. It has a very high vibration, activating all chakras, often giving you a light-headed feeling.

It aids awareness – both personal and spiritual – of your inner secrets and also those of the universe. Moldavite resonates with all chakras, particularly the heart, and carries the power for transformation, rapid spiritual evolution and expansion of awareness, of synchronicity, seeing dark fears in a new light and connection to guides.

It can shine a light into the darker corners of one’s life so that we can see that the things we fear in truth, and find out that they’re not as bad as we thought.

In divinatory terms, drawing Moldavite can indicate a time when you feel alienated from others – that you follow your own path with a greater awareness that others cannot comprehend.

Moldavite, and many other stones are available to purchase in Beth’s store Rainbow Spirit

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Labdanum

By Rebecca L. Brown

Traditionally collected by combing the coats of sheep and goats or by raking plants with a rake called a ladanisterion, labdanum is produced by certain species of rockrose native to the Mediterranean. The best quality resin is said to come from the rockrose which was originally native to Crete, although the majority of modern labdanum comes from Morocco, Spain and France.

Although best known as an incense, labdanum has historically been used in a variety of ways. In Egypt it was also used within the embalming process, in perfumes, whilst the Cretans used it as an ingredient in skin creams.

At room temperature, labdanum is a thick resinous liquid. To make it easier to use, it can be poured onto wax paper and frozen until required when pieces can be broken off or shaved away using a blade.

Labdanum incense was widely used across the Mediterranean. The Hebrews, and later the Orthodox church, used it as a ceremonial incense and it was popular in the Minoan kingdoms (where it was often combined with mastic) and Egypt (where it was a common ingredient of Kyphi mixtures).

As an incense, labdanum can be used to heighten visions, moods or memories. It is said to strengthen a person’s awareness of their body and help uncover inner warmth. It is also useful for grounding or for those seeking self-discovery. It is used as a fixative for other scents and to add a mossy or leathery undertone to blends.

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Nettles

by Rebecca L. Brown

The name nettle is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon ‘noedl’ meaning needle.

Nettle leaves can be picked fresh (whilst wearing gloves) and boiled or steamed as a vegetable and the water in which they are cooked can then be drunk as nettle tea or used as a hair wash. The cooked leaves can be blended into soups, added to sauces and added to a variety of dishes or eaten like cooked spinach. Nettles can also be dried or bought as tea bags or in capsules.

As a crop, nettles are easy to grow and cultivate and will adapt to almost any conditions, but be aware that their roots are as intrusive as mint. For this reason, it may be best to grow them in a pot or container.

The nettle has been used in the past to relieve arthritis or to improve circulation through a process of self-flagellation. It supposedly has anti-inflammatory and anti-hystamine properties and has been said to relieve allergy, asthma and hayfever symptoms when taken internally in dried form. Eating stewed nettles has been traditionally used in some countries to relieve pain. They also contain boron and silicon which are thought to alleviate the symptoms of bursitis, tendonitis and arthritis and are rich in vitamins A, C and E. The natural diuretic properties of nettles mean that, when taken internally, they can help lower blood pressure, relieve bloating and even reduce the risk of kidney stones.

Nettles should not be used by pregnant or nursing women as there is some evidence that they might induce contractions and cause an imbalance in electrolytes.

Nettles can be used to make cloth or paper. The juice can be used to make green or yellow dyes or as a substitute for rennet in cheese making. A burnable oil can be extracted from nettle seeds and nettles are often included in hair treatments to improve shine or as a remedy for baldness.

Because of it’s many healing and nourishing properties, nettles have been used magickally to nourish the spiritual self. At the same time, it’s sting has led to it’s use as a protective and warding plant. Nettles are the promise of a gift at a price, a prize which is only reachable by the brave.

The inclusion of nettle fibres in some ancient British burial cloths might mean that it was associated with the boundary between life and death and it is traditionally a boundary guardian and a ward against curses.

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Seabhac: The Wounded Hawk
By T. Fox Dunham

I leaned against the lone oak tree at the river, among the grass and acorns, pen in hand, pressing it to my writing journal till a puddle of blue ink soaked the pages. The words failed to come. I’d lost them somewhere just after my first chemo treatment, fallen out of my heart like the hair from my head. Even now in remission, I couldn’t compose one line of prose. Writing had always come to me like breathing, an automatic function of my life, the way I met the world. Sans my work, I’d fade from the living world.

My body, only nineteen years in age, had hosted battle to a rare species of lymphoma—a rare, composite cell type that always proved fatal. They’d burned me to ash with toxic chemicals, with daily lashings of radiation. Through some miracle or mistake in god’s abacus, I survived, becoming the first, but I’d never asked myself whether I wanted to live.

Now it was done. The true trial in my life began the day the cancer went into remission five months before.

I had used magick in my battle with cancer, my work with shape changing, animal transformation like one of my ancient mentors, Taliesin. Fighting the cancer, I envisioned myself a fox, tricking and leading the tumor away, which I perceived as hounds. We are gentle spirits, foxes. It became a game. This was part of my path to becoming a bard.

My body felt battered that late afternoon, worn after an event at Penn’s Manor, the museum where I worked—an eighteenth century, colonial manor estate in Pennsylvania, complete with manor house, bake and brew building, servant’s cottage, a farm with animals, and gardens. On June twenty-first each year, minstrels played, volunteers mingled in period dress, blacksmiths hammered and cooks baked and boiled over the open hearth. Families came to travel backwards in time to a gentler era. Escaping to the kinder past was why I had come there months ago.

The twenty-first of June was also a sacred day in the Celtic-pagan calendar: The Solstice, the beginning of the summer season, a day of life afire, fire reaching to me, waiting to touch, to ignite. I still felt inchoate, not finished, part of me here and part of me in the other world. Shamans face death as part of their initiation, their education, emancipation. My uncle had told me this when I was a lad, my teacher, my bearded beloved uncle. I didn’t realize it would be so literal.

For a moment, I slipped back to that place where I always dwelled, the private patient waiting room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Eighty pounds. No longer able to walk. My fair hair starting to grow in like peach fuzz, like soft nettles. My oncologist wanted to stick a tube down my throat, inflicting more pain, an agony already just to swallow. I declined. I made a choice. I let go, ready to die. The next weeks I spent in hospital, slipping away. I sensed a place of summer-always nearby, just beneath the layer of this world. Still my fox brought me back. I had work to do yet. I’m doing it now.

Then I was at the museum again. I resigned my pen and walked the shore of the Delaware River till the swards turned to ferns and the ferns to trees. Silver skinned sycamores and noble oaks stood sentry along the river wild. Here pulsed the ancient wood, preserved as the eyes of the Lenni Lenape tribe had seen it for centuries. The river had recently flooded, scattering knobby driftwood on the forest floor. Mocking birds lilted in triple call on the branches, and I rejoined, knowing their song from many mornings in their company.

I sensed something calling to me, leading me deeper into the ancient domain. I could sense it close—fear, rage, fighting till the end. Bards are sensitive to subtle rhythms. I followed its song deeper, through the sticker brambles. I caught my shirtsleeve on thorns, ripping my skin in dashes. I used the globe in my chest as compass.

A red-tailed hawk waited for death on the roots of a birch tree. Her healthy eye whipped, searching for cat or fox that would exploit her vulnerability. Crippled with broken wing and swollen head, blood dripping into her faded, crimson feathers, the old mother hawk understood her helplessness, but still she thrashed, reminding any who dare come near of the fury in her claws.

So close, I could sense her fury, the tornado in her heart. I could feel her rage, her need for life. She bellowed, allowing death not one extra second.

I knelt by her, and she lunged her head at me.

“You carry a message for me.”

Hawks carry messages between this world and the next. I felt certain she had come to guide me in my faded time. Animal, spirit guides play a vital role in my faith. I’m a bard, a type of Celtic shaman—a system using animism, spirits in the land, in the trees, in the rivers and the wind. An animal spirit walks with us on our path, shares its nature, aids us in our healing and our work with others. During my treatment for cancer, I performed visualization exercises, sending my fox to lure the cancer into the ferns, drawing the beast out, tricking it to the river where the current would take it out to sea, the poison drawn from my body.

“Don’t be afraid now. I’ll guard you, keep away predators.”

