It’s that time of year again, and we’re celebrating Lammas with an issue packed full of great content. Read on for articles by Richard Smoley, Peter Carroll and Starhawk, interviews with Andy Letcher and Damh the Bard, part two of our Phil Hine interview and much more!


An Interview With Phil Hine (Part 2)
An Interview With Andy Letcher
An Interview With Mel Fleming
An Interview With Damh The Bard
An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Own Tas
An Interview With The Lady Selene (Part of T. Fox Dunham’s Herbal Magick)


Planetary Magic by Peter J. Carroll
The Pollok Witches by Tas Mania
Organisational Astrology by Fern Spring
Corn Dollies by Liz
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Not-So-Occult Foundations of Nazism
by Apuleius Platonicus
A Pagan Christ? by Richard Smoley
Sator Squares by Simon Cash
A Maypole in Prison by Starhawk

Personal Experiences

Going Into Brick Ain’t All It’s Cracked up to be by Liz
Pentre Ifan by Liz
John Barleycorn Must Die by Liz

Regular Columnists

Harvesting the Karma by Jules Harrell
‘A New Way of Thinking’ by Jonny Blake
Evolution of Change by Caledonia
Herbal Magick
With An interview from The Lady Selene
by T. Fox Dunham
Lammas Moonlore by Liz

Tools, Tricks and Ingredients

Dandelions by Rebecca L. Brown
Jet by Rebecca L. Brown


One Turning: Poems for the wheel of the year,
by Miriam Axel-Lute

Upcoming Events

Treadwells Events


An extract from Pelzmantel by K.A. Laity

Poetry Corner

All of a Lammas Evening by Elizabeth Barrette
Castoffs by Elizabeth Barrette
Firefly Harvest by Miriam Axel-Lute
Beauty in the Fertile Autumn; a Villonette by Julie Smith
Fire-Feast by Patricia Monaghan
Garland Sunday And She Calls Her Lover to Join Her on the Mountain
by Patricia Monaghan
Lost Harvests by Olivia Arieti
Harvest Time by Olivia Arieti
The Bounty of Nature by Olivia Arieti
God Bud by Danielle Blasko
A Rooster’s Tale by Hedgewizard Erb
Comfort of The Dove by Hedgewizard Erb
Lawn Care by Jackie L. Simmons
Looking Down From Uffington by Annabel Banks
Epiphany by Rose Blackthorn
Last August Light by Penn Kemp
Wild Craft by Penn Kemp
Stirring Not Stirring by Penn Kemp

Want to contribute to the Autumn Equinox issue?

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

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

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

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An Interview With Phil Hine (Part 2)
(Part one appeared here in our Summer Solstice Issue)

Q: You’ve talked about the difficulty of translating some terms into English (see (part one of the interview). Would you say that some ideas are so inherent to a cultural framework that only the language native to that culture can express them in their entirety? Do you think is it possible to completely master a language which is the product of a different cultural background and if not to what extent can Tantra really be understood by the western world?

Well to some extent I do feel that interpretation and understanding will always, like history, be partial – and I think its okay to acknowledge that. Having said that, I do know people who are very fluent in Sanskrit, Tamil, and some of the other languages that “tantric texts” are written in, as they’ve spent thirty-odd years reading, writing, and thinking in those languages – often living in India for years and practising themselves. I recently went to a presentation by Mark Dyczkowski, a highly respected scholar-practitioner who’s devoted most of his life to practising and understanding Kashmir Shaivism – and he was saying that the material he was giving us had taken him twenty-odd years to understand – so don’t expect that you will take it all in instantly. It takes time. My own understanding of particular tantric ideas has changed dramatically over the last twenty-odd years, and will continue to do so. So I’m very aware that, in many respects, my understanding of tantra is partial and limited. It’s too vast a field for anyone to claim absolute knowledge of.

Tantric studies, as an academic field, has changed drastically in my lifetime. Back in the 1980s, when I was first getting interested, there didn’t seem to be much information available apart from Arthur Avalon’s books, which were written in the early 20th century. Nowadays its very different, there’s a vast amount of material available, some of which is highly specialised, and I do “consume” a lot of it. Which can be a challenge in itself, because I then have to get up to speed on the theoretical disciplines that the scholars are drawing upon. There’s a wealth of translations of primary texts and commentaries available, as well as secondary literature which examines the various traditions which are labelled as “tantric” in terms of their historical and cultural settings.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about how you personally practice Tantra? How did you first experience the goddess Lalita and what kind of relationship do you have with her?

Practice has been on my mind a lot, lately, as in “what is a practice?” For many years, I’d say that I practiced unreflectively, in that I would do things such as meditations, rituals, attentive exercises etc. – because that what one has to do – in order to “make progress”, but I didn’t necessarily think too deeply about why this was necessary. Also – and I think this is related – I thought of “magical practice” as something very different to “everyday practices” (walking around, cleaning my teeth, working). You have to set aside time and a special place for “magical practice.” By the early 1990s, I began to get interested in the notion that how? “practice” gets conceptualised in two particular ways – firstly, by making magical practice seperate to the rest of our life-activity, we reinforce the idea that there is a difference between the magical world and the mundane world (spirit-matter, if you like). Secondly, magical practice becomes “work” – something you have to do, a discipline to be suffered, rather than something you want to do, or something that you do because you enjoy it. I think a lot of this emerges out of the eighteenth/nineteenth century (although you can trace it back to medieval monasticism) that work is the Raison d’etre of our lives – the kind of Protestant Work Ethic attitude. People say, “I’m working with this deity”, “I’m working with this energy”. I started to write about “playing with x” or “flirting with so-and-so” or “just messing around” – and its amazing how quickly you get judged by other people when you say “I’m just messing around with this stuff. I’m not taking it seriously.” Because by not being serious, more often than not (particularly on internet forums) you then get classed as a “newbie” because you’re not doing it properly, you’ve not made the commitment, gone the distance, “put the work in.” And sometimes, the requirement that you set aside a regular time and place for practice is really difficult if you’ve say, got kids, or or are on call 24/7. Another problem with the work ethic view of practice is that it’s very easy to get tied up in knots about thinking “I’m not doing enough practice” or “I’m not progressing fast enough” etc. Okay, sometimes you have to push past your own inertia. I’ve had some amazing unexpected moments come out of staggering about of bed at 5.30am still hungover from the previous evening’s revelry to do a daily meditation, but I don’t think that was because I felt I had to do that, but that I wanted to. Another thing, which I think is related to how we conceptualise practice is the way you get a distinction made between “basic” (or “beginners”) practices and “advanced” practice. I think this often leads to the conception that “basic” practices are boring, something you just do for a set period (or avoid completely) and then never go back to, and the “advanced” stuff which is interesting (and “powerful”) – and of course it’s nice to think of oneself as an “advanced practitioner” isn’t it? Rather, I would draw a distinction between “core” practices – things you do all the time, and “specialised” practices which are restricted to a particular domain of activity – but of course the two are not seperate really, they inform each other. So for example, at work I occasionally do animation, which is a specialised activity for me, but in order to do that animation, I obviously need to have a core set of practices (design skills, an understanding of how applications work, and the ability to visualise the outcome I want) which are in continual use?

In my tantra practice nowadays, I don’t make the distinction i used to between mundane-magical. In fact, that whole notion is kind of foreign to Indian life as a whole. So whilst i still do meditation, rituals, etc I don’t think of them as “seperate activities”. I meditate as I walk to work every morning. There’s a lovely stanza in the Saundaryalahari (“the flood of beauty”) which is a Srividya text devoted to Lalita which expresses the orientation I’m talking about:

“Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer,
my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture,
my walking a ceremonial circumambulation,
my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice,
my lying down prostration in worship,
my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself,
let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.”

Which brings me onto Lalita – “she who plays”. How do I relate to Lalita? Well, I don’t see Lalita as a particularised being – a person, if you like. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how books on paganism/magic tend to place limitations of deities. I’m thinking of the kind of approach you get in a lot of books, where you get a short “biographical” sketch of a god or goddess – what they “look like”, what their likes/dislikes are, a myth or two, and what their “function” is (i.e. you call on god x for healing, god y for courage, etc). It seems very reductive, to me. Like for magic to happen, everything has to get neatly filed away in little boxes.

For me, Lalita is everything, and everything is Lalita, so it’s about how I relate to everything – a much bigger proposition. And that, i think, comes down to making a commitment to live in a particular way, to recognise Lalita’s potential presence in every moment, every encounter. There’s this idea, in some tantric texts, that we are most close to the divine when we experience moments (no matter how fleeting) of astonishment, wonder, joy or delight, so my basic orientation to the world is to be open to being surprised, to being playful, because the world? is Lalita’s play. of course there are days when I forget this, and yet there are days when it seems I can barely contain the joy and wonder I feel for the diverse, playful, wonder of the world, and find my marvelling at the flight of birds, or retractable ballpoint pens. This comes out of the last decade or so, when my guru began to take me through some of the core practices associated with his approach to SriVidya, which is an approach to tantra oriented around Lalita. Doing that practice led to me questioning a lot of the stuff I’d done previously, and coming to think of tantra as being basically about attempting to live my life in a particular way, rather than simply doing a particular set of practices??

Q: When did you last experience a moment of wonder or delight?

Oh I have them all the time. The morning I received this question I was emptying the pots out of the sink in preparation for doing the washing up. It was about 5.30am and the sun was rising, but the sky was very overcast. A ray of sunlight must have broken through the clouds because it seemed to me that a ray of light passed through me and everything – pots, pans, knives forks, scrubbing brush, my hands, was lit up and shimmering. And for a moment, everything danced.

A couple of days ago, I was on the train home and there was some bird shit on the carriage window. I glanced at it and suddenly I was seeing the most amazing unicorn shape, with different shades of birdshit forming its mane, its flanks. I couldn’t stop looking at it after that.

For more musings by Phil Hine, visit his current project

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An Interview With Andy Letcher

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been doing recently?

Well, I’m just back from a Summer Solstice pilgrimage, walking forty two miles along the Ridgeway to Avebury, where I met up with old friends and fellow bards – proper wandering minstrels! I’ve just finished writing a piece, ‘Dead Reckoning,’ for an academic book about our relationship to the dead (title and publisher tbc) and I’m halfway through writing a module, ‘Festivals in Religion and Culture’ for the Religion and Theology course at Oxford Brookes University, where I teach part- time. That’s on top of all my various musical projects, Telling the Bees, Wod, playing in sessions and so on. You could say that life is pretty varied. It’s certainly full of riches (metaphorical if not literal!)

Q: What was it that let to your interest in paganism?

Like so many people I discovered paganism in my teens. It put a name to the profound feelings I had towards nature (I was born grew up in rural Devon). Over the years I’ve followed various pagan paths, including Wicca and Druidry, but now I do my own thing, drawing eclectically from what I can glean about pre-Christian worldviews. And much of what I ‘do’ as a pagan isn’t obviously ‘pagan’ at all: hiking, learning bird song, watching wildlife, trying to understand the weather and so on. I try and foster what I call an ausculatory (listening) attitude towards the other-than-human world. It’s an ongoing process.

Q: In what way do your pagan practices relate to your activism?

I wouldn’t describe myself as an activist now, though many of my songs have a political or protest angle. However, I was very involved in the anti-roads movement during the 90s and my paganism was a big reason why I got involved. In fact I rather regarded protesting as a kind of applied paganism. At the time I saw the land as sacred and therefore felt it was my duty as a pagan to do what I could to protect it. My view is a bit more nuanced now (ten years of academic questioning have left me uncertain as to what ‘sacred’ actually means) – I see it as our responsibility to curb our impact so that the other-than-human people with whom we share the world can flourish alongside us.

Q: As a “modern troubadour”, do you feel you have a responsibility to fill a social niche or requirement? Did you choose this role, or did it ‘happen’ to you?

Well, I feel strongly that the role of the bard, troubadour, minstrel or whatever you want to call it – a role that was once recognized and given social sanction – is important and in need of reviving. In this I am obviously out of step with modern society, which is why like most artists and musicians I know, I have to find other sources of work to pay the rent (in my case, teaching part-time)! It was obviously my choice, but I feel that something in me was always reaching towards the role. I don’t want to go all Jungian on you here, but let’s just say that the figure of the troubadour always excited my imagination, and when I saw others performing in that guise, I wanted it to be me up there on stage.

The Bard strikes a deal with the audience: give me your attention and I will take you somewhere. Something extraordinary will happen and we will all be changed by it. It’s not something you can measure, or quantify, or put a monetary value to, or even name, but we’ll all know it’s happened. And to do that the Bard has to employ emotional honesty, a heightened sensitivity to others, skill achieved through years of hard work, all bound within the traditions of the art: scales, modes, metres and rhythms. It’s the antithesis of everything the modern, disposable, youth-obsessed music industry espouses. We need it back.

Q: What draws you to the bagpipes as an instrument? When did you first decide you wanted to play them?

I think I’ve always liked the sound of bagpipes but I first got excited about them when I heard the music of the late David Munrow (the man behind the British Early Music revival). When I first came to Oxford in 1991 I used to play whistle in the Irish sessions. One day a man called Simon Owen (now also sadly deceased) came in with a set of Spanish gaita. I had never heard anything like them and his minor scales electrified me. I was lucky enough to be given my first set of pipes, a knackered old set of gaita, by Giles Lewin and that got me started. Now I play English border pipes made by Jon Swayne of the band Blowzabella. They’re quieter, more flexible and can easily be played with other acoustic instruments. I can practise indoors too.

A lot of people find drone-based music stark, austere and repetitive but it speaks to me profoundly: I listen to a lot of drone music from around the world, especially India. The ancient function of the pipes (which haven’t substantially changed in design in seven hundred years) is to make people dance. I love the repetitive, trancey nature of bagpipe music, its power to get people on their feet. The pipes are the ancient precursor to the electric guitar or the Roland TB-303. They’re a design classic. It feels like a privilege to be playing them and to be part of the English piping revival. On the subject of which…

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about your involvement in the Bagpipe Society and the revival of British bagpipes?

I’ve been a member of the BagSoc since 1998 and haven’t missed a Blowout (their annual piping festival) since. Their aim is to promote interest in the pipes you won’t have heard of (at least sixteen kinds of pipes are played in Britain, with many more across the whole of Europe, North Africa and the near East). These days I’m their publicity officer and have just been rebuilding the Society website, with new artwork by the phenomenal Rima Staines. The evidence from iconography, church carvings and other historical sources is that bagpipes were a common feature in England up until the seventeenth century, from which time they fell out of favour. There’s a lively piping revival in Southern England, very much influenced by what’s been happening in Brittany and Central France (piping in the North of England has never really gone away, but the music doesn’t quite speak to me in the same way). Various makers have arrived at a kind of standardized pipe that is more or less chromatic and has a range of an octave and a half. You can play minor and unusual scales in other words, and the pipes are becoming a popular folk instrument again.

Q: You’ve written and talked extensively about the history of the magic mushroom and psychadelic experiences in general. Your book Shroom recieved mixed reviews; why do you think that was? Why did you decide to write the book and would you consider re-writing it to take into account new evidence in the future?

Ronald Hutton (who examined my PhD thesis) was very much my inspiration for writing Shroom. I wanted to set the history of the magic mushroom on the evidence and to discover what, exactly, we know about its use in the past. My argument is that the claims made my the pagan/psychedelic community – that psilocybin mushrooms have been used in Britain for millennia – typically rest on very shaky evidence, or no evidence at all. The absence of evidence, of course, means that you can believe what you like – there’s just no evidence, for or against!

In fact I’ve had very good reviews of the book, especially by the academic community, but some people have missed the subtlety of what I was trying to say. But then I’m tampering with people’s mythology – always a dangerous pursuit – and many have a lot invested in the idea of a secret, oppressed, psychedelic tradition to which they are heirs. The question I always ask is, why does it matter so much to you that the story you hold dear is true? What have you invested in it? Why is the idea of changing your worldview so problematic?

I’ve also been accused of being anti-psychedelic which those who know me find laughable! That’s very far from the case. But I dislike ‘isms’ and the way that beliefs become ossified into systems, in this instance ‘entheogism’, and I’m all for shaking up received opinion. Using psychedelics in no way means you have to abandon reason. Indeed, I think the only way we can grapple the psychedelic experience is through critical enquiry – how else are we to make sense of something that is so alien and other?

I have no plans to update Shroom at present – to date no evidence has surfaced that would make me change my thesis – though of course, if it does I shall be the first to champion it!

Q: What does shamanism mean to you?

I know from my studies that the word shamanism is problematic: it’s a term that’s been stripped from its original Siberian context, romanticized by the West and universalized. But given that, the kind of shamanism that interests me is the kind that uses psychedelics. The glib answer is that the shaman is the guy who can take higher doses than anyone else and still function! The less facetious answer, again drawing on this profound animistic idea of other-than-human people, is that shamanism is all about forging relationships, especially with plants – listening again – for the benefit of the community, either through healing or en-visioning. As with all these things the name is unimportant. Anyone can call themselves a shaman: it’s what you do that counts.

To find out more about Andy Letcher, visit him at

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An Interview With Mel Fleming

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a 53 year old man in Riverside, California. I’m also a survivor of decades of abuse from the Catholic and Christian churches. I grew up as a child, both physically and emotionally abused by the Catholic church, and then later in adult life by the evangelical church, due to my progressive social and political beliefs. I fell into paganism by accident, when I first moved to Riverside. I was walking along the markets, happened into the DragonMarsh bookstore and for some reason, happened upon two books by Scott Cunningham on Wicca. After reading and putting the principles from the book into practice, my path into a more eclectic form of paganism, became more embraced. I’m currently very eclectic, and my principle Goddess is Lilith and God is Bacchus. I have a group in California, named The Pheonyx Circle of Sacred Sexuality where we study, discuss, and celebrate the blending of the magickal, spiritual and physical planes to establish balance and harmony. The study of sexual magicks is becoming an emerging science within the pagan community having been long too neglected. I published a book on divination and sexuality; The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex, published by Ostara Publishing, owned by Cynthia Joyce Clay. I am one of sexual noted pagan authors, among Lasara Firefox, Donald Michael Kraig, Jason Newcombe, Karen Tate, Stella Damiana, Dr. Stuart Berlin, Inara Luna of the Red Lotus Temple, and Margo Anand, who are of the opinion that by living in a world of self denial, making it a virtue, that we’have lost sight of that which is both natural, normal, as well as a gift from the Goddesses and Gods. We see sexuality in ancient texts, practices, even with ceremony, such as the Great Rite. There is also a plethora of Deities, who have sexual connotations attached to them.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about why you decided to write “The Tarot & the Mysteries of Love & Sex”?

Sexual magick is a much neglected aspect of our magickal lives. The aforementioned authors, and myself feel, that the pagan communities still carry a very fundamentalist christian viewpoint, that their bodies are “sinful” to a degree and harbour societal and religious instil, and indoctrinated guilt about natural sexual desires. Many in our community either are ignorant of this fact, have never bothered to study this aspect, or believe that sexual magicks are for people who are “weird,” or have abnormal motives. Others have body issues: “too short, fat, not attractive enough” types of attitudes. Many come from abusive environments where self esteem is an issue. Others believe that the magickal practice should be limited to “spiritual values.” However is not our physical self part and parcel of our spiritual self/ And if not then why are there so many Goddesses and Gods with sexual attributes? Why are so many documented rituals filled with sexual connotations. For example, “The Chalice and the Blade” where the Blade, represents the male genitalia, and the Chalice the female? From the ancient times we see documented history of sexual rites, the sacred courtesans priestesses and priests. Regretfully, even with all this rich history, we modern pagans, wrap ourselves in the robes of “piety and self denial.” It is absolutely sad, and shameful. We are better people than that.

Q: You’ve written about the idea of having a Pagan sexual life; what do you feel *is* or *isn’t* ‘pagan’ in terms of sex? Is there always a definite link betweeen religion and sexuality and where there is, is it always a bad thing?

Well sexuality is certainly not a religious invention, although their institutions wanbt to either regulate or deny it altogether. however, allow me this opinion. We are born, both biologically, and chemically as sexual beings. If not, then we would not be born with sexual organs. The brain is our most sexually oriented organ, and the genitals complete the process. Spiritually in any group, Coven, Circle, whatever pagan tradition, I do stress some reasonable rules. All sexual rites among participants be consented to, without emotional or mental reservation, all participants must be of legal age of consent in their area, state, and country. And the rituals must have a specific spiritual purpose and not just be an excuse to simply have sexual activity. If your group follows those guidelines things should proceed smoothly. And there are things in my book, and the other people I’ve mentioned, who are wonderfully gifted, in their books writing as well. If I might “plug” a few places. The Temple of the Red Lotus, has a training program. has groups on Sacred Sexuality. Karen Tate and LaSara Firefox-Allen. The resources go on, and people are welcome to contact me on these as well.

Q: What makes the Tarot of the Divine Union set so special? Do you think there is a link between sexuality and the tarot in general?

The cards, designed by Cynthia Joyce Clay, my publisher, and owner of Oestara Publisher, designed the cards, specifically to perform readings on love, sex, romance, intimacy and your sexual personality. And the text meanings are geared only in those directions. So, they are not suited for general type readings. Also, the Tarot Card artwork by Cynthia is both highly artistic and extremely erotic in design. I consider them a blending of works, based upon the great masters, and a bit of surrealism. People have commented favorably on the artwork. by the way we have a separate tarot deck with a booklet, as well, so people who desire, do not have to cut out the cards from the back of the book.

The Pagan imagery uses the Theban Code, and in the tarot and sexual relationship. The imagery of certain cards such as the Empress, High Prietess and the cups and wands are sexual imagery.

People will absolutely find them entertaining and a joy to have.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your experiences with these cards?

Being that it’s a new deck, I have done readings for people, based soley on the focus of the cards, as aforementioned. However, people who have purchased the deck have enjoyed the insightful meanings in the main book and report their sexual lives are improving, even if slowly. That makes it all the more worthwhile.

Q: To what extent do you think that tarot reading is about personal interpretations rather than other people’s divination meanings? Is it important to have a balance between the two?

Well you need to be careful about reading into what the cards mean instead of their actual meanings. Don’t do readings from a personal bias. Too many people do that. In fact do a confirmation reading with a single card. Now, that’s just a suggestion, not a rule. Be calm and perhaps do a bit of peaceful meditation, beforehand. come to any tool of divination in a balanced manner, otherwise you will direct negative energies into a reading, then receive a result that is highly incorrect

Q: Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes. a book on Astrology and Love matches. I also do life coaching in this area of sexual spirituality by email, and Astrology/Numerolopgy charts for love and sexual questions People may contact me at; I do not charge. I accept gratuities based upon their generosity.

