Welcome to the latest issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine; we hope you have a fantastic Yule this year! We’ve been working hard since Samhain to put an extra-special issue together for you with features by Mogg Morgan, Judith Page and Vincent Ongkowidjojo, poetry by Yvonne Cunningham and much more.

Interviews

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forums’ Own Midori

An Interview With Jodi Lee

Articles

Egyptian Demons & Magick, By Mogg Morgan

Theft of The Seven Ankhs, By Judith Page

The Sepiroth From The Bottom Up (Part Two), By Si Cash

The Origins Of Christmas Traditions, By Jessica Howard

Essays & Extended Features

Futhark: The Celtic Link, By Vincent Ongkowidjojo

Blood Bones and Fur: Personal Experiences of Working with the Remnants of the Dead, By Charlotte Rodgers

Regular Features

Yule Moonlore, By Liz

Renewal Magick at Pennsbury for Yule, By T. Fox Dunham

Tools, Tricks & Ingredients

Resin: Frankincense, By Rebecca L. Brown
Reviews

Secrets of Asgard, Vincent Ongkowidjojo An Instruction in Esoteric Rune Wisdom, Reviewed by Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

Fiction Review: Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner

Reviewed by Rebecca L. Brown

Fiction

True Beauty, By Linda Gibson

Sápmi Story, By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn (Summer Shudder)

Poetry Corner

Forgotten Cycles, By Yvonne Cunningham

Steal Into Winter, By Maggie Koger

Walking Down Sunday Roads, By Maggie Koger

Yule, By Kenny Klein

Tears, By Karie McNeley

Beaten And Blemished, By Karie McNeley

A Poem, By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn (Summer Shudder)

Want to contribute to the Imbolc issue?

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

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

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


An Interview With The Pagan Friend Forum’s Midori

Q: Did you choose to follow Druidry or did it choose you?

I have been fascinated by Druids since I first saw News features about them at Stonehenge at Summer Solstices. This was either the Ancient Druid Order or another of the Fraternal Orders (Christian, Freemasonry types), long before the Hippies and the Festival movement started. I didn’t find Pagan Druidry until 1995, although I started in Gardnerian Wicca in 1966.

Q: I know you refer to your path as Druwitch, so what parts of Wicca still influence your path today and which parts have you rejected, and the same with Druidry please.

Nowadays there is very little Wicca in my path, I tend more toward Witchcraft alongside the Druidry. What happened was I saw the interweaving of Wicca and Druidry, and decided that they would blend well, so I stripped away the formal rituals of both systems and the God and Goddess forms, and took it back to absolute basics, the reverence for Earth, Sea and Sky, making my deities Mother Earth, from whom we came and to whom our bodies return, Father Sun, without whose warmth and light the Earth would be just a dark, frozen rock, and Sister Moon, who controls not just the oceans, but the tides of fertility itself. These form a Triad, (take one away and life ceases to exist) and Three is the sacred number in Druidry. I also venerate the Ancestors, and work with the Spirits of Place.

Q: How long have you folowed a Pagan path?

If I really look at it closely, I have had a Pagan outlook since I was a small child, although I didn’t become conscious of it unti I joined the Coven. I was always happier out in the woods and fields, observing animals, birds and plants, than going around with others of my age. I was always the ‘odd’ one, preferring animals to people.

Q: Who and what have been your greatest influences?

The Land has been my primary teacher and infulence, along with my first teachers in the Coven, all passed through the gates of the Otherworld now. Latterly, my Druidic influences have been Philip Shallcrass, Emma Restall Orr and Professor Ron Hutton, along with the many friends I have made along the way.

Q: How does your health affect your Path?

In the last four years my health has collapsed in a big heap  . Cataracts have stopped me driving, which has prevented me attending public rituals, Fibromyalgia has weakened me, and consequently I am in permanent pain, especially in damp and cold weather. Just to add to the mix, there is IBS, which means I can’t stray far from a loo, high blood pressure and Cholesterol, and I’m currently waiting on tests fro a possible cardiac problem. It all puts a decided crimp in my activities  . I like to perform ritual out of doors, so it is inconvenient, to say the least!

Q: How do you feel the portrayal of Paganism has change over the years?

It has changed immensely. When I started in Wicca, there was no Internet nor mobile phones, books on pagan subjects were like rocking horse manure!  To get hold of books you had to either get up to the esoteric bookshops in London, or obtain them through organisations such as the Golden Dawn Society. (Plain brown wrapper jobs!). Wicca was still very much ‘underground’, it was only fifteen years since the repeal of The Witchcraft Act, so we kept our heads firmly down! It was hard to find a Coven, let alone gain admittance! I was lucky enough to have a friend who introduced and sponsored me.

Nowadays Paganism is ‘out’, there are books everywhere you look, Websites abound, Psychic Fayres come regularly to your area and Complementary Therapies are thriving. Wiccans and Druids appear on TV, it is just a total reversal.

Q: What memories of your Path do you cherish the most?

Too many to list, but a few are, my first Coven meeting, the three Initiations, attending a Druid camp in 1995 and finding I’d come ‘home’, skinny dipping with another bunch of Druids one summer, Pagan camps in various places, interfaithing, Moots, watching sunrises, eclipses and stars, meeting up with old friends.

Q: What would you like to do again, given the chance, and what would you like to avoid?

I would like to have travelled farther and learned a lot more, don’t think I would change much if I could do it all again, maybe avoid a few of the people who have spread gossip about me, not sit in the nettles during a skyclad ritual, and not set my robes smouldering on a quarter candle!

Q: Who have you most admired along the way?

I have great admiration for Professor Ron Hutton, his writings, teachings and lectures at Pagan events, along with his TV appearances, I just don’t know where he finds the time! Philip Shallcrass, who kept going despite personal tragedy and Emma Restall Orr, who has struggled against ill-health for most of her life, but is still active in Paganism.

Q: Do you have ambitions with regard to your path once you move house and your health issues have improved?

Oooh! Tough one this. I would maybe like to start a group if folk would be interested in the way I do things, or maybe write a short book on Druwitchcraft, but all is fluid, so I can’t commit to anything right now.

Q: Is there a favourite place you like to spend time if you could? (sacred sites, etc.)

There are places I love, Danebury hillfort, Avebury, Swallowhead Spring, Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring, Kingley Vale, Devil’s Bridge, Elan Valley, Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, North Cornwall, Tintagel, Boscastle, St. Nechtan’s Kieve, Rocky Valley, (mostly I can visit only in memory now) I would have loved to travel in Japan, to see the Shinto shrines and gardens, etc.

Q: What’s your favourite way of celebrating Yule? (if money/time/ health were no object?)

Wow! Let me think… I would like to gather all my Pagan friends together on coaches and take everybody to a Roundhouse for a couple of days and nights of feasting and entertainment, somewhere where the neighbours couldn’t complain about the noise!

Why not visit the Pagan Friends Forums to chat to Midori and our other members?


An Interview With Jodi Lee

Jodi is a writer, editor and the owner of Belfire Press . You can find out more about her work by visiting http://www.sacredtriskele.net or http://www.jodilee.ca

Q: Tell us a little bit about your spiritual path; what was your first experience of paganism?  

When I was twelve, I spent two weeks with my uncle’s family. During that time, I picked up one of his books, which I could never remember the title of… but it spoke of magic, spirituality, witchcraft and the old ways. About a month after I went home, my uncle passed away suddenly. Within hours of receiving the news, many family members mentioned visitations, that he had come to them, perhaps to say goodbye.   He had visited me, telling me he’d be okay and I shouldn’t worry about him, and from then on, I began reading anything I could that covered any pagan or paranormal topic.   It wasn’t a surprise to my family, in the least, when I came out of the ‘broomcloset’ either. My gran had a wealth of herbalist knowledge passed to her from her mother and grandmother. My grandfather’s sister was highly psychic, particularly attuned to the members of her family. His grandmother had charms and recipes from her family in Ireland – I think I came by it all honestly.

Q: How has the path you follow changed over time?

In my early days, I kept it all secret, never telling anyone what I was reading. I followed every ritual and spell to the letter, timing and ingredients had to be just so. Now, I’m lucky if I have time or remember to give a passing nod to the Lady when she rides the sky. I’ve become less and less focused on the minutia, and simply give more of myself and my heart, I know now that my faith is far more important than whether or not I have sage or blessing oil!   I’ve also become more and more eclectic as time goes on. When I first began studying, it was mostly a Greek pantheon I gave homage to. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, a small voice whispered in my ear: “I’m Rhiannon.” I began researching the name, and the related pantheons – Welsh, and the other Celtic deities. It was like coming home, for sure.   And I ended up naming my daughter Rhiannon, too.

Q: In what ways is your everyday life affected by your beliefs?  

Not a day goes by that I don’t read or research something to do with rituals, mythology, the Celts, even when it’s something small.. and I try to find those teachings in the day to day things, even to the cleaning of the house and preparation of meals. I try to do and keep things as presentably as possible so as not to dishonor my ancestors, or my patrons. I never noticed until I was already well into my thirties, but I even fold the linens in threes. In half, in half, in half – and then in thirds.   The moon and solar cycles play a large part as well. In the summer we plant our container garden corresponding to the moon, and harvesting accordingly. Although I have ‘the touch of death’ when it comes to growing plants, my youngest is doubly gifted with the green thumb I lack. To make up for that, I blend teas and herbals with the harvested greens and flowers, either those she’s grown or those that we wildcraft. This year we had a fantastic harvest of wild bergamot, and with a bit of black tea and lavendar, we’re going to have a marvelous Earl Grey for Yule breakfast!

Q: Do you encourage your children to follow the same path as you, to find their own or a mixture of the two?

I’ve always encouraged the girls to find their own ways, as did their father who is atheist. When Rhiannon was young, she had a deep interest in the protestant church, then briefly in the local baptist church. After a very, very brief visitation to a pentecostal gathering, she has found her path as pagan.   My youngest, Carrie – she was casting circles in the backyard before she was four, before she’d ever seen one done. Although she had a brief flirtation with the United Church where we live, it turned out she was there mostly to argue philosophy with the Bible school teacher. That lasted all of half a morning… she’s just always been on this path, I think right from the day she was born.

Q: Your Yule chapbook is now available; can you tell us a little about the chapbook series? What made you decide to release them?  

Ah, yes! That little ebook has created quite a bit of excitement here. The girls have been thrilled to watch the numbers at Amazon. They know what I do for a living, of course, but this is the first time they’ve been involved as well. We’re all thrilled that there are going to be more kids out there that will have fun with the activities and recipes.   Two years ago, the chapbook series started out as a project for the three of us to work on together, as a way to teach them more of our path, and to help share what they’ve learned and what we do as a family. Being a pagan family was all new to me – my family may have been saturated with the customs etc., but they were always practicing protestants. Quite WASP, actually. When the girls were young, I was at a loss for the what and the how – we no longer had access to the library I had studied in, and at the time we weren’t connected to the internet. It wasn’t until 1999 that we began to connect with other local pagans (to my shock!)… Anyway, the girls and I were talking about it and we all seemed to come to the same idea, why not take what we’d started with Sprites Pagan Kids (on my website) and expand it for the sabbats!   And we did. So far we have Yule finished and published, and Litha was released as a handmade chapbook about 18 months ago. I’ve got it formatted now for e-books, and hope to have it available through the same venues as Yule soon.   Imbolc is in the final tweaking stages, and should be available around January 1st. After that, the sabbats will be released about six weeks ahead, until we wrap up at Samhain next year.

Q:Could you tell us a little bit about your own Yule celebrations?

Has there been a particular Yule which is more memorable than the rest?   We haven’t really had that many Yule celebrations as a family, in the larger scope of things. Although I stepped out of that closet in ’97, it wasn’t until after the girls and I were on our own that we really began celebrating Yule separately from Christmas. Before that, I was focused on Christmas celebrations with the family (I have a large family that used to gather together, sometimes up to 35 people), and Yule was also my wedding anniversary. Between 1999 and 2002, I also had a small gathering with the grove, usually just an exchange of cards and the imbibing of a great deal of coffee.   Now though, we celebrate with our grove, Glas Celli. There are about ten of us, give or take… We welcome the return of the Sun, and honor the Lady as she prepares to rest until spring. A version of the ritual we used as a sample for the Yule ebook is performed, and our HPs will follow that with a prayer from the Ceisir Serith’s A Handbook of Pagan Prayer. Then it’s on to the feast, which is pretty traditional except for the lack of turkey. Everyone gets turkey with their extended families, so we tend to go for ham or roast. We all share the cooking duties: HPs generally provides the meat and potatoes, the girls and I do the veggies and salads, and other members provide the rest.   If we haven’t all exploded from over-indulging, we let the little ones into the gifts. This year we have two babies celebrating their first Yule, so we’re all quite excited.

Our most memorable Yule though… it was a combination Yule/anniversary/life celebration. 1994 – my then-husband and I had been married for a year, and it had been a very hard one on both of us. He’d lost a job, I was at home with two babies (Rhiannon was preemie, and delayed in her development) and pretty much exhausted. We had money enough to last until the end of the month, but that was it.   The day of our anniversary – Yule – he received a job offer that really opened up our options, and lifted the stress we’d been under. Well, most of it. He loaded us into a car, and we went shopping… the first time the girls had seen the stores all lit up and shining. Rhia picked out presents for herself and Carrie, and then we picked up pizza.   At home, I cast a circle and we ate inside it… we’d received a blessing that night. Despite everything that’s come since, that will always be my favorite Yule.