I felt my face dampen with tears. We were kin—both trapped between life and passing, inchoate of spirit, torn between both worlds.

“I’m going to get Charlie,” I told her. “He’ll know what to do—Charlie the Goat.”

I feared leaving the beast, but there was nothing else I could do.

Charlie worked by the manor house, cleaning up the front gardens. I told him about the hawk, and he plucked on his oak-moss beard. He fetched a burlap sack from his shed, and I took him to the old mother hawk.

We were careful of her talons as we swept her up into the sack. We secured her, and I held her to my chest, feeling her light body tremble. I sat in the back office of the visitor center, while Charlie made some phone calls, cradling her in my lap. I moved my arm to reach for a cup of tea, and she curled up, driving her talons through the burlap where my arm had just been. She would have pierced my flesh straight through.

Charlie found a non-profit clinic for wounded, wild animals in Newtown—the Ark—an hour’s drive from Morrisville. Charlie didn’t have a car, and I searched for a volunteer, since I wasn’t allowed to drive. The museum staff looked forward to heading home after such an arduous day and didn’t care to drive me. Finally Mary, my friend and mentor at the museum, volunteered.

I’d always been a little in love with Mary—her professional aspect, yet so gentle. She’d taken me under her wing, treated me like a brother. She didn’t own a television and spent her Sundays birding. I always thought she was a bit lonely.

We got into her white Volvo—the little car with zip. I cradled the hawk. We drove out of the site parking lot, beneath muddy skies smothering the sun. The mother hawk became still, taciturn. I feared she wouldn’t survive, we wouldn’t. Only an hour had we been connected, but I could feel a tether between our two lives. Mary also knew. She’d lost her sister to cancer and her mentor, Alice, the site director. She could see the need in my eyes, how much I needed the hawk to live. I’ll love her forever for that day.

I could feel the sturdy clockwork of the hawk’s heart, a minute mechanism like a windup soldier, such a tiny locket to hold the wild, wind spirit. Her heart had been her mother’s heart and the heart of all mothers before, inherited, their spirit shared—something humans had lost—and now this was her first lesson to me.

I’d died once in the hospital and was resuscitated, my body burned away and made new, my raw spirit cleared of fatty fear; and now my spirit surged just beneath my skin. I felt my heart beating in choir to the hawk’s.

Driving over the Tullytown Bridge, the sky’s back snapped, and a river burst onto the Volvo. The sky howled in thunder, igniting the premature dusk with flashbulb whips. Mary wrestled with the steering wheel to keep the car steady against the stampeding buffalo wind.

The storm thrashed at us for most of the trip till its energy waned as we drove into Newtown. Mary flipped on the radio. I knew the song well.

I sang along:

“It’s still the same old story,”

“A fight for love and glory,”

“A case of do or die.”

She shook her head as I exaggerated the song, posing like a lounge lizard.

“The world will always welcome lovers,

“As time goes by.”

Afraid I might continue my act, she flipped off the radio.

“One of my favorite films,” I said. “In all the gin joints in all the world—”

She shrugged.

“Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone before?” she asked.

“Everyone does.”

“Casablanca never did anything for me,” she confessed.

“No!”

We arrived at the Ark. Volunteers took the hawk back and tended to her. I knew she would live. We both would live. A few minutes later, she would have bled to death or been the meal of a lucky cat. I could still feel her cradled in my arms, pressed on my chest, sharing my heart. The old mother hawk raged for every second. Something of the hawk’s spirit went into me, reminding me of my need for life, waking my soul from a coma buried deep in a glacier.

I knew I would dream of her. She would join my fox as a guide for my journey. She drove her dagger talons into me, awakening me with the pain. Life suffered. Life ached. This made it real.

I added her Gaelic name to mine. Seabhac.

I hugged Mary outside, dried my eyes on her cardigan sweater.

“Let’s go home,” I said. “This will make a good story.”

T. Fox Dunham lives outside of Philadelphia, PA. He is a cancer survivor, a historian, and an author published in many international magazines and anthologies, some under the name of T. Joseph Dunham. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment and writing for Beam Me Up Podcasts. He follows the path of a modern bard. His friends all call him Fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: deconstructing civilization one story at a time. www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham

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Being The Change

By Raven Kaldera

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

In the morning, I wake up between my two partners.

I’m polyamorous and pansexual, and I sleep every night between my wife of 16 years and my boyfriend of 8 years. Both of them came into my life after I asked the Gods to provide me with the right partner – not once, but twice. They were given to me, complete with invisible tags saying: “Arranged relationship package from Divine HR, by request – please take delivery!” How do I know what that tag looks like? Easy. It’s a Vesta-Juno conjunction on the ascendant of our composite astrological charts – hers and mine, his and mine. Both times. The odds of that happening twice in a row are … astronomical. But when you’re dealing straight up with Gods, all the odds go to Hel. Literally, in my case.

Of course, it also means that I can’t ever get divorced, should I want to. It’s been made clear to me that to do so would be an insult to Divine HR (also known as The Love Goddesses), and They would punish me accordingly. I’ve seen what they can do. I know better. I also know I’d never get anything better after that, either. This gives me incentive to make my relationships work, with communication and consideration and being a mature adult instead of a jealous child. I’m not perfect, and sometimes I make mistakes, but I try to love through and around and beyond all the social garbage that we’re told about long-term committed relationships. I try to love as if I’d grown up in a world where those didn’t exist. And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

My wife usually gets up before me and goes out to do the morning chores. She feeds the sheep and goats, the chickens and ducks and geese and rabbits, and if it’s winter she starts the big old Victorian wood cookstove that heats our food and our house. We found our stove at a yard sale when we’d first bought our little 18-acre homestead, more than a dozen years ago, and named her Esmeralda. She is the guardian spirit of the kitchen in our admittedly animistic eyes. She costs us nothing but labor. It’s said that woodstoves warm you three times: once when you cut the wood and drag it home, once when you split it, and once when you burn it. We’re working toward energy self-sufficiency, but it’s a long, slow, expensive haul. In the meantime, when the power goes out during our fierce New England blizzards, at least we have hot water and hot food. We log our little piece of the forest in sustainable ways that do not offend the forest spirits. When we say that, we mean it; it isn’t an affectation or a metaphor.

We get our meat and eggs from our farm, and much of our dairy when the goats are in milk. It’s my job to milk them, a meditative job that I’ve come to enjoy.

Hearing the squirt of milk rattle in the pan somehow connects me to centuries of ancestors who heard that same thing on their daily quest for nourishment. When I do the nighttime milking and come outside to a full or near-full moon, I make sure to catch the moon’s reflection in the bowl of milk. It’s good mojo for my nourishment. No, it’s not superstition, it’s all part of the great spell of my survival.

I belong to Hela, the Death Goddess of the Northern Tradition, but I also honor many other gods, some from other pantheons. The patron of our farm is the Norse corn god Frey, the Sacrificial King. We sacrifice to Frey by holding ourselves strictly to organic farming, even though it’s sometimes more work and we do lose crops occasionally. Food is sacred, says Frey, and should be produced and eaten with respect due to the sacred substances that keep you alive. This includes both plants and animals – it was Frey who first explained to me that raising plants that are genetically modified to be soaked in chemical pesticides and still survive, and then extracting their fruits and heating them to such a degree that they develop trans fatty acids, is just as disrespectful to the plant spirit as keeping a chicken in a confined, disease-ridden cage is to the chicken spirit.

I wouldn’t suggest homesteading, getting back to the land, to anyone unless they really loved it. This is not the kind of lifestyle that you take on quickly or thoughtlessly. The physical work alone can eat you, unless you see it as an earth-centered meditation, an act of mindful worship. If one can rake patterns in a Zen garden, one can hoe potatoes with the same mindfulness. Pulling weeds becomes a magical act of cleansing, removing stressful or obsessive thoughts and feelings from one’s mind. There’s an African Ashanti word – fofoo – that literally refers to a kudzu-like weed that must be entirely obliterated from a garden or it will take over and choke the melons and millet. It is also used metaphorically in that language to mean the sort of negativity that will take over your whole life if you let it. Every time I kneel in the garden, it’s a chance to remove fofoo from my head … and other places as well. Every time I lay another bed fertilized with nothing that came from a chemical factory, I remember that I am modeling this for others in some small way. See, it can be done, and done well. And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

The vegetable garden is also my job, as is the herb garden that has entirely taken over our front yard. Since my childhood, I’ve talked to plants. I didn’t have any wise old family members who held old herbal knowledge and taught it to me, as so many famous herbalists have recounted. I did have a grandmother who was into gardening, but she tended towards pansies and pachysandra. My family were middle-class American suburbanites who saw everything in terms of the latest scientific theories, and would have found my practice of talking to plants fanciful at best and ridiculous at worst. Gardening was all right – for a few years my father grew some vegetables in the back yard, and my mother put in a few small trees and some chrysanthemums – but plants weren’t medicine, and they certainly weren’t people that you could talk to.