If there are those in California, who wish to participate in my Sacred Sexuality group, they may join the Pheonyx Circle of Sacred Sexuality, at If you are on or search for Mel J. Fleming II, PhD.

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An Interview With Damh The Bard

Q: Your music seems to be very much inspired by myth, folklore and legend; what led to you interest in these things?

Since I was a child listening to my Mum tell me stories I’ve always loved myths and legends. I’ve always felt like there was something else behind them, some hidden aspect of truth. They get my heart pumping. When I visit a site linked to a legend, such as Dozmary Pool in Cornwall with its Arthurian links, I will just sit and open my imagination (or some would say use my psychic abilities) to see through the modern into that world of myth. To tune into why this place has become so linked with myth. Often I find the energy just lurking under the surface, ready to be seen and heard.

Q: Is there a big difference for you between performing for an audience and playing music for yourself? Do you play differently when you are alone than when you are on stage?

The energy is still the same. When I’m playing to myself I’m often in a natural environment, such as a woodland, or on the moors. And although I’m playing music ‘alone’ I’m often very conscious of ‘Other’ ears listening too. See, that’s the drive behind my music and always has been – to give voice to how I feel about the land, the myths, the Faerie, the sacred sites and to give that voice I have to listen first. And just as I listen to the land, so you have to listen to an audience and judge what it is they want from my music on that particular night. Sometimes it’s to sit and listen, others times it’s to dance and have a party.

Q: Are there any legends or ideas you’ve come across which you wouldn’t want to use in your music and why?

Not so far. There are some that I’ve found more difficult to tune into and put into words, but I haven’t found one that I wouldn’t touch at all, not yet anyway.

Q: If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be doing? How different as a person do you think you would be without your music?

Wow. I have no idea really. I’ve been playing music since I was eight and singing and driving my parents mad even before then!

Without my music I would be a very different person. During my teens and early twenties I was a drummer in a rock band. That intense drive of rhythm probably saved me from many of the traps of the teenage years. I had a real outlet for that frustration and aggression. But my introduction at 8 was through acoustic folk music, so my musical life has come full circle. I just would not be me without my love of music.

Q: Is music and rhythm a key part of your beliefs and practices? Is your interpretation of myth and folklore affected by the way your music takes shape as much as your work is by those myths?

When I discovered Druidry, and within that the tradition and lore of the Bard, it was at that moment my life began to make sense. So my spiritual beliefs influence my music, and my music influences my spiritual beliefs, they are like two great circles that overlap within my soul.

Q: Outside of your musical acheivements, what has been the greatest achievement of your life so far? What would you most like to achieve in the future?

My two sons are without doubt my greatest achievements. There is not a day that goes past that I don’t think of them and how proud I am of them both. In my music, my aim is to one day play the Royal Albert Hall. Can you imagine that? To have a Pagan musician play a concert there? If it was successful it would be one more thing that places Paganism firmly on the map in the world. It’s going to happen one day, I know it will.

Q: How did you come across druidry and in what ways has it affected you as a person?

I was just coming out of a Ceremonial Magic group and was looking for something more earthy. So I sent off for details of all of the groups in the classifieds of a magazine called Prediction. Fellowship of Isis, Guild of Pagans, Pagan Federation, and a small ad for the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. The cost of that stamp changed my life completely. It was like coming home.

Q: And finally, how would you sum yourself up in five words?

Ha Ha!! Ok, ‘I find music in Nature’ 🙂

Visit Damh at for more news and updates

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An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Own Tas
(Questions by other members of the forum)

This issue, the members of the Pagan Friends Forum were lucky enough to be able to interview Tas. Almost no restraints were involved at all! To chat with to Tas and other forum members, why not join us at The Pagan Friends Forum?

From Liz:

Q: Have you always been a solitary eclectic, or have you worked in a coven or followed a more specific path in the past maybe?

Put the kettle on folks – this could take some time!

I began my forays into the world of paganism by attending a meditation class run in a witchy shop in the city. I and a friend went, and when the lady who ran it decided to start a coven, we were first on her list of takers. It didn’t suit – long story, but as always, ego played a large part.

So for a long time I worked and studied alone, always seeking. Then I joined up for an online course, which – contrary to opinions that have made their way onto the WWW, was not a rip off, nor was it as dodgy as it was made out to be by the Magister’s detractors; sadly, some people have an axe to grind and don’t care how they do it.My teacher latterly was an amazing Lady who has now sadly passed over. On her death, I was offered the opportunity of working with her replacement, but I had misgivings, for reasons which are and will remain private. Suffice to say, a number of us left, and now sometimes work together, having moved on from what remains of the original group. I wish them well and acknowledge what I learned whilst a part of their teachings. I believe I made the correct decision.

Q: Do you think Scottish Paganism has ways about it that are different to Paganism in other parts of the world?

Of course! For one thing, we wear specially reinforced knickers when traversing the moorlands cos it gets damned chilly up here!

Q:What’s your favourite time of year and where would you spend it if you were free to choose?

It has to be the Autumn, Keat’s

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

I’d spend it on the Isle of Mull, in my dream cottage by the shore, harvesting and preserving against the coming of the Cailleach Bheur…

Q:What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while engaged in your witchery?

As I will mention again later in the interview – attempting not to give away my thoughts when watching someone who was so totally out of her depth it was laughable, and the fact others were being taken in by it – I had a real struggle that night!

Q: Do you have a home altar, and do you get much chance to do much path work at home?

I have an altar in my bedroom, on top of a cabinet, also one in the main room of the house with a goat’s skull, candles, and my Badge of the Wards on it, plus always flowers or greenery and anything else that speaks to me – same with the bedroom one. Neither of these are working places though – they are more for my own perusal and an expression of my beliefs.

Q: Or do you prefer to take yourself off somewhere more private and work in nature, perhaps?

I work outside, apart from the rare occasions I might want to use a still candle flame. Also, because of the way I have been taught, we no longer need to do an actual working in the physical. This may seem odd, but you can reach a stage in your development as Witch wherein you can work on, for want of a better word, the astral. One’s visualisations make the space and one works outside one’s physical self. We do of course meet up for various rites both as a working group, and as solitary workers when one’s secular life precludes meeting up. These latter solitary workings may be done as individuals, or if need be we time our own workings to coincide and work together although apart to do whatever needs to be done.

Q: Does the Moon make any difference to how you go about things?

It does and it doesn’t! The 3 days before a full are when we can access most power. The dark we tend to use for working with darker heavier energies, but we will do a working regardless of moon phase if it needs to be done.

Q:Are you into Astrology at all?

Other than a perfunctory glance at the horrorscopes in magazines in the Dr’s waiting room, I don’t pay much attention to astrology. I know it does work though, having read up about it and heard of how accurately it can predict things. Horoscopes and star signs just don’t appeal to me that much. However, the stars do have a lot to tell us about our past and our mythologies, the memes, and the very real and powerful forces that drive us. Caput Algol for one.

Q: Have you had any strange experiences like picking up on energies, hearing sounds, seeing orbs or feeling cold when visiting less familiar locations?

Where would you like me to start LOL! Umpteen, though I now know how to keep it all in check so it’s liveable with – for a while, especially when my own powers were first being awakened, I seriously began to doubt my sanity!
I do do something unusual from time to time and the way I choose to describe it is “a telling”. This comes more or less unbidden and it’s as if a switch gets thrown and I begin telling a person about themselves – past, current and future. This is a bit heavy and scary to some, but also unnervingly accurate. This can also happen via a held object.I have a tale or three to tell!

I also transmogrify.

Q: What are your dreams and aspirations for the future in realistic terms?

Realistically? To keep body and soul together and manage to keep earning until I can survive on whatever pension I get. On retiral, I intend taking my exams to become a Celebrant so I can work at that, also set up a website dealing solely with witchy things, without fear of losing my job! Maybe artwork? And writing. And sewing.

Q: And if money were no object, what then?

A plot of land. An architect built house on one level for easy maintenance, with a forest and a river and on the shore so we could sail. And spend the winters sailing in the Med! My stepdaughter and her kids would live with us (she’d have her horses and separate accommodation) so she could care for the chickens, goat and pig, plus all the moggies and the Irish Wolfhounds whenever we buggered off to the warm.

Q:If you could do things all over again, what would you change, if anything?

My initial reaction is to say that I’d never have met my exes, but then, I’d never have my lovely daughters. Or that I’d have a had a loving mother and a father who hadn’t topped himself. If I had had the funding, I’d love to have taken my PHD when it was offered. But I am what my life has made me, for better or worse.

Q: What’s in a normal day for Tas when she’s not at work?

Apart from gibbering at the wall you mean?! I do whatever takes my mood wherever possible. That may be a walk in the park, or reading, using FB, drawing. Usually though, it’s cleaning, laundry, taxi servicing!

Q: How do you like to spend rainy days?

Walking outside!

Q: And how do you like to spend hot days?

Lying outside getting brown and reading!

Q: And how do you like to spend chilly days?

Wrapped up warm and comfy with a full tummy and a dram to hand, the candles lit and some soothing music. Or else relaxed in a deep warm bath with a dram and a book, with a cosy bed awaiting in a candlelit bedroom, scented with incense, classical music on, and no bugger to disturb me!

Q: Have you ever used any witchy tactics on your own family members or friends at all?

I have used tactics on folk who are being a pain in the arse to me or mine, but never friends – why would I? One can add a little summat to one’s OH’s noms if one feels the need though!

Q: Have you got a favourite pizza topping?

Gluten free cardboard pizza is all I can now eat. Plain is best – toms and mozarella and torn basil and garlic with lots of olive oil and black pepper!

Q: Which herb would you say is the most useful in a witches cupboard?

Lavender because it’s a healing agent as well as being a dark herb, also mugwort, and ivy and vervain.

Q: Which tool would you most not want to loose from your collection?

My brain. And that’s not a flippant reply either! Tools are simply an outward expression of the will, and as such can be very useful, but ultimately, the mind is what is doing the work. I do still see my stang as my Guardian though!

Q:If you could be a super hero for a day, who would you choose?

See my reply to Caledonia which also answers this.

Q: If you had a time machine who would you go back and get to know?

Circa AD 50 so I could get to know what shaped Boudicca’s character and thinking, and learn about how she was taught about Andraste, plus all the other things that happened back then, before our land was raped. The Library at Alexandria, plus a translator would be fun to visit too.

From Vix!

Q: Do the Wights of the Wooded Glen prefer fruit cake or Madeira in your experience and what’s the nastiest thing they’ve done to you all those times you forgot to feed ’em?

These wee jobbies will take what’s given to them and be bloody well grateful! And they don’t do nasty any more. Not after the last time.

Q: I’d like to take you right back to the beginning…. what were your first experiences of “paganism” what drew you and have you changed your path over the years?

Vix, if you read what I wrote in response to Liz I think this covers it, but it’s also something that is in you and a part of you, making you different. As a child I travelled (OBE’s) but was punished for mentioning such things, also seeing things that weren’t there merited a hard slap. I wasn’t aware that I was unusual in this until much later when I’d learned it was “wrong”. What a pity parents/society curb such things.

Q: What’s your worst experience of Paganism, and do you have anything that’s “taboo” in terms of using magic?

The so-called coven that I joined locally, albeit briefly, all those years ago. I have never come across such manipulative, self serving, ego-ridden TWUNTS in my entire life, before or since, as some of the people in it! Mind you, I am a lot older and wiser now. It would take a page at least to explain; suffice it to say, it’s a good job I don’t buckle easily. And I also heard that the main culprit received his come-uppance from the Old Ones. In a delightfully apt manner, mwuhahaha!

I will NEVER act upon a person for their gain unless they have specifically asked me to, and even then it has to be considered carefully. It isn’t a game.

Note that I will work against a person should I feel the need demands it, though this is also never undertaken lightly. Even thinking about it sets the wheels in motion.

From Disillusioned:

Q: How have your beliefs helped you in darker times?

I had near terminal cancer a while back and my group worked with me to shrink the tumour. I couldn’t travel, but we worked on the same night. One rite involved me climbing onto a deserted hillfort on Islay in the middle f the night to call up the Heroes, a rite which is not undertaken lightly. One of my Sisters in the Craft did a similarly dangerous rite in her neck of the woods, one which left her literally feeling as if she was dying afterwards. The Consultant couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on – my blood counts actually came back improved rather than the opposite after chemo and radiotherapy!
I was out of hospital after major surgery on day 6 instead of the usual 12 to 14 days recovery period. My faith and my loyalty to all those who have taught me and those work with me means everything to me – it’s who I am.

From Winterwitch:

Q: Tas you believe you were a witch/pagan in other lifetimes?

Yes I do.

Q: Do you have any memory of this?

It is something we access when we are fully initiated, and become Witch reborn, as are all Witches.

Q: Which element are you more connected with?

Air, though this could change. It always amazes me, calling up a winds in the middle of a still night! One Samhain when we all got together, we were all commenting afterwards about how calm and beautifully still the night was, with the moon shining down upon us, lighting our circle. Only to discover next day from one woman’s daughter that the area we had been in was being lashed by rainstorms and lightning and gale force winds during the period we were holding the rite!!!! Seriously – that isn’t made up – we seem to have been protected within a sort of bubble where the elements were held at bay!

Q: And I sooo much want to know more about your dolls. Maybe this one shouldn’t be here lol but I’m really interested.

Ah – the dolls….Basically you can make a doll which embodies a desire, breathe life into it, and have it perform what function it is designed for. It is not the same as a poppet.

Q: What is your favourite Sabbat?

Samhain, when the veils are thinned and the new year approaches.

Q: Describe yourself in 3 words.

Cantankerous old bat?

Q: Is spellwork an important part of your craft?

No, not any longer. When I first began learning, it was an important part, and the learning itself plays a large part in one’s development as a working Witch. But not now. As I mentioned earlier, one can work without tools, circles etc.

Q: If it is have you had any memorable successful spells?

Not spells as such, but certainly what I would term “workings”. There’s the stuff I explained about when I had the cancer. But even before I began on my chosen Path, the Witch within spoke and I became almost possessed at one point. It’s a weird one this – my ex was off shagging his bint on Orkney, and I was in pieces. Something seemed to take over and I mixed up oil, water, salt and flour, made a poppet and dressed her with green DM’s (which she wore and I envied!) fashioned from green paper in a magazine, plus black hair from around my dog’s backside for its pubes and hair. I wrote her name on paper and put it and the paper into an old margarine tub and shoved it to the back of a cupboard. Days passed with no contact from him and I was frantic. Again, I was compelled to get the tub, and I built up a roaring fire into which I hurled the poppet, saying, “Burn, bitch!” As I watched it being consumed, the phone rang. It was him in a call box, glibly telling me how the sun was shining – then there was an almighty bang and crackling and him yelling, “WTF!” and the phone being dropped. He eventually came back on and very shakily told me that suddenly the sky had darkened and from nowhere a bolt of lightning had stuck the ground just next to her! Then he hung up. To say I was disconcerted isn’t putting too fine an edge on it! Apparently the only thing that saved her life was the fact she was wearing those green DM’s…

This scared me as it showed me the power and how it can be used for ill – I was terrified in fact. I also believe I acted in a way I may have done in a previous life.

Q: What type of divination do you use the most?

Winterwitch, this ties to what I reply to Lucy – I think it comes later.

Q: What are your thoughts on the death penalty?

For anyone irrefutably convicted of certain types of crime ( sexual assault/cruelty towards children/animals and bombings, also serial killers) bring it on.

Q: Tas ..after posting my blog about the poor beautiful horse (in the forum itself) I would like to know…
How do you work through pain and anger?

As most people do, with effort. Anger in particular if a very real force which must be contained as it can be used almost inadvertently to harm by intent. And see too my previous reply to Winterwitch about “successful” workings.

Q:Do you feel anger has a part in say a ritual or spell to protect someone or something from harm?

Or do you think any ritual/spell should be a calm working?

Not if one is directing anger; but it must be held and controlled before being projected otherwise things can get really pear shaped. This isn’t quite the same as calmness – it’s “different”. Otherwise, yes. One shouldn’t work unless one is contemplative and readied mentally – this requires calmness and control of mind/spirit.

Q: I think what I’m trying to ask is do you think anger/emotion makes a spell or ritual more powerful?

Yes – it does, if properly utilised.

From Lingib:

Q: Are you drawn to a particular Deity, and has this changed from when you first started in Paganism?

Now this one’s interesting, inasmuch as my answer might be a bit odd to get to grips with at first, so please bear with me.

First, I’d have to ask you – how do you view deity? Because the Path I follow doesn’t view things in quite the same clear cut manner as is usually taken as read (in particular by Wiccans) that dieties are a pantheon…

Here is my take on this, based on what I and other of my particular Path do:

We are all part of a much bigger picture. Whereas e.g. Wicca sees pantheons of all sorts, we see them as representative of processes which we have to go through in order to unlock things in our psyche to access the Divine.

For instance, in the Lilith rite other Paths might contact Lilith as a Goddess, but we approach the rite as a process which creates an altered state of consciousness. This unlocks a certain part of the brain and enables us to make the connection [with what she represents] – some would say on the astral level.

NB: This is NOT The same as using meditation techniques (of which there are so many from warm baths, to seated, and including visualisation, using breathing techniques etc.) to attain an ASC . During this rite we kick start if you like, certain endorphins. There is a fine balance which can only be reached working with people one trusts implicitly, especially as working this process literally catapults us to where we need to be to complete the working. This process (and the rituals involved) will be different dependant on which aspect of the Divine, as personified by a particular deity, we are working with.

Basically, for us, deity is a process rather than a particular being/God/dess.

Q:How do you cast a circle, and do you work indoors or outdoors, or both?

Anti-clockwise for all acts of magic because we work with the earth

Clockwise for all acts of worship, because the dead work clockwise.

From Lucy:

Q: What has been your most embarrassing moment, if any, during ritual?

None for me personally, although with that first group I joined, I literally squirmed inwardly because I just knew a certain person was, erm…struggling a bit!

Q: What successes have you had with scrying and what are your favoured methods?

I do try, honestly I do, but scrying using crystal spheres, water in a black dish etc. just doesn’t seem to do it for me. However, I have had epiphanies, usually followed by vividly telling dreams, after gazing into streams, lochs etc., and also looking into fires. I also have an old mirror in my back garden into which I have been known to gaze of an evening – invariably this results in transmogrification (of my reflection) which I assume to be partly my own past lives, and partly Others appearing.

Q: Do you have a favoured item of magical jewellery/decoration, that you rarely take off – why is it so special?

I do indeed – I met a lovely lady who had on a bronze serpent pendant which I admired greatly. When she returned to Norway she posted me a slightly smaller on, in silver, on a leather thong. This gift reminds me of my connection to the Serpent Mother. I also wear a solar cross, again silver, on a chain. These never come off.

From Caledonia:

Q: Have you raised your daughters to follow an alternate path? If not, why?

Believe it or not, I raised them as nominally Christian! We lived in a very small insular village, and the fact their father was English, and they attended the Gaelic school in the island’s “rival” village meant they were in danger of being left out of village life. So I volunteered my services as a Sunday school teacher! This meant they were integrated – I know, ingratiating myself LOL!

The beauty of it all is, neither believe in anything! Mind you, the younger one does have the gift, but she is currently in denial mode. What they choose is entirely up to them – all I ask is that they are contented, decently rounded, honest human beings.

Q: Does Himself follow your beliefs?

NO WAY! Himself is a died in the wool atheist. Probably his reaction to having received such a rigorous Catholic grammar school education from the infamous Marist Brothers!

Q: What ‘rumour’ about pagans most amuses you?

Ooooh – where does one start? Boiling up babbies in the cauldron? The problem with that, if they would just give it some thought, is that it takes a lot of effort breaking all their ickle limbs to make them fit in! And doesn’t leave much space over for the goat either.

Q: If you could have any superpower at all, what would it be?

To heal minds globally – that would stop wars I think…

Q: And what would your superhero name be?

Now I’m equating “superhero” with the popular concepts like Catwoman etc. – but I’d be an unpopular one – so summat darkly gothic but a piss take. Any suggestions? My mind’s just gone blank. Sadly watches as last brain cell trickles onto carpet in search of pastures new…

Q: What would your costume look like?

Oooh – FUN! I like dressing up! Either leather and bronze, Boudicca style adaptation, or – as is more likely, a sort of green foresty woman idea – all soft suedes, linen, and mossy traily leafy stuff….

Q: And the most vital of vital…… Coke or Pepsi?

I rarely drink either, but on the odd occasions that I do it would have to be Coke!

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Planetary Magic
by Peter J Carroll.
Fra. Stokastikos
Past grandmaster IOT Pact
Chancellor of Arcanorium College.

A brief essay on the origins of some contemporary esoteric ideas.

Over a recent lunch, Professor Ronald Hutton surmised to me that H.P. Lovecraft’s idea of the Necronomicon probably arises from the Arabic Gayat al Hakim manuscript which later appeared in Latin as the Picatrix Grimoire. The Gayat al Hakim/Picatrix itself shows the strong influence of Egyptian magic and Neo-Platonic and Hermetic magic and leads to conceptions of Planetary Theurgy, which later appear explicitly in the medieval and renaissance grimoires.

The whole idea of a dread grimoire having as its author ‘Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Arab’, fits in rather well with the Gayat or its derivatives having inspired H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos stories, or at least his idea of the Necronomicon.

Planetary magic or at least planetary religion seems to have begun in Hellenic classical cultures when the ancient Greeks and Romans identified some of their gods and goddesses with the planets of the solar system, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon, although the beginnings of this idea appear in the Babylonian culture.

As the classical religions fell to creeping monotheism, the idea of planetary powers or spirits survived in Gnosticism, reappearing as Archons, entities attributed to the various planets which the aspiring Gnostic had to master to achieve spiritual progress. Some Gnostics viewed the Archons as malignant or obstructive spirits standing in the way of the ascent of the adept back to godhood. In the medieval grimoires we also see the idea of some of the planetary intelligences and spirits having malignant characteristics, and such ideas may well have also fed into the Necronomicon mythos, after all the title itself implies a book of ‘dead names’, or at least those of long forgotten gods.

Eventually, ideas from Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, Classical Paganism, Late Classical ‘Pagan Monotheism’, and Gnosticism, The Medieval and Renaissance Grimoires and a late form of Kabala, (together with a dash of spiritualism and colonial orientalism), all come together in the late 19th century to form a grand synthesis that we could call “The Standard Model of Magic’ forged by the adepts of the Golden Dawn (mainly MacGregor Mathers it seems).