Egyptian Demons & Magick

By Mogg Morgan

Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt

is an exploration of the role of “demons” in Egyptian magick and acts as an introduction to my use, together with fellow adepts of “The Companions of Seth”, of techniques from the Egyptian exorcism cult known as “Zar”. The Zar cult is a folk magical tradition from the Arabic world, principally Egypt and Sudan; that makes use of music and dance to “exorcise” intrusive spirits or Djinn. I first learnt of the cult from I M Lewis’s classic study of Ecstatic Religion a study of shamanism and spirit possession, so naturally my interest was drawn to piece a book by Jan Fries that detailed the foundation myth of the Zar tradition, as originating in Pharaonic Egypt.

Over the last few years several new highly technical academic studies have yielded yet more useful ritual information and indeed some corroboration of many assumptions in my own book. Robert Ritner is an Egyptologist whose work has become increasingly well known amongst the practitioner community as a vital source on ancient magic. Since the 1980s the academic study of magic has been revolutionised by people like Robert Ritner.

In a new essay Ritner further unravels the details of Ancient Egyptian demonology and shows how it eventually emerged as the driving force of Egyptian magic. One cannot get very far in this study without encountering the god Seth, who so often provides the archetype of the demonic entity. “The trickster character of Seth is well-known, but his ambiguous qualities can be shared by other gods.” Thus in a dramatic text well known as The Contendings of Horus & Seth, the underworld deity Osiris threatens a demonic attack against the other gods in the celestial tribunal if they do not hurry and make a decision. Or consider the action of Sekhmet as plague goddess particularly associated with the liminal space between the old and new year, sending forth her deadly seven arrows.

Hatayw, Shamayw and Akhw are common names for demons in the Egyptian language. I’ve transcribed this in the easiest way for the practitioner, the ‘w’ should be pronounced as a vowel – oo as in new; I give the computerised transcriptions in a footnote.

Hatayw is often translated as ‘Knife bearers’, ‘murderers’, ‘night spirits’ depending on the content.

Shamayw are ‘wandering demons’.

Akhw variously as ‘undead’, ‘transfigured dead’, ‘ghosts’.

Ritner’s essay concentrates on the Hatayw. In Late Egyptian language the term shortened to Hawet, Demotic Hayet, Coptic Shayet all meaning ‘inspiration’, ‘exorcism’, ‘doom’, ‘fate’, ‘fury’, or ‘curse’, depending on the context.

In the final millennial of ancient Egyptian history, in the seventh century bce, these could become personal protectors and are then called Pa-na-hatayw or Nas-na-hatayw (both meaning “he of the slaughtering demons”). In Ptolemaic Thebes there was a full-blown cult of the Hatayw (genies) that had its own dedicated prophet (hem neter). Later still one finds the syncretic deity Tutu (twtw), popular in the oases, whose name means “image” of the “collectivity” of disease bringing demons. Magical practice often does involve interaction with disease entities of one kind of another, one sees this very clearly in late the origins of Hindu Tantra and Kaula.

Although “the Egyptians did not live in terror of their gods’ capricious whims nor was Egyptian theology fixated on the vindictive or jealous nature of a god in the manner of Genesis 20: 5” even so healing spells often paired demons and gods together as possible disease causing entities.

The late Egyptian tale or Report of Wenamon has an episode in which Hatayw is, translated as ‘frenzied’, and used in a significant way: “when he sacrificed to his gods…the god seized one of his noble youths, [a medium] making him frenzied, so that he said: “Bring [the god] hither! Bring the messenger of Amon who hath him. Send him and let him go.”  Now , when the frenzied youth continued in frenzy during this night, I found a ship bound for Egypt, and I loaded all my belongings into it. I waited for the darkness, saying: “When it descends, I will embark the god also, in order that no other eye may see him.”

Hatayw is also used in the account of the Bentresh Stela, a monumental inscription of the Persian times although falsely ascribed to Ramesses II, presumable to give it extra authority. In this regard it is similar to the pseudo authorship of  magical texts such as Testament of Solomon. The stele contains a long tale of the relationship between Great King Ramesses and the distant princedom of Bakhtan, perhaps Bactria on the Pakistan/Afghan border. After a successful diplomatic exchange between the two kingdoms, they cement the relationship with a marriage of the Bactrian prince’s sister, she becoming one of Ramesses many royal wives. Years later news arrives from the young queen’s homeland that a mysterious malady had seized the body of her  younger sister Bentresh and she that  is possessed by a spirit (akhw).

Ramesses summons learned priests from the Theban House of Life attached to the temple of the moon god Khonsu. One is dispatched to Bactria to investigate and reports that the princess Bentresh is indeed possessed by a spirit and that he is an enemy with whom one could fight, although the priest needs a special object to finish the job. A statue representing a special form of Khonsu (Khonsu-who-determines-fate) is duly dispatched from the temple to Bactria.

After a very long journey the “god” arrives and prepares to make a magical  protection to cure the stricken princess. Then the spirit speaks to Khonsu: welcome in peace, great god, who expels disease demons! Bactria is your home, its people are your servants, and I am your servant! I shall go to the place from which I came, so as to set your heart at rest about that which you came for. May your majesty command to make a feast day with me and the prince of Bactria. Then the ‘god’ motioned approval to his priest, saying let the prince of Bactria make a great offering before this spirit.

While all this was happened the prince and his soldiers were very frightened, but they did what was required, organised a great feast for the entire day and at the end of it the spirit departed and the princess was cured.

The technique of animating statues with divine entities is a core technique of Egyptian magical practice. The way the statue indicates its desire usually involves some kind of forward or backward movement, rocking or change of position.

The story is almost identical to the foundation myth of the modern day Zar cult. It again shows that the “exorcism” in antique magick does not involve violent expulsion of a spirit, at least not as the preferred option. “Exorcism” is much more of a dialogue or transaction which in this instance ends in a wild party that all participants, including sick person undoubtedly enjoyed.

Both texts, the Voyage of Wenamun and the Bentresh Stella use a similar technical magical word for the process of expelling the demon. This is the Hatayw – which has connotations of frenzied, fury but also ecstasy leading to kathathis. It can be something one casts against another, or a power that possesses the magician bestowing the ability to conjur and prophesy. From earliest times in the Old Kingdom Egypt it denoted a class of disease entities but later, in the twilight of Egyptian culture, it meant the magician’s power to enchant and conjure. It is from this base that the technique passes westwards into the grimoire traditions of Europe and eastwards into the religious impulse that in about the 8th-9th ce became Kaula and Tantra.

In the Companions of Seth we are exploring and reviving many of these same techniques. I have also benefited much from the corporation of others in my workshops at Pagan gatherings that used Khemetic, postmodern versions of the same techniques. We are adapting traditional but simple Arab rhythms, blending them with late classical Egyptian magic from the Hermetical and Magical Papyri.

1   Morgan (2011) 2   Lewis (1971) 3   Fries (1996) Seidways, shaking, swaying and serpent mysteries. 4   Ritner (1993) The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, Chicago 5  Ritner, R (2012) “An Eternal Curse upon the reader of these lines ..” pp 3-? In Kousoulis P, (ed) Ancient Egyptian Demonology, Peeters.

6   Op cit p3 7   Other sources on demons: Te Velde LA I (1975); Meeks in Carelli, P; Vennus, Athribis, No 141 pp135-7 8   Computer transcription: xA(y)tyw = hatayw, pA-nA-xty-wy = pa-na-hatayw, Axw &  axw = Akhw (capitals for variation in spelling), SmAyw = shamayw 9    See Pestman RdeE 25 (1973) 10   Ritner op cit p 5 11   See for example amuletic decrees (a complete example is given in Supernatural Assault. 12   Col 1/39 & 40 13   Ritner (op cit) says the word translated as youth can also mean mediums and could even be a Semitic loan word meaning seer ( ‘ddn) 14   Lichtheim, M (1980) Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol III The Late period p 90sq. New translation in Simpson, W (ed) Literature pp361-6  col 611 35-36 15   See also BAw for magical power


Theft of the 7 Ankhs

By Judith Page

From my childhood I was fascinated by Ancient Egypt, the mystery of the pyramids, the lone Sphinx and the never-ending ever-changing colour of the river Nile. It is said that if you fall into the Nile you will always return to Egypt. In my youth when I was sailing on a felucca between Luxor and the West Bank, I didn’t hear the boatman’s order to duck my head as he moved the sail from side to side to catch small gust of wind. The wooden boom hit me in the head sending me plunging into the Nile waters.

Return I did, but have lost count of the times I’ve been to this land – beginning as a tourist in my early teens in the company of my grandmother, and later eventually working as part of a team in Abydos on the creation of a meditation centre.

Always the magic was there from the phantoms that appear in the desert region of Abydos to the mirages in the Sahara.

Mystery and magic go hand in hand when I think of Egypt and so many books on the subject have been written for adults; romance, adventure, tourism, history, archaeological – the list is endless. But what is available for children? Plenty of interactive games, marvellous historical tomes produced by the many museums of the world– but few are about adventure and Egyptian magic with children in mind!

So, I decided to remedy this and began in the year 2000 to write Theft of the 7 Ankhs. It is based on my childhood with my grandmother, a cousin who I adored, various characters I got to know when visiting Egypt, some famous and some infamous! My late friend Billie Walker-John I would say took the lead role as Meri-Khem; this being her magical name. Even my partner Alain is featured in the story and performs beautifully as Al-nia the shape-shifting Ushabti.

But what’s so special about Theft of the 7 Ankhs? And how can it compete with other books on magic written over the past ten years; what springs to mind is of course the famous Harry Potter series all steeped in magic. I am in no way competing with these stories as they all have their place in the scheme of things. What I have written is a different kind of magic, a magic that is not concocted, this magic is real; it was practised for thousands of years in ancient Khemit we know as Egypt. The magic exists still, if you want to tap into it.

Please bear with me, I’ll explain more – Although I use the word ‘magic’ which to many people tend to think that religion and magic of ancient Egypt are two separate practises, they are not – to these ancient folk, religion and magic was one and the same. It was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that played an essential part of ancient Khemit culture. It focussed on the Egyptian’s communication with a multitude of deities whom they believed to be present in, and indeed in control of the very forces and elements of nature.

The legends about these deities were meant to explain the origins and behavior of the forces they represented, and the practices of Egyptian belief were efforts to provide for the deities in order to gain their favour.

Ceremonial religious practice revolved around the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Even though he was human, the Pharaoh was believed to be descended from the gods. He acted as the mediator between his subjects and the gods, and was duty-bound to nourish the gods through ritualistic rites and offerings so that the gods could preserve order in the universe.

The state of Khemit gave enormous funds to the performance of these rituals and also to the construction of temples where these practises were carried out.

Individuals could also interact with deity for their own ends, asking for their help through offerings and prayers, or compelling the gods to act through magic.

Another very important aspect in the lives of the ancient Egyptians was the belief in the afterlife and the great importance they placed on funerary practices. They went to great efforts to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, donating and giving grave goods, and offerings to protect the bodies and spirits of the dead.

But what has all this got to do with Theft of the 7 Ankhs? The very essence of this ancient belief system is imbedded in the story and as the child reads, they effortlessly absorb knowledge and the magical practices of the main character Prince Setne Khaemwaset who at an early age becomes Sem priest to his father King Rameses the second. He was also Khemit’s greatest magician!

The story begins in ancient Egypt when the prince discovers a precious papyrus that reveals the hiding place of a legendary scroll and uses its secrets to create the magical collar of the seven ankhs. The ankhs are stolen, and a riddle is set that will disclose their locations. Ramose, a Time Lord, travels to the twentieth century to locate the riddle.

One piece is in the Cairo Museum, and the other belongs to Vida Richardson Hardy in England. Her Granddaughter Meri copies this fragment, and discovers a recipe for a magic mirror. Kenneth, Vida’s Grandson, identifies the second half of the riddle in Cairo. On a visit to London, he and Meri de-code the riddle, and venture back in time to Ancient Egypt to search for the seven ankhs.

But Kenneth realizes that Meri’s in danger – with the aid of the magic mirror, he goes to the rescue – but will he be able to save her?

I wrote Theft of the 7 Ankhs for children 9 to 12  – but hey, is there not a child in all of us?

FREE PREVIEW

Without warning, Meri made a sudden dash between the paws of Shu and began pounding on a limestone slab. The ground rumbled beneath her feet as the slab slowly dropped down into the rock.

‘Quickly, Khaem, let’s go,’ Meri said, signalling to him. ‘We need light.’ She touched the crystal in her circlet, emitting a beam of light. ‘I’ll go first.’

Down several steps and along a narrow passageway, they ran.

‘There’re no markings of any kind on these walls,’ Khaem observed, disappointed.

‘Here’re some small caverns,’ Meri said breathlessly.

‘Let me see.’ Khaem pushed past her and peered inside.

‘There are incised marks on this wall but nothing I recognize. Perhaps it’s the language of the gods.’

‘Let me see. I don’t know other languages, but it looks like Greek. The Ptolemies were Græco-regals for a time.’ Meri looked at the text. ‘It’s very strange,’ she continued, turning her head on the side. ‘If this is the Sphinx of Tomorrow, he represents the future. Maybe the ancients couldn’t read the future, and they just left a load of graffiti.’

‘Meri, look, it’s here in a niche. I’ve got the fifth ankh.’ Khaem seized it and held it briefly to his chest and sighed. ‘The ankh of truth. I don’t deserve it.’

‘Listen,’ said Meri, putting her hand up to silence Khaem.

‘I can’t hear anything.’

‘Ssh. Come on, run!’ she said and grabbed him by the hand. As they reached the outside of the Sphinx, the limestone slab slammed shut behind them.

‘Look, Khaem the sun’s setting, taking Tefnut with it. She’s disappearing again,’ Meri screamed. ‘We’ve got to get inside her to get the other ankh.’

Together they broadsided in the sand and slid towards the lion’s chest through an opening, landing with a thud on a stone floor.