I knew better. I was one of the outcast children at school, poorly coordinated and oddly behaving, picked last for gym teams and exiled to far left field for many phys-ed classes. Sometimes an hour would go by without a ball coming my way (not that I could have caught it, anyway), or anyone noticing that I was sitting down in the tall grasses at the edge of the recess field, touching weeds. Sometimes I would pick leaves and fold them, pull them apart. Sometimes I just stroked them like a pet. (I wasn’t allowed pets at home due to the allergies of other family members.) Sometimes the plant would communicate with me, not exactly in words, but I could tell that its consciousness had responded to me. A clump of plantain read about like a mouse to me in terms of consciousness sophistication, although one was mobile and one sessile. Like one might talk to a mouse in a box, I would talk to it, and it would respond in some small way that did not include physical movement. I’d long ago learned that I could see the glow of life force in a living thing, and I could see it in plants just as strong as animals. As I petted it, it glowed brighter. That plantain was just as alive as an animal, although it wasn’t very bright.

But there was something else present that was. Sometimes when I talked to plants – on the recess grounds, in the back yard, at my grandmother’s house – I sensed a larger presence looming behind the plant like a parent standing over me and watching my interaction with their child. Whenever I sensed this sort of presence, my heart would pound and the hair would stand up on my neck, and I would be careful not to pull off any leaves while they were there. I convinced myself that I couldn’t see them, largely because I didn’t want to look. Besides, I sensed that whatever it was, was very old, and as a child I felt that I oughtn’t to associate with my elders. The little clump of plantain was just about my speed.

As an adult, I ended up in the city and all my dealings with plants ceased for years, caught up in a cycle of poverty, single parenting, chronic illness, and general scrambling for a living in the concrete jungle. However, somewhere along the line a friend drove me some hours away into the country, and we visited a herbfarm. I was captivated, wandering around in a daze. The herbs seemed so much more alive, somehow, than the over-fertilized tame hybrid vegetables or plastic-colored bedding flowers or scraggly weeds that I’d known in my youth. (I had no idea, at that time, how isolated I was from nature, how isolated most modern people are.) They called out to me with those voices that were not voices, and I ended up frantically buying a dozen of them to bring home and keep in pots. The herbs weren’t timid; it was as if they sauntered up and demanded my attention. From that day on, I would never again live without live herbs in or around my house.

I read everything that I could find about them, ransacking the public library for books. As I read, something echoed in me again and again: I’d done this before. Not the reading, but the growing of them, the talking to them, the harvesting and preparation and … dosing? Yes, giving them to people who were ill. I’d known what to do then, although I got the feeling that while some of the information I got out of those rather general library herbals was common knowledge I’d had before, some of it wasn’t. I’d known things that weren’t written there, scraped up through trial and error and the advice of those who had taught me. I also noticed that while there were many herbs who would call out to me, there were many more who wouldn’t. It was the European herbs that drew me in with those memories, and specifically ones from northern latitudes, or that had been naturalized there. I also felt that from some of the local North American plants in the ecosystems where I lived, but those seemed to be less about “I remember you – don’t you remember me?” and more about “Hey, I saw you when you were a kid, talking to that plantain. Want to talk to me?”

I learned, now that I was older and wiser and no longer afraid to look large spirits in the eye (in fact coming to terms with the fact that I could see human ghosts helped me face the spirits of nature), that the Presences looming over me were the overriding spirit of that sort of plant. Devas, some New Age folk called them. I called them Grandmother Mugwort and Grandfather Plantain, Mother Dill and Father Comfrey, Master Fennel and Mistress Hyssop. They sometimes looked human in my mind’s eye, but I never assumed that this was anything more than the way that my mind interpreted their energy. Some didn’t look human at all. Some were simply undelineated Beings. Some seemed to like me, some were indifferent or even hostile. Some helped me, offering advice. I found that when the Grandparent spirit was standing over them, the little plant spirit didn’t mind giving up its leaves, and even the sacrifice of its entire being was not accompanied by negative feelings. The Grandparent spirit simply gathered it in, and I took its body to make medicine with.

For medicine they were. I was poor, and had no health insurance, and was chronically ill. Taking herbs saved me from wasting my meager money on doctors often enough to make it definitely worth my while. It was quite satisfying, too – I was getting one over on the Man. Every time I fought off a cold with garlic and elderberry, I was robbing a pharmaceutical company, a doctor’s office, and the entire medical industry. I was walking in the ways of my ancestors, some of whom might have once been me.

I have lupus, and by the time I was diagnosed I was already allergic or resistant to all the front-line medications prescribed for it. Go home and wait until your organs start failing, I was told, then check into the hospital and we’ll give you chemo drugs. I can do better than that, I thought. With acupuncture, massage, live food, staying away from as many chemicals as possible, avoiding allergens, and depending liberally on the aid of my friends the greenwights, I am still very much alive when by all predictions I shouldn’t be. And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

The story of how I became a shaman, how the Northern gods and wights came for me, killed me, brought me back, and trained me in the other parts of my job is a path that runs parallel to my dealings with the plants … or Greenwights, as I began to call them after the cultural context of my practice congealed around me. When most people think of shamans and spirits, they think of animal spirits – the shaman’s allies are Wolf, or Bear, or Eagle. (You’ll also notice that the popular stories all have large impressive animals; you rarely hear of famous shamans using Rat or Sparrow.) While I did eventually get introduced to a handful of animals, it was always plants first for me. Instead of Wolf, I got Agrimony. Instead of Bear, I got Burdock. The stories also tended to refer to the shamans as only having one or two allies; instead, I was expected to make some kind of alliance, however tentative, with every sort of plant that would talk to me.

Two plants in particular dogged my footsteps, and I began to refer to them as my watch-wights. Before I had learned that term, I just made sure to look for one or the other of both whenever I found a new apartment, even in the city. If I saw one or the other, it was a sign that this place would be important or useful to me. One was Belladonna, the other Elder. They were the first Grandmother spirits that I ever faced. Lady Belladonna was dark and sleek, languid and sardonic, sorceress and Black Queen, sharp and dangerous as a stiletto, the Mata Hari of the plant world. Even though she told me that she had been set to guard me by my patron goddess Hela, I have always been careful to treat her with respect and never turn my back on her. Dame Ellhorn, on the other hand, was a dignified grandmother, a wisewoman of noble blood who expected me to treat her with courtly manners. At first I thought that she had been set to guard me as well, but she told me that she had merely seen me once as a child and had taken a liking to me, which suggests that all my talking to weeds paid off.

One was Gerda, the wife of Frey the god of agriculture, the Sacred Corn King. My wife is descended from Frey’s festival-got children – her mother’s maiden name was Ingerson – and we both called on his blessing when we began our small farm and the first vegetable beds went in, the first goats and sheep and chickens found their pens. It would be later that I met his wife. Gerda is a giantess-goddess, quiet and dark and heavy where Frey is golden and bright and laughing. Her name means “guard”, and she came to me as the Lady of the Walled Garden. Frey oversaw our farm, but the herbs were Gerda’s place. Indeed, as the garden grew, she claimed more and more of it until the whole area within the stone walls and fences became her sacred place. She would come to me while I was weeding or digging – conveniently already on my knees before her – and talk to me about the herbs, telling me their stories. (They weren’t stories I’d ever read, and I don’t know if they have ever been written down. The shamanic tradition of my ancestors was lost while they still had an oral culture.)

