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

Interviews

An Interview With Christopher Penczak

An Interview With Oberon Zell

An Interview With Jodine Turner

An Interview With Alaric Albertsson

An Interview With Belle Dimonte

An Interview With Flash Silvermoon

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Beary

Articles

Imbolc, by Jessica Howard

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

Belchite, Zaragoza, SPAIN, by Charles Vella

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

Sacred Sexuality, by Katrina Messenger

Regular Features

Imbolc Week Moonlore, by Liz

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

The Sepiroth Part Three, by Simon Cash

Reviews

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

Fiction

An Imbolc Story, by Linda Gibson

Poetry

Imagined Worlds, by Danielle Clark

The Bride of Spring, by Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney

Music

Bridget’s Song, by Celia

Want to contribute to our Ostara issue?

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

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

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


An Interview With Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

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

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


An Interview With Oberon Zell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Interview With Jodine Turner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call Book One

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

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

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

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

Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic Book Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

Website  http://www.jodineturner.com

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

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

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

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

Goodreads    http://bit.ly/k1PPbJ


An Interview With Alaric Albertsson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Interview With Belle Dimonte

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

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

Q: In what ways do you currently practice?      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Interview With Flash Silvermoon

Drumming With Flash Silvermoon

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

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

Walking a Rainbow Goddess Path:

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

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

Circle From The Wise Womans Festival

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

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

Flash's Band - The Blues Sisters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[hopefully not for long though]

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

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

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

Whew BIG SUBJECT

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

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

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

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

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

BLESSED BE FLASH SILVERMOON

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Beary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you made any items yourself?

Lots!

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

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

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

Received any special gifts?

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

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

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

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

Anywhere by the ocean or near mountains suits me fine.

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

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

Ever been anywhere that you couldn’t stay?

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

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

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

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

Who have your most major influences been over the years?

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

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

Any ambitions yet unfulfilled?

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Waves like an idiot*

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

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

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


Imbolc

By Jessica Howard

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

Brigid

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

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

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

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

Aradia

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

Hestia

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

Lucia of the Light

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

Bast

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

Ceres

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

Vesta

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


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

But why do we do that?

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

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

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

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


Belchite, Zaragoza, SPAIN

By Charles Vella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invoking the Egyptian Gods

By Judith Page &  Ken Biles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why in Egyptian, you ask?

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

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

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

The Word Neter and Its Meaning

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

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

 

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

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

Invocational Rites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It is through evoking higher spiritual powers by

means of rites of Supernatural Magick that humans

come to true realization of what they are in essence:

eternal spiritual entities.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invoking The Egyptian Gods

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


Sacred Sexuality

By Katrina Messenger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do we heal and grow towards that ideal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

©2005 Katrina Messenger

Katrina Messenger

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

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

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

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


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

By T. Fox Dunham

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

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

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

A Bard is a healer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Are Not Alone.

—–

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

http://www.dailylove.net/


The Sepiroth, Part Three

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

By Simon Cash

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

The Superannials.

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

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

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


Music Review: Kenny Klein: Ghosts of the Delta

By Johnny Blake

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Imbolc Story

By Linda Gibson

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

Bright sunlight filtered through the trees, bathing the glade in a golden haze. A light breeze began to play around Emma’s face, and lifting her hair around it. Then she heard a hint of a giggle, and from the corner of her eye, Emma saw her. In a gown made out of Snowdrops, a Fairy flitted around Emma, teasing her.

‘Hello, Bell. I know it’s you,’ said Emma, please to see her tiny friend. Emma had been able to see and connect with the Fae since she was a baby. Bell had been her guardian since she was five years old. Now Emma was seventeen, her gift was getting more powerful. Suddenly, she felt a strong tug at the ribbon that held her ponytail secure. She knew it wasn’t Bell, because she was in front of her giggling louder. An Elf appeared, grinning, and holding the ribbon out triumphantly.

‘Thank you Thistle, you love this game, don’t you,’ she laughed as he skipped away. Then Emma had the sensation of being in another place, only she hadn’t moved out of the glade. She had been given the gift of seeing the Fairy realm. She could see everything more clearly, and her senses were heightened. The glade was truly beautiful and magical. It must be kept secret and protected.