From this synthesis comes most of the magical theory and technology on which various people built such traditions as Thelema, Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Neo-Druidry, Chaos Magic, and indeed most of the esoteric components of the New-Age movement, in the second ‘occult revival’ beginning in the last three decades of the 20th century.

In contra-distinction to the prevailing but declining monotheism and the increasingly dominant mechanistic-materialistic scientific world views of the late 19th and 20th centuries, this new esoterics began to view its ‘deities’ not as almighty cosmic creators but as archetypal ‘god-forms’ representing human scale abilities and aspirations, and ‘spirits’ as fundamentally arising from the activities of ourselves and living organisms and natural phenomena, rather than as the authors of such phenomena. Thus magic became again the art and science of theurgy; making ‘spirits’ and ‘godforms’, (or your own subconscious archetypes and parapsychological abilities), perform on demand.

Thus Invocation, Evocation, Divination, Enchantment, and planned Illumination came to replace the religious practices of worshipful prayer or prayerful supplication, and semi-mechanistic parapsychological models of apparently magical phenomena came to augment the developing ‘hard’ scientific paradigm.

The basic techniques came down to ritual enactment, the drawing of various mystical signs and symbols, incantation, visualization, and altered states of consciousness by various physiological means, to which Crowley of course added sex and drugs.

Chaos Magic then added an additional battery of consciousness altering techniques from many sources, and the theory that sacredness, sanctity, and meaning depend entirely on operator choice, rather than on historical or spiritual precedent, thus defining belief as a tool rather than as an end in itself.

Perhaps the most significant development of the second magical revival lay in the realization that you could use any symbolism you liked, ancient or modern or imaginary, and write your own rituals and incantations, and that these would have magical effects so long as you used the appropriate practical techniques, altered states of consciousness, and sleights of mind. This development lay implied in the great synthesis that the adepts of the Golden Dawn created, although they attempted to disguise the fact by attributing their creations to certain ‘secret chiefs’. It became fully explicit only in the second magical revival under the aegis of Chaos Magic where practical techniques assumed primary importance and the symbolic representations of antiquity became regarded as mere window dressings of choice.

Rather than adopt any particular ancient or antique pantheon Chaos Magic built a simple color coded psychocosm based on magical intent;

Blue for works of wealth and power. (~Jupiter)
Orange for works of intellect and quickness. (~Mercury)
Green for works of love and friendship. (~Venus)
Red for works of vitality and aggression. (~Mars)
Black for works of death. (~Saturn)
Silver or Purple for works of Sex. (~Moon)
Yellow for works of Ego and Extraversion (~Sun)
Octarine for works of Pure Magic Research & Quest. (~Uranus)

This scheme functions rather like the modified tree of life kabala that the GD originated except that the spheres do not lie in an hierarchy, but rather in a round table of equality with the possibility of combining archetypes for less straightforward entities, for example the newly revived goddess Eris might appear as having Red-Purple characteristics which we can use to structure an Invocation. Odin for another example; does not equate well with any single sphere derived from classical-kabalistic considerations.

At Arcanorium College,, an international internet based adventure; we have an ongoing project to create what we have provisionally called The Portals of Chaos, a graphic grimoire. This will consist of a set of CG images on moveable cards which the magician can use for Invocation, Evocation, Enchantment and Illumination as well as just for Divination.

It will bear little resemblance to a conventional Tarot for it will have the above 8 major god forms and their associated planetary ‘spirits’ and intelligences’ as well as 28 god and goddess forms representing ‘mixed’ attributes corresponding to various personality types, assorted deities from many pagan pantheons, and various magical intents. Plus it will probably have a number of ‘random’ event cards for the anticipation of such in divination or the imposition of such in enchantment.

Also we have chosen the big five entities from the Necronomicon; Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, and Yog-Sothoth to represent various cosmic scale phenomena such as panspsychic panspermia, higher dimensionality, eldritch knowledge from morphic fields, and so on.

So, if we aim to create A Worke of Magical Arte, with useful practical applications, then perhaps we continue in a very ancient tradition. All Grimoires then appear as objectively ‘fake’ including the imaginary ones like the fabled Necronomicon, because the deities and monsters in them derive from cobbled together bits of our own psychology and mythology, which nevertheless can have a real psychological and parapsychological power for us. Perhaps then we should regard Grimoires in general as ‘workes of arte’, as convenient analogical impositions, rather than as objective maps of the incredible complexity of the cartography of our own psychology.

In the composition of The Portals we aim to give it all we have got, including superb computer assisted graphic design, in the hope that it will actually improve upon the Picatrix and the Necronomicon ideas, whilst acknowledging them as precursors in an historical tradition of artistic magical thinking……..

Peter J Carroll has written
‘Liber Null & Psychonaut’ and ‘Liber Kaos’, published by Red Wheel Weiser,
‘The Apophenion’ and ‘The Octavo’, published by Mandrake of Oxford,
and maintains a website and blog at and an online magical college at

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The Pollok Witches
by Tas Mania

Do you believe in witches? Sir George Maxwell of Nether Pollok certainly did, condemning five souls to death for the crime of witchcraft in 1676.

Sir George Maxwell was the Lord of Pollok in 1688, and is known traditionally as the bewitched baronet. On the 14th of October, he became suddenly and dangerously ill, with pains similar to pleurisy. As his ailment did not respond to conventional medicines, it was ascribed to witchcraft, with suspicion leading to certainty. A young, apparently deaf mute, vagrant woman, Janet Douglas, having heard of Maxwell’s “bewitchment”, undertook to discover the offenders, accusing several of the most respectable tenants on the Pollok estate. It appears that she signified,

“there is a woman whose son has broke his fruit yeard that did (censored) him in the side.” Subsequently, she asked that two servants accompany her (for protection) to the home of one Jennet Mathie, an old woman of evil fame, widow of John Stewart, under-miller in Schaw Mill. The two servants, Laurence Pollok and Andrew Martin, verified her findings, and the fact that the pins inserted were “in the right side very long, and that in the left shorter”, corresponded neatly with the severity of the laird’s pains. “She going in with the men, the woman on some occasion stepping to the door, the dumb lass instantly put her hand behind the chimney, and takes out a picture of wax wrapped in a linen cloth, gives it to the men; away they all come with it, and let the gentlewomen [of the Maxwell family] see it. They find two pins stuck in the right side of it, and a pin on the shoulder downward, which they take out, and keeps quiet; and that night the bird had good rest, and mended afterward, though slowly, for he was sore brought down in his body: and in two or three days they made him understand the matter.”

Jennet Mathie, was apprehended on the spot and sent to prison, but when questioned, denied all knowledge of the incriminating article, saying it was the work of the dumb girl. Nonetheless, it came to light that her son Hugh had once robbed Sir George’s orchard* – and when told that he was no longer in Pollokland, having gone to Darnlie, Sir George announced, “I hope my fingers may be long enough to reach him in Darnlie!”

Despite these accusations being held as sufficient proof of Jennet’s family intending to do the laird as much mischief as possible, the prosecution wanted no stronger proof. Jennet’s obstinate refusal to confess nothing resulted in her body being searched – and naturally, the Devil’s mark was discovered, whereupon Sir George’s health improved dramatically – for a time… When his pains returned the dumb girl said that Jennet’s eldest son, John Stewart, had formed a second clay image, four days since, which could be found in his house, in a bolster among the bed straw. Again accompanied by the servants, his home was duly searched and a freshly made image was discovered, as described, though it was “soft and broke in their hands”.

Interestingly, the servants kept her at a distance, but acted under her directions to find the image. John denied all knowledge of the thing, but he and his young sister Annabel were apprehended. The next day Annabel confessed. The events, as she relates them, now become more interesting. She tells that on the 4th of January while the clay picture was being formed, a black gentleman had come into her mother’s house. John Stewart, not then at home, had returned and been present at the making of the second image:

“After he had gone to bed, the Black Man came in, and called him quietly by his name, upon which he arose from the bed and put on his clothes. Margaret Jackson, Bessie Weir, and Marjory Craig did enter in at the window in the gable.”

The first thing that the Black Man required was that he should renounce his baptism and deliver up himself wholly unto him, putting one of his hands on the crown of his head, and the other to the sole of his foot . . . promising he should not want any pleasure, and that he should get his heart’s desire on all that should do him wrong. (All, having given their consent to the making of the clay image, which was meant as a revenge for Sir George Maxwell taking away his mother).

“they wrought the clay, and the Black Man did make the head and face, and the two arms. The devil set three pins in the same, one in each side, and one in the breast; and John did hold the candle all the time the picture was making. The picture was placed by Bessie Weir in his bed-straw.”

On this occasion, they had all had nicknames given them by the devil, who himself bore the name of “Ejool”. Jennet’s devil-name was “Lands-lady”, Bessie Weir‘s was “Sopha”, Marjory Craig’s “Rigeru”, Margaret Jackson’s “Locas”, and John Stewart’s “Jonas”.

She wavered slightly when confronted with John, but he too was searched, many marks were found on him and when found the spell of silence was broken: he confessed his pact with the Devil as openly as his sister, and naming the same accomplices. Of these, only Margaret Jackson, aged fourscore or so confessed, but with the great number of witch marks her body revealed, she had no hope for leniency.

On the 17th of January a portion of clay was found beneath Jennet Mathie’s bolster, in her Paisley prison. A woman’s portrait this time, it was decided that the witches were plotting against the entire Maxwell family! On the 27th Annabel made a fuller deposition, stating that the devil, as a black man, had come to her mother’s house last harvest, requiring her to give herself to him and promising that she should want for nothing good if she did. Being enticed by her mother and Bessie Weir, she did as was desired, placing one hand on the crown of her head, another on the soles of her feet, and giving over to him all that lay between – whereupon her mother promised her a new coat and the devil made her officer at their several meetings. In addition he gave her such a nip on the arm that she was sore for half an hour after, and given her new name, “Annippy”, or “an Ape” according to Law. It is noted that when the girl, after confession in bed in Pollock House, was asked what the devil’s name had been to her, “she, being about to tell, was stopped, the bed being made to shake, and her clothes under her blown up with a wind.”

All were said to have been present at the making of the clay image which was to doom Sir George to death. Formed of clay, then bound on a spit, it was turned it before the fire, “Sopha” crying “Sir George Maxwell! Sir George Maxwell!” and the curse was repeated by all.

She also described a meeting, attended by the Devil dressed in, “black cloathes and a blew band, and white hand cuffs, with hoggers en his feet, and that his feet were cloven.”

The black man, whose name was “Ejoall”, or “J. Jewell” stuck the image with pins, and delighted in giving himself various names, as when he caused himself to be called Peter Drysdale, by Catherine Sands and Laurie Moir, and Peter Saleway by others.

John’s confession quickly followed. He confessed to his own baptism; to the hoggers on the black man’s legs, who had no shoes, and “spoke in a voice hollow and ghousty”; to the making the clay image; and to his new name of Jonas.

On the 15th of February, 1677, John Stewart, Annabel Stewart, and Margaret Jackson all adhered to these depositions, though Jennet, Bessie and Marjory denied them. When the two young people had been committed to Paisley prison, Jennet, desired to see her son, and with the request being granted, “they make a third and new picture of clay, which the dumb lass again discovers.” It was supposed that this was intended for Sir George’s daughter-in-law, who had taken an active interest in detecting the diabolic conspiracy, and who fell ill about this time.

It seems though, that regardless of Jennet’s continued denial of her crimes, the Fates were against her. In spite of being placed in heavy stocks, her goaler declared her bolster was found beneath her – a feat impossible for a mere woman to have managed as the said bolster had been placed well outside of her reach. Had she summoned up superhuman reserves of strength to shift the weight of the stocks? Or had Auld Horny given his servant a helping hand?

Before the court she explained how she had got one foot out of the hole, and drawn the stocks to her, “a thing altogether impossible.” Exhorting their mother to confess, John and Annabel reminded her of all the meetings she had had with the devil in her own house, telling her accusers, “a summer’s day would not be sufficient to relate what passages had been between the devil and her”. “But still contemptuous” nothing could prevail with her “obdurate and hardened heart”. All, save young Annabel who in consideration of her young age (14) and penitence was retained in prison, were burnt.

On the 15th of February, the rest of the party were tried and condemned, Janet Mathie, Bessie Weir, and Marjory Craig continued to deny their guilt to the last. Mathie’s obduracy was considered the more horrible as her two children seriously exhorted her to confess: Annabel with tears, reminding her of her many meetings with the devil, but this was all in vain. The four women and the boy were burnt at the Gallowgreen of Paisley on 20th Feb. 1677. Mathie was first hanged, and then burned, along with the wax and clay effigies. When Weir, the last of the four, was turned off the gallows,

‘there appears a raven, and approaches the hangman within an ell of him, and flies away again.”
A modern ballad on the subject, by Mr. Peter M’Arthur, states,
“The story Is told by legends old,
And by withered dame and sire,
When they sit secure from the winter’s cold
All around the evening fire:
How the faggots blazed on the Gallowgreen,
Where they hung the witches high;
And their smoldering forms were grimly seen
Till darkend the lowering sky.”

* “broke his fruit yeard”

In conclusion:

There remains a great deal of speculation about the dumb lass who first accused the widow Mathie – how convenient it was that she was able to lead Maxwell’s servants to exactly the right spot and uncover not one – but two effigies. Having played her part in the uncovering and subsequent conviction of the widow Jennet and her kind, she disappears from the histories – maybe to vanish into safe obscurity, enjoying the payment she undoubtedly would have received for her help – or maybe she was the witch, and as such, responsible for the immolation of her rivals?

It was necessary to the satisfaction of the witch persecution’s ends to typify witchcraft as directly oppositional to the established faith, hence the need to identify the object of the witches’ veneration as the Devil.
It was desired by both church and state to typify witches as heretics – not as infidels, like Jews or Muslims. The concept of “maleficia” i.e. harm to people, beasts or property, was also important. Witches were blamed for causing everything from impotence to bad weather, thus optimising public support for the persecutions, whilst minimising any resentment over the seizing of friends, relatives and neighbours.

It is true that in our ancient history there is little mention of magic, and scarcely any vestiges of witchcraft. The first capital punishment for witchcraft was in 1479, and the last 1722. King James writes a book on the subject (Dæmonologia) stating therein,

“no age, sexe, or ranck should be exempted from punishment.”

However, he cautions judges,

“to beware to condemne, except those that are guiltie;”
and laments that witches,
“were never so rife as they are now”

It seems we were ever damned regardless – as the esteemed and learned Sir George M’Kenzie averred,

“witchcraft to be the greatest of crimes, and that the lawyers of Scotland cannot doubt there are witches since the law ordains them to be punished.”

Copyright Tas Mania

Tas is a 59 year old Witch who lives in Glasgow with her husband and two daughters – none of whom are remotely interested in pagan practices, but who have finally learned to ignore her mutterings. She doesn’t feed cake to wights.

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Organizational Astrology
by Fern Feto Spring

If you think astrology and business don’t mix, think again. Over the centuries astrology has been used by kings, leaders and other powerful figures to help guide the timing of major political and financial decisions. J.P. Morgan famously said, “Millionaires don’t use astrologers, billionaires do.” Morgan was known for routinely consulting his famous astrologer Evangeline Adams for advice on both his business and personal life. Adams also counted Charles Schwab, J. Paul Getty Sr. and Joseph Campbell among her clients, and she was well known in the early 1900’s for her high profile and successful astrological practice.

So how can astrology be useful to businesses in the modern era? Astrologers today consult with record labels, production companies and hedge funds. Providing advice from everything ranging to the timing of record releases, to the best new hire, modern astrologers are continuing an age old tradition of offering advice and counsel based on their knowledge of the cycles of nature, and the relationships of these cycles to our personal and professional lives.

Like the use of the Enneagram, astrology can also help to identify and isolate personality traits in individuals that lead to a greater understanding of how and why they work the way they do. The astrological chart shows both the potential of an individual, event or business, and also specific characteristics and patterns that will emerge over time.

In my own practice working with businesses and organizations, I have been called on to analyze the charts of new and potential hires, lead workshops at staff retreats, and analyze communication patterns amongst staff based on their astrological charts.

When explaining my services to new clients, it’s often necessary to do a certain amount of educating about how and when astrology can be helpful, and explain the difference between “sun sign” astrology, and the more in depth astrology that I use in my practice.

Most of us are familiar with “sun sign” astrology. Based on the sign your sun was in on the date you were born, certain characteristics and qualities associated with that sign are said to describe who you are. Newspaper horoscopes and books about sun signs abound, and depending on their quality, can be either surprisingly accurate, or wildly off base. But to say sun sign astrology encompasses the complete art of astrology is like saying that looking at the sun everyday will tell you everything you need to know about astronomy. It leaves out much that makes astrology relevant, and ignores a huge body of knowledge that can be practically applied not only in the world of business, but to life in general. Besides the sun, there are traditionally nine other planets that astrology considers when casting a chart: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Some astrologers also work with the asteroids, Chiron is the most commonly used, but other asteroids can yield useful information as well. The sign that was rising on the horizon when you (or an event or business) were born is called the “rising sign”, and this is also taken into account when casting a chart.

Each planet or asteroid represents a different sphere of life, a different quality, gift or challenge. The rising sign shows how we approach life, the way that we appear to other people, and the manner that other people most easily understand us on a first meeting.

In analyzing individual’s charts for work related issues, I usually look first at the placement of the planet Mercury. Mercury rules or governs the arena of communication. Writing, speaking, listening, learning, teaching. You name it, if it has to do with verbal, written, sung or signed communicating, you can bet Mercury is involved. So often, conflicts at work, as in most relationships, center on issues of communication. By looking at the sign that Mercury is in, it is possible to gain instant information about that person’s style of communication. Mercury in Aries for example would be blunt, confident and impatient. Mercury in Cancer is imaginative; feeling based, and has a remarkable memory. Combine the two in a work setting and you’re looking either at constant conflict, or the opportunity to harness some of the tension and energy that could lead to conflict, to create something new and untried.

An astrologer can explain and describe the qualities unique to each Mercury sign, and help to find ways that the different signs might connect, and interact in beneficial rather than challenging forms.

I’ve had many useful strategy sessions arise just from facilitating groups in a discussion of the sign and house of each person’s Mercury, and how their style of communication supported or hindered the work of the group as a whole.

Besides using the chart to troubleshoot the personality dynamics of the workplace, astrology also stands out as a tool for what I like to call “wise timing”. Just as our ancestors, and many modern farmers, used the cycles of the moon and the stars to decide on the best time to plant, weed and harvest, astrology can guide us in the right time to launch new projects and proposals.

By analyzing the current cycles of the planets, it’s possible to note what the daily, weekly and monthly planetary weather is, and plan accordingly. Traditionally speaking, the new moon is a good time to plant the seeds of a project, the full moon is the time to see both flaws and benefits, and the waning moon a time to both reap any harvest, and cut back what is no longer working.

When we apply the cycles of nature to our work in the world, we find that we are participating more harmoniously with the natural flow of life. Astrology offers one more tool to more intimately integrate the rhythm and pattern of the natural world more closely with our daily lives, creating a unique partnership between humans and nature, one that is more necessary now than ever before.

Though it may seem unconventional to some to marry the worlds of astrology and business, past experience shows that there is merit in this union, offering potentially unlimited opportunities for new growth and understanding. By allowing ourselves to draw on the wisdom of the past, we can create new models for a more successful future.

This article has previously appeared on Fern’s website,

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Corn Dollies
by Liz

Corn dollies are a form of straw art work made as part of the harvest customs and practices in agricultural areas of the world. It’s widely believed by Pagans that the spirit of the corn lives amongst the crop and that the harvest makes it effectively lifeless and homeless. Making a hollow structure with the last sheaf of the harvest addresses that situation and it becomes a charm for the household over the dark part of the year; a symbol on the wall that crops will return again in Spring, so that there is hope during the Winter where less crops are available to us to eat.

The person who cuts the last ears of corn traditionally makes them into a corn dolly and it is traditionally brought home on the last wagon, symbolizing that the harvest is all safely home for another year. It was also a well known custom in days gone by for the young farmer to make something called a country favour just before harvesting began. to give to a young lady whom he had affections for. She would then know she was special to him and if she accepted the gift, they became a courting couple after the harvest came in. The harvested corn is soaked in water to make it flexible, and the pieces are joined together, wrapped around each other and plaited in specific patterns depending on the kind of dolly being made. Coloured ribbons are tied to it and the colour had specific meaning; red meaning new life, blue meaning happy future, green meaning good health, yellow meaning good fortune and so on.

The style of the dollies vary across the land and many have become associated with specific areas of the country, such as the Anglesey Rattle, the Cambridgeshire Umbrella, the Durham Chandelier, The Claidheach (Scotland) The Herefordshire Fan, The Kincardine Maiden (Scotland), The Leominster Maer (Herefordshire), The Norfolk Lantern, The Northamptonshire Horns, The Okehampton Mare, The Oxford Crown, The Suffolk Bell, The Suffolk Horseshoe and Whip, The Teme Valley Crown (Shropshire), The Welsh Border Fan, The Welsh Long Fan, and the Worcester Crown. But there are others like hearts (Mordiford), horns of plenty, glory braids, and many more. The corn spirit would then spend the Winter in this home until the “corn dolly” was ploughed into the first furrow of the new season to ensure the new crop does well.

And so the cycle starts all over again.

For more information on straw crafts, why not visit the website of The Guild of Strawcraftsmen?

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Hidden in Plain Sight: The Not-So-Occult Foundations of Nazism
In response to The Occult connection to the Third Reich by Simon Cash
by Apuleius Platonicus

The Latin verb occultare (occulto, -are, -avi, -atum) means to conceal or hide. Dion Fortune, in her classic work “What is Occultism?” (originally published as “Sane Occultism” in 1920) said that “occult science is really a branch of knowledge which is hidden from the many and reserved for the few …. Occult science, like classical music, reserves itself for the few whose training and natural gifts enable them to appreciate it.” Fortune makes it clear that she has no interest in what she calls “pseudo-occultism”, which she considers to be “worthless garbage” because “it cannot stand up to the most cursory examination.”