Gerda introduced me to plant spirits that I didn’t yet know. Some who had previously been indifferent to me stood up and took notice when I followed in the wake of her quiet dark-cloaked figure. She specifically introduced me to certain types of greenwights – the Wisewomen like Mugwort and Yarrow, the Magicians like Fennel and Speedwell – who knew the gossip about other greenwights, and who ought to be used for what, and might be willing to teach. To this day, when I meet other herbalists, they invariably ask me who I’ve studied with. I know that this is their way of determining my credentials and methodology, but I always have to be honest and say, “The plants taught me.” Some raise their eyebrows, smile fixedly, and move away. Some smile more deeply, and nod; there’s really nothing else to day about it.

Has there been a price for my involvement with the greenwights? Of course there is. In all worlds, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Some greenwights (like the Ancestral Fathers and Mothers) are bound to us as a species and are obligated to help us. Others simply like humanity and have a close relationship with it, or are healers of such power that they are spiritually obligated to heal when asked under the right circumstances. Still others are indifferent to humans and must be convinced to aid us. The greenwights have demanded that I be more aware of what I eat, especially plant matter; they would prefer it if I only consumed organic food, a deal that I can’t fully consummate yet but I am sincerely working toward. Genetically modified food is out of the question, and overly processed food is also an abomination to them. I have had to be mindful of what I harvest in the wild and how; what I feed to my livestock; what I throw out and where it goes. A picnic at a park may become waylaid by a greenwight who wants to talk to me, right now in the middle of the sandwiches.

Another strange taboo they’ve laid on me, which will probably upset a good number of people, is that I cannot be a vegetarian for reasons of principle. If I required that sort of diet for health reasons, that would be one thing, but my body likes meat protein and does well on it. To the greenwights, saying that it is wrong to kill animals but right to kill plants would be privileging animals over plants, and a plant shaman can’t do that. The carrot has as much reason to live as the cow, and is as necessary and worthy of respect when sacrificed so that we may live. Ironically, my involvement with plants has therefore also led me back around to supporting organic and cruelty-free livestock farming. (If you don’t think that the two are related, go have a talk with Master Clover, or better yet, Frey.) And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

And yet … with all this natural living, I never forget that my body is a product of modern technology. I’m an intersexual, born with an endocrine system poised between male and female that exploded into a double puberty at age 13. I was raised female and transitioned hormonally to male; I pass as male on the street, but between my legs and between my ears I am both male and female and always will be. I didn’t understand why this was important to my future until I bled to death, quite literally, and Hela took me apart in an almost-hallucinogenic vision while I laying dying, and reconstructed me again … differently. I can do things now that I couldn’t do before, but none of those things are mine to use outside of the job that She has set me.

One of her most difficult orders was getting sex reassignment. I took testosterone, made by a large pharmaceutical company, and I will take it forever for the rest of my life. I don’t like large pharmaceutical companies. To someone with my politics, they are a nightmare, and yet I’m bound to this path now. To pay for what I have to do, I made this vow with my first injection: I will take this corrupt, poisoned substance into me, tainted with all the ill work that its makers have spread, and I will transform its substance. Like snake venom, it will be turned by my flesh and spirit. It will be used to fortify a life that will work to slowly prevent that ill work. Let this medicine be a tool against the source of its own taint, and thus be cleansed.

And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

After transition, I found myself passing fully as male … and I was told that I must wear skirts whenever I could safely get away with it, as a sign that I was still one of the Sacred Thirds. I am not allowed to choose one of the two ends of the gender continuum and stay there; I must claim the middle ground as my own. I can never fully be a part of woman’s or men’s space; I am the living anchor for the alternative – a space where all genders are welcome, but the Thirds know best. You don’t have to be like us to be here, but you do have to like us – and you do have to give up, however temporarily, the uniform and values of your precious War.

I see the Gender Wars between men and women more clearly from this outsider perspective. In the Dineh myth of Turquoise Boy and White Shell Girl, the ancient quarrel between the sexes once grew so bad that they stopped speaking altogether, and only the two protagonists – both nadle people, the in-between sacred transgendered folk – could talk to both sides. As they were the only ones who ever came down to the river that divided the two camps, they were the only ones who realized that its waters were rising, and that everyone had to be herded into the same boat in order to survive the flood and save the human race. They took the task on themselves, and thus saved the People. This is part of what we were born for, we who are destined to walk in both pairs of shoes. We are the sacred mediators, whether we like it or not. This is our job – to save humanity in spite of all the efforts of the men and women that make up most of it.

My skirts symbolize my nature as two-spirited, and they also hide the very real bodily fact of my nature. It’s not a theory or an archetype to me. What’s between my legs is some of both, and it will stay that way. My Goddess has forbidden me to surgically change my genitals to something wholly male-looking; even though the rest of me has been shapeshifted, that needs to stay Third. Even while I belong to neither side, I embody both in some way.

In a very real way, my sex reassignment – from almost-female to almost-male – is my truest embodiment of the Gandhi quote at the beginning of this essay. I live as both, and I love as both – not figuratively, but quite literally. My partner Bella is a male-to-female transsexual – are we heterosexual, or the same sex because we are both Third? Who is the man and who the woman? My partner Joshua is female-to-male – we’re definitely same-sex, but in whose camp? I lie between them every night; what does that make me – besides very happy? Our love bypasses all of those boxes and labels. We don’t try to claim them so much as we show how incomplete they are, how irrelevant they are to our experience. You can only describe a rainbow with the colors of yellow, blue, and green if you are color-blind. We’re a whole different part of the spectrum. We are sacred, we tell people. Our path is sacred. Just watch what it does to the minds of those who observe it! That’s how you can tell that something is sacred, you know. It’s one of the reasons why sacredness is so often shut up into small boxes … for the safety of the people who might be changed by it.

In our house, there are no sexist assumptions. No one is allowed to do something or refuse to do something on the basis of what’s between their legs, or on their chest, or what they were taught that they could do or not do while growing up. We’d point and laugh at the very idea, and going into environments where this sort of thing is unquestioned – in any direction – often boggles us. We’re used to living in space entirely unbothered by gender-programming … but somehow, the price that we paid to get that space horrifies “normal” men and women so much that they don’t even want to hear our stories of what it’s really like to live this way. Still, we tell those stories, and we model this world, and we will continue to do so until we’re dead. And this, too, is a great and terrible act of magic to change the world.

Then there’s the other battle, the dark battle. Once I won my sexuality back from gender dysphoria, I realized that it didn’t look like most other people’s sexual desires. I like the exchange of pain, of intensity. I like to be in control of other people, to run the show completely. I like terrifying my partners. Obviously, these urges could have been very bad had I allowed them to run wild, but I didn’t. All sexuality is sacred, Pagans say … and does mine count in that category? Of course it does. There was the initial step of learning about BDSM, learning how to be safe, how to become a one-man adult haunted house that my lovers could use to go down into their personal Underworlds and rise again better for the experience, but soon this, too, became subsumed into my job. I became an Ordeal Master, designing rituals of passage for those who came to my door and requested them. The potential danger was, once again, harnessed into an act of redemption, potential poison used to heal.

I take people down into their own darknesses, and scour them clean. I show them that authority does not have to mean corruption, that pain does not have to mean wounding, that power-over does not have to mean abuse, so long as it is entered into with consent, mindfulness, and awareness of the sacred. It is a position simultaneously of great arrogance and great humility, a place of power roped into service to provide a place for … service. And transformation, and purification, and honor.

For this work, I needed a deity who could understand – and embody – the place where my sexuality comes from. That force walked into my life on clanking hooves, and his name was Baphomet. I get the feeling from reading various accounts that the side of Baphomet that I experience is very different from the Baphomet experienced by ceremonial magicians and chaos-magic types. He swaggered into my life, a hairy, half-goat hermaphrodite whose job is ferreting out one’s ignored internal rot and rubbing one’s face in it. He embodies a sexuality that is dark and intense, even sadistic, but that is always dedicated to helping people attain a stronger knowledge of their selves, including the deepest, darkest parts. And, of course, he embodies this in a form that is both male and female … and highly sexual. Many androgynous deities are safely sexless; Baphomet is the opposite of both those words.