‘Oh my gosh, Khaem. Look around you,’ Meri gasped as the beam from her circlet lit up a huge chamber. ‘One of the walls is made of crystal. There’s a picture of a boat, a bit like the Boat of Ra, and there are two figures on it. One looks like Horus. The other is a man kneeling down being welcomed by another. Look at the symbols, Khaem. Can you read them?’

‘Meri, this is incredible.’ Khaem was beside himself with excitement. ‘I can make out a few.’

As he ran his fingers over the signs, they emitted sounds. He suddenly cried out: ‘The stones in the ankhs are vibrating.

I can’t move my fingers from the wall.’

Meri ran over, trying to pull him away. ‘The sounds are swirling round in my head,’ she cried, letting go of him and cupping her hands over her ears. ‘Aaaagh,’ she cried in pain, uanable to help him.

Khaem screamed: ‘Mmmerrrrihelllllpmeeeeeeee.’ His body shuddered, and his face contorted.

Suddenly, the symbols left the wall and travelled in sequence along the crystal beam of light, disappearing into the crystal circlet on her head.

Khaem fell away from the wall and collapsed on the floor.

Meri’s eyes glowed like orbs. She opened her mouth, uttering sounds that ricocheted around the chamber. A voice from within her spoke, forming multidimensional pictures around the words:

‘At the dawn of our beginning the heavens were much closer to earth, and we, the Neters, were more familiar with man. In those days, we could walk the land between heaven and earth. We were able to cross the abyss to create reality.

We created this room and hid these secrets beneath Tefnut, our Guardian of the West. Within her is the entire history of Zep Tepi. But man changed and was not ready for this knowledge, so we took Tefnut away from view. Within her are the keys.’

Meri blinked and looked at Khaem, who stared

wide-eyed at her.

‘Have you keys that hold the secret?’ pressed Khaem.

‘Yes,’ the voice answered. ‘But they’re not keys: one has to utter sacred sounds. They’re multilayered sound forms that will pass you through to another dimension onto other planes, onto other spheres of being, to the greater and the higher—to the place of the Neters, the Home of Gods, to us.’

Meri didn’t have a clue what the voice was talking about, but Khaem stood tall and spoke to the being that had taken over the girl’s body.

‘Ra appeared before me in all his godlike forms. I saw him, and felt his essence. As his golden light surrounded me, he touched these keys.’ Khaem touched his collar with deep emotion, and uttered:

May these keys, these ankhs of life represent trust, blessing, courage, rebirth, truth, wisdom, and mystery. Each time you speak to the ankhs, the gemstones will resonate to your voice.’


‘If you have the seven ankhs, why are you here?’ the voice questioned.

‘We seek the ankh of wisdom, which was stolen from me and is hidden in this chamber,’ answered Khaem.

Meri closed her eyes and threw back her head. Her mouth twisted and contorted. Khaem recoiled in shock. She emitted a note so pure it rang round the chamber, ripping through the air and shattering the wall. Shards of crystal wafted around them like feathers, each the colour of a rainbow.

Khaem and Meri were bathed in wondrous light.

‘Khaem, look on your collar,’ she cried with joy. ‘It’s the sixth ankh.’

He touched his chest and bowed his head, ‘I thank thee, Meri-Khem.’

‘Ah… it was nothing really,’ she said, rubbing her neck. ‘My throat hurts a bit though.’

‘I’m not surprised. Where did you learn to utter such sounds?’

Meri shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. ‘The only sound I was taught to make was with a triangle.’

‘A triangle.’ This time Khaem shook his head.

‘We have to get out of here. Our Lady Tefnut has sealed the entrance from the outside and my incantation won’t work in here,’ he said, feeling the wall.

‘No problem. Look the crystal flakes are clearing, and there’s our way out,’ Meri ran towards a doorway that led into a tunnel.

Theft of the 7 Ankhs is available in hardback and Kindle E-book.

· Reading level: Ages 9-12

· Paperback: 320 pages

· Publisher: AuthorHouse (May 23, 2011)

· Language: English · ISBN-10: 1452073279

· ISBN-13: 978-1452073279

By the same author:

Song of Set (hard copy – Aeon Publications and E-book – Kindle)

Song of Meri-Khem (hard copy – Mandrake Publishers and E-book – Kindle)

Song of Bast (E-book – Kindle)

Pathworking with the Egyptian Gods (hard copy)

Invoking the Egyptian Gods (hard copy) available in December 2011


The Sepiroth From The Bottom Up (Part Two)

By Si Cash

(Part One featured in our Samhain 2011 issue)

Once the veil of Paroketh has been passed. And its interesting to note that a lot of rituals on passing this veil have allegories to light, lamps and covering/uncovering lamps. Then the next Sepiroth is Tipareth.
Tipareth is the 6th Sepiroth its a balance point. If you were to look at the ten Spheres and their relationship to the human body then its in the chest and heart area. Looking at the chest in a magical rather than medical sense, it was believed that this was a intersection between three elements, Air, Fire and Water, Where Water and Fire combined made the blood and Air was the lungs which circulated and cooled it. Its associations are with the Sun, heat and life-giving properties. Which going back to the veil of Paroketh then Tipareth is the light which illuminates, As well as the heat which gives the power to all things to grow.

Yet Tipareth is a growing child. Associated with youth and playfulness. It is the sixth Sepiroth and is associated with the sixes of the Tarot all of the sixes, allude to finding the balance, or accepting solutions, but Tipareth is a temporary state, a place that is cyclic in nature just as the sunny day will give way to the night then the nature of Tipareth is to find a balance and then move on. Because of its Appolian as well as many other Solar Gods nature, its also useful for Mathematical workings and logically attacking problems.

When working in Tipareths a great place to physically re-energise oneself, Like a battery though that energy must be used it cannot be stored indefinitely as it will gradually dissipate. This energy can be channel in all directions. First of all down to Hod and Netzach or up to Geburah and Chesed. The closest Spheres. But also to Yesod, Binah, Chockma and Kether. This makes Tiparthet unique in the Kabbalistic tree as the one which is most directly connected to the others.

There is a more sinister, or to be more precise Sacrificial nature to Tipareth, Just as the corn grows in the sunlight it is harvested to be made into something finer. And Tipareth has these qualities too. The Gods of Jesus Christ and Osiris, Bringers of light and love and then themselves made sacrifice for the ‘greater good.’ or The law of conservation of energy and mass tends to corroborate this – in all cases of energy transmutation, a sacrifice is necessary so a new form may be born.

In my own experience Tipareth manifests itself in very physical ways. When performing the Ceremonial Magic ritual of ‘The Middle Pillar’ the concentration of energy from Tipareth can warm the whole of the body. Certain other CM rituals use Tipareth a focus point to draw in or expel energy from.

Travelling on and up then the fifth and fourth Sepiroth are Geburah and Chesed respectively. Like Hod and Netach discussed before they are Spheres of opposing qualities.

First is Geburah as in this day and age it is the Sepiroth who’s forms and emanations we are most familiar with. It is the Martial sphere, Associated with Mars, War, Aries, Hours and Thor amongst others. But this only tells half of the story, these Martial aspects are the more superficial aspects which should be examined and used when necessary but as we are travelling up the Kabbalistic tree here then the act of war is left behind and its important to concentrate on the reasons for this course of action. Concepts such as Justice, Strength, and the execution of Judgement’s to use a fruity metaphor, the stone is the concept and the flesh is the action-which in the case of Geburah usually results in something combative or creative, creation can be a destructive act especially forms of creation such as sculpting or carving. The creation practised here is not the calculated planned creativity of Netach-Hod-Yesod or a combination thereof, but the more primal and misunderstood side of things, This is the Sphere which if untempered can cause the artists to turn the energy inwards upon themselves and self destruct. The example which springs to mind here is Van Goth:
The left hand column of Boaz is classed as negative energy. Yet its probably better to think of a 4 way polarity not just a Left/Right Negative/Positive but also a Up/Down or North/South a more…well Elemental rather than just dualistic scale.

Its interesting to note that Scientists are starting to apply this 4 way model to energies now. Particularly in the fields of Magnetism and Electricity.

Without the negative there would be no positive. From my youth and training as a Electrical Engineer It is the negative that allows energy to flow. Something to bear in mind when studying and using the left hand Sepiroth.

Opposing Geburais Chesed, Sometimes know as dulha or ( this is Mercy to Geburas Severity. This is Water or the idea of Water to Geburah”s more Fiery actions, and while Fire can burn it can also warm, while water can give life it can also drown. Again superficially on the surface the qualities of Chesed are somehow ‘good’ actions. There is a deeper level of understanding required. To show Mercy then we have to understand that circumstances have driven us to that point of having to make that decision.

This is where translation from Hebrew and Aramaic languages into English causes some problems, there is no direct literal translation, the close concepts are Mercy, but to some scholars and in other languages Gedulha/Chesed can also mean Pity or Majesty, words which in English has completely different connotations. When dealing with these two Sepiroth then a little bit of thinking outside the rigid box of words is required. Look at the archetypes of the God of War and the Goddesses of Mercy and then the seemingly strange decision to place them in the Feminine for War and Masculine for Mercy columns. At first it makes no sense. Its only when a deeper understanding is reached that that decision becomes a little clearer. As I said in the previous part of this essay, notions such as gender become much more fluid the further away from Malkuth one decides to travel.

In both Geburah and Chesed actions in either one are not without consequences. This is why the balancing equilibrium of Tipaereth is so important.

Its interesting to note that some Kabbalists see the five Six Spheres of Yesod through to Chesed as a whole entity in itself, something which balances itself against the sheer mass of Malkuth.
The Origins of Christmas Traditions

By Jessica Howard

It’s that time of year again, and love it or hate it, there is no escaping Christmas. The shops are crammed with Christmas gifts and decorations long before December, Christmas songs are blasted from every available output and eating an entire box of chocolates before midday is quite often justified with the line, “Well, it is Christmas.” However you celebrate Christmas, under whatever name, there are certain customs and traditions that never seem to grow old, and are still observed by many today; Christmas trees, mistletoe, stockings for the children. But where did all these traditions start?

Christmas Stocking

According to legend, there was once a kind nobleman, who squandered his entire fortune after unfortunate death of his beloved wife, leaving his three daughters without dowries and thus doomed to a life of spinsterhood. The compassionate St. Nicholas, AKA Father Christmas heard of the girls hardship and so rode his white horse to their house and threw three pouches of gold coins down the chimney. The girls rejoiced, and hung them over the fireplace to dry, hence the popular imagery of the stocking over the fireplace, although these days with fireplaces very much out of fashion many people prefer to hang them at the end of the bed.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe is in fact one of the many Christmas traditions with Pagan origins. Druid priests used Mistletoe some 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations, revering it for the fact that it had no roots yet somehow remained green throughout the winter months. It was believed to have healing powers, and used to ward off evil and an antidote for poison. It was also said amongst the Romans that any enemy who happened to meet under Mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

However, it is believed that the tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe actually originated with the Scandinavians. They associated the plant with Frigga, the Goddess of Love, and it was said that those who kissed under the Mistletoe were ensured happiness and good luck throughout the following year.

The Holly and the Ivy

Like the Mistletoe, boughs of Holly were also believed to have magical powers as they too remained green through the harsh winter. The Holly and Ivy were often placed above the doors of homes to drive away the evil spirits, the ghosts and demons that could be heard howling in the bitter winter winds. Legend also has it that Holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth, Holly leaves representing the pointed crown of thorns he wore upon the cross and the red berries symbolizing the blood that he shed.

There is also the famous and very similar Pagan story of the Holly and the Oak King; they fight at Yule, with the Oak King winning, (a symbolic representation of the waxing half of the year). The Oak King reigns until Midsummer, when they fight again and this time the Holly King (representing the waning half of the year) wins, and keeps his throne until Yule, where the cycle continues. Holly and Mistletoe were used to commemorate the battle, with Holly being hung for the Holly King, and the Mistletoe in honour of the Oak King.

Candy Canes

With the arrival of Christmas trees came special decorations used to dress them. Food items were a popular choice, such as cookies and candies, especially straight white candy sticks. It is said that it was during the 17th century that craftsmen began creating the white sticks of candy in the shepherds crook, or cane shaping that is familiar to us today at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. These treats were given to children during showings of the Nativity scene to keep the quiet, and the passing out of candy at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.

Modern explanations of the symbolism of the Candy Cane explain that the colour white represents Christ’s purity and the red the blood that he shed, the presence of the three red stripes representing the Holy Trinity. Although there is no factual evidence to prove this, it is becoming an increasingly common belief.

Christmas Cards

Although a form of Christmas cards first began in England, when young boys would practise their writing skills by creating greetings for their parents, the first real Christmas card is credited to the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Sir Henry Cole. He found himself too busy during the Christmas of 1843 to compose individual greetings for all his friends, and so commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to do the illustration. This first actual Christmas card featured three panels, with the centre panel depicting your traditional family enjoying your traditional Christmas festivities, and inside the card was the message, ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.’

Christmas Trees

It is believed that it was in 26th century Germany that fir trees were first decorated, indoors and outdoors with items such as roses, apples, candy and coloured paper. The fir tree covered with apples was used to represent the Garden of Eden, and in the middle ages the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, ending with the prophecy of a saviour coming was a popular one to be replayed during the advent season. Protestant reformer Martin Luther was said to be the first person to decorate these trees with lights, inspired by the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir tree as he walked home one night.

The Christmas tree was brought to England by Prince Albert from his native Germany in 1848 for his wife and family, and was soon popularized so that by the late 19th century the Christmas Tree has established itself as an important Christmas tradition.