In popular usage, “the Occult” almost invariably refers not to genuine, intellectually sophisticated Esotericism (the “occult science” of Fortune), but to anything and everything that is considered mysterious, inexplicable and aberrational (“pseudo-occultism”). And it seems that there is something comforting in the idea that the Nazis came to power with the aid of mysterious, that is “Occult”, forces (in the popular sense), and/or that the racist and anti-semitic ideas at the core of Nazism arose from small, secretive pseudo-occult groups lurking on the fringes of society. This reassures us that Nazism was just a terrible aberration appearing suddenly out of nowhere, or, more precisely, that the origins of this aberration were themselves also aberrational. (Why, look, it’s aberrations all the way down!) The great appeal of this comforting explanation has led to a profusion of books, articles, websites, and History Channel schlockumentaries on the subjects of “Nazi Occultism”, “Nazi Pagans” and so forth.

The problem is that, like many comforting explanations, this is a lie. There was nothing hidden or secret or “Occult” (or Pagan) about the roots of Nazism. Most importantly, virulently racist and anti-semitic ideas were extremely popular in mainstream German society (and throughout Europe and also in the United States) long before the Nazi party ever existed, and these ideas were expressed openly and, indeed, proudly. No secret cults were needed for formulating the murderous racial theories that paved the way for the Final Solution, nor was there anything esoteric about how these ideas were spread, or how those who supported these ideas came to power.

The non-occult origins of Nazism are well illustrated by the case of a man who was an internationally celebrated intellectual in the early 20th century, but who is largely forgotten today: Houston Stewart Chamberlain. At one time Chamberlain’s writings were widely read and highly acclaimed throughout Europe and also in America. But he was also a vicious anti-semite who was praised and greatly admired by the Nazis and by Adolf Hitler in particular.

Chamberlain and the Kaiser

In the year 1900, Houston Stewart Chamberlain published “Foundations of the Nineteenth Century”. The book was an instant best-seller, and its previously unknown author became an overnight sensation. Although an Englishman by birth (b. 1855 in Portsmouth), Chamberlain spent most of his life on the Continent. His earliest published works (on both biology and literature) were in French, but starting in 1888 he published mostly in German, the language in which he wrote “Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts” (which was only later translated into English).

An early fan of Chamberlain’s “Foundations” was the Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II. Wilhelm was so impressed with the book that he invited the author to meet with him privately at his palace in Potsdam in 1901. That first meeting was the beginning of a lasting and close friendship between the two men. The Kaiser declared to Chamberlain: “God sent your book to the German people, just as he sent you personally to me.” The author was no less profuse in praising his Emperor: “May you save our German Volk, our Germanentum, for God has sent you as our helper!” Chamberlain urged the Kaiser to forge a renewed Germany that was “racially aware” and that would “rule the world.” The two exchanged dozens of letters, and material from Chamberlain’s letters often ended up in the Kaiser’s speeches. (See the next paragraph for the source of these quotes.)

For many years after WWII historians feigned ignorance concerning the depth and breadth of Kaiser Wilhelm’s anti-semitism. This started to change only in 1987 (over four decades after the fall of the Third Reich) with the publication of John C. G. Röhl’s book-length study “The Kaiser and his Court”, in which Röhl devotes the concluding chapter to the subject of “Kaiser Wilhelm II and German Anti-Semitism.” (The quotes in the previous paragraph are from page 205 of the 1994 Cambridge University Press paperback edition.) Unfortunately, however, today there continues to be far too little appreciation of just how significant a role Wilhelmenian anti-semitism played in preparing the way for the Final Solution.

According to Röhl (p. 191): “The notion of the Kaiser as an anti-semite is novel, historically highly controversial, politically inopportune and emotionally disturbing. In the 1960s, when Fritz Fischer succeeded in demonstrating [in his book “Germany’s Aims in World War I”] the high degree of continuity that existed between Germany’s aims in the First World War and those pursued by Hitler in the Second, some historians were at pains to break the continuity chain again by insisting that Hitler’s anti-semitism was unique, and his Third Reich consequently ‘qualitatively’ different from anything that had gone before.” This urge to “break the continuity chain” between the Third Reich and Germany’s (and Europe’s) anti-semitic past is also the transparent motive behind sensationalistic stories about the “Occult roots” of Nazism.

Wilhelmenian Racism and Antisemitism

As early as 1888, Wilhelm was referring to the doctors attending his father, who would soon be dead of throat cancer, as judenlümmel, a standard antisemitic slur meaning “Jewish louts”. Moreover, Wilhelm suspected these doctors of “racial hatred” (Rassenhaß) against Germans. [Röhl, p. 202] This means that a year before Adolf Hitler was born, the man who was about to become Kaiser (upon the imminent death of his father) was not only already giving voice to paranoid accusations of Jewish plots against the German people, but was articulating his anti-semitism in explicitly racial terms.

John C. G. Röhl writes (on page 202): “When Wilhelm acceded to the throne in 1888, anti-semites from Paris to Vienna crowed:

‘All those who are truly Christian-German are devoted with their entire soul to Kaiser Wilhelm II and cheer him along the paths that he has chosen to go.’

Also according to Röhl, the infamous Austrian anti-semite Georg Ritter von Schönerer was especially adulatory toward Wilhelm: “Germans had only one hope of salvation from the Jewish yoke, he [von Schönerer] declared, and that hope was Kaiser Wilhelm II.”

“By the mid-1890s, Kaiser Wilhelm II had adopted a thoroughgoing racism as a central element of his Weltanshauung and lost no chance of proclaiming the need for a pure and exclusive Germanic race,” writes Röhl . But Wilhelm was a little unsure about just where to focus his racism. In this, however, Wilhelm was displaying a common trait of racists, who often have long lists of “enemies” (the same was true of Chamberlain). The Kaiser’s enemies list included not just the Jews, but both the Slavs and the English as well. Wilhelm also had a lifelong obsession with the Asiatic “yellow peril,” and he even proudly claimed to have invented that term (a claim that is probably true). [pp. 202-203]

But by the late 1890s Wilhelm was focusing increasingly on the Jews: “Wilhelm’s visceral anti-semitism of the the 1880s resurfaced …. From around the turn of the century, under Chamberlain’s influence, and unnerved by the rising tide of
democracy and socialism at home and Germany’s increasingly exposed position internationally, Wilhelm II gave voice ever more openly to anti-semitic convictions.” [pp. 204-205] During this time, Röhl characterizes Wilhelm’s attitude as “wavering between pogrom anti-semitism and extermination anti-semitism.” That is, Röhl, probably the world’s leading expert on Kaiser Wilhelm II, claims that, “under Chamberlain’s influence,” the Second Reich was already moving in the direction of the Final Solution while Adolf Hilter was still ein Schuljunge.

But after the cataclysmic defeat of Germany, the (now former) Kaiser stopped his “wavering”. In December of 1919, Wilhelm wrote the following in a handwritten letter to General August von Mackensen (quotes are from Röhl pp. 210-211):

“The deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a people in history, the Germans have done onto themselves. Egged on and misled by the tribe of Juda whom they hated, who were guests among them! That was their thanks! Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!”

Wilhelm went on to write that humanity must eradicate both “Jews and mosquitoes … in some way or another.” To which he added, “I believe the best way would be gas.”

“Key Ideas” of Nazism

Now lets look a little more closely at Chamberlain’s book, “Foundations of the Nineteenth Century”. Richard Evans (Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge) in his 2004 study “The Coming of the Third Reich” investigates the various writers and thinkers who helped to shape the racist and anti-semitic ideological core of National Socialism. Evans singles out Chamberlain for particular attention:

“It was Chamberlain who had the greatest impact”. However, with his book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, published in 1900. In this vaporous and mystical work Chamberlain portrayed history in terms of a struggle for supremacy between the Germanic and Jewish races, the only two racial groups that retained their original purity in a world of miscegenation. Against the heroic and cultured Germans were pitted the ruthless and mechanistic Jews, whom Chamberlain thus elevated into a cosmic threat to human society rather than simply dismissing them as a marginal or inferior group. Linked to the racial struggle was a religious one, and Chamberlain devoted a good deal of effort to trying to prove that Christianity was essentially Germanic and that Jesus, despite all the evidence, had not been Jewish at all. Chamberlain’s work impressed many of his readers with its appeal to science in support of its arguments; his most important contribution in this respect was to fuse anti-semitism and racism with Social Darwinism . . . . Here were assembled already, therefore, some of the key ideas that were later to be taken up by the Nazis. [pp. 33-34]

Below are five of these “key ideas” of Nazism to be found in “Foundations”:

(1) Human history can only be understood in terms of race, and, in particular, in terms of the struggle of the Teutonic race.

“The leitmotiv which runs through the whole book is the assertion of the superiority of the Teuton family to all the other races of the world.” [Introduction by “Lord Redesdale”, aka David Mitford]

(2) The “races” of humanity are not equal.

“[T]he most learned gentlemen in Europe have solemnly protocolled the fact that all the races bear an equal share in the development of culture . . . . It provokes a smile! But crimes against history are really too serious to be punished merely by being laughed at; the sound common sense of all intelligent men must step in and put a stop to this.” [Chapter Six: Entrance of the Germanic People Into History]

(3) Aryans constitute the “Master Race”, that is, not only are Aryans superior, but they should rule over all other (inferior) races.

“Physically and mentally the Aryans are pre-eminent among all peoples; for that reason they are by right, as the Stagirite [Aristotle] expresses it, the lords of the world.” [Chapter Six: Entrance of the Germanic People Into History]

(4) Jews, as a race, constitute the great, internal enemy of the Aryans.

“The Indo-European, moved by ideal motives, opened the gates in friendship: the Jew rushed in like an enemy, stormed all positions and planted the flag of his, to us, alien nature — I will not say on the ruins, but on the breaches of our genuine individuality.” [Chapter Five: The Entrance of the Jews Into Western History]

(5) Jesus was Aryan, and Christianity is the natural religion of Aryan people.

“He won from the old human nature a new youth, and thus became the God of the young, vigorous Indo-Europeans, and under the sign of His cross there slowly arose upon the ruins of the old world a new culture — a culture at which we have still to toil long and laboriously until some day in the distant future it may deserve the appellation ‘Christ-like’ . . . . Whoever wishes to see the revelation of Christ must passionately tear this darkest of veils from his eyes. His advent is not the perfecting of the Jewish religion but its negation.” [Chapter Three: The Revelation of Christ]

Very Strange Bedfellows

Wilhelm II wasn’t the only high profile fan that Houston Stewart Chamberlain had. When “Foundations” was translated into English in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a review that began and ended on positive notes, but that also included a significant amount of criticism of Chamberlain, as the following passage shows:

“A witty English critic once remarked of Mitford that he had all the qualifications of an historian—violent partiality and extreme wrath. Mr. Chamberlain certainly possesses these qualifications in excess, and, combined with a queer vein of the erratic in his temperament, they almost completely offset the value of his extraordinary erudition . . . . Mr. Chamberlain’s thesis is that the nineteenth century, and therefore the twentieth and all future centuries, depend for everything in them worth mentioning and preserving upon the Teutonic branch of the Aryan race. He holds that there is no such thing as a general progress of mankind, that progress is only for those whom he calls the Teutons, and that when they mix with or are intruded upon by alien and, as he regards them, lower races, the result is fatal. Much that he says regarding the prevalent loose and sloppy talk about the general progress of humanity, the equality and identity of races, and the like, is not only perfectly true, but is emphatically worth considering by a generation accustomed, as its forefathers for the preceding generations were accustomed, to accept as true and useful thoroughly pernicious doctrines taught by well-meaning and feeble-minded sentimentalists; but Mr. Chamberlain himself is quite as fantastic an extremist as any of those whom he derides, and an extremist whose doctrines are based upon foolish hatred is even more unlovely than an extremist whose doctrines are based upon foolish benevolence. Mr. Chamberlain’s hatreds cover a wide gamut. They include Jews, Darwinists, the Roman Catholic Church, the people of southern Europe, Peruvians, Semites, and an odd variety of literary men and historians. “

But despite these reservations, Roosevelt began his review by calling “Foundations” “a noteworthy book in more ways than one” and ended his review with these words:

“Yet, after all is said, a man who can write such a really beautiful and solemn appreciation of true Christianity, of true acceptance of Christ’s teachings and personality, as Mr. Chamberlain has done, a man who can sketch as vividly as he has sketched the fundamental facts of the Roman empire in the first three centuries of our era, a man who can warn us as clearly as he has warned about some of the pressing dangers which threaten our social fabric because of indulgence in a morbid and false sentimentality, a man, in short, who has produced in this one book materials for half a dozen excellent books on utterly diverse subjects, represents an influence to be reckoned with and seriously to be taken into account.”

George Bernard Shaw (social reformer, playwright, and founder of the London School of Economics) also wrote a review of “Foundations”, which begins like this: “This very notable book should be read by all good Fabians.” The Fabian Society is a group (still in existence) that advocates moderate, non-revolutionary, Socialism. Among its illustrious members, in addition to Shaw, have been H.G. Wells, Annie Besant, Virginia Wolf, Oscar Wilde, and Emmeline Pankhurst.

Why did George Bernard Shaw believe that “all good Fabians” should read Chamberlain’s book? Because “it is a masterpiece of really scientific history. It does not make confusion: it clears it away.” Shaw ends his review by writing, “Meanwhile, as this book has produced a great effect in Germany, where 60,000 copies are in circulation, and is certain to stir up thought here, whoever has not read it will be rather out of it in political and sociological discussions for some time to come.” Shaw would also later write (in the preface to his play “Misalliance”) that “the greatest Protestant Manifesto ever written, as far as I know, is Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century: everybody capable of it should read it.”

As the reaction of the moderate Socialist George Bernard Shaw demonstrates, Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s anti-semitism was socially acceptable in the early 20th century, even in politically progressive circles. And the reaction of the Progressive Republican Theodore Roosevelt demonstrates that this acceptability still held even for those who recognized Chamberlain’s anti-semitism for what it was and explicitly rejected it in no uncertain terms. The importance of this acceptance must be underscored. Although to the average 21st century reader, “Foundations” sounds like an unhinged anti-semitic rant, its author genuinely hoped to reach out to and influence well-educated, serious minded, socially conscious individuals. The reactions of Shaw and Roosevelt demonstrate that he achieved some real success in doing so.

Conclusion: Hidden In Plain Sight

In the years following Germany’s defeat in WWI, Chamberlain’s health and spirits declined precipitously. But then in the fall of 1923, at the age of sixty-eight, the increasingly frail author received a young visitor who was at the time almost precisely half his age. Chamberlain instantly realized that he was now, finally, in the living presence of the great leader who would fulfill the grand vision of his “Foundations”. And the name of this Führer-to-be was Adolf Hitler. The day after their first meeting, Chamberlain wrote effusively to Hitler: “You have great things to do …. With one stroke you have transformed the state of my soul. That in the hour of her deepest need Germany gives birth to a Hitler proves her vitality.” That letter was written on October 7, 1923. Just one month later Adolf Hitler would stage his infamous Beer Hall Putsch, at which he declared, somewhat prematurely as it turned out, “The National Revolution has begun!”

The 1923 Putsch failed, but Hitler made use of his (brief) time in prison to start writing “Mein Kampf”, in which he specifically praises Houston Stewart Chamberlain by name. In 1925, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Chamberlain was proclaimed in the official Nazi press as nothing less than “the author of the gospel of the Nazi movement,” in an editorial written by Alfred Rosenberg, the principle “theoretician” of Nazi “racial science.” Rosenberg wrote his own sequel to Chamberlain’s work and called it “The Myth of the Twentieth Century”, which would go on to become the second best selling book during the Third Reich (right after “Mein Kampf”). In 1927, Chamberlain died. Neither Theodore Roosevelt nor George Bernard Shaw attended the funeral, but Adolf Hilter did. Six years later, Hitler was Chancellor of Germany.

What Chamberlain had imagined, and Wilhelm had aspired to, Adolf Hitler did. And Hitler and the Nazi Party did not rely on Occult ideas or Occult techniques to seize power, conquer Europe, and carry out the near total extermination of European Jewry. And while it is true that some Nazis may have dabbled in pseudo-occultism, it is also true that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, and no one (in their right mind) believe that this means there is a “connection” between Nazism and vegetarianism. It is also true that many Nazis supported equal rights for (“Aryan”) women, and some Nazis were active trade unionists, but that does not mean that we should look for the “roots” of Nazism in the feminist and/or labor movements.

The truly frightening thing about Nazism was the fact that it was a mass popular movement with the support of tens of millions of people throughout Europe, and that their ideology of racism was consistent with the mainstream culture of the day. The foundations of Nazism, when properly understood, are seen to be not at all hidden from view, but plainly visible for all to see, or at least for all who are willing to open their eyes.

You can read more of Apuleus’ writing at

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A Pagan Christ?
by Richard Smoley

Strictly speaking, a pagan Christ is a contradiction in terms. The very concept of paganism was constructed by Christians who wanted to distinguish their faith from the old religion of Greece and Rome, which by the end of classical antiquity was observed only by peasants in remote rural areas — the pagani, or “country people,” or — to use words that are similar in tone — rustics, rubes, hayseeds. So there can be no pagan Christ. Paganism is all that Christianity is not.

Once we go past this elementary point, however, we see that the situation is not so simple. The resemblance between Christianity and its rivals could never be entirely overlooked. The Church Father Augustine (354–430) wrote, “That which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist from the planting of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity.”

Whatever Augustine meant by this — and it’s not entirely clear from the context — one thing it could mean is that the “true religion” is universal and has always existed; only comparatively late did it come to be codified in the teachings of Christ.

Before I go further into what this “true religion” might be, it’s necessary to stop and take a look at early Christianity in its context. Christianity, as is well known, grew up in the Roman Empire, a time of remarkable fecundity in religious belief, with a huge and dizzying marketplace of gods and cults and philosophies for the seeker to choose from, many of which bore more than a passing resemblance to one another. It’s impossible to believe that Christianity was not affected by this background. Although the Christians insisted that their religion was true and all the others were false, they still had to account for the fact that theirs was not so different from many of those they were denouncing.

Over the past century, one of the most influential views of the relationship between Christianity and paganism has been that of Sir J.G. Frazer (1854–1941), author of the classic work The Golden Bough, first published in 1890 and updated in many editions thereafter. A pioneer of comparative mythology, Frazer delved into the compendious collections of lore and legend that scholars were amassing in his time and noticed that Christianity had taken many of its elements from the religions it would eventually displace.

The most famous instance is Christmas. The birthday of Christ was not recorded and is not known; in the early centuries of the religion that bears his name it was not celebrated. But by the fourth century, Christ’s birthday came to be observed as a holiday. In the East (starting in Egypt), the date selected was January 6. But the Western church, which had never observed this date, set Christ’s birthday as December 25. Why? One Christian writer quoted (but not named) by Frazer explains: “It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January.”

Another, possibly more revealing, case involves the festival commemorating the death and resurrection of Christ. Today Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon after the March equinox. (This is to some extent a simplification of the complex process of fixing the date of Easter, but it will serve our purposes here.) Frazer noted that there was an ancient tradition by which the death of Christ was observed on March 25, regardless of the phase of the moon. Remarkably, this coincided with the date on which the death and resurrection of a pagan god, Attis, was celebrated. Still more significantly, the parts of the world where Christians observed Easter on this date — western Asia Minor and Rome — were precisely the areas where the cult of Attis was most popular.

Attis, according to the myth, was a handsome young shepherd who was born of a virgin. Beloved of the Great Goddess of life, he was said in some legends to have been killed by a boar, in others to have died after castrating himself. (The priests of the Attis cult were all self-made eunuchs, in imitation of him.) After his death, he was changed into a pine tree. It’s curious that the death and resurrection of Christ should have been celebrated in such close conjunction with that of one of the deities that the Christians so detested. What’s even more interesting is the underlying similarity of the myths: both are celebrations of a god, born of a virgin, who has died and risen again. More surprisingly still, Attis was not the only god in antiquity who was believed to have died and risen again. There was also Adonis, worshipped in Babylonia and Syria. Adonis, another beautiful young man, was said to die every year. His death caused passion to cease and beasts and men to forget to reproduce; all life would be extinguished if Ishtar, the goddess of life, did not rescue him annually from the halls of death. And of course there is Osiris, the slain and dismembered king of Egypt who was reassembled by his wife Isis (another goddess of life) to serve as the lord of the dead.

Even this cursory sketch suggests how many parallels we can find between Christianity and pagan religions. Moreover, it was obvious that the pagan faiths were much older than the Christian one. Christianity looked like a mere copycat of these religions, and that’s exactly what many of its pagan critics contended. The Christian fathers countered with a remarkably clumsy response: that Satan, foreseeing that Christ would come to earth, came down first and created religions that were merely diabolical imitations of the truth.

Those of us who find this argument implausible are left wondering exactly what the relationship between Christianity and these pagan cults was. Frazer saw the mystery religions of Attis and Adonis and Osiris as essentially fertility cults: Their rites were designed to mimic and foster the rebirth of life each spring. According to Frazer, Christ had come as a teacher of “ethical reforms”; the mythologies of the fertility cults were gradually assimilated to the faith of Christ’s followers “so as to accord in some measure with the prejudices, the passions, the superstitions of the vulgar.” Frazer writes:

To live and to cause to live, to eat food and to beget children, these were the primary wants of men in the past, and they will be the primary wants of men in the future so long as the world lasts….These two things, therefore, food and children, were what men chiefly sought to procure by the performance of magical rites for the regulation of the seasons.

This all may sound plausible — as it certainly did to Frazer’s rationalistic late-Victorian contemporaries — but there’s one small problem with it. The idea that the mysteries of Attis and Adonis and Osiris, and by extension of Christ, were mere attempts to reproduce and sustain the cycles of life was known to the ancients and explicitly refuted by them. Plutarch, writing in the late first century A.D., contends:

And we shall also get our hands on the dull crowd who take pleasure in associating the [mystic recitals] about these Gods either with changes of the atmosphere according to the seasons, or with the generation of the corn and sowing and ploughings, and in saying that Osiris is buried when the corn is hidden by the earth, and comes to life and shows himself again when it begins to sprout.

Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher (106–43 B.C.), also says there is something more to the mysteries:

These Mysteries have brought us from rustic savagery to a cultivated and refined civilization. The rites of the Mysteries are called “initiations” and in truth we have learned from them the first principles of life. We have gained the understanding not only to live happily but to die with better hope.

We can safely say this much: The ancient mysteries were more than rites intended merely to ensure that the crops grew and the animals bred. But what, then, were they? What is the dying “with better hope” that Cicero mentions? And why does the story of Christ, springing from the monotheistic world of Judaism, so much resemble those of the gods that went before?