He is also ruthless about making sure that I face my own darknesses in a useful way. It is said that anyone who would play Shiva the Destroyer must have a Kali to throw him down and tear his guts out, and while Hela performs that role for me in the rest of my life, when it comes to my sexuality – the part of me that has the greatest risk of becoming dangerous to others – Baphomet does the Kali role with implacable beauty – mentor, dominant, teacher of humility and arrogance, Rex Mundi. King of the World, this world, the world of flesh and blood and humus, of rot and growth and the eternal cycle of life. He is Lord of Perversions, taking that which others reject as monstrous and turning it into a tool of healing. I am one of those tools. And this, too, is an act of magic to change the world.

The beauty of all this is that I didn’t choose to do any of it to change the world. I chose every piece for other reasons, or the Gods chose it for me and forced me to comply. Changing the world is simply a wonderful side effect, and I think that this is the most effective change of all. There is nothing that cannot be used as a field of redemption, for yourself or for the world. There is no end to the Work of the Repair of the World, and this is a good thing … for it is in this Work that we repair ourselves, and through our own repair that we do the Work. Macrocosm to microcosm. As above, so below … as long as you do it mindfully and with intent.

My friend Fuensanta writes poignantly about walking along Monterey Beach and picking up litter, and willing each act of stooping and removing filth to be not only a physical undoing, but a spiritual undoing of the ignorance and selfishness that created it. She likens it to undoing the stitches made with a needle: magically, it’s not enough to clip the threads and pull them out. You must work the needle backwards through each hole that it came through, and this makes your work reverberate throughout the worlds. It’s simple. You just live everything you believe, wholly and unreservedly, and most of all consciously, making everything that you do a spell of change. As I pull these weeds, I pull my own fears and hatreds, my own internal obstacles. As I pull these weeds, I pull the fears and hatreds of the human species whose world and genome I inhabit. As I change this hospice bedpan, I cleanse my own fears about my eventual aging and dying, my inevitable helplessness. As I change this hospice bedpan, I cleanse the social fears about aging and dying that imprison people away from the world where they do not have to be seen by the ones with the fears. Be the change and make the change. You’ll be surprised by how powerful you are.

That also means that there’s plenty of work to go around. So enough with the posturing, the whining, the bogging down in irrelevant things! Get out there – or in there – and get your hands dirty. Shaman says it’ll be worth it. Promise.

Raven Kaldera is a Northern-Tradition Pagan shaman, herbalist, astrologer, transgendered intersexual activist, homesteader, and founding member of the First Kingdom Church of Asphodel. He is the author of too many books to list here, including the Northern-Tradition Shamanism series, Drawing Down the Spirits (with Kenaz Filan), Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner (with Galina Krasskova), Pagan Astrology, and Hermaphrodeities: The Transgender Spirituality Workbook. >Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Being The Change has previously appeared in the short-run anthology ‘XVI’.

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Three Sculptures: Inspiration And Creation

By Ama Menec

The Dreaming sculpture came about as a result of me having messed up an appointment and so having 3 hours to kill and nothing else to do. I spent the time making a small hand sized sculpture trying to fit a female figure into a spiral. The result was a maquette for ‘Dreaming’! The sculpture herself took 3 months!

The Hare In The Lane, was the result of an encounter I had with a Hare in the lane on my way home, at midnight, (of course!) after working late at my studio. She was just sat in the road, and unwilling to move, and given the high ‘Cornish Hedges’ we have here, couldn’t get out of the road. I followed her slowly for nearly a mile, in a slow stop start kind of way, and was struck by the jinxing way of running hares do. I grew up in East Anglia, and saw Hares regularly, but this was the first Hare I’d seen in 10 years of living in Devon, and I had completely forgotten the way they ran. She kept stopping and looking back at me, measuring the distance. All the time I kept thinking I should be ‘getting’ something from this, there was something so profound about the way the Hare zig-zagged. Later I discovered the running of Hares has been used as a form of divination, and that Boudicca divined using the running of Hares before her last battle with the Romans.

The Wolf and Raven sculpture came about as a result of reading that humans couldn’t have domesticated the dog if it weren’t for the Raven…. Wolves and Ravens have a cross species symbiotic hunting relationship, Ravens can spot a kill miles away and can lead Wolves to the carcass. Ravens also have a wide vocal range, and can make themselves understood to the Wolf. By leading a wolf to a large kill, the Raven gets a dinner, as the wolf is better equipped to open up a large animal. If the Wolf and Raven hadn’t already crossed the species boundary, humans wouldn’t have been unable to do the same. Imagine how human evolution would have been without the dog? I love this; it puts us in our place as a species, we’re not as smart as we think we are!

The shape of the Wolf and Raven wall sculpture came to me in a dream. The only time this has happened, and I listened to wolf song on CD while sculpting it!

These sculptures and more are available to buy at http://www.amamenec-sculpture.co.uk/. As part of World Animal Day, Ama Menec will be exhibiting sculptures on the 2nd October at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust near Reading.

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The Sacred Clay

By Rebecca L. Brown

I press my palms together. The clay seeps between my fingers, staining the backs of my hands a dark, wet red.

It sucks at my fingers as I peel them away, leaving behind a landscape created by the contours and the lines of my hands. The grooves where they sank into the yielding core become valleys, the peaks mountains. I imagine myself surrounded by those mountains, kneeling to take a pinch of clay to shape between my hands, feeling it seep between my fingers.

I press with the heels of my hands, crushing that landscape into a flat and featureless desert.

The clay shifts beneath my fingers, flexible and changing. I rolled a rock between my hands once, a fixed and unchanging crag of a landscape balanced between a thumb and two fingers. It’s slopes were timeless and yet barren, an ancient and stable emptiness, stark contrast to the fertile promise of cool, damp clay I am pressing flat beneath my sticky hands. It’s ability to transform matches the shifts of my thoughts, an expression of my will limited only by my skill (or lack of it).

With one fingernail I form a word, marking it into the clay: met. Another stroke, another line and met becomes emet. I my hand across the surface, smoothing away those words until they might never have existed.

I am more sure now, my hands moving with a purpose they had lacked before. Now, I become an echo, my hands a dim reflection of Ninmah’s as she created man from the primordial clay. Two shoulders, two arms tapering down into hands which press together as if in prayer.

The clay is warmer now, more rigid where the heat of my hands and the sun have touched it. Soon I will cast my creation into the fire where it will harden or else crack and be ruined.

As I place the figure on the ground, I realise I have created myself.

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I Hear Your Cry

By Lynne Gibson

The bus was full of passengers going to work, into town to shop, and children going to school. It was full of chatter. Suddenly there was a bang and the bus screeched to a halt, throwing people around. They screamed.

‘Oh God, I’ve just hit him! He stepped out of nowhere, I couldn’t stop’ shouted the shocked driver.

He got out of his cabin and went to see what had happened to the old man that he had hit. He could see that the man was half stuck under the bus and called the emergency services, which arrived within minutes. The road was closed off and the passengers were ushered off the bus and treated for shock.

I got woken up by the sound of sirens blaring. Something bad must have had happened. I could hear that Mummy had the radio on in the kitchen so I went down to her and asked her if she knew what had happened. She just said that there had been an accident in the town.

‘You had better get dressed Gemma and have breakfast if we’re going shopping’ said Mummy.

‘Ok, can we go to the Newspaper shop first, please? I like going to see Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. They always give me a chocolate bar if nobody else is in the shop.’

‘They spoil you, they have since the day you were born. They have known me since I was your age’ laughed Mummy.

It didn’t take me long to eat breakfast, wash, and clean my teeth. I put on my favorite dress and sandals because it was a sunny day. It didn’t take long for us to walk to the village shops and the Newspaper shop was empty, so that meant a chocolate bar for me, yummy.

‘Hello Mandy. Hello Gemma I suppose you have come for your comic, young lady, and seeing as there’s no one else here you can go and pick out your chocolate bar’ said Mrs. Jenkins, smiling at me.

‘You spoil her’ laughed Mummy.

‘Gemma, find me!’ Gemma heard coming from somewhere in the shop.

‘Where’s Mr. Jenkins, is he out the back?’ I asked, because I’d just heard him calling my name.

‘No, he’s nipped into town to get your birthday surprise for tomorrow.’ said Mrs. Jenkins.

‘Oh, that’s strange! It sounded just like he was out the back,’ said Gemma in surprise.

I knew that we had to go to Town now, because something was very wrong with Mr Jenkins. I don’t know how I knew, I just felt it.

‘Come on Mummy, we have to go, now!’ I said shaking her hand.