The fir tree has long been associated with Christianity. When St Boniface, who was busy converting the German people to Christianity some 1000 years ago, saw a group of Pagans worshipping an Oak tree, he cut it down in anger. To his amazement, a young fir tree sprouted from the roots of the tree, a sure sign in the eyes of St Boniface of the Christian faith.

Food and Drink

There are certain foods and drinks we only consume at Christmas, or mostly at Christmas. For example, mulled wine, again originally a German custom, is favoured because of its warmth at this cold time of the year. Mince pies are a British tradition, dating back to the 13th century when crusaders brought the recipe back from the Middle East. When first introduced, it was indeed the size of a traditional pie and known by many names, yet it has always been seen as a Christian custom; in fact, they were even banned during the English Civil War as it was viewed as primarily a Catholic custom. The mince pie later returned, in a smaller form and without the Catholic connotations it had held before. The Christmas pudding, or Plum pudding’s associations date back to Medieval Ages when the Catholic Church decreed that on the 25th of December, every household should prepare this pudding with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his 12 Apostles, and that every family member should take turns in stirring it in the direction of East to West to honour the Magi and their journey in that direction.

Father Christmas

The most notable Christmas tradition is that of Santa Clause, also known as Father Christmas or Kris Kringle. Often depicted as a large, jolly man dressed in red with a long, white beard, he is said to deliver presents to every child round the world on the 24th of December. There are many different cultural influences for this figure in every different country. St. Nicholas of Myra is the Christian influence for this universal figure.  He was known for his generous gift-giving, as in the story of the origins of the Christmas stocking. From Pagan Germany we have the figure of Odin, who was celebrated during Yule and owned an eight-legged horse that could leap through the sky, drawing comparisons to Santa’s reindeer. Children would fill their boots with straw and carrots and leave them by the chimney as an offering to Odin’s horse. In return, Oden would leave gifts and candy, a custom very akin to the popular tradition of leaving a glass of milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Dutch folklore has its own version of St Nicholas, or Sinterklaas. The peoples of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg believed that Sinterklaas arrived mid-November from Spain by steamboat with a notebook containing notes on every child and whether they had been good or bad that year, and awarded the good children with chocolate and spiced nuts. During the next three weeks, Sinterklaas deposits these gifts down peoples chimney’s as he rides across the sky on a white horse. It is easy to see the resemblances between these figures and the modern depiction of our Father Christmas.


Futhark: The Celtic Link

By Vincent Ongkowidjojo © 2011

One of the most shrouded mysteries of the runic alphabet is its early history. As a matter of fact, no-one can really say how the script originated. We know that the runes exist and were used by the Ancient Germanic peoples, but where did they come from? When were they invented? Why were they designed? Who first used these characters? Drawing parallels between the history of the Futhark and the Ogham alphabet might just shed light on this.

The two earliest rune finds are also the two most dubious. They both date from the first century CE and stem from the same area. The best known inscription comes from Meldorf, the other one from Osterrönfeld. Both are located in modern day Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, famous for its historical settlement Haithabu. This, and the fact that the early rune finds (200CE-400CE) concentrate around the area of northern Germany and southern Scandinavia, makes it difficult to ascertain any link with an original parent alphabet. We are therefore confronted with a gap of evidence in both space and time. The runic script just seems to be there.

The most accepted theory states that the rune alphabet is based on one or several of the North-Italic scripts, must have originated in the first or second century of our era and is probably the result of contact with the Roman world.

At the Limes

At the time of the theoretical invention of the runic script, the Continent was a natural mix of many different tribes. Some of them were Germanic, some of them were Celtic. And all the while, the Roman Empire tried to lay claim on all of them. To the outsider, such as the average Roman, they all looked the same, and not much distinction was made between possible differences in ethnicity. Indeed, the culture of these various tribes looked very similar and influenced each other.

In fact, many tribes were ethnically confused, both by Romans in their time and now by us. Some tribes held to be Germanic turned out to be Celtic, and vice versa. Especially, of the Cimbri the debate is still going which of them they are. Their homeland is supposed to be Jutland, Denmark, but words associated with their tribe point to a Celtic background. Similarly, the Heruli, whose tribe name may have provided for the word erilaz occurring so often in runic inscriptions, are not by any certainty a Germanic tribe. Scholars are still at a loss to explain their name. Alexander Rackus believes they are a Balto-Slavic tribe. And so it is with many a tribe. Of most we have only a name, and it cannot be said that we are dealing with either a Celtic or a Germanic tribe, or any other kind for that matter.

One of the more perplexing aspects that both cultures shared was the adoration of the Mothers. Celtic as well as Germanic individuals raised votive altars in honour of the so-called Matres or Matrones. Dedications appear on stone altars and are always written in Latin. Only the names of the divinized mothers show that we deal with a native practice. Half of the inscriptions honours Celtic deities and half of them Germanic ones.

These votive offerings date from the first to the fifth centuries CE, coinciding with the period of the early rune finds. Their occurrence reflects a certain level of literacy. In the least, it shows that both Germanic and Celtic peoples made use of the existing Latin. From different sources it is known that the Celtic peoples were inclined to use existing alphabets to write. Often Greek and Latin are cited, but they also deployed the North-Italic scripts for their business. The use of Greek and Latin scripts by Celtic and Germanic people makes one wonder why a native script was needful.

The Parallel History

Why did the Celts have need of an own alphabet? It is generally assumed that the Ogham was exclusively reserved for cultic purposes. All the while they kept to using Greek and Latin for the profane. It is also well known that the Druids of old and new are under a sort of geis not to commit their wisdom to writing. It is also quite widely suggested that the first uses of Ogham were divinatory in nature. All these motives do call for a more exclusive set of symbols.

The Druid approach to writing may fill in the gaps of the Germanic development of the runic alphabet. Academic scholars of the Futhark are wont to disregard the cultic aspect of the runes and attempt to reconstruct their history from a writing perspective only. The only exception seems to be Bernard Mees, who has published much on the cultic importance of runic writing in their early history. Can we suppose that the Ancient Germanic peoples designed the rune alphabet strictly to perform divination? To answer that question, we will have to look deeper into the parallels between the runic and the Oghamic script.

The Futhark and the Ogham are unique in Europe in that they are no copies of the archetypical Phoenician alphabet brought to Europe by the Greeks. However, both seem to draw inspiration from the Mediterranean alphabets, each in its own way. The Futhark draws heavily on the letter forms of these alphabets, whereas all other aspects, such as letter order and naming are entirely native to the Germanic culture. Contrarily, the Ogham borrows names from the Greek mother alphabet, but its letter shapes and order are entirely novel.

A list of rune shapes and their possible Mediterranean forerunners might be insightful, as also a small list of the Ogham names with their Greek models. In the table, Latin is preferred over Greek possibilities.

Fehu Latin F
Uruz Latin V
Thurisaz Latin D
Ansuz Latin A (?)
Raido Latin R
Kenaz Latin C
Gebo Greek Chi
Wunjo unknown
Hagalaz Latin H (?)
Nauthiz Latin N (?)
Isa Latin I
Jera Latin G
Eihwaz unknown
Pertho Greek Pi
Algiz unknown
Sowulo Latin S / Greek Sigma
Teiwaz Latin T
Berkana Latin B
Ehwaz Latin E (?)
Mannaz Latin M (?)
Laguz Latin L
Inguz unknown
Othila Latin O (?) / Greek Omega
Dagaz Double Latin D
Beith Greek Beta / Phoenician Beth
Nion Greek Nu / Phoenician Nun
Muin Greek Mu / Phoenician Mim
Ruis Greek Rho / Phoenician Resh
Ailm Greek Alpha / Phoenician Aleph
Eadha Greek Eta /Phoenician Chet
Idho Greek Iota / Phoenician Yod

It is interesting to note that the Ogham letters named after their Greek sisters are the heads of the different families or aicmí. The heads of the four families are Beith, Huath, Muin and Ailm. The odd ones out are Nion, Ruis, Eadha and Idho. Now, Huath might be the right original counterpart of Greek Eta (Phoenician Chet), because the Celtic letter alludes to the spiritus asper most commonly associated with Eta, H. Nion, Ruis and Idho are all the last letter of their group.

As regards to the Futhark, it has to be said that most letters are shared by the Latin and Greek alphabets. Of the runes Gebo and Pertho it is quite clear that the Greek script was followed. This is corroborated by the Gothic alphabet, where the Greek Pi provides both Gothic P and Q and where the Gothic G is rendered by the Greek Gamma.

It must be remembered that the Ancient Germanic inventors of the Futhark were probably acquainted with more than one script. Often, the North Italic script is the favoured one, but the North Italic area contained more than one alphabet. Surely, the Germanics came in contact with all these diverse alphabets and remembered what they could when they set about designing their own symbols. In the meanwhile, the Celts too adopted the North Italic alphabets, such as the Etruscan, in preference to the Greek alphabet for their own writing.

Sacred Space

One archaeological find binds all these data together. In 1811 a deposit of Etruscan helmets has been unearthed in modern Negova, Slovenia. The helmets were made between 450 and 350 BCE and were ritually deposited at circa 50 BCE. These types of helmets are known to be worn by priests. Two of about 26 helmets bear inscriptions, so-called Negau A and Negau B. They are all written in the North Etruscan script and carry only names. The Negau A helmet bears about four Celtic names and the Negau B helmet bears one Germanic name and a title. It is supposed that these inscriptions give a date before which the runic alphabet had not been designed yet, neither would the Ogham have been. The inscriptions date between 200 and 100 BCE.

The Negova site may have been a nemeton that was visited by Celtic and Germanic priests alike. The Negau B helmet glosses the Germanic person teiva which can be translated as

‘priest’. Maybe Negova was one of the old centres of learning where initiates of the different mystery schools of Europe met and gathered. In the Celtic tradition, it is fairly well documented that Druids frequented the mystery schools of Ancient Greece and implemented lots of their knowledge. The almost Greek sounding names of some of the key Ogham fews bear testimony to this. In the same way, we see how the Greek system of alphabetic numbering is adopted by Wulfila when he designs his Gothic alphabet in the fourth century CE. We must be aware of the likelihood of communication between Druids and Germanic cultic functionaries at a regular basis. The cultures mixed, there was no fixed border between them, they had lived alongside each other for centuries since and routes of commerce run up and down their territories. It would make awkward neighbours if they didn’t speak to each other once in a while.

As a matter of fact, the Germanic word for a secret gathering is ‘rune’ and has been joyfully adopted by the Celtic priesthood. The Germanic word is actually quite well represented in the Celtic languages, such as Old Irish (500CE-1000CE) and Middle Welsh (1100CE-1400CE). Even in Viking times, the term still denotes a meeting. It might be from this meaning in the context of the alphabet’s conception that the word was first associated with this set of symbols.

In this respect, it might be useful to mention the Gundestrup cauldron. In 1891, the item was found in a place called Gunedstrup, Jutland, Denmark. It dates from the second or first century BCE. The size and iconography of the cauldron define it as a ritual object. The item has been found dismantled and deposited at Gundestrup, which suggests ritual use. According to specialists, the metalwork is Thracian in origin, but the depicted scenes are generally assumed to be Celtic. This might locate a place of origin nearer to the Negova site. More importantly, scholars cannot tell how the cauldron ended up in Denmark, but it may just prove a link between Celtic and Germanic mystery schools.

In Words and Wood

In comparing the time line of Futhark and Ogham, we see that the first Ogham inscriptions only occur from the fourth century onward. They appear on stone monuments and are found mostly in Ireland and Wales. The peak of inscriptions dates between 400 and 600 CE. When it comes to runes, we already possess a small corpus of inscriptions on different materials by that time, but curiously, inscriptions on stone monuments only appear from the fourth century onward and have their heyday in the same period (400CE-700CE).

Scandinavian rune stones are usually set in a funerary context, but also had a bearing on a person’s rights to land. However, the Ogham inscriptions mostly carry personal names and genealogical information, such as the name of a tribe that a person belonged to. Possibly, monumental stones in both traditions had a similar, legal, function. It is, however, queer that both traditions start at about the same time and it looks like one may be a response to the other. And maybe the creation of either the Futhark or the Ogham was also a reaction to the other.

The start of the stone monument tradition in either tradition may indicate a change in philosophy towards the employment of a magical alphabet. Given that Ogham was written exclusively on wood until that time, it will originally have served only cultic purposes. In the same way, all early rune find inscriptions are cultic in nature. Somehow this changed in the fourth century and a more profane use of runes and Ogham alike was suddenly applied. At the same time, we notice that the frequency of the key word erilaz in runic inscriptions suddenly decreases.

Since wood is a hard material to trace in the archaeological record, the creation history of the Ogham alphabet, as with the runes, has been shrouded in myth. Nevertheless, an approximate date of the creation of the Ogham can be fixed to no later than the first half of the first century CE. The Ogham alphabet as we know it displays a Q-Celtic basis. After the conquest of Gaul by Caesar, P-Celtic became more widespread on the Continent. Hence the early date. Intriguingly, the first possible rune finds date from the same period.

On Divination

Among Celtic scholars it is more commonly accepted that their native alphabet was used for divination. This would account for the gap in time between the conquest of Gaul and the first Ogham inscriptions. Runologists, however, seem reluctant to accept a thesis that explains the conception of the Futhark as a divinatory means or a magical alphabet. Yet, it does not seem unimaginable that the runic alphabet was designed to cater for a magico-religious need. For the Northern tradition, the thesis relies on the account of Tacitus (ca.98CE). The Celtic tradition finds evidence in the tale of The Wooing of Étaín. The written text dates from the eighth or ninth century.