At this point it would be helpful to address an extremely important issue: the reliability of the historical accounts of Jesus. Apart from a few extremely brief references in non-Christian writers such as Tacitus and Pliny the Younger (which talk about the Christians as a sect but say practically nothing about Christ himself), we have to rely on the canonical gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Scholars unanimously accept these as the oldest gospels, with the possible exception of the Gospel of Thomas, an early sayings collection with a strongly Gnostic tinge; the many other gospels that were written are almost certainly later — one reason they didn’t find their way into the New Testament.

Unfortunately, even these texts present Jesus at a remove. None of them, it is now generally acknowledged, was written by any of the Twelve Apostles or even by anyone who knew or saw Jesus personally. The earliest Gospel, Mark, is dated to around 70 A.D.; the latest, John, to around 100 (these dates are highly approximate). Nowhere in these Gospels is the claim that the writer himself has seen what he is describing. Indeed most scholars today agree that none of the texts in the entire New Testament was written by any of the Twelve Apostles.

The only surviving eyewitness account of Christ is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul did not know Jesus when he was alive, but he writes that after Jesus had appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, and various other witnesses, “last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:5).# This experience, usually equated with Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–7), is an eyewitness account: Paul is claiming that he has had a vision of the risen Christ like that of the other apostles. Inasmuch as Paul died during Nero’s persecution in Rome in 64 A.D., this text is almost certainly earlier than any of the Gospels. But Paul does not say anything more about his experience, and he says almost nothing at all about Jesus before his death.

In their 1999 book The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy argue that the extreme scarcity of direct evidence about Jesus, together with the strong resemblance of his story to other pagan myths, means that Jesus did not exist as a historical figure. He was created by Gnostic sages as a kind of Jewish equivalent of the dead and reborn gods of the pagan Mediterranean world.

Freke’s and Gandy’s view, although interesting, seems to be an overstatement given the evidence. They say that Paul’s vision (as described by himself) may have been a later addition to 1 Corinthians, a claim that, to my knowledge, no reputable scholar would agree with; or perhaps that it was a mystical vision of some sort. But the context of 1 Corinthians 15 indicates that, as Christians have always claimed, Paul, like the others who claimed they had witnessed the resurrection of Christ, regarded it as an actual encounter with the risen Jesus. Whatever it was they saw or did not see, this much seems indisputable. Indeed, if we go to 1 Thessalonians, another letter of Paul’s, which was the first New Testament book to be written (it’s generally dated to around 50 A.D.), we see Paul saying, “The Jews…both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets” (1 Thess. 2:14–15). “We believe that Jesus died and rose again,” he writes in the same letter (1 Thess. 4:14). In both these instances, he is stressing the historical actuality of these events: they are not a myth. Furthermore, Paul is not introducing this idea as a novelty but as a premise that he expects his readers to share. About the historical Jesus, then, we can say this much: that as early as 50 A.D., no more than twenty years after his death and still well in the lifetime of his disciples, his followers preached that he had suffered and died and was resurrected. These facts are not later mythic accretions but among the first things the historical record says about Jesus.

What, then, does this all mean? Paul’s own ideas seem to have grown and changed over time. In 1 Thessalonians, his first surviving epistle, he sounds like a modern-day fundamentalist, obsessed with the Rapture. In fact the idea of the Rapture comes from 1 Thess. 4:17: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with [the dead] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Later, Paul becomes more mystical. In 1 Corinthians he explicitly denies the physical resurrection of the dead: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body….Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:44, 50). This, incidentally, puts mainstream Christianity in the bizarre position of teaching a doctrine — the resurrection of the physical body — that is explicitly denied by its own scriptures. I do not know of any other such case in all of world religion.

Nonetheless, resurrection is at the core of Christianity from its earliest days, just as it was of the mystery religions of Attis and Adonis and Osiris that preceded it. And, like the pagan mysteries, which enabled its initiates to die “with better hope,” Christianity viewed the resurrection not an isolated case that happened to one (possibly divine) man, but something that is the common human inheritance, potentially available to everyone: “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). This was not the concept of resurrection as commonly taught, but part of what the Church Father Origen (185–253 A.D.) called “the deeper and more mystical doctrines which are rightly concealed from the multitude.”

The nature of this resurrection lies at the heart of the old pagan mysteries and the Christian faith alike. To best understand it in a short space, it would be helpful to use the common metaphor of a seed, used both by Jesus in the Gospels and by Paul (as well as in some of the pagan mysteries). A seed is something extremely small and contains only in germ the full plant; this is the metaphor Paul uses to compare what he calls “the resurrection body” with the “natural body.” Christ in the Gospels likens the kingdom of heaven to a seed on several occasions as well: for example, “the kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed” (Matt. 13:31).

What, then, is this “seed”? What is the kingdom of heaven, for that matter? If you were to read the works of many theologians, you might conclude that they don’t know. But this is a central concept in esoteric Christianity. It is not difficult to grasp, but it is subtle. I’ve discussed it in detail in my book Inner Christianity, but in essence it comes to this: There is that in you which says “I.” It is consciousness in its pure form; it is never seen, but always that which sees. You may think you are your body or your emotions or your thoughts, but the fact that you can step back and look at all these things at a distance proves that these things are not you — not in the truest and fullest sense. In fact it is your very confusion of your “I” with your thoughts, emotions, and sensations that constitutes the fundamental problem of human existence. Liberation or enlightenment or, as the early Christians called it, gnosis is the freeing of the “I” from its identification with its own experience. Paul writes, “That which thou sowest is not quickened until it die” (1 Cor. 15:36). Esoterically, this means that the “I” must “die” — must detach itself from its former identifications — before it can be “resurrected” or “born again,” that is, realize its fullest potential in a life that is not limited by the body or the psyche. In the course of this liberation the “I” realizes its own immortality.

This, in the simplest and most concise language that I can muster, is the secret that I believe lies at the heart of esoteric Christianity and of the Christian mystery itself. To speak of the resurrection of the physical body, explicitly denied by Paul, is to misunderstand; it is the symbolic death and rebirth of the true “I” — called “I am” in the Gospel of John — that is really the point. But it is an arcane point, and not everyone can grasp it. Early Christianity eventually allowed ordinary believers to believe in a physical resurrection because it was easier to understand; only those who wanted to go deeper were told the truth. As Origen writes, “The resurrection of the body,…while preached in the churches, is understood more clearly by the intelligent.” Origen is saying that the doctrine “preached in the churches” is not the whole story. Regrettably, however, as Christianity developed in later centuries, those who had only an inaccurate, secondary understanding of this truth came to lead the church. Because they did not understand the deeper message, they suppressed it, with consequences that have been disastrous for the spiritual life of the West.

In any event, the revelation of the true nature of the “I” makes the correspondence between the Christian mystery and those of the pagans much easier to understand. If these things are true, they are universally true, and if they are universally true, they must have been known in many times and places and cannot be the property of a single religion. That, I would suggest, is why Augustine can say that the “true religion” always existed. It’s also why the mystery religions so resembled Christianity. They were expressing a universal truth to which Christianity was also pointing.

All the same, this does not entirely explain the innumerable parallels between the Christ of the Gospels and the figures of ancient myth. Often it does seem that characteristics of the ancient pagan gods were later associated with Christ — and at a fairly early stage. The virgin birth, for example, is not mentioned in Mark, the earliest canonical Gospel, or for that matter by Paul. But it does appear in Matthew and Luke, which are generally dated to between 80 and 100 A.D. This suggests that by this point certain myths and legends had attached themselves to the basic story of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Exactly how this happened is unclear. There is no contemporary documentation of this process, or, for that matter, of Christ himself apart from the Gospels to serve as a check. The best guess seems to be something like this: The earliest Christians believed they had some experience of the risen Christ, and this was the central part of their message from the very beginning. By the end of the first century, as the Gospels were being written, the historical kernel of the story of Christ was expanded and recast, partly to imitate familiar aspects of pagan myths but also to symbolically express certain truths.

That’s why Origen could write:

Very many mistakes have been made because the right method of examining the holy texts has not been discovered by the greater number of readers…because it is their habit to follow the bare letter….

Scripture interweaves the imaginary with the historical, sometimes introducing what is utterly impossible, sometimes what is possible but never occurred….[The Word] has done the same with the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles; for not even they are purely historical, incidents which never occurred being interwoven in the “corporeal” sense…. These passages, by means of seeming history, though the incidents never occurred, figuratively reveal certain mysteries.

This process began with the Gospels but did not end with them. It continued for several centuries later, as we’ve seen with the Christian appropriation of Christmas and Easter in the fourth century. Later still, in the fifth century, when the cult of the pagan goddesses was suppressed, there was a need for a feminine face of divinity, and the mother of Christ was elevated to this role; many of the attributes of Ishtar and particularly Isis were then attached to her. Christianity’s success was at least partly due to its remarkable genius and flexibility in adapting pagan myths to its own ends. Ultimately, however, the true greatness of the faith lies in its profound and haunting expression of what may be the central mystery of human existence.


Brown, Raymond E. Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Frazer, J.G. The Golden Bough. New York: Macmillan, 1922.

Freke, Timothy, and Peter Gandy. The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God? New York: Three Rivers, 1999.

The Greek New Testament. Edited by Kurt Aland et al. Third edition. N.p.: United Bible Societies, 1966.

Mead, G.R.S. Thrice-Greatest Hermes: Studies in Hellenistic Theosophy and Gnosis. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1972.
Originally published 1906.

Origen. Contra Celsum. Translated by Henry Chadwick. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953.

———. On First Principles. Edited and translated by G.W. Butterworth. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.

Richard Smoley has over thirty years’ experience in studying the world’s esoteric teachings. His latest book is The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe. His other works include Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (written with Jay Kinney); Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; The Essential Nostradamus; and Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity. He is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and of Quest Books. His Web site is This article originally appeared in New Dawn magazine.

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Sator Square
by Simon Cash

Those of you that know me may have noticed that on a some days I wear this talisman

Its a Sator square and translated from the Hebrew letter it reads as:


As you can see its a 5X5 square with a Latin Palindrone inscribed on it. And there is a long tradition of using squares like this for protection. Why protection? Well there are several theories, one of them being that the logical perfection of a square of letters like this will confuse, another that the Devil who will get lost inside them as in a maze. Another older but similar theory is that the symmetry of the pattern of the letters is a example of how the Order of Logic can “triumph” over the Chaos.

For those interested, the translation of the Sator Square is as follows:

Sator-Sower, planter; founder, progenitor (usually divine); originator
Arepo-(arrepo) (I) creep/move stealthily towards, also trust, or likely an invented proper name; its similarity with arrepo, from ad repo, ‘I creep towards’, may be coincidental
Tenet-hold, keep; comprehend; possess; master; preserve
Opera-(a) work, care; aid, service, (an) effort/trouble
Rotas-(rota) wheel, rotate; (roto) (I) whirl around, revolve rotate

Which is usually read as “The farmer Arepo has works wheels.” or as a instructional mantra “The farmer must work the land.” But, like many things in Magic, this is open to interpretation and understanding on many levels. It could just as easily mean “Progenitor moves towards coprehension efffort rotating.” or “I slowly understand with repeated efforts.”, a mantra for teaching and the aquisition of knowledge and understanding which the Greeks prized so highly.

The Greek and Roman cultures prized symmetry and geometric patterns. Their Civic buildings were constructed on strict geometrical lines, not just to satify the rules of constriction and architecture but also to show how Logic and Geometry could stamp order out of the chaos of nature and to remind the Genral populus that Order will prevail.

There are Magic number squares, A 3X3 grid where all the numbers in the horizontal and vertial axis add up to 15 like so:


This square has apperaed all through history and different cultures, such as in the legend of Lo Shu from China 670 BC where a turtle emerged from a flooded river with the pattern arranged in dots on its back, and from this the people were able to control or predict the flooding of the river. There are many variations on the numeric square, not just a simple addition, but squares where the numbers match, through multiplication or squares where a base number is added.

The Kubera-Kolam is a floor painting used in India which is in the form of a magic square of order three. It is essentially the same as the Lo Shu Square, but with 19 added to each number, giving a magic constant of 72, this being a mystical number of some significance.


Larger squares contrain more information, sometimes at the cost of the mathematical simplicity of a smaller square.

Such as the Enochain Tablets:


where the names and more important the hierarchy of the Enocian Angels were written into the squre. I’m not going to give examples of how to ascertain and use the Enochian Magic here, instead I’ll warn that using the Tablets can be very dangerous. I would advise as much reseach as possible into them before attempting any type of Magic using the squares. The above square is merely intended to be a visual example and nothing more.

A larger numeric square is the 7X7 grid of the Planet Venus where the horizontals and verticals add up to 175 giving it a symmetry.

22 47 16 41 10 35 4
5 23 48 17 42 1129
30 6 24 49 18 36 12
13 31 7 25 43 19 37
38 14 32 1 26 44 20
21 39 8 33 2 27 45
46 15 40 9 34 3 28

Where a sigil can be constructed for Angels, Spirits or Demons. For example, if you draw a line starring at 5 diagonaly down to 3 then vertically up to 10 and then down to 3 again you have the shape (sigil) of the Spirit “Hagiel” which looks a little like \ll and also the numerical values of 5+3+1+10+30.

The Spirit Hagiel has the follwowing qualities:

“Hagiel is regent of Venus and of Friday. He is a chief of two choirs – Virtues and Principalities – and is listed by some authorities as one of the Great Archangels. His name translates as “Great of God” and he is believed to have been one of the few angels given the honor of assisting at Creation. Tradition names him as the angel who bore the prohpet Enoch to Heaven.

It is said that merely pronouncing Hagiel’s name can provide protection from malign influences. As ruler of the zodiacal sign of Libra, Hagiel helps mediate between opposites and intergrate diverse elements into harmonious balance. As the Angel of Venus, Hagiel creates beauty, love, affection, and harmony. He can intercede in all kinds of relationships – family, friends, lovers – to end quarrels, heal rifts, forge friendships, and bring lovers together.

Numerology and magic have such a history that it could be a complete other article in itself. Suffice to say it requres a leap of faith and then a commitment to studying using what the Ceremonial Magicians term “Gemetrica”, where letters are assigned numerical values and the sum of these values can be “reverse enginered” onto other words. This is based on the Hebrew Kabbalistic theory that each letter in itself is a powerful magical symbol.

This system falls down a little as it was designed to work with the Hebrew not English alapabet and is subject to the errors made in translating; whilst the letters can be translated over, the context cannot. And while Hebrew is written and, more importantly, undersood in the right to left manner, English and the Europian languages are written and understood Left to Right.

This brings me back to the power of palindromes.

Whilst not Magic Squares, palindromes worth touching on. In one of the more recent cultural examples of Numerology, the model Agyness Deyn, born Laura Hollins, used Numerolgy to change her name to Agyness. Seeing as she’s a well known and a well paid model/actress (playing Aphrodyte in the film Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) I’ll leave the reader to draw their own conclusions about the effectivenss of numerolgy. Bear mind, though, that Agyness/Laura was born with that genetic handout that got her spotted as a model in the first place!

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A Maypole in Prison
by Starhawk

“When Pagans get their rights, everyone gets their rights,” says Patrick McCollum, who for the last fifteen years has volunteered to serve as a Pagan chaplain in the California prisons. McCollum, a talented jewelry designer and craftsman by nature, has in the last decade spent the bulk of his time—and money—helping prisoners and making interfaith alliances worldwide.

This last weekend was the second time I’ve gone with him to visit women’s prisons in central California. Valley State Prison for Women and Central California Women’s Facility are across the street from one another out in the fields near Chowchilla. Bland, concrete structures, they look a lot like my junior high school had its chain link fences been topped with razor wire and surveyed by guard towers.

Being in prison is like being in a hellish version of junior high school—where your every movement is monitored and controlled, subject to the prison version of a hall pass, called ‘duckets’—a word which I find extremely irritating for some reason, maybe because I suspect it’s really supposed to be ‘dockets’? I don’t know—of all the humiliations and assaults of prison it’s probably the least significant, but still it bugs me.

Although I’ve been arrested and jailed numerous times for political actions, I’ve never served time in prison. “Short time is hard time,” one of the lifer women told me. When you’re in for life, or for a long time, as many of these women are, something happens to you. Your ties to the outside world fade, and the prison becomes your world. You let go of the hopes and dreams you once had, and find new, smaller things to hope for within the narrow world to which you are confined.

All the more reason why these celebrations and moments of spiritual commitment take on a greater importance, here, than they do for us outside. When we have infinite opportunities to revel in flowers or dance on the grass or connect with those who share our spirituality, we get blasé. “Maybe I’ll go to the ritual—maybe I’ll stay home and watch kitty videos on YouTube.”

In prison, if you’re Pagan, you might get a chance to connect once or twice a year. If you are Christian, of course, there are weekly services, Bible study groups, special programs, Christian Alcoholics Anonymous meetings—but if you’re Pagan, your religious rights to meet, to study, to learn about your tradition, to celebrate your holidays and practice your tradition are not generally respected. Patrick and others have fought major battles to gain the limited access we have, and although he is recognized as a chaplain by the State of California, he still has trouble bringing in ritual supplies, books, or volunteers.

I went with Patrick and Johanna and Tiki from the Pagan Alliance. To get down to Chowchilla by 9 am, we need to leave the Bay Area by 6 am, which means waking up at something like 4:30 am, which is something I try never to do. I don’t take 6 am planes or go power jogging before dawn, and I’m not one of those writers who like to work in the wee hours of the morning. Back in the ‘80s, when we were doing some of those political actions mentioned above, we’d wake up at 4 am to get into place to blockade early workers at nuclear plants. Since then, I’ve grown to favor actions that start at noon. But waking up that early is inextricably linked, in my mind, with going to jail, still, so it seems appropriate.

At VSPW, they have ‘lost’ our paperwork, which Patrick has dutifully submitted and had approved. They’ve also moved us out of the gym and field so they can set up for a Christian group’s dedication of a new, interfaith outdoor chapel which is still days away. However, the warden showed up and intervened, not only putting us back in the gym but actually helping to carry in the Maypole! (Which Patrick has constructed from plastic pipes, so it’s light.) However, while 160 women have asked to come to the ceremony, only about forty actually have gotten their duckets and been allowed to come. There are a surprising number of Pagans in prison—Patrick estimates something like 20,000 in the U.S. Most of them become Pagan while they’re incarcerated. While the numbers of Christians are higher, the Pagans have some of the highest numbers of active, participating members of any religious group—and are among the least served, with no paid chaplains and endless barriers for volunteers.

For me, it’s especially heartbreaking to see so many women locked up for life, or for very long sentences. Many, many of them were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults when they were sixteen or seventeen years old—a practice which is, in my mind, itself criminal and unjust. Teenagers are not adults and do not yet have adult understanding—not just of their actions and consequences but also of what their rights are, how the legal system works and how to negotiate it. The most common reasons they’re there are drugs, getting caught up in their boyfriends’ drug deals and attacking or killing a pimp or a rapist. They end up with heavy sentences, sometimes, out of loyalty—they won’t rat out the boyfriend while the men have less compunction about throwing the women under the bus. In prison, boyfriends and husbands generally stop visiting after around six months. Women connected to male prisoners visit them for years.

The women themselves created our ritual. They asked me to invoke the Goddess, and I called in the She Who Blesses All Forms of Love. One reason prisoners embrace Paganism is that we accept people as they are. We think sexuality is a good thing—including gay sexuality, and we tell people that they are children of the Goddess, who loves them even if they might have messed up badly at some point in life. Even in prison, you can continue to grow and develop spiritually, to serve the Goddess and to serve the community. And a number of the women have stepped up to learn how to create and priestess rituals.

We set up the Maypole in the center of the running track. After some time spent untangling the ribbons, which the wind had whipped into a tangle, we danced. I had to sit down for a while—between the blazing heat, the early morning, the lunch of Complete Carbohydrates—veggies and dip, French fries, a biscuit and cake—I was having a bad blood-sugar moment. It was beautiful to watch the dance, however, and see how much the women enjoyed it—the hilarity of moving in and out, under and over, mostly getting it slightly wrong but nonetheless the ribbons weave. Then it was time to go.

Between the heat and the stress, we were nearly comatose by the time we got to our hotel. We went out for Mexican food with Sister Mary Ann, who is the Catholic Chaplain at CCWF, where we were going the next day. Sister Mary Ann is a true Christian—dedicated to the women and the work, selfless, and very supportive of Patrick and all our efforts. She reminded me of the many wonderful nuns, priests and ministers I’ve met through the years, especially when I was teaching at Matthew Fox’s institute back in the ’80s and ‘90s. We may hold different beliefs, but we share common values.

But our visit to CCWF did not go well. Again, they had ‘lost’ our paperwork—this time, five separate copies of our event package which Sister Mary Ann had personally delivered to five separate officials. The warden was not on site on a Saturday—nor were other personnel who could have okayed the event. The Watch Commander, who could have authorized it, said “No way.” We were allowed in as visitors—which meant a much more exhaustive process of listing every single thing we were wearing or carrying. Tiki’s underwire bra would not go through the metal detector, and she had to go out, change into a bathing suit, and put up with snide comments about her breasts. But, we got in, though Patrick was quietly fuming while being ever so polite to everyone.

We met in the Chapel, where about twenty of the sixty or so women who had asked to come were assembled. The group at CCWF had been much, much larger—but the prison had systematically transferred out anyone whom they identified as a Pagan leader, so it’s now slowly recovering. We weren’t allowed to bring in our Maypole, our flowers or any of the ritual food we’d brought, but we had ourselves.

We set up a simple altar with materials on hand, and I led a grounding and taught some basic energetic exercises. We talked with the women and had time to do some counseling one on one, while four volunteers went to get our lunch from the food service.

Then suddenly we got word that the Watch Commander had stopped our food volunteers and sent back the carts, while throwing three of them into Administrative Detention—‘the hole’—for doing what they’d been asked to do. Sister Mary Ann was now in trouble for supporting us, and we needed to go before the rest of the women also got into trouble. While Christians get rewarded for attending their services, and their faith is a mark in their favor at parole hearings, Pagans run huge risks.

They can get written up, they are often threatened or persecuted, and their faith can be used against them in parole hearings and earn them years more jail time. Nevertheless, they still come.

So we left, going back out through the succession of control points and sally ports. At the visitor’s gate, we had to confirm that every single earring and hair ornament we’d brought in was accounted for. Unfortunately, one of us had lost track of her Chapstick. That resulted in frantic calls back to the chapel—and Patrick eventually went back in to find it while we waited. He came back, at last, triumphantly bearing the ‘contraband’, and we got out. Luckily, one of the chapel clerks had found it—just as the Watch Commander was about to order the guards to put us all into Administrative Detention until they ‘investigated’ the incident.