‘Ok, let’s go. I’ll see you tomorrow Mrs Jenkins. Bye now,’ she said taking me to the car.

It didn’t take long to get to town in Mummy’s car. We had to park just out side town in a little road because the high Street was closed off. I could see some ambulances, fire engines and police cars near to a bus. I suddenly felt frightened because I could see the bus stuck in the middle of the street and somebody was lying next to it on the ground. I grabbed hold of Mummy’s hand and she held it tight.

‘Does anyone know this man?’ asked a policeman.

Just then one of the ambulance men moved and we could see who it was.

‘Oh, no’ said Mummy. She started to cry. ‘It’s Mr. Jenkins. Pleased let him be alright.’ Just then he groaned and moved and looked at me.

‘You heard me Gemma, didn’t you’ he whispered as Mummy talked to the policeman.

I nodded, too shocked to speak. I was right, I had heard him.

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In the Green

(part of ‘New Lexicons’)

by Gary Budden

Odd things had started to seep into even our media-deprived consciousness. On the front cover of the London Lite was a blurry, grey-green image of an anthropoid figure, caught on cheap camera-phone somewhere, apparently, on the Hackney Marshes. Emerging from a small crop of overgrown nettles and bracken, the figure stared directly into the camera, pixellated eyes making contact with my own as I gripped the paper in my hands, the bus crawling through Tuesday traffic toward Old Street. The image was jostled by large, obnoxious print; some new declaration regarding the actions of minor, surgically altered celebrities. A cultural detritus soon to be swept away by what I could feel was coming. Olympian folly and the disruption that had come with it had destabilised something, the world now felt less steady underfoot. Instability infected the air. Vision flickered. The London Lite image fixated me, my mind afloat on a tidal wave of imagery that ran from Jack-in-the-Green to Cerunnos the Horned God, the Green Knight, woodwose, sprite, Sheela-na-gig, a whole pantheon of dank, woody gods and spirits that only existed in my old books of mythology; books I had pored over as a child, mixing the mythologies with that of bad fantasy novels.

A child had been found dead in the River Lea, barely one hundred metres from the beginning of the Olympic Site, the tiny body desecrated, the child’s name trotted out as grief-pornography in the national press for months after the event. No killer, no evidence, nothing. I dismissed with over-enthusiastic rationalism the enthusing of various friends, heavily into psycho-geography and theories of occult capitalism, who became drunk on theories that the land itself was revolting against the new capitalist temples being built upon it, that this was a warning. Grindylow really did swim in the Lea, if only one looked for them. So they said. Bullshit, I said again and again.

Jerome laughed off the image when I showed it to him.

Cerise and The Poet took it more seriously. Cerise had been recording the graffiti and the actions of the NSM, attempting to order the chaos, lock it down in a sensible pattern, an art project, an installation maybe. I saw fear in her actions. The Poet, he had hinted, was involved to some extent. I never knew whether to believe him. Maria, I felt, must have got involved somewhere along the line. As the reality we thought so stable began to buck and shudder my rational mind retreated, assaulted by barbarians of myth and terror, our lives becoming allegory for people to read and extrapolate meaning from.

Sometimes I tried to lose focus and see the city I knew was buried beneath what my eyes could register, the world as it could be, a shining urban Arcadia, a beacon of hope to inspire the world and the world’s dispossessed would flock here not through desperation and fear but with hope, welcomed with arms outstretched. Multiculturalism as it should be. No fear, hatred, division. I could see this city I hope for in the reflection on the water of the Regents Canal, the Hertford Union, the River Lea, the Thames itself. It was forever out of reach, inhabited only by the fauna of mirrors. My doppelganger would smile at me through a distorted, flickering barrier, and I would envy him with murderous hatred.

But this was where I was, and I had to deal with that. Murderous reality was pressing in.

The NSM were on the move, and I had to make a choice to make a difference and fight for something better, sense the sea change or be buried under history’s rubble. It was sink or swim. Time to make that great leap forward, to create a new lexicon that we could call our own or be bound forever to the past by the language of our ancestors.

Gary Budden is the co-editor of the anthology ‘Hackney: Acquired for Development By…’

He runs Out of Step Promotions, who have been putting on an eclectic mix of punk, ska, folk, hip-hop and spoken word for the last four years, in venues ranging from massive crumbling squats to the intimate settings of bookshops and cafes.

He has most recently worked on the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, as well continuing work as a one-to-one English tutor with disadvantaged young people across London.

He has worked for the Richmond Literature Festival, the British Film Institute, and has written for Stalking Elk, Distorted Magazine, Cigarette Burns. Pinpoint Music, the Hackney Hive and Hackney Citizen.

He loves punk rock, literature, and being a vegetarian. He lives in London.

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Excerpt From the Novel Goddess Murder

by AIden Kelly

In the morning soldiers slammed open the wooden door to her cell. One walked over to her and shoved her down onto the rough cot. He forced her legs apart, rammed his cock deep inside her, and raped her, brutally. The others stood and laughed at her screams, then took their turns with her. When they were finished, they dragged her naked from her dungeon cell, up the stairs, and out into the courtyard.

The balconies on the walls of the ancient Italian castle, where three Roman generals had once carved up the Republic, were ringed with the Cardinal’s men, their families, priests, and monks. But none of the common people had been allowed inside.

“Here you are, gentle lords,” the soldier cried, throwing her to the ground. “Come f*ck the Witch while you can.” Half a dozen men walked to the center and raped her, their faces grotesque with malice, while the rest cheered and jeered at her cries.

The Cardinal’s courtiers began shouting, “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”

The soldiers tied her to the stake in the middle of the courtyard and heaped hay and wood around her. A servant girl came with live coals. The soldiers lit the hay.

Flames leaped up around her. Suddenly she shouted, “Ubaldo Allucingoli, hear me! The fire you have lit to burn me will burn down your church, and no one will ever rebuild it, not in three days, not in three ages of the cosmos. But you will not be rid of me: I shall return to haunt you.”

Bending over, she breathed in sharply, deeply. There was a searing pain in her throat and chest, then there was nothing.

She did not scream and writhe as flames consumed her body; she was no longer in her body. The crowd was disappointed; it was boring.

Outside the castle a small crowd of peasants, largely women, stood weeping, watching the smoke rise into the sky.

The Cardinal stood in silence, thinking.

JESUIT SCHOLAR

KILLED IN ROME

Rome , Italy, April 23, 1995 (Reuters) — The body of Reverend Robert Marlowe, S.J., a visiting American scholar, was found in an alley near St. Peter’s early this morning.

Father Marlowe was Professor of New Testament Hermeneutics at the Graduate Ecumenical Seminary of the West in Santa Theresa, California. He was spending his sabbatical year in Rome, pursuing research in the archives of the Vatican Library.

Aldo Cardinal Tetrazzini, Vicar General of the Society of Jesus, stated, “Father Marlowe’s death is a calamity for Biblical scholarship and a tragic loss for the Society of Jesus as a whole. He was one of our most respected and popular teachers and authors.”

Detective Dante Gabriel Rossini of the Roman Police stated in his preliminary report that Father Marlowe’s death appeared to be a simple case of mugging and robbery. “However,” Officer Rossini admitted, “there are some odd factors that merit further investigation. We have no suspects at this time.”

Walking down from my apartment, I had contemplated the rooftops of Santa Theresa cascading down the hillside to the edge of the bay, than looked across the bay to San Francisco and the bridges, remembering how Bob had loved this vista. Mounting the steps into our old brick office building, I was feeling about six inches removed from reality.

As I walked into the office downstairs, Sharon was yelling at a young priest who was walking toward me, “That’s Professor Edwards’ package!”

I blocked his path. “May I see that?”

I grabbed it from him. It was addressed to me. I raised an eyebrow at him. He glowered, pushed his way past me, and walked rapidly away.

“Sharon, do you have any idea who that was?”

“No, though he looks somewhat familiar.”

I walked upstairs and put the package on my desk. That is where the path began that led to my relationship—no, to hell with that buzzword—to my ridiculously romantic collision with Andrea and the mysteries of magic, metaphysics, and witchcraft.

There was no return address. It was postmarked Rome.

Who do I know in Rome? Could this be from Bob?

Tearing the package open, I extracted a sheaf of paper about an inch thick, with a note from Bob on top.