Tacitus relates how a branch is cut and made into wooden slips. These are marked with signs. Then, they are randomly thrown on a white cloth. And finally, the person leading the ceremony takes up three and interprets them according to their marks. Tacitus uses the Latin word nota to describe these markings. According to Bernard Mees, we can safely assume that these are runes. He argues that Tacitus seldom Latinized barbarous words, but ever looked for a good Latin translation. Mees also assures us that the meaning of notae with all its connotations perfectly describes the concept of a rune, namely “alphabetical characters of any sort employed in … divination”.

The Wooing of Étaín

tells of how King Eochu Airem of Ireland lost his love Étaín to Midir in a game. Midir takes off and hides the girl, but King Eochu asks a Druid to find their hiding place. So, the Druid makes four rods of yew wood and writes an Ogham on each. Much as the Futhark, the Ogham is divided in different families. They are called aicmí and there are four. It is generally accepted that the four yew staves refer to the four aicmí. Possibly, the number of runes interpreted in the report of Tacitus equally refers to the three ættir of the Futhark. Incidentally, a threefold division might have been original in the early Ogham as well. The fourth aicme was only added later to provide for foreign sounds and still later for the vowels. The four staves of yew also feature in the story of The Phantom’s Frenzy. In this case, the Ogham is applied to select a king at a ceremony. The text was written down in the tenth or eleventh century.

The use of yew wood offers another clue. Druids preferred yew over other sacred woods to make divining rods from. This ties in with the role yew plays in the Northern lore, where it is associated with the World Tree Yggdrasil. The mythical tree has a direct relationship with divination. Between its roots lies the Well of Urd where the Norns reside and rule the fate of men and gods. It is also this well from which the prophetess of Voluspa is summoned. In the story, she divines the outcome of the last battle. Even more so, it is probably in this well that Odin found the runes hanging from the tree. Indeed, the sacred well and the tree are a motif well documented in Celtic lore. Plus, the yew features in both alphabets.

Wood in general seems to have been the preferred medium to consult the wisdom of the gods and both runes and Ogham seem to have been specifically designed for this kind of medium. Both scripts avoid curved lines and the letter shapes make us suspect wood as a primary carrier. As a synonym for ‘rune’ the Ancient Germanic word stabaz ‘stave’ supports the vision that runes were originally cut in wood, and probably used for divinatory purposes. Mees also points out that Celtic words for fate derive from a meaning of casting wood. This divination method is recorded as prinni loudin in the first century CE Coligny calendar, France. This lemma on the calendar is the name of a ritual and literally means ‘the throwing of the woods’. It is possibly connected with Ogham. Mees also reminds us that the morpheme ‘book’, as in German Buchstabe or Old Icelandic bók-rúnar, does not refer to the beech tree, but stems from an Indo-European root *bhag meaning ‘share’ and secondary ‘lot, fate’.

An exclusive application of the Ogham alphabet in wood can make up for the gap in time and space between the supposed conception before the time of Caesar on the Continent and the first inscriptions in the fourth century on the British Isles. If the names of the Ogham fews are studied, it appears that most of the vegetation referred to was only found on the Continent, not on the Isles.

Ogma and Odin

One of the earliest sources of the Ogham names is the Auraicept na n-Éces and stems from Ireland, dated to the seventh century CE. The Auraicept places the origin of the Ogham in Ireland, but claims the god Ogma to be its inventor. From Roman historians, we know that the same deity was known on the Continent as Ogmios, facilitating a Continental origin for the alphabet. His mention in historiographies coincides with the early dating of the creation of the Ogham alphabet. He was a poet and a god of eloquence, likened to Hercules but visualized as an old man.

The tradition of a deity ruling an alphabet is widespread but finds its direct parallel in the Norse god Odin. However, the tradition goes back much further and might well have been inspired on the Mediterranean cultures. The Latin alphabet was invented by Mercurius and the Greek alphabet by Hermes, who was Trismegistos, tracing the tradition back to the Egyptian role model Thoth. All of these gods share the same qualities. They rule both the written word and magic.

What is the connection between Ogmios/Ogma and Odin? As a god of poetry Ogmios/Ogma is nicknamed the Honey-Mouthed. This name corresponds to Odin’s heiti Farma-Tyr, referring to the myth in which he carries off the Mead of Poetry. He actually holds the mead in his mouth. Ogmios/Ogma is also called Sun-Faced. There does not seem a direct correlation, but Odin’s epithet One-Eyed might needs be of Celtic origin. In Celtic myth, one-eyed creatures are common and usually linked with the sun. To this, Odin’s nicknames Báleygr ‘flaming eye’ and Bileygr ‘shaking eye’ might testify.

Besides the comparison between Odin and Ogmios/Ogma, there seems be an even more exciting parallel. In my opinion, it might be possible to see a link between the poet god Ogmios/Ogma and Bragi the skald. And this parallel would be supported by information regarding Bragi’s wife, Idun.

In the Irish tradition, the wife of Ogma was Étan, sometimes spelled Eadán, and sometimes confused with Étaín. On homophonous grounds, there might well be a link between Étan/Étaín and the Norse goddess Idun. The Irish story of The Wooing of Étaín is paralleled by the Norse story of the abduction of Idun. By some evil cause Loki leads away Idun from Asgard and lets her being kidnapped by the giants and taken into the Otherworld. Loki is also the one that gets her back. In the same way, Étaín is kidnapped by Midir of the Sídhe. Interestingly, both stories feature the shapeshifting of the girl, a theme well known from Celtic sources but much less so in Old Icelandic literature.

Now, Bragi was a poet and a god of eloquence. He was possibly named after a ninth century skald, but has been integrated in the Viking pantheon as a son of Odin. He is an aspect of Odin. He is depicted as an old man with a long beard, symbolizing his wisdom. The Roman historiographer Lucian writes that Ogmios “is represented  as pulling along behind him a mass of men all kept together with gold and amber chains through their ears … the god’s tongue has been perforated so that it appears to be pulling along the men while the god turns smiling towards them”. It is a symbol of his eloquence. What is more, it relates directly to a cryptic passage in Sigrdrifumal where Bragi is said to have a rune inscribed on his tongue. Might Bragi be identified as Ogma?

On Poetry

Typical of the oral tradition is that the names of the runes and the names of the Ogham fews are only known from the manuscript tradition onwards. No doubt, these names were orally transmitted using mnemonic poems. The earliest attestation of the rune names is found in the Abecedarium Nordmannicum, a ninth century manuscript probably written at the Fulda monastery, Germany. The earliest attestation of the Ogham names is found in the Auraicept na n-Éces mentioned above, from the seventh century.

According to Alan Griffiths, the Abecedarium is modeled on the Celtic tradition to compose such verses. The contemporary Irish community in Northumbria would have influenced the native Anglo-Saxon intelligentsia in this respect. This would have led to the composition of the Old English Rune Poem as early as the seventh century, attributed usually to the eighth to ninth century, and would have inspired the composition of such poems as the Abecedarium.

Proof of the Old Irish influence would be found in the stanzas of the Old English Rune Poem. Griffiths sees a link between the commentaries on the Ogham letters and the stanzas of the Old English runes. He discusses in particular three runes, namely Hægl, Eolhx and Dæg, concluding that the stanzas of these runes correspond to the kennings of the same letters in the Celtic alphabet, Huath, Straif and Duir. According to his theory, the names of the Celtic letters were in turn based on Greek and Latin glosses, implying that the naming of the runes might have been a continuation of this tradition – or a parallel development.

From a personal word from Freya Aswynn, with the voice of Odin, I know that the Germanic peoples learned their poetry from the Celts. In the old days, poetry was the key to all knowledge and transference of knowledge. One aspect typical of oral lore written down in the Old Irish tradition is that it was framed as questions and answers. The Auraicept is a good example of this. The same technique rings through in the Eddic poems, such as Vafthrudnismal and Alvissmal. This might be due to skalds that were trained by bards and Druids.

The Germanic people would not only have adopted the naming tradition but also the tradition of composing mnemonic poems. As it stands, from a wider perspective, the runic alphabet might be a Celtic invention. In fact, the Younger Futhark, possibly from before the time of the Abecedarium, is included as one of the 150 different Oghams that Druids had to learn in the first three years of their training. At the least, this has endowed the Celtic research with an open mind lacking in the study of the Northern tradition.

One wonders whether a similar tradition existed in Ancient Scandinavia, in which different Futharks had to be memorized. First of all, it is almost certain that the Younger Futhark and the Elder Futhark coexisted for some time. Secondly, the Old Norwegian Rune Poem seems to be very precise as what had to be memorized. In this poem, each rune has two lines. The first line describes the name of the rune and, according to Bernd Neuner, the second line described the shape of the rune. Thirdly, the Old Icelandic Rune Poem gives not just the kennings, but also Latin glosses and names for ‘chief’. The latter comes very close in likeness and technique to the secret Oghams that had to be studied.

The ‘Chief Futhark’ would run thus: Fylkir, Vísi, Þengill, Oddviti, Ræsir, Konungr, Hildingr, Niflungr, Jöfurr, Allvaldr, Siklingr, Tiggi, Buðlungr, Mildingr, Lofðungr, Ynglingr. Possibly, a Futhark of god names had also existed in earlier times. This would account for the fact that the first ætt is called Frey and not Fé. It explains why this rune is named Frey in later Icelandic sources.

More Parallels Within

To support a common origin of Futhark and Ogham, a further curiosity of the alphabets themselves has to be discussed. One of the greatest mysteries of the Elder Futhark besides its origin is the enigma of the letter P. The names of the elder runes are only known through the Rune Poems, the Old English one especially, and the Gothic Alphabet. The Old English Rune Poem stems from the eighth century, whereas the names of the Gothic runes are only known from a treatise by Alcuin, written in the ninth century. However, they agree on the letter P, naming it respectively Peorð and Pairthra. The Ancient Germanic reconstructed form is Pertho.

What makes this rune so elusive is that the name has no counterpart in any Germanic language. Moreover, the rune was not retained in the Younger Futhark. Neither was it used in Early Germanic runic inscriptions. The stanza on this rune from the Old English Rune Poem has made interpretation only more difficult. The only plausible solution appears to be that the name is Celtic in origin. A Germanic Pertho might stem from the Celtic word for apple tree, Quert. In my opinion, the naming of the Gothic alphabet helps in deciding on the truth, since the alphabet has also Qairthra. It shows almost beyond doubt the Celtic P/Q-split. Examining the Gothic alphabet both letters are each other’s mirror image. They belong together. Their letter shape also seems to derive from the Greek letter Pi, strengthening the above theory.

Why this name was chosen for an otherwise Germanic alphabet is a mystery. Unless… Perhaps it might be too far-fetched to say that the Futhark was originally designed for the Celtic language, but it might just be near the truth to suggest that it was in fact designed or co-designed by Celtic initiates.

Similarly, the Celtic alphabet has somehow two redundant characters. These are Huath and Straif, representing the letter H and an unknown sound. As a matter of fact, these Ogham fews are not recorded in the epigraphical material. The Celtic language knows no consonant H, yet Huath is put together with other consonants. What is more, even if the Ogham derives from a Latin or Greek model, these languages had no letter H either. The Germanic people, however, did. The letter Straif is a little harder to place.

You would almost imagine that they swopped letters. The swopping of letters seems to point to some form of cooperation between the Celtic and the Germanic intelligentsia. It seals a pact. What we are faced with reminds me a little of the myth of the war of Aesir and Vanir. Legend says that both races of gods matched each other in war. Neither one can overcome the other. In the end, they call a truce. And to seal this pact of peace, they swop hostages. Njord of the Vanir and his children will live in Asgard from now on. Mimir and Hœnir of the Aesir will live in Vanaheim. Having the history of the twin alphabets in mind, this sounds much too alike to dismiss.

Maybe another bit of runic myth can tentatively be related to this parallel history. It is said that Odin finds the runes, but by that time they are already in existence, even loaded with power. Before that they were somehow created. According to both the Eddic poems and Early Germanic inscriptions, the runes come from the Regin. They invented the runes. They are a non-specified class of gods that were linked with the unfolding of creation. But the word regin means ‘advisor’. Who knows the Druids were meant.

Conclusion

What we end up with is two European scripts with a parallel history so close that they might have been invented at the same time by the same people and at one and the same place. Both alphabets in their own way seem to draw from Mediterranean tradition and deviate from it. The arrangement of sounds is different in both alphabets and entirely new for both scripts. Both alphabets would initially have been designed for cultic, specifically divinatory purposes, to be inscribed on wood. Maybe it was a test which one worked best? By the looks of both alphabets, they seem to have been planned events. And by the looks of it, they seem to stem from the same period and from the same geographical area. Might it be too much to imagine that Celtic initiates and Germanic initiates sat together one day and made plans to design a magical alphabet?

450-350 BCE Negau helmets made
200-100 BCE Negau helmets A & B
200-0 BCE Gundestrup cauldron
50 BCE Negau helmets deposited
0-500 CE Matres/Matrones inscriptions by Celtic and Germanic people in Latin
50 CE Caesar’s invasion
50 CE Latest timing invention Ogham
50-100 CE First runic finds
100 CE Tacitus’s Germania
350 CE Wulfila’s Gothic Alphabet
400 CE First Ogham inscriptions
400-700 CE Rune stones Elder Futhark
500-1000 CE Old Irish language period
600-700 CE Auraicept na n-Éces
700-800 CE Gothic rune names by Alcuin
700-900 CE Old English Rune Poem
700-900 CE The Wooing of Étaín
800-900 CE Abecedarium Nordmannicum
800-900 CE Alcuin’s Gothic letter names
900-1100 CE The Phantom’s Frenzy

Bibliography

·

Rolf H. Bremmer, Hermes-Mercury and Woden-Odin as Inventors of Alphabets: A Neglected Parallel, in: Old English Runes and their Continental Background, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 1991.