The world always looks brighter when you get out of jail—even after a short visit. But any encounter with the system always makes me angry. I’m angry at the discrimination Pagan prisoners face, and I’m even more angry at the system as a whole, which targets poor people and people of color so disproportionately. The prison industrial complex has become a profit-making industry, a new form of slavery. Instead of rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders, it creates a permanent underclass. Draconian sentencing laws, the ‘War on Drugs’ which is really a war on poor people who use drugs, especially people of color, the whole punitive orientation of our society means we in the U.S. imprison more people than any other country in the world.

Fighting for prisoners’ religious rights is just one small way to challenge some of the injustices inherent in the system.

Patrick has been carrying the ball for many years now, and has spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money doing it.

He has important court cases making their way upward through the system. Check out his website, below, and if you can support him with a small donation, that will be a huge help.

When Pagans get our rights, everyone gets their rights!

Patrick’s website:

Reprinted with permission from Stawhawk’s blog ‘Dirt Worship’

Copyright (c) 2011 by Starhawk. All rights reserved.

This copyright protects Starhawk’s rights to her work. Nonprofit, activist, and educational groups may reprint this essay for nonprofit uses.

To join the campaign to make Starhawk’s book ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’ into a film, visit

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Going into brick ain’t all it’s cracked up to be
by Liz.

There’s a saying amongst my community that going into brick, (for you Gaujo’s- non-Roms that’s leaving one’s nomadic lifestyle behind and replacing rolling van wheels with static house foundations underneath you,) although considered a better way of life by many, ain’t all its cracked up to be, and when the summers here, it really comes to mind more than at any other time of the year.

Call me a fair-weather Gypsy if you like but it’s true; there were times, in my youth, the weather didn’t matter quite so much, I’d happily swap the house for a van all year around, come rain come shine.

But time flies, the years catch up with you so very fast, families come along and take a lot out of you, injuries slow you down and make you feel the cold and damp a lot more, some irresponsible travellers get the genuine ones a bad name with the selfish messy ways they go about things, so councils get better and better at turfing you off their land. Residents turn and attack you just for what and who you are because they fear us in their bias and ignorrance having read the bad press and tarred us all with the same brush, and you don’t always feel the same way.

It doesn’t stop me remembering though, back to all those days spent roaming free, learning from nature and by watching and listening to the wise elders. All those evenings spent under the stars, listening to the tales of days gone by and falling asleep on the rugs, the chilly baths in the old tin tub making you cold but clean and feeling really alive while dancing in the rain, cooking on the camp fire stove with GrandMa, chucking what we could in the pot, – best not to ask sometimes what was in it, but it always tasted good whatever it was! My favourite part was always seeing to the horses with Pops and running barefoot through the grass or on the sand. It was a wonderful, but a hard way of life.

I didn’t treasure it at the time; it was all just normal to me. I must confess to days when I even felt bored, but if I’d known then what I know now and life hadn’t changed like it did around the time I was growing from a teen into womanhood, I would have lived every second of it to the full, never have got bored with any of for one single second (for it went in a flash) and all I have left of it now is a couple of tatty faded old photographs in an album and memories, happy ones mostly, but I guess I wouldn’t really have wanted it any other way.

Pentre Ifan
by Liz

Last Summer, my favourite Pembrokeshire Pagans Moot of the year took place at Pentre Ifan Cromlech so I thought I would share what I learned about it with you.

Pentre Ifan – the name means ‘the homestead of Ifan’ – is the name of an ancient monument, a neolithic dolmen in the civil parish of Nevern, North Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

In 1884, it was the first monument in the UK to become a Scheduled Ancient Monument on the recommendation of General Pitt Rivers.

Pentre Ifan observes a wonderful view on all sides, hills and forests, sweeping fields, a wide view of the coastline and out across Cardigan Bay, to the north east of Carningli Mountain. This site truly is spectacular.

The dolmen dates from approximately 3,500 B.C. and would originally have formed part of a much larger mound. It is possible that it was used as a communal burial site but some would possibly argue it could equally have been a temple used for rituals.

The facade surrounding the portal was built with carefully constructed dry stone walling and it would once have been covered with earth and cobble stones.

The existing stones form the portal and main chamber of the tomb, which would originally have been covered with a large stone mound about 36.6 m long and 17 m wide.

The capstone is 5.1 m in length, and is estimated to weigh 16 tonnes and rises 2.4 m above the ground. It is delicately supported by the narrow tips of three uprights and it seems to sit balanced finely on the pointed uprigths with ease, although you can almost imagine it taking off and flying down into the bay because it’s a little aerodynamic looking in its shape (like an arrow head). It points at the Nevern River.

From the east side of the site looking west the capstone leads your eyes to the mouth of the Nevern estuary at Newport.

Some of the other stones have been scattered, but at least seven are in their original position.

What is thought to have been the original door way in to the cairn is blocked by a huge upright boulder which is believed was put in place to close the cairn after its use.

Archaeological excavations took place in 1936 – 1937 and 1958 – 1959 led by William Francis Grimes. Various finds were excavated including a small amount of flint flakes and some fragments of pottery.
But, as yet, no human remains.

The dolmen is owned and maintained by Cadw, the Welsh Historic Monuments Agency. The site is easily accessed from the road if you arrive by car there is a small layby to park in (although avoiding busy times is best) and entrance is free.

It is located about 6 km by road from Newport (the Newport in North Pembrokeshire – there is more than one Newport) and 17 km from Cardigan.

From Newport, head east along the A487. After passing Llwyngwair Manor on your left, take the next right sign posted ‘Pentre Ifan’.
Keep going straight on at the cross roads for another three quarters of a mile.
Follow the right hand lane sign posted ‘Pentre Ifan’ and after some half a mile you will see a layby on your right.
Park here and the entrance to Pentre Ifan cromlech is at the lower end of the layby.

If you need more information about visiting the site, please contact Site Operations staff at Cadw, telephone 01443 336 104.

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John Barleycorn must die
A song for summer drinking
by Liz.

Every year when the Summer Solstice has been and gone, my thoughts start turning to harvest time and an old folk song I used to hear a lot in my youth growing up, as I did, in agricultural parts of East Anglia. That old folk song is called “John Barleycorn”.

John Barleycorn referred to in this old folk song isn’t actually a real person, it’s the name given to an important cereal crop harvested for the brewing industry used to make ale and whiskey, namely barley, and the song is a lament to the “sacrifice” it makes laying down it’s life every Summer to quench man’s ever raging thirst.

In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and further indignities which correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting.

There are many versions of the song as it has been re-written over the years by numerous people, but the version I am most familiar with goes:

There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die,
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, throwed clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn was dead.
They’ve let him lie for a very long time, ’til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all
They’ve let him stand ’til Midsummer’s Day ’til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John’s grown a long long beard and so become a man
They’ve hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee
They’ve rolled him and tied him by the waist serving him most barbarously
They’ve hired men with their sharp pitchforks who’ve pricked him to the heart
And the loader he has served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart
They’ve wheeled him around and around a field ’til they came unto a barn

And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They’ve hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he has served him worse than that
For he’s ground him between two stones

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle or pots without a little barleycorn

For the musically minded, it has been covered by artists including Chris Wood, Steeley Span, Jethro Tull, Traffic, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Heather Alexander and many others. To hear a rendition of it being repeated in country pubs across the land where the ale is flowing well is not altogether unusual at all.

So, next time you are enjoying a pint or two of ale, or a couple of wee drams of the Landlords’ finest malt, remember to raise a glass to the memory of good old John Barleycorn and what he’s given up in the name of a good bevvie at the bar.


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Harvesting the Karma
by Jules Harrell

As I write this article, I reflect on how the Summer has gone. We’ve experienced a very high heat index, bigger than life weeds, Japanese beetles, slugs, a llama who ate my corn. A fox who ate my cats, fishers who ate many other local cats.

Flowers, birds and bees. Then there’s the larger wildlife who live here and freak out my dogs. Bears, for example. One day, I took a morning off from the garden to track a longterm resident big black bear from his morning swamp root breakfast to his pawprints to his den by a wild berry patch, deep in the woods. Have you ever seen a bear’s bed? It’s a big surprise, let me tell you.

Other excitement included having my locked, 2009 Toyota truck stolen stolen in broad daylight in downtown Pittsfield, MA. Truckless, expecting to never see my beloved Tacoma again, I sent the thieves really good vibes even though I felt like buying a shotgun. I told the thieves that if they knew me, they would never take my truck. I physically sat next to them as they pawed through my stuff, including a silver necklace on the gearshift. I felt sorry for them that I had such abundance here on the farm while they were reduced to stealing trucks. I even told them their mothers loved them… 48 hours later, my truck was returned to within two blocks of where it was taken, with all contents intact, including checkbooks, jewelry, Netflix, and CDs. The Pittsfield police are amazed. These were professional thieves with a pass key. I think they just changed their minds.

Then there’s the harvest. Recently, four of my friends came over to ferment veggies together, probably 40 pounds of beets, carrots, garlic and cabbage. Jim and Mary don’t have a garden this year, so they come to our place and work in ours. I always call Vince as he’s my fermenting guru. While Mary trimmed the Japanese beetle eaten grape leaves, Jim harvest broccoli, cukes and cabbages, and Vince prepared our large containers by hosing them down and scrubbing them out.

We all sat around chatting, and scrubbed veggies, trimming the tops and bottoms. Moving the operation over to a large, wooden block on our picnic table, we commenced to chopping and bruising the veggies in a big 10 gallon pot. We added salt, bruised, and mushed with our very clean hands.

Next, I crammed jar after jar with the luscious soon to be bubbling veggies, while Mary added a little salt to the top, a little water and topped them off with waxed paper and a lid. Then we all had a feast, as my husband was busy cooking while we were fermenting. My friends each took several jars of veggies home with them, filled with organically grown, good energy, love and friendship.

At the moment, we have about 75 pounds of garlic drying, as the garlic harvest was early this year. After pulling all the garlic and hanging it to dry, I replanted the beds with some peas and clover to add nitrogen to the depleted soil. I’ll replant these beds in October with the best garlic, and mulch it over well for the winter.

We ate large when our friends invited us to pick their blueberry bushes. Mine are still young babies. We will enjoy beets and cabbages and carrots made into kimchee with garlic and cayenne this winter. I still have corn growing from the other side of the garden as the llama who escaped didn’t know about that well-hidden patch. This year, the most exciting news is that almost everything in the garden was grown from Co-op seed, started in beds in the cattle panel greenhouse.

Probably my favorite aspect of gardening is sharing with others. I took a huge wad of garlic up to the neighbor’s house so that they have some to plant, promising them more as they have six children and are avid garlic eaters. Growing food in great abundance and sharing with friends is the best reward for a summer of hot, hard work, gargantuan weeds, loose llamas, and voracious bugs.

Here’s to another great harvest.

You can find Jules at

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‘A New Way of Thinking’
by Jonny Blake

This is a blog about the process of me becoming a pagan, my spiritual path and what I intend to do with it. I am writing these blogs as a means to propose my thoughts to whoever is reading. My aim is that people who are having similar thoughts to me will make contact and discuss what I write about because I know that statistically it’s impossible for me and only me to have come up with any of this. For those who won’t find any similarity, I’d be very happy if this does anything at all that makes you think about it, literally, just scratching your head and briefly humming will do :-). I am by no means preaching, I find the act of it ill-intended and cheap (in my village, they call it ‘’a crock of shit’’).

I like to think (no pun intended) that I belong under the Pagan label when ‘beliefs’ are concerned. I grew up with an atheist family, and as an attempt to give me a better education and attitude to learning that he didn’t get my dad brought me up with science and history books modified for children. Of course, the only logical thing that happened was that I became a bit of a geek; I had my phases of huge interest in dinosaurs, space, ancient civilisations, animals (sharks, reptiles, mammals, and insects, nearly all of them), geology and the human body. I also have the gift of artistic talent, so finding inspiration in the works of fiction (in all forms of how it’s presented) I found an interest in the mythology behind stories, and as I grew older I started to find social/political meanings or a philosophy behind such things. My modern/scientific way of thinking could only allow me to speculate to a certain level, after I found that neo-paganism embraces all un-established ‘religions’ most of which I have already studied or are heavily referenced in a work of fiction, I thought I’d give it a go to feed my inquisitive nature a new flavour.

The reason why I am telling you about my childhood is because I have always been left with more questions than answers: I was never told ‘’the sky is blue because god made it blue’’, or when relatives passed away and they said ‘’he is in heaven now’’ and I ask ‘’how do you know?’’ I would be answered with ‘’I don’t know, nobody does, but I hope he is’’ rather than a patronising answer most children are met with. I come to realise that to get a good answer, you need to ask a bloody good question. Many people get too held up on finding the answer they desire (or worse, just an answer), rather than getting into that mentality of a curious infant who just wants to know because they accept that the world and everything beyond it is a total mystery. The greatest minds of pagan cultures totally understood this mentality, and they obsessively embraced it, and many writers unknowingly engage in it; hence they have such brilliant imaginations to fill up the mysteries with their own ideas (at least I think that may be it, it was for me anyway lol).

I titled this ‘’a new way of thinking’’ because its something I’m in the middle of crafting for myself at the moment, in terms of it being generally new, it’s really not… but, I am trying to see if I can comprehend the unknown in a different way than what I’ve read and researched. My philosophy collection isn’t to a standard yet, but I’ve read books on Greek philosophy, the Tao Teh Ching and a few others. A lot of what is said in these writings can be made relevant today; in the same way that a lot of the ska and punk records from the 80’s that I listen to seem to speak a lot of truth about our current conservative government. Of course, a lot of this is down to interpretation, but isn’t that the point? I believe the fitting description is saying that these things are ‘’timeless’’, but then I thought back to all the things I’ve learnt from science and then I realise we now know the answer to something like ‘’if a tree falls and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’’, because we know that the impact of a falling tree would send a shockwave through the air as well as the ground, therefore making a loud noise regardless of anyone being there or not. So, I want to create my own new way of thinking because I don’t feel any need to restrict myself to the old ways, but I’ll remain aware that those who do not learn from history will just repeat it.

There came a point when I saw so much truth in ‘’the only thing you can know, is that you know nothing’’ that it almost stopped me asking any questions I had on the spot. However I didn’t fancy just becoming a ‘realist’ or hopping onto whatever spiritual wagon that seemed pretty. I have a fear of becoming arrogant, I know many arrogant people, and I fear it because arrogance would stop me from learning and wondering, that to me sounds like a miserable fate. So many people who go down a spiritual path become arrogant in the large amount of knowledge they gain therefore limiting their spiritual insight, their thought patterns and eventually their intelligence; I have seen many teachers been torn a new one by
students for refusing to accept new or different ideas, hell I even had a go myself once. So, I was left in a struggle between overwhelming myself with knowledge (which may or may not be true) and creating a god complex or just accepting that I will never know any secrets of the universe and focus my spirituality on nature and those I hold affection for….

However, I completely missed that I don’t need knowledge or a lack of it to be spiritual or to simply look into the unknown; I just need myself and the ability to think. I feel like a right tit that I overlooked the fact I am free to question as much as I like, I am free to think about whatever I can think about, I can speculate just about anything I can comprehend.

Thinking is not like Pandora’s Box either, if you unlocked something you didn’t want to you could easily forget about it later, instead it enables me to ask questions; questions that if I did not ask like ‘’is this what I want to do in life?’’ then I would be doing something that I actually didn’t want to be doing. Therefore I can just think freely and so far, this new way of thinking is bringing me much joy, wonder and a shit load more questions.

I can’t stress enough that for me being pagan didn’t lead to being spiritual, but being spiritual lead to being pagan… I’d like to think I am writing this as a pagan and from a pagan’s point of view, but as far as I’m aware it’s only my perspective and interpretation, but that’s why I call myself a pagan. There are many paths through a valley, paganism presents all the paths that previous travellers have found, and you can chose whichever one you like, but it doesn’t say anywhere that you have to stick to an exact path like many other religions do, so I thought why not run off into uncharted territory once and a while, if it goes nowhere I’ll come back and do the same elsewhere, after all isn’t that how the first pagans mapped out the existing paths? And these people lived thousands of years ago.

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Evolution of Change
by Caledonia

Life is not static. It grows and dies, expands and shrinks. The only thing one can ever be certain of is change. How is that for quixotic?

Just as the landscape changes with each season, so does our relationship with the gods. When the pantheons had wide-spread attention, many centuries ago, there were specific roles assigned to each of the gods. Over time, the roles have changed by necessity.

Why is this? The needs and requirements of their followers have evolved. We no longer fear and tremble when the skies thunder and lightning flares. We understand why the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west. While there are still numerous mysteries in the natural world around us, we no longer need to attribute those we don’t understand to the supernatural.

By necessity our society, religions, beliefs and gods have evolved.

Due to modern technology many things which were simply unimaginable even 30 years ago are now commonplace. We can read a newspaper from London without having to wait for it to be delivered to the local newstand. The distance between countries seems almost nonexistent because of instant messaging. Information can be shared with a much wider audience through forums and websites. We live in the age of information and technology. Through the advantages of there are new opportunities for learning and growing than have been previously afforded us. In short, our world has evolved.

How does this affect a belief structure? The evolution of learning and teaching expands the knowledge available. Much like the Romans did as their empire grew, we also adopt the teachings which appeal to us as individuals and make them our own. We insert these new ideas into our own rituals, spells and core beliefs.

As we change, so too do the gods. Some neo-pagans call to those deities which cannot be found in a book of mythology at the local bookstore. New gods have been created, and some have found new homes in far different lands than their birth. A prime example of this would be the lady Libertas. Her name is obvious as to what she is patron of, but she is still not as well known as she should be. Researching her even in today’s information friendly world is very difficult. She was a very minor Roman deity whose followers vanished off the earth before Christianity took a grip on Europe.

The Romans first codified the idea of liberty in the person of the goddess Libertas. This minor deity was the patron of a freedom which has echoed through the ages, and while only obscure references remain from her Roman origins, she has shaped the face of nations. During the reign of Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire was crumbling under its own weight from the inner corruption which invariably comes from an unchecked government. Caesar’s heir, Augustus left his mark on history by easing the Republic of Rome into a less domineering principate, which lasted for close to three centuries (Garrett G. Fagan).

Augustus Caesar also “made a point of restoring the temples of Libertas” (Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion 318) and reinstated the liberating aspect of personal freedom by making her “the goddess of the Roman commonwealth” (Encyclopedia Mythica).

Libertas has appeared, in various incarnations over time. For those wishing change, those demanding to be free and yearning towards a better life, she is a rallying point, though her worship has long since disappeared into the dusty annals of history. She has faded into obscurity, her offerings have long since crumbled into dust, and her altars lie empty. Her name unknown in this much more modern world, or is it? The wretched whisper her name. Her guise is immediately recognized the world over. Her voice has thundered quietly over the waters. She represents prosperity, freedom, and opportunity. Her name is uttered every day, spoken with reverence, shame, incredulity, vehemence, pride, and sarcasm. She says, “Give me your tired, your poor, /Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (“The New Colossus”, 10-11). A bright beacon in her hand, she welcomes all to her warm embrace; with broken shackles at her feet, she stands tall, gazing sternly towards the east. She gazes almost defiantly towards the “old country”, the lands of repression and poverty. A view of her most certainly brings one to thinking of the larger than life country to which she is a symbol of the American Dream. The tablet she holds in her arm recites an almost magical date, July 4, 1776. She is Liberty. Libertas no longer has altars. Her worship and followers have evolved, most no longer acknowledge her as real. She is not recognized in her original country. But we all know who she is, and what she represents. She has evolved.

The way we worship the gods as a whole has changed as well. While some of the temples devoted to them still exist in many parts of Europe, they are now viewed as historical artifacts rather than religious shrines. Much of this is directly due to the wide-spread reign of Christianity, but not completely. One of the most effective ways to indoctrinate a conquered people is to incorporate their religious beliefs and practices into that of their conquerors. This is something Europe was first taught by the Romans, and then again by the Christians.

Now the public rituals and gatherings are becoming a bit more commonplace and accepted, but such has not been the case for a very long time. Through necessity, the gods were hidden and worship was secretive. The evolution was stunted. Massive quantities of lore and wisdoms have been lost, never to be regained. All we can do now is retrieve what knowledge we can and add to it. Is everything we know and believe exactly the way it was when Lugh rode the sun? No, nor can it be. Nor should it be.

Why should we believe differently from our forebearers? First and foremost, because we are much more sophisticated in our knowledge and understanding of the way the Universe works. In many ways, we are as knowledgeable as the druids. We comprehend many of yesterday’s Mysteries through our learned ways. A druid did not worship the same way as the common man did, for the teachers had devoted their lives to knowledge and understood far more than their less sophisticated neighbors.

Secondly, it is much more difficult to obtain ceremonial opiates…. not to mention illegal. Mind-altering drugs were commonly used by those who were the knowledge keepers of the communities. Many neo-pagans eschew the use completely.
Third, we no longer need blame the thunderstorm on the rages of Zeus, or the hurricanes on the whims of Poseidon. Are they still the lords of their realms? Of course! But, we also comprehend the physical and natural reasons for these forces of nature.

Who came first, the gods or the devotees? This is a circular argument which can never be resolved. The gods exist, and shall continue to do so…. even as they change and grow.

Kind Roads,

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Herbal Magick
With An interview from The Lady Selene
by T. Fox Dunham

When you’re a pagan diagnosed with a rare cell type of lymphoma, a cancer with a high mortality rate, you need to find options in addition to the treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. I needed an edge, to add an element to the treatment. I wasn’t going to survive if I depended only on current medicine.

As part of a spiritual regimen, I turned to herbalism, but not just chemical herbalism—the use of oils as part of pharmacology. Magickal herbalism is more than just alkaloids and essential oils. It uses a spiritual element, a drawing of the life force of the goddess earth, taking her love, connecting to her soul so she can heal you. Sages have understood this for centuries.

When the United States National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) asked James Lovelock to develop a model of life on other worlds, he hypothesized the Gaia Hypothesis. His theory is an elegant union of science and pagan belief. He perceived the earth as a single organism, interconnected as our own bodies—heart, mind and immune system. He saw it as the fecund womb of the goddess, something peoples close to the earth have always known.

Hildegard Von Bingen, a medieval mystic, spoke of Viriditas, the Greening Power. This is an empowerment gained through working with the earth, with plants to enhance quality of life. When I endured radiation therapy for lymphoma, I took an active role in healing the disease, thus creating a cycle of energy through my garden, mixing with the energies of the earth, enriching the salubrious properties of the plants and thus to aid in curing the imbalance in my body.