Is Bob still alive? No, the Italian police and the news media would not have gotten that wrong.

The note read:

Dear Eddie,

I found these by accident and knew I had to get them to you immediately. I couldn’t copy them, but managed to smuggle them out. I don’t think I’ve made the staff here suspicious.

I found the originals hidden in a drawer devoted to an utterly different (and yet related) topic: Florentine economics. The one in Greek is a Gospel of Mary; it seems related to some known fragments, but is apparently complete. The Old Gaelic is a Gnostic gospel of Simon and Helen, fairly antinomian. The one in Italian is called the Gospel of Diana. It’s a gospel for witches! Brendan & Megan will love it.

Even skimming through them quickly . . .

(He skimmed them in three different languages—and we’ve lost that incredible mind.)

. . . I realized they must be dealt with openly. I could guess their significance only because of discussing witchcraft studies with you and reading some books you recommended. Others before me probably thought these were just patristic commentaries or pastiches. The anthropophagic minotaurs who lurk in this labyrinth certainly don’t want anyone else to ever see them.

If my suspicions are right, their suppression has been a far worse crime against humanity than my stealing them could possibly be. However, that the Curia lacks an adequate theology of the Holy Spirit is their problem, not mine.

Mazel tov, and let me know what you do with them.

Shalom,

Bob

I was breathing hard. I could feel my blood pressure spike. It was like discovering a fabled hoard of buried treasure—but of something far more valuable than gold or jewels, at least to me and the guys I talk shop with. A new Gnostic gospel! I love the Gnostics—but I’ll talk about them later.

I began speculating about what these gospels might be, what they might reveal about religious history. The speculations were abruptly interrupted by an apparently random thought: Bob dies. These show up. Could Bob have been killed over these? Library theft might be considered serious, especially from the Vatican library, but it’s not usually a capital offence. Could someone have learned that he had these manuscripts and killed him in attempting to retrieve them? But why?

I gathered up the papers, took them downstairs, and had Sharon lock them in the safe.

I know a graduate seminary seems an unlikely venue for murder and international intrigue—until one considers the passions that religion can arouse.

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Incantation for a Summer Solstice
By Dawn Walls Thumma

I hail this day when fire gives neither warmth nor light,

I fling wide the windows,
Play with the wind and court the sun,

For this day is transient, yes,

But this day it is. It is.

I beg of thee only these three things:

Give not solace to shadows,

Give no nod to sorrow,

Grant not that this day shall end.

Even as fire rims the west

I will hold wide my arms, embrace the light,

Let it linger long, like syrup up my tongue.

I will walk in the night

I will walk without lanterns.

Dawn lives in Manchester, Maryland, USA, with one husband, two golden retrievers, ten assorted types of hens, and about 15,000 bees. She writes for a living, mostly about gardening and sustainable lifestyles, although she is recently certified as an English teacher and hopes to start in the classroom soon. Dawn and her husband are working to turn their almost-acre of land into a self-sufficient homestead.

A year ago, Dawn and her husband were initiated into the Ancient Order of Druids in America. This poem below is one of a series that she started writing after her initiation, trying to capture what she felt on each of the Solstices and Equinoxes.

Our God
By Hal O’Leary

“Our God is with us every day.”

The preacher said. “Let’s kneel and pray.”

To whom? I don’t think I can say.

Just who is this god anyway,

Who seems to have a field day

In taking lives with no delay,

Of even those who do obey?

If its omnipotent, we may

Just wonder why we have foul play,

For it is much to my dismay.

If its omniscient, why pray?

It knows our future anyway,

It knows the ills we might defray.

It knows the goodies to purvey.

Since all seems in such disarray,

I think that I might just display

My own revolt, and come what may,

I’ll steel myself and just say Nay.

I’ll set my life and never sway.

It makes no difference, yea or nay,

They won’t accept me anyway.

I’m Gay.

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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Flight of the Wizard
By Hedgewizard Erb

As this spring draws to summer, spanning the cool nights

I walk the penumbra of dimensions, alone with my thoughts

I pass over the land and oceans as a shadow, I have no form.

The gossamer threads of space create my globe of travel

Silently moving over the fields of creation ever learning about what is and is not

The living Earth, the plans of Gods, the keys and locks to forbidden knowledge

Are all there for the taking, to be used only when the great clock ticks

No, I do not control a thing, I am a messenger and a tinker of the cosmos

I set the pins in the alley and see to it the ball rolls to the proper place in time.

Hedgewizard Erb writes alot and studies all kinds of things including the natural and the mystical. He is 65 years old and very active in Pagen Druid thought and practice.

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Reality
By Aidan Kelly

One night, in John Logan’s class,

I read a draft of my “History” poem.

Jack Gilbert asked, “What

am I supposed to make of that?”

I wondered, “Why does he think I should care

how he reacts to my poem?”

I asked to study with him the next year,

but he refused, saying I was

too set im my ways to learn from him.

I felt he was wrong, because I liked his poems,

and I wanted to know how his poetics worked.

so I learned from his students

that he saw a poem as a way to choreograph

the readers’ feelings as they read.

I could see that, in theory, but it did not

appeal to me, since saying whatever you like

to manipulate people’s feelings

is usually called lying, not poetry.

(I sense Plato nodding in agreement.)

I value poetry as a way

to explore what and how we know.

I have been to the borderlands,

where the bronze wind bells the melting birds,

not because I use drugs–I don’t like

How drugs feel, and though

they may get me into Fairyland,

they do not get me to the edges, beyond

our consensual reality, where I wind up

because my brain decides to take me there,

And I go with camera and notebook,

make what notes I can, on roses,

whose every color is a flame

and every thorn a thought of smoke.

When I come back I turn them into poetry,

describing what I have seen

and therefore know

as accurately as possible.

And when I read it to you,

I confront you with

as much truth as I can discover.

It may shatter your comfortable reality,

your illusions, your assumptions.

I hope it does; it’s not healthy

for humans to live in delusion,

as almost all of us do. Poetry

should be more mind-altering than any drug,

more subversive than any Communist plot,

more dangerous to dogma than any heresy.

So I don’t care whether you like my poems.

How you face reality is your problem.

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Ancient Tribes
By Ron Koppelberger

Made by markings and ancient tribes in consort with

Wolves and clans of secret desire, the passionate urge to pass the warmth

Of settled fire, by eyes and fond touch, by sighs

And huntress weary depths of fancy, by the children

Of born futures and circles of howling rant,

In the day and evening-tide way, by gasping teeth

And tender dissident metamorphosis, by the

Love of sunrise souls and dewdrop dreams.

Ron has published 495 poems, 349 short stories, and 86 pieces of art in over 157 periodicals, books and anthologies as well as in radio broadcasts. He has been published in The Storyteller, Ceremony, Write On!!! (Poetry Magazette), Writing Raw and Necrology Shorts.

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Willow Road
By C. B. Anderson

Down along the dream-dappled gravel road
overhung with bows of bright green willow,
eager travelers unslung their shouldered loads
into the spuming ripples of yellow

alyssum growing from illumined stone
old wagon wheels had thrown aside. Farther
on were spaces strewn with the whitened bones
of animals, whole skeletons weather

had preserved intact, which they could just see
from where they rested their unburdened backs
against the stolid girths of vestal trees
tilted sunward. But oh! such artifacts

they’d spied the day before: a silver plow
blade-deep in fertile loam up on a hill
too steep to climb, a summer home below
a stunning waterfall of molten steel,

and a city sitting like a bauble
in a block of solid glass. Near beside
the place they paused, a clear vernal puddle
down slope of grassy high meadow forbade

easy passage until the willow roots
should drain it dry. They sat, not making sound,
content to wait a decade for a shot
to set their boots upon the middle ground.

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.

“Willow Road” first appeared in The Neovictorian/Cochlea (Vol. IX, No. 2 — Spring-Summer 2006)

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My Epitaph
By Hal O’Leary

With open mouth and open mind,

I came into the world to find

Life’s riddle in one word defined.

BELIEVE!

And now, that life is left behind,

And though I know they meant be kind,

With open mouth and open mind

I LEAVE!

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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At My Age
By Aiden Kelly

I never meet

Anyone new,

Only ones who

Remind me of

Those I once loved.