·

Gregory A. Clouter, The Lost Zodiac of the Druids, Vega, 2003.

·

Stephen E. Flowers, How to Do Things with Runes: A Semiotic Approach to Operative Communication, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.

·

Alan Griffiths, Rune-Names: the Irish connexion, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.

·

Stewart R.A. Macalister, The Secret Languages of Ireland, Armorica Book Co/APA-Philo Press, 1976, reprinted by Craobh Rua Books, Armagh 1997.

·

James Mackillop, Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004.

·

Bernard Mees, The Celts and the Origin of the Runic Script, in Studia Neophilologia, Vol. 71 Issue 2, 1999.

·

Bernard Mees, Runes in the 1st Century, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.

·

Bernard Mees & Mindy MacLeod, Runic Amulets and Magic Objects, Boydell Press, 2006.

·

Paul Rhys Mountfort, Ogam. The Celtic Oracle of the Trees, Destiny Books, Rochester 2002.

·

Bernd Neuner, Das Norwegische Runengedicht – was sich hinter den zweiten Zeilen verbirgt, in: Runes and their Secrets, Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 2006.

·

Alexander M. Rackus, Guthones, Draugas Publishing, Chicago 1929.

·

Malcolm Todd, The Early Germans, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996.


Blood Bones and Fur: Personal Experiences of Working with the Remnants of the Dead

Transcript of a talk given for Atlantis Bookshop’s, ‘Moot with No Name’, November 2011.

By Charlotte Rodgers

I rocked up to a hospital once and was declared dead on arrival. My family were contacted and told that I’d stopped breathing and been clinically dead for long enough to cause me to be severely brain damaged IF I came out of the coma ,which was unlikely.

The thing is I had no light at the end of the tunnel, no voice telling me to, ‘go back it wasn’t my time’.

What I did get from this experience was an intense and previously unrealised knowledge of my own strength, fight and will to live and an insight into my essential and true self.

A friend of mine, Sarah Grimstone, referred to the experience as a fast track HGA ritual.

Prior to that I always had an attraction to death and its various remnants and trappings.

My favourite image at seven was in a copy of Man Myth and Magick of a ‘hand of glory’ lodged at the Museum of Witchcraft, and I still have a copy of Richard Cavendish’s Black Arts, pinched from Wellington Library when I was 14, with my pencilled-in notes on the chapter of Necromancy.

When I had the above coma experience at 24, I’d been working with road kill for some of the years prior in the name of art and magick.

This will be the main focus of this presentation; however first I want to give you some of my general thoughts, opinions and experiences of my work with death; back ground stuff.

I regard myself as an animist and my greatest pull towards an established magickal tradition is towards Haitian Voodoo, but I don’t go there because I won’t perform blood sacrifice.

Yeah, I have taught myself to gut and eviscerate road kill, and due to a personality quirk I have dissociative tendencies which in many ways my practise has enhanced. These tendencies would make animal sacrifice both relatively easy and possible; however the life I have lived has put me in a position to both see and experience a lot of violence, suffering and pointless death and my own magickal direction and knowledge of what makes my practice work, and what is right for me is implicit in no killing.

Make no mistake; I don’t condemn animal sacrifice in a culturally and spiritually appropriate context, just as I don’t condemn killing the meat that you eat. It is just not right for me.

Magickally I could be seen to be more experimental than sensible. For instance I’ve used the same, very effective recipe for protection sachets for years. I made one for a friend’s car and then the car was stolen. The police found it in perfect condition, with all the ingredients laying around it for torching it after the joyriding experience was over, and  said it looked like something at scared off the thieves and potential arsonists at the nth hour.

My friend actually benefitted from the theft as when his car was returned to him, he had gained a variety of ropes, tools and jump leads which the thieves had abandoned when they fled.

Now I mulled over from every angle why the car was stolen in the first place (even though something put the wind up the thieves before they could do any damage) as my protection sachets have NEVER failed .Then I remembered that like many of us, I had some graveyard dust in my supply cabinet and thought I would add it to my usual protection recipe …just to see what happened…

Anyway, there are a few anecdotes about my personal magickal morality and attitudes. Now to move onto the subject in hand.

Being brought up with an overly heightened awareness of the possibility of someone jumping up behind you and hitting you on the head, translates well magickally. It means you are more aware of your surroundings and what is out of place.

When I was younger and constantly broke as I preferred to spend my money on drugs rather than food or bills this was great, because I would focus magickally on finding money that was needed, and I always did.

Necessity or survival magick I think the term is.

Now zoning into remnants of death is similar; they create a difference in the environment even though they are ostensibly just vessels for something which once lived. However this container still holds memory and that memory can link to the essence of the species which is incredible and very powerful to work with both in art and in magick.

At this point it was be natural and easy to go into historical and cultural references to using remnants of the dead in spiritual and magickal practice and I’ve done plenty of research in this field; in part to validate and provide a point of reference to my intuitive practice, and in part out of interest.

However I want to stick more, at present, to my own experiences of the subject.

For whatever reasons human bone doesn’t actually press my buttons, although I’ve had various skulls and fragments pass through my hands over the years.

I will say that it was human bone, I believe, that provided a catalyst and a breakthrough in my long working of a personalised variation of the Mather’s ,Attainment of Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.

I’d been working systematically on this ritual for some time, when the London Underground bombing occurred. On the evening of the tragedy I decided to send comfort and acknowledgement to those killed. I integrated this into my daily rite. and used a fragment of human bone to access the collective human consciousness and help me tune into the recently dead.

For some reason this particular ritual culminated in achieving my goal re Holy Guardian Angel.

I don’t know whether this result came from my connecting with the dead, utilising the human bone or a combination of both, but I do believe that working with death on that occasion turbo charged the ritual to my benefit, even though that had not been my aim  at that time. .

As a child I did my share of poking around bones and sticking things under a microscope

In my teens I took things a step further. I started experimenting with mummification and preserving techniques. I taught myself to skin and gut road kill (seeing no contradiction in my being a staunch vegan, as I was at the time) and to make fetish objects.

My magick at this time was pretty raw. In that era in New Zealand the usual training implements were via the works of Dion Fortune/Crowley and the influence of a splinter group of the Golden Dawn in Wellington. As in England there was a natural drift towards what would later evolve into Chaos Magick and TOPY and my practice could be seen to ally with that in some respects.

Bear in mind that there was no internet connection then and I was living off the radar in trucks and squats up and down the West Coast of New Zealand, so wasn’t consciously aware of the current magickal trends and progressions.

My older self feels great discomfort at a younger me, taking mushrooms doing rituals and then crafting creatures from pieces of road kill.

However I cannot knock it in some respects as though I went through the initiatory rites of madness, addiction and dodgy sexual magickal groups, at the end of this I still have magick at my core. I still practice it and I learned as I always do( the hard way) why certain criterions of behaviour magickally exist; to make things safer as these can be dangerous and treacherous realms which require working with care and respect. However these rules were only learned through trial and error. For people such as myself mistakes are a natural part of a long and hard learning curve, and they indicate action; not necessarily good action but action all the same.

I have quoted, or misquoted Israel Regardie on this matter many times when he said that anyone who seriously undergoes magickal training should concurrently undergo a course of some sort of psychoanalysis.

I didn’t find that little gem of Regardie’s wisdom until way, way too late but it makes a lot of sense

I spent eight years or so immersed in working with the fetish on every level, both magickally and practically, then I took a break for a crash course in the REALLY problematic field of living in mundane reality.

Okay to zoom forward a few years to my return to fetish work, because this is where my personal magick seems to be centred and following that core self is really what it is all about isn’t it?

Okay there may be intellectual and creative diversions but finding our core, our talent and taking that potential as far as it goes  allies in my mind with definitions such as to know/to will/to dare or to effect changes in consciousness in accordance with will.

As I’ve already said being aware of my environment and the gifts it gives me is a big part of it. Finding a road kill badger and working with it was the beginning of a series of immensely powerful workings that lasted several years.

There is something decidedly shamanic about the focus of working with the dead. There is a necessary turning off of the conscious mind as the nasty, smelly side of preparing a corpse is undergone.

With a larger animal the physical effort itself is exhausting but as with meditation thoughts and insights drift through the mind; feelings of compassion for the method of death or the waste of such a life; respect for physical strength or beauty.

Truth to tell I don’t enjoy it. Finding a nature cleaned bone in a field is lovely but actually working with a dead body is unpleasant and sometimes nasty and at one time I actually threw away my knife and thought I don’t want to work with death like this anymore (although the next day I found a new and better knife on my way to work which could be construed as a sign of sorts)

Once I actually start working on a dead creature, all of this is forgotten and I get carried along with the process. The resident living animals in my house generally lose any atavistic blood thirsty instincts and stay well clear; in fact they get quite freaked out as everything becomes very intense.

This is a very different intensity to ritualistic workings I do in the house of a less blood thirsty nature as one of my cats will then REFUSE to be locked out of any room they are occurring in.

For some reason the body of an animal retains its identity longer after death than a human body. I suspect that human beings (and to a much lesser extent domestic animals) have a learned individual nature that tends to override the nature of the species more strongly. However that is a subject for debate as although I have been around a lot of recent dead human beings in my time, I have never worked on them as I have had with animals.

I actually prefer to avoid working with domesticated animals as they have generally had their essential nature obscured.

Again this may be due to my own perspective being biased as I have always lived with domesticated animals; but I believe that domestic animals take on the trappings of their environment and the traits of the humans that they live with to the point that their animal nature and essence becomes faded.

I’ve also never used inner city seagulls or pigeons or city rats.

Perhaps it is a latent snobbery, perhaps it is a hygiene issue which I haven’t acknowledged (although thinking of some of the animals in varying states of decay and infestation, I’ve worked with I doubt that) but they just don’t work for me.

It is possible that inner city survival also changes the essence of the animal, and whilst it would be interesting to work with a creature for that particular reason, at this point it is not something which I have gravitated towards or has gravitated towards me.

Although I have been working for some time now with inner city debris and integrating them with the bones of rural animals, this is an ongoing process which I haven’t structured and directed as yet. In this particular piece I have used as a base broken car window glass from New Orleans and recent riots in the UK  and am integrating them with natural and organic material to try and cleanse and transform the acts of violence that resulted in the windows being smashed. In some ways it is a post apocalyptical image, a sort of directing of Kali Yug or the Blasted Tower if possible and in many ways this art work is similar to ritual group workings to clear or cleanse space.

Whether I am more open to finding animal remains of a type that is necessary for me to work with because of a subconscious need, or whether they come to me and inform me of the direction that I need to explore, I don’t know.

Once the actual preparation of the creature is done, I’ll sometimes find a new home for it or sometimes I will put them aside until something I am making needs an addition that just happens to be sitting in a jar in my kitchen.

There are some anomalies that again may be coincidence but I’ll cite them anyway.

On occasion, generally in summer, I just cannot cope with the mess and smell of preparing a creature especially a larger one, so I’ll bury them to let nature do the work and mark the place I’ve buried them, often with something quite heavy so they cannot be dug up by living animals.

Now my garden has at least three foxes and two partial badgers buried in it (and sundry other creatures) and I have never been able to find them again, despite having dug over those parts of the garden many times.

What I make from these pieces falls into three overlapping categories.

I use pieces for charms or spells, which is pretty traditional and simple common sense.

I make spirit houses and I make magickal art which combines both of the above.

My initial work was with using bones and mummified animal parts and painting them with camouflage colours. Now camouflage techniques can have fascinating magickal applications, Austin Osman Spare explored them and Hugh Cottrell defines camouflage in very magical terms as,

one makes something unreal recognizable [while] the other makes something real unrecognizable.

Say I was working on a badger’s skull and creating a spirit house for protection of the family I would play up the solar qualities of expansion with golds, but have them banded in by Saturnine black to contain the energy and also protect and nurture it, giving it a defensive martial quality that will bite if threatened.

The black obviously absorbing the negative and threatening, and the gold radiating and expanding the positive whilst still contained in the skull container of the notoriously grounded ,family orientated and very fierce badger.

I also created a head piece for this creation to lift and elevate the intention.

This sort of work is like a jigsaw, being both meditative and intuitive.

When I was younger I made many pieces along these lines but in my 30’s I became more ambitious and  went through a period of baptising these creatures in blood and giving them life which was very foolish  and nearsighted of me as they already had life, I just couldn’t appreciate the power of it.

Using these creatures as spirit houses and  feeding them blood fed what was in the houses and caused them to grow into something that become near uncontrollable. Feeding them menstrual blood wasn’t a problem, but venous blood was. Everything has life but not necessarily power, and blood provided that power and the bone provided the form.

One very practical and not necessarily conventional application of spirit houses is for healing.

When I was undergoing a particularly invasive form of chemotherapy I used a horse’s skull from an abattoir; not a creature I would normally use as it hadn’t died in a natural manner, but is being hit by a car natural? However an abattoir is a deliberate and focused killing as opposed to most road kill.

I decided to use the horse’s skull as a chthonic spirit house and work with the horse’s violent death and my own descent into illness and madness (no exaggeration, this medication was very nasty) reconciling and transforming both into something more positive.

This mare was coloured in blacks and silver and had a small mummified toad in its pallet; the amphibian that can leap between the spaces.

When I finished the treatment I made a second talismanic piece to symbolise an uplifting from illness to a progressive and positive state. This piece, was all solar rather than lunar and incorporated snake vertebrae for focus, whale vertebrae for buoyancy, and an old Indian toy horses head…more frivolous than the N’mare and more a feeling of the fool than of the blasted tower or death that the mare epitomised, and there is always a slightly fool like element to any ascent or progression in my opinion, so it seemed apt.

I’ve also used this sort of work to illustrate tarot atu or trumps, although again that is a long work in process.