Greening power is not just the administration of herbs; it is taking an active role in your recovery by seeding, harvesting, preparing, enchanting. This is the heart of spiritual herbalism. Just as farmers who grow their own corn and wheat feel more connected to the soil, so can a herbalist seeking remedy feel the greening power by actively seeding, growing and harvesting their own medicines. Magickal herbalists create a web of energy in this cycle they use to heal.

There are many so-named hedge witches who practice magickal herbal healing. The Lady Selene, a respected teacher here outside of Philadelphia, took some time to answer some questions about her craft.

Q: How do you determine which herbs you use to help?

There are plenty of magickal herbals out there. It’s a popular bandwagon to jump on right now. I have always been an outdoor girl and found many plant devas communicated with me when I was younger. As I grew, my gardening became more practical at first, food being high on my list of necessities. But I couldn’t stay away from the herbs and flowers that spoke to my soul.

Doing research in Culpepper and Grieve, as well as more arcane works, I found that the plants I was drawn to were usually those that had historically been used in witchcraft. So I think that if herbalism is your thing, then using plants becomes a combination of research and intuition. Everything has its own spirit, or Deva, and vibrational pattern and frequency, that is how plants can be helpful in your magickal working.

Q: What is the source of your wisdom? Where did you get your training in the use of magickal herbalism?

There was no Practical Herbal Magick class when I was seeking occult wisdom. I actually developed that class and teach it at irregular intervals at Ostara (A Pagan Shop) in Bethlehem, PA. So I steeped myself in herbal lore, reading and doing research, research, research. I also gardened every year, became a Master Gardener thru Penn State Extension, joined a garden club, and became a student and lover of all things horticultural. You can find snippets of occult wisdom in the most mundane sources, sometimes taking you by surprise.

Q: Do you have a special ceremony you use for harvesting and/or preparing herbs?

The harvesting of herbs for magickal purposes is influenced by astrology and the phases of the moon, and many more complicating factors. There is a special knife called a boline which can be used, or one may choose to use a white-handled knife. Any tool used should be blessed and consecrated and used for that specific purpose. Then there is the school of thought that proposes that the intent is in the practitioner, and it doesn’t matter what tool you use to harvest. I believe that if I am harvesting a plant for magickal purposes, any tool I use is a magickal tool, even my hands—especially my hands.

Permission from the plant Deva should be obtained first, and a gift should be left in exchange for the material harvested.

Q: Are there any special techniques you advise while using the herbs? Meditation? White light cleansing? Using candle magick?

Herbs can be used to assist in meditation, can be included in crafting candles and oils, used in energy cleansing. The possibilities are almost limitless; in fact, the list of uses is too extensive for me to attempt to go into right now, and—well—we witches have our secrets.

Q: How does magickal herbalism fit into modern medical treatment? How does it augment or replace?

Magickal herbalism can be used in conjunction with modern medicine, but I would never recommend herbalism alone, magickal or otherwise, in lieu of diagnosis and treatment from a competent and qualified medical practitioner. My class mentions medicinal uses of plants purely from a historical perspective as I am not qualified to give medical herbal advice. I am a witch, not an M.D.

Q: Any special stories you’d like to share of your experience?

I have met the nicest people through my interest in gardening, both magickal and mundane. I think that plants bring out the best in people, and we have always been meant to coexist, bringing out the best in each other. I’ve found magickal plants and fairy gardens tucked into the corners of gardens belonging to people I would never have suspected of entertaining such esoteric practices. We exchange secret smiles if they don’t want to be outed. And then sometimes a gazing ball is just a gazing ball, lending a bit of Victoriana to a cottage style garden. And that’s OK too, ’cause fairies are still attracted to shiny things even if they are not put out specifically to welcome them.

The Lady Selene is a native Pennsylvanian, having had several careers, including teaching, business management and finally nursing, a role she still enjoys. She makes ritual jewelry, as semi precious stones enchant her. Their vibrations usually leave her a little high and make her friends afraid to let her drive a car.

As many of us who have not been raised pagan, she was a spiritual seeker for most of her life. She was a self initiated priestess and solitary practitioner until meeting Mary, a local witch and owner of the pagan store, Ostara. She became one of the High Priestesses in the Butler Family Tradition of Witchcraft, which Mary teaches at her store. The Lady Selene is a Crone, and she has come to accept that title with the graciousness and satisfaction that her years in this incarnation have brought her.


The world is full of such hedge witches and wizards, drawing lenitive and curative from the soil as flowers, roots, leaves.

They cook them, make tisanes, balms, oils, incense, liquors, soaps and all sorts of gentle administrations. They carry an ancient tradition, providing alternative medicine with a divine element. They understand that more than the body must be treated, also the mind and the spirit. Modern medicine is only now beginning to understand this. These are effective treatments that have a powerful effect over the body and spirit.

As a responsible herbalist, I must write this caveat. These are potent chemicals and energies that must be treated responsibly. Herbalists study for years, learning the dangers and proper uses of herbs. For example, potent herbs such as Foxglove (Digitalis) affect the heart. Before administering, you must carefully study and test, such as rubbing a bit of the essential oil onto your skin to check for an allergic reaction. Also, always know the source of the plants. Herbs from unfamiliar ground maybe contaminated with pesticides. Be responsible with your herbal magick, study the subject herb, know its history and folklore, its place in the natural cycle.

I suffer from an array of debilitating symptoms after my Pyrrhic treatment of chemo therapy and radiation. Because of my allergies and sensitivities to harsh medications, I must seek out alternative treatments. I can’t use normal medications for my nausea. Herbal treatment—usually ginger—along with meditation are my only remedy. I use sage incense to cleanse myself while projecting a white light sweeping through my body. I use scents such as honeysuckle to enhance my energy levels. My work with spiritual herbalism fills the gap where medical science fails, providing me relief and a better quality of life, both physical and spiritual.

LINK to the Ostara Store:

T. Fox Dunham is a modern bard, cancer survivor and author, having stories appearing in many international journals. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment and is writing a sci-fi series for Beam Me Up Radio and Podcasts. His friends call him Fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time.

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Lammas Week Moon Lore
by Liz

On Sunday July 31st, Lammas eve, the Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Leo. This will be a good time to listen to that inner wisdom we all have tucked away deep inside our thoughts but so often doubt and second guess. We need to trust our instincts more and all will be well. There will be a deepening of our spirtual understanding, the seeking of new interests and thrills, and the chance to heal old wounds.

On Monday, 1st August, Lammas Day, the Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, leaving Leo and entering Virgo. Don’t be surprised if you spend the day dancing to somebody else’s tune, especially if that somebody is higher up the chain of command than yourself.

It might also be prudent to pay attention to niggling health matters around now because to be pro-active is always better than to be re-active, and you can’t be too careful when it comes to one’s own wellbeing. The message here is very loud and clear, and that is less is more so don’t go over-doing it today or trying to burn your candle at both ends, or the cost might be a bit higher than anticipated.

On Tuesday 2nd August, the Moon will still be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, still, and remaining in Virgo. It’s influence there on that day may well put a bit of a dampner on passions, and your relationships could well be somewhat strained, but the good news is it’s only temporary, and it will pass as quickly and as uneventfully as it began. Don’t say anything you can’t take back, or cause a scene, and all will return swiftly to normal by return of the clock.

On Wednesday 3rd August, the Moon will still be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, still, and moving on to Libra. With Wednesdays putting the spotlight on study and travel, and Libra putting influences of partnership and balance to everything, you should have an enjoyable and enlightening day. Friends may issue an invite but the travel may put you off, force yourself to go and it could make you really glad you did!

On Thursday 4th August, the Moon will still be Waxing, still in it’s First Quarter, and in Libra still, cash matters may well spring up but the good news is this time it’s value for money, a fair price paid for something of value to you, so it could be worse.

On Friday 5th August, the Moon will still be Waxing, moving into it’s Second Quarter, and leaving Libra and moving on to Scorpio. Fridays are associated with love and friendship, while Scorpio tends to increase our intuition and psychic awareness, so prepare to be more in tune with those dear to your heart and quite possibly be ready to feel all loved up. Romance is definately in the air tonight.

By the end of the week, Saturday 6th August, the Moon will still be Waxing, and in it’s Second Quarter, in Scorpio still.

Saturdays tend to be mostly about homes and houses, while Scorpio’s influence could warn of an ending of some kind, but as one door closes, another door always opens. Change isn’t always a negative thing. Embrace the new!

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by Rebecca L. Brown

Wherever you are in the world, there’s a good chance you can find some dandelions if you’re looking for them. Their puff-ball seed heads and bright yellow flowers are a familiar sight on lawns, in parks and on wasteland. Whilst widely considered to be a weed, the dandelion has a suprisingly large number of uses in cooking and herbal medicine.

Dandelion flowers can be used to make a wine or eaten battered and fried, whilst the leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked in the same way as spinach. Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins A, B, C and E as well as iron, calcium and potassium. In the past, it was common for dandelion leaves to be blanched and eaten as a vegetable.

The roots of dandelions can be made into a coffee-like drink. The root is best harvested in Autumn, then sundried and roasted until brittle. It is then ground and used in the same way as coffee. It can also be sliced, sauteed and stewed in salt water until soft and eaten.

Dandelion leaves have been used medicinally as a diuretic and to treat liver or gall bladder problems. The root may have potential in the treatment of diabetes and can act as a mild laxative. The sap has traditionally been applied to corns, verrucas and warts and may act as an insect repellant.

Dandelion should not be taken alongside diuretics. It may increase the blood sugar lowering effects of anti-diabetes medication and so should be used with caution by medicated diabetics.

The seed head of the dandelion is often blown because it is said to carry wishes along with the seeds or to ‘tell the time’. The seed heads have also traditionally been blown to carry thoughts to loved ones. Dandelion heads can be used to predict the weather. The seed heads fold shut when it is likely to rain and only opens again when the chance of wet weather has passed.

Magickally, dandelions are associated with Jupiter and fire. The seed heads have been used in divination whilst rubbing yourself with the sap is said to encourage unusual hospitality towards you. Dandelion flowers collected on St John’s Eve were historically thought to protect against witchcraft.

Symbolically, the dandelion thrives in all situations and is almost impossible to get rid of. It regenerates itself quickly from the tiniest part of root. the dandelion also undergoes a metamorphosis from yellow flower to puffball, preparing itself for the moment when the seeds escape on their journey to new places.

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by Rebecca L. Brown

Jet stone formed from fossilised wood deposits in water; the hard jet which most people are familiar with is formed in seawater. Jet has lower thermal conductivity than many stones, meaning that it is not usually cool when touched. It is easily polished and relatively easy to carve. Like coal jet can be burnt and so jet jewellery and objects should be kept away from flames.

Jet jewellery in the form of beads or pendants has been found in paleolithic deposits including the Kesserloch cave deposits. It is thought that these pieces would have been worn close to the skin. the Romans calld jet ‘gagates’ and used it decoratively. More recently, jet was used to make crosses and rosaries for the inmates of 7th century Streoneshalh (the monastery which pre-dates Whitby Abbey) and was a popular material for 16th century rosaries because it was thought to attract the favour of god. In the Victorian era, it was commonly used to make jewellery as only jet jewellery was permitted to be worn in court for the period of Queen Victoria’s mourning beginning in 1861. Modern Native Americans cultures still use jet in the creation of certain amulets and in burials for it’s supposed protective qualities.

Magickally, jet is connected with the planet Saturn and with the Earth. It is used in grounding and to increase spiritual awareness. Jet is thought to have a calming influence and is used to create balance. It is said to help relieve the negativity which is often felt by people suffering from depression or stress and by people who are grieving by absorbing it. It’s negative electrical charge is used to draw power and knowledge.

Jet is often used in association with amber and is sometimes known as ‘black amber’.

Jet is available to buy at Rainbow Spirit Crystal Store

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Review: One Turning: Poems For The Wheel of The Year
by Miriam Axel-Lute

Review by Rebecca L. Brown

One Turning is a selection of wonderfully written poetry which addresses the circle of life from a modern pagan perspective. Miriam’s brave and honest exploration of the wheel of the year builds on the pagan tradition rather than looking wistfully back into it’s past, addressing the way in which we experience the seasons now and perhaps in the years to come.

“Connection is not, after all, about beauty.” Miriam writes,
“It’s about stories. It’s about attention.
It’s about moving in the same space, and knowing it
and continuing to move.”

In these poems, Miriam has moved into the space of paganism past and continued to move and she has done so beautifully. She has connected with her audience in a way which is both eloquent and thought-provoking.

Miriam’s poem, ‘Firefly Harvest’, is included in our poetry corner. For news of her other work or to buy your copy of One Turning, visit her at

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Upcoming Events

For more information on events at Treadwell’s, visit their website.

05 August 11 (Friday)
Magical Pagan Quiz Night:Hijinks at Treadwell’s
The Treadwells Gang
How’s your trivia for things pagan and magical? Our quiz night will have a cheesy-grining compere, lots of beer and wine and your convivial company, we hope. The quiz will have questions for beginners and oldtimers, in categories of Magick, paganism, witchcraft, mythology, witches. You can play on your own or in a team of up to 4 people. Prize worth 35 quid for the lucky winner.

Price: £3.00 on the door, bur email or ring to sign up in advance

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start, ends 9.30

06 August 11 (Saturday)
Abraxas Journal:Issue Two Launch Party
Fulgur Ltd and Treadwells
The long-awaited second issue of Abraxas is celebrated tonight with a party for everyone. Scholars, artists, writers and musicians from almost every continent have contributed to this collection of work on esotericism and esoteric culture. Postal advance orders can be made via Treadwells or via the Fulgur website. Treadwell’s parties are as legendary as Fulgur’s high-quality books, so we think this is a mix too heady to miss; please join us. RSVP to Treadwell’s, and do say if you would like a signed launch copy to be reserved you.

Price: Free but RSVP required

Time: 7pm till late

08 August 11 (Monday)
Your Own Hypnosis and Trance Induction:For magical practitioners, shamanic workers, pagans, magickians
Mark Smith
A practical evening teaching hypnosis methods to self-induce trance states and to work on unconscious mind patterns, in your magical practice. Techniques will enhance visualisations and pathworkings and intensify your ritual workings — whether you work in chaos magic, shamanic journeying, general meditation or witchcraft. It will go through the three levels of trance; trance induction and deepening including visual (sight), auditory (sound) and kinaesthetic (touch). Plus fractionation techniques, fixation techniques and progressive relaxation. Practical exercises through the evening mean you can immediately apply these methods. Mark is a professional clinical hypnotherapist, professional drummer, gym addict and chaos magician. A rare opportunity from someone with a remarkable blend of experience and skill.

Price: £10.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

11 August 11 (Thursday)
Hecate and Diana:Pagan Ritual Evening
Caroline Wise and Friends
Mid-August brings the days sacred to the goddesses Hecate and Diana. This ritual evening in their honour provides an occasion to come together for learning and ceremony. The first 45 minutes is an illustrated lecture and group discussion on these deities, and the second half is a temple-style ceremony in which all participate. If you wish to explore group ritual, this night is for you. It will also suit experienced pagans who wish to honour these goddesses in the week of their ancient festival day. Caroline Wise has been working in pagan traditions, and in priestess training, for over 30 years. An experienced and gifted ritualist, she enjoys sharing the beauty of temple ritual and its forms. She is a senior member of the Fellowship of Isis.

Price: £10.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

17 August 11 (Wednesday)
Smoke and Mirrors:London’s Voodoo Psychogeography
Stephen Grasso
Writer and witch doctor Stephen Grasso unveils the hidden occult landscape of the City of London. ‘Dark rum hits old stone at the crossroads and we enter heavy Voodoo terrain, tuning into the dub echoes of history. The mysteries of the boneyard and the buried river slide into focus. The lunar temple of St Pauls Cathedral opens its doors for witchcraft, and the chained giants of the Guildhall break their bonds. Our Lady of the Thames pulsates outside of time … Senses are washed clear and duplicitous spells are undone. All cities have magic.’ Stephen Grasso lives in London, practices Voodoo, and is published in many journals, most recently Strange Attractor IV.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

26 August 11 (Friday)
Dark Working Sorcerers:Illusion and the Occult
The London Magician
Spirits to visual appearance, levitation, creating gold: these are some of the phenomena associated with the great magicians of history, whether they be theurgists or alchemists. Tonight explores, and shows, what an illusionist can do with these effects.

Price: £10.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

01 September 11 (Thursday)
Great Goddess Inanna:A Night of Her Stories
June Peters, Storyteller
One of the most significant ancient narratives in modern paganism is the Descent of Inanna, which in various forms lives and breathes in modern esoteric spiritualities. Modern audiences are enchanted by the stories in which the Mesopotamian goddess descends to the Underworld, while in other stories she quests for magic, confronts death, seduces her lover, and praises her own sexuality. Tonight, renowned storyteller June Peters recounts her favourite Inanna myths — centring on the iconic Descent. June is a vivacious, captivating performer who brings the gut-wrenching and humorous myths to life: she received a thundering ovation for her last Inanna performance at Treadwell’s.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

05 September 11 (Monday)
Thorn Coyle:Speaking on Self-Possession
Visiting from the United States
Thorn Coyle is an innovative pagan thinker and magical practitioner ; she is trained in the Feri tradition of Victor Anderson and enriched by an ongoing and rigourous personal practice which is informed numerous spiritualities. Treadwell’s customers include many fans of her work: her Kissing the Limitless and Evolutionary Witchcraft are among our most often recommended titles. Tonight she will be talking about spiritual personal transformation, sharing her perspectives on radical self-transcendence as a goal in pagan magical practice. If impeccability has an advocate in modern paganism, it is surely Thorn Coyle.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

15 September 11 (Thursday)
Interview with a Witch:
Shani Oates in Conversation with Christina Oakley Harrington
Shani Oates is a traditional witch — Maiden of the People of Goda of the Clan of Tubal Cain, to give her her full title. Tonight she will talk about her experiences of this path, and what it means to her. She will be also explaining more about the tradition and its ‘muse’ and how it called her. This is a night for people who are interested in lived experience, what it means to live within a witchcraft tradition, and for those interested in Cochrane-based traditional Craft. More on the Clan: (Shani is shown in the photo with her mentor, Evan John Jones).

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

21 September 11 (Wednesday)
Floods in the Ancient Desert:The Ark, the Archaeology, and the Latest Discoveries
Dr Irving Finkel (British Museum)
Much-loved British Museum curator and scholar, Dr Irving Finkel, comes to Treadwell’s to update us on some ground-breaking discoveries in ancient Near Eastern studies. The biblical story of Noah’s ark is well-known to anyone who went to Sunday school, and the reality of a flood is a subject for the archaeologists of the region. Now, it looks like there is an idea of what such an ark might have actually been like. Irving Finkel, a charismatic speaker who works on the cutting edge of ancient scholarship, is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian (i.e. Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian) script, languages and cultures, in the Middle East Department of the British Museum. Join us!

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

03 October 11 (Monday)
Learning the Tarot:Foundation Course for Beginners
Diana Taylor
Learn how to read and work with the tarot with a gifted, experienced teacher. In an active lively class, progress from basics to more complex classic tarot, grounded in mystical symbolism. Includes homework, handouts, and backup support. By the end, students can do basic readings and use tarot in meditation. Tutor: Diana Taylor has been reading tarot for 15 years following her training in the Western tradition, continuing studies with teachers such as Rachel Pollack. Eight Tuesdays, starting 19 July. See the

Price: £160 (£80 deposit, balance due on first night)

Time: 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

04 October 11 (Tuesday)
Tantra:Exploding Some Myths
Phil Hine
Phil Hine, known through the 1980s and 1990s for his important work in chaos magic, is a longterm practitioner and researcher into tantra. His blog,, is an active site of articles and ongoing thoughts on issues between west and east. This talk takes on western ideas of tantra, particularly those prevalent in occult circles. The ‘left-hand path’ will never look the same ever again. More information soon.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

09 October 11 (Sunday)
Candle-making for Ritual and Magic:A Hands-on Day Course
Nathalie Beveridge (Little Owl Candles)
Learn to make candles by hand from a specialist maker who caters for ritualists and magicians, and learn the techniques for best results from a friendly specialist. Each participant will make and take home two types of candle, and will have the knowledge to make candles at home with basic equipment. Nathalie will also teach how to use candles in magical workings and in ritual. This day is ideal for practitioners who want to be able to make personal candles for their own practice, be it ceremonial magic, hedge witchcraft or shamanistic working. Price includes teas, coffees, handouts, supplies, your own just-made candles to take home.

Price: £45 (£25 deposit, balance due on the day)

Time: 11 am – 6 pm

11 October 11 (Tuesday)
Pictures from the Book of Sleep :Alchemical imagery in dreams
Paul Cowlan
‘Individuals still experience the revelations and visions that were so instrumental in the creation and development of alchemy, and understand them in terms similar to those of the ancient and medieval alchemists.’ (Jeffrey Raff) Any student of dreams is, in effect, a researcher into their own vibrant, but largely hidden personal language, a geographer of inner landscapes; and it is certainly true, as Jeffrey Raff states, that alchemical imagery still occurs frequently in contemporary dreams; regardless of whether or not the dreamer is acquainted with alchemy. In this illustrated talk Paul will be presenting selected dream symbols and exploring them from an alchemical viewpoint. Having been actively engaged with his own dreams for more than forty years, and with alchemy as a way of life for nearly thirty, he speaks from personal experience, and will welcome any questions and personal contributions from the audience.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

18 October 11 (Tuesday)
Kenneth Grant’s Against the Light:Reflections upon the Work
Michael Staley
Tonight the head of the Typhonian Order speaks on some of the themes arising in the book Against the Light, written by the Order’s founder, English occultist and writer Kenneth Grant (1924-2011). Grant was one of the most influential forces in the culture of late 20th century esoteric culture, with his particularly compelling magical imagination, his championing of the artist Austin Osman Spare, and his interpretations of Aleister Crowley’s doctrines. Tonight is for all who have appreciated his work. Michael Staley is his successor as head of the Typhonian Order, and is the founder of Starfire Publishing.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

23 October 11 (Sunday)
Open House with the Phoenix Rising Academy:Western Esotericism Studies Today
Sasha Chaitow and Colleagues
The UK contingent of Phoenix Rising Academy gather for an evening at Treadwells to discuss the study of esotericism in the modern world. Short talks from Sasha Chaitow, Angela Voss, Hereward Tilton, Orlando Fernandez, and Geoffrey Cornelius, will explore the relevance of various aspects of the Western esoteric traditions to modern life, and highlight the value of rediscovering them from a modern perspective. They will also discuss academic perspectives to Western esotericism and answer any audience queries on this, and other aspects of the study of esotericism. More on Phoenix Rising Academy.