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To an Unborn Goddess
By C. B. Anderson

Your silver members wand the thickened air,
and all your borrowings are soon
bequickened as the phases of the moon,
in which your newborn love affair

has bloomed, give rise to unexpected waves
of pleasure, waves which counteract
the dark blue strains that none on earth have lacked
since Eden’s fall: the dread of graves

and intimations of the spider’s web.
Beneath it all, inside the warm
beginnings of your bosom’s final form,
the milk and honey flow and ebb

in rhythm with the beat of mortal hearts,
the righteous formal cause of your
benign emergence. In the ancient lore
that speaks of lost creative arts

your gradual arrival was foretold:
a latter-day divinity
devoted to a new epiphany
as Time itself grows gray and old.

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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Hearthfire Remedies
By Ron Koppelberger

Complete in exquisite wilful metamorphosis and terms

Of eager affection, in manners of desire and wont,

By the demand of insistent passion and display, by the innate

Shouts of frigid allure and warm terrain,

In keep with the eye of experienced

Effect, caused by the passage of abandoned

Lands and desolate thrones, in quick mercies

Of convention, a boast in talismans and

Sophisticated arrival, the grimace in born

Raves and hearth fire remedies of heed.

The bettermost diligence of skills in confederate resistance

And thorny dangers in gossip. A heart built by the ashes of constructed

Always, forever a conveyance in reflection.

Ron has published 495 poems, 349 short stories, and 86 pieces of art in over 157 periodicals, books and anthologies as well as in radio broadcasts. He has been published in The Storyteller, Ceremony, Write On!!! (Poetry Magazette), Writing Raw and Necrology Shorts.

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To Remember Thomas DeLong,

Who Wrote as Gwydion Pendderwen,

On the Second Anniversary

Of His Going into Eternal Life
By Aidan Kelly

I remember the night I first met you

On Bernal Heights, before we knew

The Craft would cross our paths.

The strident horn of your flaming car

Drew me to the street: before

The doors of Hightower, where

Lord Randall ruled his mad

Court of science-fictioneers,

Van the Dagda read an Anglican wake

Over your still-smoking engine.

I remember you, and I begin to let you go.

I remember how you sang to me and Alta

When you first visited us in Oakland,

And how you gifted us at our wedding,

Singing us new a wedding song

Worthy, I think, of the kings

We thought we were perhaps descended from.

On the first anniversary of your death

I heard Sally Eaton sing of you

A wilder music than I knew she held.

As dragonflies draw flame your voice

Has drawn and draws forth song.

I remember you, and so I try to let you go.

I remember the nights I came to your circle

Or you to ours: cautiously we reached

Toward friendship, dialog, pursuit of the chimeras

Of history. You praised me, friend, in print,

To our friends, and to our enemies,

Whether you agreed with me or not. In Nemeton you

And Alison published more of my poems

Than any other person ever has. We were

Initiates in the same tradition at the end,

And no conversion or dying or any other

Transformation changes that. It hurt, and still

It hurts, that you are gone.

I remember you, and so I slowly let you go.

I remember the nights when we drank together,

Drank and talked and talked and drank again:

The night I met Ed Fitch, the night we bombed

Hans Holzer, the Sabbats at Coeden Brith.

Especially I remember how on my last drunk

You gave me a clew that helped lead me

From the labyrinth: only a real Irishman,

You said, would carry the wine jug with us

From room to room as we rambled on

About things earthly, unearthly, and in between.

And you were with me that night,

In that car with no brakes in which I drove

Six people home, over the Bay Bridge,

Fading in and out of blackout.

I remember, vaguely — but I’ve let that go.

At thirty-six I got sober;

At thirty-six you died

Of drink and drugs and dying

As surely as if you has

OD’d. It is not

Fair, it is not

Just, it makes no

Sense: you weren’t that much

Crazier than me. I hoped

You’d get it too, and we’d be

Friends again, but that was not

Your path. Toward the end I heard

How rapidly you were dying,

How little song was left in you.

You did not die of poetry.

Now on each anniversary of my sobriety

I remember you, and more I let you go.

Strange that the night you died I dreamed

I met George Cockriell, who’d lived with me

On Bernal Heights, who died of World War Two

In 1971. Striding down the hill, as if

Off to something urgent, he stopped, surprised,

Saying, “I haven’t seen you recently,”

And questioned me about what I’d been doing.

And in the dream all our houses were one

Communal home on Bernal Heights, handbuilt,

Complex in its textures, vast within: perhaps

Our work on the Craft will have results we could

Not know.

Yes, George could have been sent

To get you from that ditch: he’d known who you were

On Bernal Heights, had watched the Hightower crowd

With his black Irish sarcasm, and God knows in France

He’d walked through Hell already to rescue other men.

(“Why you?”

“They’ve got nobody else who knew you.

Come on, I’ll explain what I’ve found out so far.”)

So, yes, I can see George walking with you,

Quietly explaining the lay of the land,

Walking with you up the hills of Heaven that look

Much like Bernal Heights,

Much like all our hills writ large.

I can see you singing, with a real harp,

Of real gold, in a robe all of white

Except for the seven colors proper to a bard

Embroidered in its flashing: you are

Wreathed with mistletoe.

I see your eyes:

They are clear and serene: in the distance

You can see the accommodating gods and goddesses,

Who are both one and many. They sing to you,

Drawing you always further in

And further up. Now you go

Singing ever higher into the hills:

You are finally, utterly healed.

I remember you, and now:

I let you go.

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Summer Solstice
By Hedgewizard Erb

June 21st would mark the turning of the cool days into summer days.

I remember; we would play, from morning till late at night.

And ride bike and skate, and roam the hills and wade in the creek

Honeysuckle lined the edge of wild forests

We’d go swimming in the town’s macadam pool in icy cold water

Until July came and the weather got warmer

My grandmother would can things and dry beans and corn.

And we would play baseball at the “cemmie” (our field of dreams)

And drink quarts of chocolate milk afterward.

We would go on long rides in the country in my uncle’s 46 Plymouth

Nowhere in particular, roadside stands, and local sights mostly.

Summer was a time of plenty and plenty of time to be a kid.

We would get dirty, not mussed up, but dirty, earth damn dirty.

I remember sitting under old maple trees and I was happy just to be

Breathing in the summer sun and doing nothing proudly.

I hope I never become so old as to not enjoy the summer sun.

Or to hide from life in air conditioned comfort and miss the bees

Humming around flowers that were only seeds in May

I hope I never become so connected to social norms as to worry

Night and day about jobs and dollars and who has power

Over gas prices and school boards.

Work ethics that maim the soul? No thanks. I’ll stay a kid.

At least I’ll keep the kid in me alive enough to watch

The turning of the wheel.

Hedgewizard Erb writes alot and studies all kinds of things including the natural and the mystical. He is 65 years old and very active in Pagen Druid thought and practice.

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Puti Poems

Flower-Picking Mudra

By Changming Yuan

With all your tenderness

Bend down gradually

And reach out your left arm

To pick up your favourite flower

From the inner garden

Behind the fence of your thought

And bring up the flower

Close up to your face

Where you can see its bold brilliance

Melting into a pool of fragrance

Where you and the flower

Become one and the same.

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Sky-Reaching Mudra

By Changming Yuan

Like a universal dam broken

Vast bodies of heavenly light

Burst, bursting out

Pouring right onto my body

Splashing into myriads of inspirations

Falling, penetrating my inflated selfhood

Cleansing each cell of my brain

My chest, my belly

every corner of my inner being

filling in my whole body

as it gets thicker and thicker

Until all my cells and senses

Dissolve into nothingness

Under the lightfall

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A-Mi-Te Mudra

By Changming Yuan

Palms against each other

Fingers pointing to your central forehead

Keep yourself upright

And from under your lowest vertebrae

Drive out of a gourd-shaped mouth

These heavily voiced syllables:

A-

Mi-

Te-

As well as all the negativity

Within your body

And every evil spirit

Trying to possess your fate

As a wide curtain of light

Reddish and yellowish

Shoot up high to the sky

From behind your lower back

Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009), is a three-time Pushcart nominee who grew up in a remote Chinese village and published several books before moving to Canada. Currently Yuan teaches in Vancouver and has poetry appearing in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine and more than 360 other literary journals/anthologies worldwide.

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