In some respects the above work could be seen to be blurring boundaries between art and magick; perhaps, although I believe that they are cut from the same cloth and as I grow older the line between art and magick becomes less distinct.

Death is part of who we are and remnants of it are gateways to greater knowledge and greater potentialities. Magickal practice gives us keys and rituals but art ties them into coherent structures.

When I look at magickal objects from places such as Benin, Naga pieces or masks from Borneo for example, I get greater clues of working magickally than I do from words which traditionally hold more deception and misinformation.

What I do is use my awareness of life force inherent in everything including death, magickal techniques of trance and focus and more traditional folk techniques to work with the web of life.
Yule Week MoonLore

By Liz
Yule Eve, Wednesday, 21st December 2011
The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 3 days off Dark (New) Moon, in Scorpio Wednesdays usually put the spotlight on Study, Travel and Divination while Moon in Scorpio often increases psychic potential A great night for scrying to see what’s ahead in 2012.

Yule, Thursday, 22nd December 2011

Winter Solstice The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 2 days off Dark (New) Moon, leaving Scorpio and entering Sagittarius Thursdays are usually all about Money, Investments, Generosity and Growth while Moon in Sagittarius usually boosts confidence, and increases imagination A great time to take a new look at the finances to make plans for the year ahead

Friday, 23rd December, 2011

The Moon will be Waning, in it’s Fourth Quarter, 1 day off Dark (New) Moon, still in Sagittarius Fridays are usually all about Love, Friends, Reconcilliations and Beauty While Moon in Sagittarius this day indicates there will be expansion and growth New friends made around now will stay important to you in your life for the months to come

Saturday, 24th December 2011

Christmas Eve here in the UK Dark (New) Moon, leaving Sagittarius and entering Capricorn Saturdays are all about longevity, exorcisms, endings homes and houses, While Moon in Caprocorn this day means the focus will be on developing strong structures Perhaps a good night to take stock of where you are heading and to make changes so there will be better order in life next year, to become pro-active instead of re-active

Sunday, 25th December 2011

Christmas Day here in the UK The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 1 day after Dark (New) Moon, still in Capricorn Sundays are all about Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection While Moon in Capricorn this day would indicate the focus will be on responsibilities and obligations At least when you’ve done what’s required and expected of you, the rest of the day is yours to have fun with as you see fit, even if that’s to slob out in front of the television and do nothing!!!

Monday, 26th December 2011

Boxing Day here in the UK The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 2 days after Dark (New) Moon, leaving Capricorn and entering Aquarius Mondays the emphasis is usually on Peace, Sleep, Healing, Compassion, Friends, Psychic awareness, Purification, and Fertility While Moon in Aquarius usually brings fourth a sense of rebellion Going your own way or taking the lead can be fun, but try not to upset those around you too much while doing so.

Tuesday 27th December 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, 3 days after Dark (New) Moon, still in Aquarius Tuesdays normally shift the focus to Passion, Sex, Courage, Aggression and Protection While Moon in Aquarius today gives us the strength to change bad habits, and to let go of that which we no longer need in our lives. Open and Honest communication is what’s called for in a situation like this.


Renewal Magick at Pennsbury for Yule

By T. Fox Dunham

In my articles and stories for Pagan Friends, I have pursued the theme of simple magick in quotidian life. I have reported of common magick, the energy we generate and focus through acts and customs and how our spirit responds to this energy. We create this magick when we apply our spirit to acts of life, to creating art. When we cook with spirit, we are imbuing the act and meal with magick. When we compose poetry, plant a herb garden, volunteer at a hospital—any act that we imbue with spirit, with passion—we are enacting a ritual magick. This is the ritual of those who do not practice magickal faith, the people who just live simple life.

Magick is also created through unique and meaningful experiences in our lives. I have often written of the magickal and spiritual journey I undertook as I battled a rare cell type of lymphoma, a journey that took me down many blind paths and created in me a cauldron of enchantment and power. This is essential to what I write of in this essay.

At the heart of mundane magick we find joy. This is the product of the enchantment, an élan of spirit, an energy that invigorates us, compels us, the source we live for.

I am reminded of this during in the weeks before Yule. This time and tide is the anniversary of my stay of execution, of my miracle reprieve from a cell type of lymphoma that had not been previously cured. After having prepared myself to pass through the silver veil, my surprise remission shattered my preconceptions and paradigms, granting to me the newborn’s gift and nascent sight from the point of view of a man.

Pennsylvania lives in its history. There are a multitude of reservations where the past is preserved and animated again, played out for education—and let’s admit it, fun. I worked at one such site, Pennsbury Manor, the colonial home of the governor and owner of the territory, the notorious English Quaker, William Penn. This country estate along the Delaware River that divides the state of New Jersey from Pennsylvania was a fully equipped farm and manor house, rebuilt from the ruins in the 1930s as part of the WPA program instituted by F.D.R. to provide jobs during the depression. I lived in the site’s kitchen gardens, among her stables. Peacocks roamed the site in splendor and violet vanity. This was the location of my first true story to Pagan Friends, Seabhac: the Wounded Hawk.

Each December, the site prepares for Holly Night, a special evening when open hearths burn in the kitchens, candles ignite the halls and stone paths, bonfires burn on the riverside where cider warmed and old woes could be cast into the fire, left with the previous year.

In shamanism, we have a concept: the spirit of the land. This is basic animism, the mountains, rivers, forests possess a living spirit, often seen as a deity or sidhe. This doesn’t just apply to natural settings. Have you ever gone into a building and felt it had character? Even personality? We contribute to this spirit of ourselves every time we interact with its field, growing it more. Places of history possess old souls with deep natures. Pennsbury was a popular place to convalesce. I knew many volunteers who were living beyond their assigned time of death. As the home of a Quaker, the place had a spirit of peace, of healing. And when the night lit up with candles glowing along the stone paths, when the open hearths burned, the chefs at work cooking colonial meals in big pots, and the choir sang traditional carols of the year, the salubrious magick of the land amplified. This was part of my healing process, my reconnection to the living world. I felt such a sense of youthful wonder and light.

Fox, you are alive.

Fox, the world is alive in color and song.

Fox, there is so much beauty in the world at Yule.

Every year at Yule, this feeling returns to me. I know people complain about the malls, but I love it—the decorations, the people shopping, the sound of carols over the speakers. It is so lovely being alive, and that’s the deepest of common magick. This is the essence of hope for a better year to come.

Traditions of renewal are common at this time for most cultures. It is a custom that transcends religion and is bound to the natural rhythms of a community. For a people surviving the winter without the benefit of modern technology—as was the case previous to most parts of the world before the last century—the need for a custom of renewal is vital to the emotional health of the tribe, whether it’s a village, a city or a nomadic caravan.

This tradition is enacted at Holly Night, as visitors may throw holly twigs into the riverside fire as a symbolic act—the heart of magick—called the burning of the woes, the release of the trials and hardships of the last year to begin anew with the nascent year. This tradition is so popular that often people would call the site asking about the burning of the woes, mislaying the event’s name. This is at the heart of common magick, the burning of a natural offering, holly imbued with potential.

I held my holly twig in hand, standing before the towering bonfire at the river. With only the candles on the paths, the glowing windows of the manor house, the orange aura of the fire to light the sward, the river at night turned to oil, hidden in the dark with only the sound of rushing waters to remind me that time progressed. I lifted my arm to lob the enchanted holly—enchanted now that I had imbued the sprig with metaphysical purpose—and I focused not on my woes, not on my struggle with cancer, but the woes of those suffering souls at this time of year. I thought of the hungry, the poor, those trapped in war. So many good people did not survive their cancer as I had. I thought of them, their families. I poured it into the slender holly. It cracked beneath the weight of the burden I had placed on it. Then I closed my eyes and cast it into the fire.

To my family—and those I love, you are all my family—I wish you all joy and potential for this Yule. I ask you to look to the world around you, to give a little back perhaps by contributing to a food drive or dropping off a toy for Toys 4 Tots. This is the time when we need hope the most, and hope can be found not in charitable acts that we receive but in acts of charity we commit. You will find magick in this connection.


Frankincense

By Rebecca L. Brown

Frankincense (from the French, meaning ‘pure incense’) is an Arabian or African tree sap from trees of the Bolswellia genus which is collected by peeling back the bark and then allowed to air dry into a resin. It is used in incenses and perfumes, mainly for it’s scent. frankincense is also sometimes referred to as olbanum.

Frankincense is mentioned in the Bible and is traditionally both given as an offering in some Jewish ceremonies and burnt in Catholic churches. The ancient Egyptians, who referred to frankincense as the tears of Horus, used it in their embalming processes (as recorded in the Ebers Papyrus) and in both scents and cosmetics. Frankincense was also known and used across Ancient Greece, Rome and China.

Magickally, francincense can be used to dispel negativity and evil influences. It has a purifying effect. Alchemists once recommended the use of frankincense to promote longievity.

Frankincense an anti-inflammatory and has some antiseptic properties. There is some ongoing medical research into whether or not it may be useful in fighting cancer and the treatment of osteoarthritis.


Book Review: Secrets of Asgard, Vincent Ongkowidjojo An Instruction in Esoteric Rune Wisdom

Reviewed Av Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

From the very beginning of the book, Vincent Ongkowidjojo shows a very strong grasp of the subject matter and a deep passion alongside his tremendous knowledge, which immediately draws the reader into the book. In my first read-through of the book, I was not only highly impressed by such a comprehensive mix of personal ideas and factual information, but also impressed by the style of writing; whilst I personally find most books of this nature to be tedious reads, filled often with mistakes and UPG, this book is filled with enough facts and information that the personal opinions of the author contained within are not the kind which make most Heathens cringe. Whether a scholar interested in Runes, a Godi reflecting upon and referring to sources to improve your rune knowledge or a novice starting out, this book is the most comprehensive and agreeable book I have ever had the immense pleasure of reading on the subject. Whilst the language is somewhat scholarly in nature and filled with big words that may put some people off, however, the authors use of language is comprehensible for the serious reader. It should also be noted that the author is from the Netherlands, the use of language and writing style is most impressive and easily understood considering it is by a foreign author; this fact itself impressed me – I have had the displeasure of reading books from foreign authors that the flow of the book is nearly unable to be followed. Being that I have formed my own opinions on Runes and Runic magic, I have found myself at some points disagreeing with the author’s opinions, however, the way the book is written is not matter-of-fact and allows the reader to make his or her own opinions, this is a trait few authors manage. It is with a deep respect and admiration that I write this review, despite disagreeing with a few ideas contained within it. I can see and understand the thought process behind these ideas, which makes the book not only a pleasure to read, but also the disagreements I do have with it are not ones that offend, like so many other author’s assumptions and presumptions. It is deeply refreshing to see a book filled with knowledge as opposed to ignorance, logical thoughts as opposed to presumptuous conclusions and filled with plenty of ideas for thought and reflection on. As a Norwegian Heathen, I am often wary of anything from outside of Scandinavia. I have found a great many Heathens are also wary of anything that is not the Havamal and Eddas, but this is a book I would wholly recommend to any Heathen, Scholar or Chaote requiring Runic knowledge to put on their bookshelves. The author’s grasp of the subject matter is such that it outdoes that of many Heathens I have the pleasure of knowing. I cannot think of any book I would recommend more highly if the reader is looking for a book on Runes; this is the book for anyone requiring knowledge of runes, whether simply beginning or advanced in their ‘Career’ as users of the Runes.  


Fiction Review: Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner, 

Reviewed by Rebecca L. Brown

Carry On The Flame: Ultimate Magic, By Jodine Turner

“I am ancient and I am now

I am the one that once was and I am the many who now are

I have climbed out from the jaws of blackness

I am one of many who were waited for and one who has found her way”

Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic, is the next book in Jodine Turner’s beautifully written Carry on the Flame series. (The previous book, Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call, which which was reviewed in our Samhain issue is a finalist in the USA Books “Best Books of 2011” New Age Fiction category; congratulations Jodine!)

Ultimate Magic is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read. As in her other writing, Jodine uses a combination of well-written characters, evocative description and an enjoyable plotline as a means by which to express her own obvious love of and attachment to the Divine Feminine. This book, and indeed the whole of the Carry on the Flame series are a definite must-read for lovers of Celtic-flavoured fantasy and of magical fantasy adventure in general!

For more from Jodine Turner, visit her website http://www.jodineturner.com


True Beauty

By Linda Gibson

Friends since nursery, Emma and Claire were more like sisters. Emma’s quiet serenity was the perfect balance to Claire’s loudness. Added to the mix was Josh, who they’d grown up with. He was confident and sure of himself without being cocky, and like Emma, he came from a family of witches, both families able to trace their lineage back through centuries. Claire just took it in her stride, and loved them both for who they were. She was loved by the families, and even though non-pagan, was included in all their family gatherings.

Emma had met Josh in the college dinning room and was discussing her Yule Blessing with him in a quiet corner away from prying ears. Claire rushed over to them, full of energy, as usual.

‘Hey Emma, what’re you wearing to the Christmas disco on Friday? You are going aren’t you, you too Josh? Don’t make me go on my own, please, please, please!’ Josh was about to protest, but Claire got there first.

‘Don’t try to use the Yule party at Emma’s as an excuse, because that’s on Saturday,’ she said, grinning at him.

‘Okay, okay! If it shuts you up I’ll go,’ laughed Emma, ‘and so will Josh,’ as he nodded his agreement for the sake of peace. ‘I’ll wear my purple dress with the black lace.’

‘Yes!’ squealed Claire, ‘you’ll look a knock out in that. I suppose you’ll try to get away with jeans,’ she said in mock sarcasm to Josh.