Price: £7.00

Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

25 October 11 (Tuesday)
Learning the Tarot:Foundation Course for Beginners
Sue Merlyn Farebrother
This intensive, engaging class offers a solid grounding in classic tarot. The mystical symbolism, the key archetypes and the card meanings are all taught in a vibrant class, by a tutor with 30 years experience. Classes have diverse activities: lecture, discussion, pair-work, meditation, and practice sessions, so that you will finish the course able to do basic tarot readings and use it in personal work. You receive handouts and back-up support, and homework and memorisation is expected. Bring a Rider-Waite deck or similar. Tutor: Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been reading tarot for 30 years, and teaching for over ten. Also an accredited psychologist with a Master’s in Cultural Astronomy, she brings intelligent acuity to her teaching – and a wonderful dry sense of humour. This is her fifth year teaching at Treadwell’s.

Price: £160 (£80 deposit, balance due on first night)

Time: 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm

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Extract from Pelzmantel
by K.A. Laity

I am very old, though not so old as the hills. Kings and queens have been born and grown and died, while still I go on.

Perhaps I am only curious. But many will tell you that it is because I am a witch. It is true that I know many of the hidden ways. But I am a story-teller first, last and always. Many stories, too, have passed before me, but there is only one that I turn to again and again. I do not know, yet, how it shall end.

Once upon a time, there was a queen. She had hair of brilliant gold. It would shine like burnished metal in the sunlight, dance in moonlight spears. Her face had the radiant glow of genuine happiness, for she loved the land in which she dwelled, and she had found her own true love. Her king loved her truly and deeply, and nothing but death could part them. This is the end of one story that I know: a happy ending. But it is the beginning of this story, so of course something terrible is going to happen.

The queen’s name was Gunnhild. I came to her land in the time of her great-grandmother—or was it perhaps her great-great-grandmother? No matter. Like all these women, she called me “Nanna” and became my charge. She was very special to me, this child, for Gunnhild was born small and weak, barely alive. The midwife frowned and sighed. The child’s mother cried silently, clutching my hand with dread. But I looked into the baby’s eyes and saw no nonsense, no fear. I smiled. She would survive.

It was never easy. Gunnhild’s mother, the queen, never lost her look of worry. There was the fever at one year, the pox-scare at two, a dog-bite once, and a strange sleeping-sickness that lasted a week. Each time a little thinner, and yet more radiant, Gunnhild would rise weakly from the pillows of her sick-bed and smile. The queen would clasp her joyfully and I would clap my hands with delight. The king would bless my healing salves—I would thank the clear, bright light, which glittered within Gunnhild’s eyes.

But this is not the time for the child’s story. All the triumph and the sorrow of her early years I leave for another time.

Today I tell of Queen Gunnhild. The child is grown—though never strong—luminous and energetic. She is a useful and beautiful queen, as the best ones are. Gunnhild knows the spinning wheel and the wine-press, the library and the quill. She understands the people of her realm, their desires and their fears. More importantly, she cares about them too.

She has found a man – Kormac – she loves like no other. Her king, too, is a handy man as well as handsome. He can jest with the farmer and ride with the hounds. He has ventured abroad to return with stories of fantastic lands and incredible people.

Together, Gunnhild and he ride across their land to visit their families and to settle disputes. At feasts, they share their laughter and a loving cup, to toast the brave warriors and gallant women.

But they have no child.

It vexes the queen. Her people expect an heir, she will tell me, her brow furrowing.

“Do they say so?” I ask her.

But she will only tell me they need not, for she knows her duty. The women of her line have always ruled here. She must not be the last. In a family older than the Ynglings themselves, to be the last of such a powerful lineage of women after so many generations is a shame too great to bear. Much as she loves Kormac, Gunnhild does not wish to have her realm pass to his hands should she die. She has seen what such power can do to men, what it has done to the war-loving dominions around her.

Besides, she sighs as we spin, how the king, too, would love a child.

“Does he say so?” I ask her again.

But she only gazes sadly out the window, her hands carrying on the work her mind has forgotten.

But one day Queen Gunnhild comes to me with bright hope shining from her eyes of mossy green. “Nanna, is it true? Do you really know secrets to help me bear a child?”

I drop my fine needlework to my lap. “Who has been telling you such a thing, my dear?”

“A mage, a new mage, from your land, he has come to the king, he says it. Nanna,” she repeats, “Is it true?!”

The blood drains from my face and I feel cold. “It has a price—all such wizardry does. Have you seen this mage?”

“Nanna! We must begin at once! A child, a child, a dear child of my very own, oh Nanna, today!”

“A child cannot be rolled and baked in an afternoon like a pie,” I say crossly. But her smile does not dim and I can see that this desire cannot be turned away, whatever the cost shall be. Her stubborn will! It kept her alive through fevers and chills, against the wish of her flesh. The terrible price means nothing to it. But the king may feel otherwise.

I put aside my handiwork with some determination of my own. “Let us go see this man from my country. Is he with the king still?” Perhaps he can sway her stubborn heart.

“Nanna, Nanna!” Gunnhild tugs at my sleeve. “Can it be done?” Her eyes gleam dizzyingly, hope blinding them.

I look up into her face. “My queen, it can cost you your life,” I say softly, hoping my own eyes convey the enormity of this risk.

But she merely laughs and pulls me into sprightly dance, circling around the floor. “Oh Nanna, my own mother thought I would never live out my first day. Each one after that has been a gift. You, of all people, should know better than to forecast gloom. I’m much stronger than I look.”

“You do not know what it’s like to bear a child. With even the healthiest and strongest women, it is often dangerous and difficult. A thousand complications arise, a thousand challenges to your body—and your body is not one made for birthing. It tries to tell you that.”

“Nanna, listen to me.” Gunnhild’s face is gravely fixed. “I will have a child. You will help me.”

There is no more to discuss. She is my queen. We go to the king, her strides purposeful and swift, my own solemn and slow.

In the great hall of the castle, King Kormak stands before his high seat, laughing with his counselors and a short dark man.

I feel a chilly finger touch my spine as my gaze falls upon him. I know this one. And I know evil has come to this pleasant land—from my own.

The queen hugs her man happily. His joy in her radiates from his face. “My dear, you must meet my new friend. He tells many an amusing tale.” The king turns to me. “Nanna! He is from your homeland too and says that he may know you.” The king winks at me encouragingly. I hold my feelings close to my heart. This is no time to betray fear.

I summon a cheerful countenance. “I can always recognize a son of Bricriu, whatever shore he may walk upon.” The crowd turns expectantly to regard the guest. His smile masks much from them, but its malevolence is clear to me. He has not expected to find one who knows him—and knows him so well.

“When last you were seen, was your hair not fiery red?” he asks. “Could it be so long ago? Or have the people of this land frightened the bonny color away?”

Everyone smiles at his japes. They have heard it is the way of our people to banter and jest. I decide to reply in kind.

I raise an eyebrow and regard him with careful scrutiny. “And you, friend, still no taller? I was sure you were going to grow a little. Never mind; here they say the measure of a man comes not from the length of his legs.”

They all laugh, he loudest of all. I keep my bantering tone. “Is there a bark that can restore my hair color? For since my trip to the Sithe, it has lost all its fire—and you are so skilled in the secrets of the wood.” He knows all too well that I see his true nature.

I itch to uncover his plans, his reasons for traveling so far. Why has he come? And what evil does he bring?

Later in the evening I get a chance to ask, but the answer is not to my liking. We stand on one of the balconies stretching out from the great hall, looking on the twilit-land below. It is the first warm day of the year. The doors and tapestries are thrown back to let the night air in.

“Well, Mná,” he says with a self-satisfied grin, “you have taken the name of grandmother. Were you named by a child?”

“Yes I was. It is no shame to me. Indeed here it has other resonances. What evil wind blew you to this country, Maldachta, or should I call you Thomas as you have asked my lord and lady to do?”

“Ah, you remember me.” His smile is a sneer. He need not bother to conceal his sinister heart from me. “Yes, we know one another’s true name. No matter. I’m sure neither of us wishes to have them widely known. And we know one another’s true self.

Lord and lady! How like a slave you talk still, though I hear you have been freed long since.”

“It is true I came here as a slave. But I have always been free. I own my soul, my mind. My lord and lady respect me and value my knowledge. I show them the same honor. In our land I was but one of many wise women—here I am unique.”

His smile shows teeth, small and flashing. “You were unique. I think I may stay awhile. If a weak old woman like you can have so much, surely I can have more.”

“Like so many men you confuse strength and power. Do not underestimate resistance.” I can feel my face redden with the anger I wish to contain. “Why come here? Were there too many who called for your blood in the Emerald Isle? Like that village I once helped chase you from when your mischief brought those poor shepherds to near ruin?”

“There were inconveniences,” he admits, waving them away with his hand. “I have had adventures here and there. But when I hear that one of my country women has taken this realm in hand as her own domain—how can I resist such a challenge?”

“It is not my domain. I find only peace and joy here. I do not seek to rule.”

He barks with laughter. “You are too modest. I see how you have inserted yourself into this land. And it will be my pleasure to wrest it from your control.”

I bristle at this. “You will not find it as simple as stealing a cow from your neighbour.”

Hate burns in his eyes. “The sons of Bricriu are not cattle thieves.”

“Nonetheless, you will not succeed in ripping this realm apart. I will not allow it.”

“Do not stand in my way, woman. You’ll find out just how much power I command. You who were captured as a slave— “

“Do not forget, too, that I have been to the Sithe. The otherworld taught me much and fortified me in ways I am still discovering.”

“We shall see, old woman.” He measures me with his eyes. “The daughters of Mná have had their way for generations. You may have stolen many secrets in the Sithe, but I know that the women of your kin have a geiss against thwarting the magic of the sons of Bricriu, so your pilfered knowledge is useless. You cannot stand in my way. And I swear by all that my people swear by that you will regret it if you try.”

“Perhaps—but the geiss only prevents me from using my magic against yours. There is much else I can do.” But my words are more confident than my heart, and I fear for this land and these people. Can he tell my courage does not match my words? For the first time in decades, I miss my sisters and my green me.

Pelzmantel is available to purchase from

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All of a Lammas Evening
by Elizabeth Barrette

The moon is a silver sickle
Reaping the twilight’s yield

The mist is a silken blanket
Lying upon the field

The corn is a golden pollen
Riding upon the wind

The cricket’s a chorus-master
Singing of summer’s end

The wheat is a bearded giant
Waiting the razor’s kiss

All of a Lammas evening
Nothing is sweeter than this

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by Elizabeth Barrette

These things are everywhere
in the late August evenings:

butterfly wings
in brown grass –
abandoned dreams

flower petals
fallen in a cooling wind –
forgotten scents,
fragrant memories

cicada shells
backlit by the setting sun,
turned to lambent amber –
armor from some
erstwhile altercation

Summer is packing her bags
and going back to her mother,
leaving behind her only
this bright detritus of her visit.

Elizabeth Barrette has been involved with the Pagan community for more than 23 years. She served as Managing Editor of PanGaia for 8 years. She has written columns on beginning and intermediate Pagan practice, Pagan culture, and Pagan leadership. Her book Composing Magic: How to Create Magical Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers explains how to combine writing and spirituality. She lives in central Illinois where she has done much networking with Pagans in her area, such as coffeehouse meetings and open sabbats; see the Greenhaven website. She enjoys magical crafts, historic religions, and gardening for wildlife. Her other writing fields include speculative fiction, gender studies, social and environmental issues. One of her Pagan science fiction poems, “Fallen Gardens,” was nominated for the Rhysling Award in 2010. Visit her blog The Wordsmith’s Forge ( ).

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Firefly Harvest
by Miriam Axel-Lute

Rising commas
inflecting the night air
with a silent din
of small talk and prayer
Summer’s semaphores
embellishing childhood memories
gone vague with time.

This is as it always is
in this field at this time of early corn,
sweaty mules, and late black raspberries.

Except tonight there is
an extra beat in their pulse
a tremble in their collective echo
as the storm of the year approaches
steady and wild over the ridge.

We wait, flattened against the
back wall of the porch,
breath held, minds blank
not thinking of how it has been a year of hungry weather
hail-bitten apples and sodden, blighted tomatoes.

But the lightning bugs give themelves in worship—
dancing through the ozone heralds
moving when everything else
has frozen in anticipation.

We were made in your image (they say)
or at least named in it.
Same thing.
Pluck us, an early harvest, from the dusk,
a bonfire substitute.

They alone still have the voice to ask for mercy
on this abundance
that’s not our own.

Firefly harvest is taken from Miriam’s chapbook, One Turning: Poems For the Wheel of the Year (see our review)

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Beauty In Fertile Autumn
by Julie Smith

Cerelia sings, wind carries her cry.
The weaver and fabric of destinies,
Cycles of time thread like a tapestry.
Harvest ended, stacked and stored with a sigh.

A rainbow of earth tones float under sky;
Yellow and rust waltz around the trees.
Autumn chills mix with the late summer thinned,
Cerelia sings, wind carries her cry.

The end of summer spawns lust in the eyes.
Fruition whispers, the time now beckons,
A fertile dance before the winter’s sleep.
Harvest ended, stacked and stored with a sigh.

Cerelia sings, wind carries her cry.
It’s almost time for dreaming and slumber,
Harvest ended, stacked and stored with a sigh.

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by Patricia Monaghan

In the middle of the city the men
feel a sudden tenderness above the ears.
As the sun sets they lie down,
heads throbbing. As the moon rises
horns push out like seedlings
from the temples of all the men.

Most sleep through the hot night
and wake exhausted wet with sweat,
full of dreams they can’t remember.
All day at work they snap warily at other
men, look weakly after all the women.
All day they search their pockets for lost keys.

Only a few rise in the moonlight,
heads full of antlers, to seek
the women dancing on the leaves.
Only a few men know the power of stags
dancing through them as they are ridden
by the eager women of the night.

And the next day, and the next,
we know these men when we meet them.
We see them from the corners of our eyes
turning into animals, turning back, turning.
We know them with our doe skin,
we know them with our steaming breath.

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Garland Sunday, and She Calls Her
Lover to Join Her on the Mountain

by Patricia Monaghan

How many years since you pressed
that first kiss upon me, up on
the hilltop in the shining season?
I laughed and filled your mouth
with bilberries. I laughed, you
filled my mouth with love.

The next year we were joined,
we climbed the mountain
arm in arm, smiling at the
courting couples. The next year
I walked slowly, full of love;
the next year, and the next,

and now the years all run together
and now I cannot remember
which year my brother died, which
year your mother died, and always
before us the mountain, its gray
green presence a reminder of summer

and always, at this time, the climb,
always the climbing, for what is life
but seasons passing, what is love
but memories and ceremonies—
what is love but a pledge taken
on a midsummer hill and kept?

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Lost Harvests
by Olivia Arieti

Too ripe
And swollen
The orchard fruits
No longer carriers
Of the reaper’s
Sneer the glory
Of Abundance
And fall
Like dead birds
On the muddy

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Harvest Time
by Olivia Arieti

Proud and ripe
The fruits drop
In the old cart
That slowly
Sets forth
Through the misty
To fill
The cornucopia
Of all wintry
With joyous

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The Bounty Of Nature
by Olivia Arieti

The Harvest Moon
Smiles gently
On the weary
Ready for their
Wintry sleep
As the swollen
Wait silent
For the morning
Final cut,
Their ritual
To the bounty
Of Nature.

Olivia is a US citizena high School English teacher and lives in Italy with her family. Her plays were published by Brooklyn Publishers, Desert Road Publishing, JAC Publishing, USA, Lazy Bee Scripts, UK. Her poems appeared in Women In Judaism, The Wanderlust Review, Poetica Magazine, Eye On Life, VWA: Poems For Haiti, Cliterature; her short stories in The Smoking Poet, Enchanted Conversations, Pill Hill Press Anthology, Voices From The Garage, Riverbabble.

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God Bud
by Danielle Blasko

Once in the light
of the stage
during the vegetative phase
her growth was stunted
for lack of nutrients.
So now, she takes her fill
in words, nurturing
them into flowering
where they stay until harvest.

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A Rooster’s Tale
by Hedgewizard Erb

Remembering when the Rooster’s calling bid everyone to come
To the time they called First Harvest under the August sun
My Grandmother and my Great Grandmother would render
Lye soap from a steaming cauldron, dry corn on a Summer day
Worked to can the fruits of the land for peaches in Autumn’s way
And the farmers stacked the hay bales
Those were far different times back then
We were bound to the land and seasons
The chickens, the cows, and the pen
And if any had the price of bread
The same would have their reasons
To fret about the coming cold, ice, rain and snow
Those days the harvest was more than just a TV show
It was life itself there were no big stores to shop
No berries out of season
No meal in a frozen box
Simple days from February to Mays
Most folks owed their lives
To that old August sun upon the land
And the Roosters morning calling cries

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Comfort of the Dove
by Hedgewizard Erb

The shards of heartache fall to time, if enough has past
To the waters of forgetfulness, to the rivers of tears
Fears keep the cut festering in the soul

Unless the light of all is sought out in peaceful valleys
And unless the light can fill the voids left bare to pain
There may be no end to the cause and effects in life

Only hope and faith in the seen and unseen spirit
Only the deep understanding of how reality shifts
Only the vision of saints and stone, heals the wound

The eye of the universe sees everything there ever was
Everything that is and will be or might have been
There is the whole thing written on silver pages

Let those who have ears to hear, understand this
All things unfold in their own time and place
And the peace of the living spirit is never far away

We have only to find it within ourselves to trust
Our steps will flow out of pain and into the future
Better, for having known our own human heart

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Lawn Care
by Jackie L. Simmons

My neighbor down the street
speaks with all the confidence
and authority that her carefully
manicured lawn & nails can muster.
“You can’t plant different kinds
of fruit trees in your yard”
she tells me
“or you’ll get strange hybrids.”
“Like a catfish or a dogfish?”
I ask her.
“No, really, you’ll get weird fruit,
plums too small
& apples too tart to eat.”

She wanders off abruptly, because
it’s suddenly too loud to converse.
Across the street, lawnmowers
come blazing off a trailer,
dozens of sharp, spiral rotors
guffaw as they lay waste
to the defenseless green blades.
Weed whackers join the fray, then
exotic shrubbery and ornamental
grasses are placed strategically
around the grounds.
Chemicals are spread stealthily
to ensure the lawn’s health.
The workers leave as loudly as they came,
leaving the picture of perfection in their wake.

I turned and saw a friendly dog next door,
her tail wagging, until she got too close
to the electric fence her owners
had just installed, got zapped,
yelped, and lay down.
She wasn’t the one that needed to be collared.

I have to admit, our lawn really stands out.
It’s the one with kids rolling around in the grass,
looking for brightly colored bugs and
four-leaf clovers while
cats chase mice and chipmunks.
It’s the one with perennial gardens
of strawberry, rhubarb, and asparagus.
The vegetable garden’s tomatoes and pumpkins
thrive as their vines wild.
The home orchard yields real cherries, peaches,
apples, plums, pears, and mulberries.

Our neighbors shake their heads in disdain.

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Looking Down From Uffington
by Annabel Banks

We are high. The wind makes my hair
a lash to fringe this horse’s eye unblinking

we find the chalk exposed to show
the curving lope of slowing earth

across to see the harvest-half
the bones of fields, hedged and dark

some left to nod the summer out
some bared, prepared for sleep

down to where those last few seeds
stick in the crease of her lifeline.

Annabel Banks is a writer living in London. She has had poetry and short fiction published and is working hard on her
novel. Find out more at

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by Rose Blackthorn

Bluebells softly chime
In a gentle southern breeze
Long grass shows a silver underside
Rippling in meadows
Like the far-off ocean’s waves
The sighing of the tall pines
Lends a background melody
To orchestras of cicadas
And the buzzing of contented bees
A sky of brilliant sapphire
Pasture for the herd of wooly clouds
Which jostle, piling higher
Before escaping my view
I’m lying here content, alone
Connected to the earth
By the full extent of sweat-glazed, aching muscles
Which have brought me to this place
An epiphany . . .
As I surrender to what my senses tell me
That despite all logical argument
We’re not alone, the Gods are alive, and they live on in me.

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Last August Light
by Penn Kemp

Kore, Ostara, Flora, sing light intimacy
of air, flights imagination will lilt with.

Goldfinches float above the daffodils,
hang upside-down on the stalk of old
sunflower to catch last fall’s last seed.

Wasps and bumblebees scheming for nectar
dip and swim through the haze, yellow and
black, carrying home their burden of pollen.

Seasons have their hues: ours is sun-steeped
translucence lit from within till it brims over.

Females dun beside their bolder mates, goldfinch
cross the sky in graceful loops of liquid

flight and song, sway on green fronds that bow
under light weight to the doctrine of signatures.

River carp leap and fall, rippling circles the stream.
Like calls to like through bright air before sunset.

Celebrating Ceres, celebrating Demeter, goldenrod
scimitars flash solid arabesques of late summer, late
afternoon, late in our lives for such luminous entrance.

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Wild Craft
by Penn Kemp

My daily bouquet of dandelion
satisfies the neighbour’s need

for desert of green grass and mine
for wild propagation, untamed.

Those yellow vibrant heads last
just a day, and then plunge sodden

into compost, to rot and feed more
flowers, not to go to seed and
propagate as they are raised to do.

Daily, the flowers bloom closer
and closer to the ground, as if

to speed the cycle, to seed before
the lawn mower lops off their
vibrant unmistakeable heads.

In thwarting their will to reproduce,
I celebrate their evanescent charm
and serve their leaves for lunch.

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Stirring Not Stirring
by Penn Kemp

Honey drips from my nose, coats
my hair in blond stiff strands.

I am standing very still calling
bees by scent. Pheromones draw

them to collect on me, hiving off
to a giant new temporary queen,

spun down from my chin in a grand
pharaoh’s beard. My eyes, my ears

are bee-shut, open only to their buzz,
attending emergence, awaiting sweetness.

As in old stories the swarm might birth
out from entrails of black bull and bear.

Bee goddess, bear goddess, midwife,
be with us mid-life and beyond, be here

Activist poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp has published twenty-five books of poetry, devoted to aspects of the Goddess. She is London Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate. As Writer-in-Residence for University of Western Ontario, her project was the DVD, Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, Pendas Productions. She hosts an eclectic literary show, Gathering Voices, archived on See ,

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