After leaving an offering under a tree, and floating a tea-light on the stream, Emma made her way out of the glade. She was startled to see a group of people, several who looked like tradesmen, and two in suits. Emma hid behind a large Oak trunk and listened to their conversation. Her heart thudded with shock. The men in suits were talking about clearing the ground and knocking the whole woodland down, including the glade. They wanted to build a group of luxury houses there. She ran home shaking in tears. That night, Emma cried herself to sleep. They weren’t going to destroy the glade; she had to stop them, but how? Only a few of Emma’s friends knew she was a witch and of her gift. She could trust them not to say anything. They agreed to help her save the glade. After college while Emma research for an assignment, she was surprised to get a visit from Bell. Bell never came to her at home unless it was urgent. She told Emma that Emma would have to show the men that the glade was special and sacred, the Fae would help her.

Sure enough, the men were still there, drawing up rough plans. Emma had three of her friends with her, and the men shouted at them to clear off. Emma and her friends ran to the glade, and the men charged after them.

‘What do you think you’re doing, I told you to clear off!’ shouted one of the suited men. ‘ I heard you this afternoon, saying you were going to tear this woodland down, Well this glade is sacred, it’s a Fairy glade, it needs to be kept secret. You’ll destroy a portal to the Fairy realm,’ said Emma.

The man started laughing at her.

‘You’re away with the Fairies girl, you’re barking mad! Fairy realm! I don’t know what drugs you’re taking, but I’ll give you one last chance to go before I throw you out of the woods.’ Just then, Emma raised her arms above her head, and started chanting again and again. The air seemed to wobble visibly, startling everyone around her. Then it cleared, and dozens of tiny Sprites, Fairies and other Fae flew up to them. Everyone could see what Emma had been shown earlier by Bell. They gasped at the beauty of the place. Then an ancient man in white robes appeared and whispered to the man who threatened Emma, and placed his hands on his temples, showing him the true nature of the glade. The man started to cry.

‘I’m so sorry, I thought you were mad. Just kids mucking about! We can’t build here lads. There are other sites we can use. You tell no-one about this, you here me, no-one.’ He turned to Emma and smiled.

‘That’s one hell of a talent you have there, young lady.’ Then they left the girls alone with the Fae.

Emma and her friends hugged each other, pleased with their victory.

‘I thought we were going to have a nasty fight on our hands,’ said Emma. ‘This glade must stay secret, so the Fae can live in peace. Please don’t tell anyone about it,’ she pleaded. The friends agreed, still in awe at what they’d witnessed. They all kept their promise.

Copyright© Linda Gibson.


Imagined Worlds

By Danielle Clark

Belief can unfold many worlds,

Mystical realms of dragons and elves.

In the beauteous night the moon does arise

To quell the fury of the day.

In one such world I met a man

With eyes of glimmering jade,

He crept within the shadow’s bounds

My gaze he did evade.

At last one midnight he emerged

With a song of soft woven silk

To immerse my soul with regal love and

A whispered promise of eternity.

After years these dreams have faded

Into a dusky mist,

Yet that voice calls from the forgotten realm;

“But this was a kingdom that lived.”

Danielle Clark is a UK-based creative writer best known for her poetry but also has published short stories, articles and Q&A columns on various topics. Most recently she has won third prize in the Baskalier anthology poetry competition for a piece about the sad condition or world is in.


The Bride of Spring
By Audrey ‘Stormy’ Haney

Old lady winter Caileach crone.
be gentle now give up your throne
for maidens come through winters born
a new queen is coming in the morn

Dear bride of spring with gentle sun
soon your reign will be begun
Her gentle features of a child
dancing free among the wild

Birds sing their joy upon the ear
they know deep down that spring is near
among the vales the simple grange
Animals sence the suptile change

soon milk will flow from natures breast
The start of life will now be blessed
for bride of spring will soon mature
to mother summertime once more.

You can find more of Stormy’s poetry and artwork at http://visionsofapagan.blogspot.com/


Bridget’s Song

By Celia

Bridgit’s Song

Words and Music by Celia © 2012 Red Granite Goddess Publishing/ASCAP http://www.celiaonline.com

Verse 1:

Goddess Bridget Peace Weaver,

Healer, Poet, Queen.

Melt the snow and bring the spring.

Verse 2:

Saint Bridget Gold Bender,

Keeper of the Flame.

Blessed Imbolc.

We Sing Your Name.

Chorus:

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

We Sing Your Name.

Goddess Bridget.

Keeper of the Flame.

Bridge:

Bridget so beautiful

Bridget so powerful

People of all paths will gather round to sing your name.

Bridget so beautiful

Bridget so powerful

People of all paths will gather round to sing your name.