‘Actually, I’ll wear my suit, I do own one you know,’ he said, poking his tongue out at Claire. With that, they went to afternoon lectures.

Later that night, Emma prepared for her Yule Blessing, placing her Book of Shadows in her bag. It had been handed down through her family, and was wrapped in a silk cloth and kept out of sight. Emma never did a ritual without it. She made off for the woods, just half a mile from her home. Checking she hadn’t been followed, she made her way through the woods to the Sacred Grove, known only to the families. Emma greeted the Goddess, opened the Book of Shadows and grounded herself for protection before casting a circle and calling the quarters. As she performed her Yule Blessing, a breeze began to blow around her, generating energy. She asked the Goddess for blessings and closed the circle carefully afterwards. Emma sat down under a tree to meditate, as she always did after a ritual. She had a vision of her late grandmother. Emma often felt her presence guiding her, and she gave Emma a warning to watch her back. She faded before Emma could ask her what she meant, and it worried Emma.

After leaving an offering, Emma went home to bed, exhausted. She couldn’t sleep and kept playing her grandmother’s message over in her mind. Eventually managing only 3 hours sleep, Emma reluctantly went to college, barely staying awake for morning lectures. The last thing she needed was to be cornered by the ‘in’ crowd, lead as always by Alexa Winters and her two cronies. Deliberately knocking into Emma, Alexa sent Emma’s bag flying, sending the contents sprawling everywhere.

‘Oh look, here come your bodyguard!’ she sneered, catching sight of Claire storming over.

‘You’re a first class bitch, Alexa!’ yelled Claire, pushing her out of the way. The two cronies backed off, dragging Alexa with them before she could retaliate, leaving Claire to help Emma gather her belongings.

By the night of the disco, the incident had been forgotten, and Emma met Claire and Josh at the entrance. Emma was unaware of the admiring glances she drew as she glided gracefully into the hall. She’d worn the floor length purple gown with plain black satin ballet pumps, and let her waist length chestnut curls tumble loosely down her back. Josh couldn’t take his eyes off her.

‘Wow! You look amazing,’ he whispered.

‘Told you so,’ grinned Claire, nudging Josh playfully.

‘Claire, how do make overstated look so great?’ laughed Emma. ‘Only you could get away with those colours!’ Claire had chosen a bright cerise pink prom dress with matching three inch heels. Her black hair was piled high in a mass of glossy curls, and the whole look suited her. ‘Claire, you should show your legs off more often, instead of hiding them in jeans. You look gorgeous.’

The trio were enjoying themselves, dancing non-stop, and stopping for punch now and again. Suddenly the music stopped, and a voice they dreaded floated over the speakers.

‘Emma Bradbury, or should we call you Silvermoon,’ Alexa gloated, as a hush fell over the hall.

‘What’s this then, a Book of Shadows?’ Alexa proceeded to open the book and began to read from it out loud.

‘Give it to me Alexa, you don’t know what you’re doing,’ fumed Emma. ‘How did you get it anyway, its private property?’ She realised then that she’d forgotten to take the book out of her bag when she’d got home from her Yule ritual. It must have fallen out when Alexa knocked into her.

Emma rushed onto the stage and grabbed the book, glaring at Emma. It shook Alexa to see how angry Emma was, she’d always been so quiet.

‘Here, take the damned book, you and your family have always been weird, witch,’ she spat at Emma as she let the book go.

‘My family are witches too, going to pick on us too, are you, you nasty piece of work?’ Everyone turned to Josh. ‘Emma’s worth four of you. You may have a pretty face, but you’re so ugly inside.’

The hall erupted with cheers and applause when Josh finished ranting. Alexa flounced off stage with her cronies in tow, and impossibly vain, couldn’t resist checking her reflection in the hall’s huge windows. She shrieked in horror as she saw an old hag staring back at her, her face covered in open sores and boils, and wrinkled like a prune. Only Alexa could see this, to everyone else she looked normal.

‘What have you done to me? They’ve cursed me,’ she screamed, running about aimlessly, everyone laughing at her.

‘You’ve seen a reflection of your true self, just how ugly your soul is,’ said Josh. ‘Beauty has nothing to do with looks. It really is true that what’s on the inside counts for more than anything. I hope this teaches you to be nice to people, you’ll find they’re nice to you because they actually like you. Try it for a change!’

The three friends went home. They enjoyed the Yule party the following day, both families having been close friends for generations. Alexa had learnt a hard lesson, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that people did indeed like her when she let her guard down, and was popular for the right reasons. She even began to study witchcraft and its true history, asking the families for help and advice, and treated Emma with a healthy dose of respect since the disco.
Sápmi Story

By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

The air was cool and fresh, a reminder of the rainstorm that had battered the land the night before; the sky was still grey on grey, a mismatch of many different shades of grey colliding above our heads, seemingly ready to come crashing down on the head of the nomad. Patches of yellow permeated the grey of the sky, the sun reflecting off of clouds higher in the stratosphere, giving light to an otherwise near-dark day. It was hard going, trudging over the heath land, the soles of his feet felt cold and wet but he was not miserable as he would have been as a young man. He had come to enjoy the wind that carried the cold freshness of the air, his hard, leathery skin was used to the hardships of life as a nomad. Somewhere in the wilderness, a wolf called to it’s kin, adding to the isolated loneliness of the journey; the isolated loneliness that was the reality of the nomad, the isolated loneliness that was a constant companion and the isolated loneliness that was no longer lonely, but more of a reflective state of solitude. It took a hard man to do such a thing all their life, but the nomad would not call himself hard or tough, he would not speak to many people.

The wind carried drops of moisture with it as it buffeted the low-lying heather, the clouds would not hold their torrent much longer and the only shelter nearby was the Wolf-Cave. He could not remember when he had first been to the Wolf-Cave, that place with it’s many, many paintings by Noaidi from times passed. The nomad was sure that the cave was a Sieidi, but then, since his first Spirit Journey. Some said that he had gone mad from communicating with the Spirits and Gods. He had not been exiled, per se, but he knew he was no longer welcome in the cities, or at least, that is what he felt.

Finding that the cave had been stocked with tinder and firewood, he set about creating the life-giving warmth. Most of the Sami would have been with their community, been with their little Clan herding Reindeer in the small parcels of land that were given to them by the Government. It was a dying art, the boazovázzi, everyone knew it, yet no-one would say so. How much easier it would be if he had a Lávut, what had happened to his since he had left? What had happened to his family? Maybe they had all become normal people, living in cities with modern conveniences, electricity and supermarket-bought food. The easy life was not for him, though, he though as he lit his fire. The warm embrace of the fire enshrouded him, his old bones feeling the warmth and groaning appreciatively. He could smell the smoke of the wood, it was slightly damp but had lit without a problem. The crack of the fire consuming the wood hungrily made him think of his own belly, he removed his backpack, an old thing made of tanned Reindeer hide and removed some smoked meats and fish, cheese and vegetables; he took out a bushel of herbs for Biegkegaellies, the God of the Winter Winds so that he might have a good Winter, one where he would not freeze to death.

There was a time when his father had shown him this cave, when they had wandered freely with the Reindeer, when instead of being guided by the laws and fences of the strange men from the South, they had been guided by the instincts of their herd. It was a time when he was carefree, when his father would keep him safe from the evil spirits of the night.

The warmth of the fire and a full belly caused sleep in the old nomad. His leathery skin was softened momentarily as he dreamed back in time. Back to when he was a boy who ran free amongst the herds. A stillness set through his old bones as his breathing became shallower, the wind whistling past the cave that sheltered him from the world hid the sounds of the storm on the horizon. In time, the fire died out, the flames retreating from a blaze to embers. The old nomad’s eyes remained shut, the embers faded to non-existence so silently. Nothing would bother him anymore, now that he roams with the Spirits.

 


Forgotten Cycles

By Yvonne Cunningham

Forgotten cycles of a jaded world
An ageing time, silent, unheard Darkening wood, snow-driven night
Winter’s hurt has yet to bite.
Around the Fire, feel it burn
Gather friends, for slumber’s end
A new spring comes, light returns
In the unfailing cycles of an awakening world.


Steal Into Winter  

By Maggie Koger

Send a ring of ribbon flying

long and long on frosty air

reeling North on windy swells

swept in satin tales of snow.

Some pray to muddy myths

of angels, sheikhs and shepherds

but leave the single star adrift

look up, look up and witness

fiery planets, burning stars;

feel your lungs fill with light

breath aswirl in solar style.


Walking Down Sunday Roads  

By Maggie Koger

Winter at Robie Creek where crusted

snow crunched loud underfoot as

a white and blue world lavished wide.

Crystals of ice whirled sun high while

evergreen spires pierced sapphire skies.

Elfin snowmen lined each roadside

wet powder pushed in banks by plows

riven and sculpted by afternoon suns.

Saw a dingy old truck rusting to ruin

nosed to the door of a sporty red wreck

its cracked-open windshield a gaping hole

icicle shards draped with a gunny

sack reading:  Farm Feed & Seed.

Our echoing aroused an angry dog

he raced to the length of his chain, jerked

howled in his labor, bellowing, barking

raising up specters of ancestor wolves.

If you come here, show no fear

step slowly, firmly, and watch for ice.

Snow hides it and slicks the surface

you must save yourself from falling.

Maggie Koger is a Media Specialist with a writing habit. She lives and works in Boise (pronounced boysee) and celebrates Le Bois–the trees the city is named for. She has published poetry in Poet Lore, Avocet, Mused, WestWard Quarterly, Montucky, Blast Furnace, and Eternal Haunted Summer. She can be reached at maggiekoger@gmail.com


Yule

By Kenny Klein

Amongst the oak and holly leaves

The Wren and Robin sat between

“Come” the Wren said, “I shall sing

A song of winter cold

“My brother is the far-flung Crow

The black death-watch upon the snow

The swordless Horned One to him goes

When Autumn sun wanes cold

“My sister of dark night is queen

The hag that lives the moons between

Her womb is barren now of seed

Her lover gray and old

“And where have you been, Robin brother

Gone to see your white-breast Mother?

The white snow covers up Her bowers,

She’s taken Her home of old”

Amidst the Oak and Holly leaves

The Robin silent sat between

Until with sweet voice, calmly he

Began a merry song

“Long has my white crow Mother been

With your brother, black winged Bran

Until Her belly stirs within

As Yuletide sun grows strong

“And now at sunrise, silent, stark

Between the days and the winter dark

Rekindled is the fire’s spark

The Oak King sounds the horn

“In the forest’s icy gleam

There goes a shadow, swiftly seen

The Holly and the Oak between

The Green Man is reborn

“So tell me truly, dark eyed Wren

Where will you the winter spend

Until the wheel is turned again

And winter casts its thorn?”

But Wren’s reply was never got

By a golden arrow he’d been shot

And darkness died upon the spot

The Holly and Oak between

The Oak King now is berry-crowned

The Green Man born the forest ’round

But the Wren lays cold upon the ground

The Holly and Oak between

And young lads on the darkest night

Their golden arrows swift in flight

Will sing until the morning bright

The sun to welcome in;

“The Wren the Wren the king of the birds

On Yuletide day was caught in the furze

Up with the kettle and down with the pan

And give us a penny to bury the Wren”

Kenny Klein  www.kennyklein.net


Tears

By Karie McNeley
melted snowfall drips from reddened corners
the drips re-freeze as they release & silver stalactites
hang from those eyes
the icicles hold over ‘til the summer of frost ends
& then they drop again
heavier now and with the intent of hail;
daggers falling into wounded snow beneath footsteps of white
Beaten and Blemished

By Karie McNeley

You are floating above me

Never really touching my body

A completely severed layer

Connected only by tooth and nail

You protect me from burns

And from cold

You are water-absorbent

But only by circumstance

On occasion you break and bleed

Hard impacts turn you soft and brown

Like over-ripe bananas

Sharp objects pierce and cut right through you

And for a moment you show me

What I really look like inside

I can bandage you

Stitch you up sideways

Cause the blood to delay

Before it spews out of me

Green in the vein

Red on the streets

You wrinkle and scar

Pink and purple cross-hatch

You will never be the same

But I will love you solidly

As long as you keep me human

Karie McNeley is a mid-twenties non-conformist from Lakewood, California who conforms only to writing poetry. She has been published in Verdad!  and in Bank-Heavy Press’s first three publications. She is an editor for Bank-Heavy Press, a new poetry and fiction magazine published quartlerly in Long Beach, CA. She searches for beauty in everything, especially the ugly.  Her hobbies include drawing, writing, and rocking out to 90’s alternative  music.


A Poem

By Nattvarg Nattvargsonn

At a bus stop the urban thrall await

A mass exodus, that of the Nine to Five

Outside the bank, the urban congregation

Awaiting the promised saviour in green

The provider and sustainer that is cash

Inner city life, devoid of mystery

Meaningless in macroscopic view

Yet so intricately woven in the mind

The throng of the night calls to the brave

The adventure of downtown summons

The promise of better goods are shown

Consumerist materialism thrives here

Alone in the dark recess of the mind a voice

Asking what is yet to come in life and death?

Yet ignorance is our chosen path

The nihilistic self-confidence undermines

The solid foundations of community life

The walk of shame is a walk of pride

Another notch on the bedpost

Another name forgotten by dawn

The city lights set the sky ablaze

A testament to the genius of man

An affront to the Gods of old and new

There is only room for the Trinity here

Man, Machine and Money are our Gods

Hark! Call the Scientists aloud

The priests of the Brave New World

See our wondrous invention and discovery

Swallow our words like the bitterest pill

For superstition has no place in our time

Has mankind lost it’s way in the urban rush?

The spirit has been cast out and sold

The Gods are dead and remain no more

Man is as empty as the ape that came before

Our forebears forgotten in the grind of time