Archives for category: Beltane

We’re delighted to welcome you to the one year anniversary issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine! We’re celebrating bringing you a whole year of great articles, interviews, poetry and more with a fantastic Beltane issue, including content from Jessica Howard, Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq. and a beautiful selection of photography including work byBenjamin J. Kirby, Carlo Vella and Cai Thomas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our webzine throughout the past year as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Many thanks to all the friends, contributors and behind-the-scenes helpers who have made it possible for us to keep producing the Pagan Friends Webzine.

Thanks, as well, to everyone who entered our Ostara craft competition. We had some great entries and it was really hard to pick out just one, but we managed it in the end (just about!). And here it is:

Winner of the Ostara Craft Competition:
'Munch Egg' by Ira Dracona

We really liked the idea of making a bird egg and thought a budgie was a really original idea; thanks Ira!

And here are a few of our other favourites:

Interview

An interview with the Pagan Friends Forum’s Jess

Celebration: Our one year anniversary special feature!

Recipes

Honey Cakes, By Suzannah Defoe

Articles

Astro-Theology: A New Way of Interpreting the Bible, By Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq.

Rose & I Go To See The Fairies, By T. Fox Dunham

Gypsy Love Cards, By Jessica Howard

Astroflash Monthly Horoscope for May 2012, By Flash Silvermoon

Poetry

Five Plant Poems, By Hilary Sideris

Nutmeg
Mandrake
Leek
Garlic
Oregano

Events

Treadwells Events

What’s On Elsewhere

Want to contribute to our Summer Solstice issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Summer Solstice issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it.

For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

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

Home of 16th Century Cupuchin Friars in Sintra, Portugal
Photography by Carlo J. Vella


An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Jess

How did you discover your path, and how did you know it was right for you?

For me it started when I was a kid, before I knew what paganism was; I was the kid that would mix spells and potions from things I found in the garden, who believed that God was a woman, that you could achieve things with the power of your mind. When I was 13 I read an article in a magazine from a real life witch, and that’s when I first discovered Paganism. Since then it snowballed. I instantly knew it was right for me; it incorporated everything I had believed from a young age. As a solitary pagan, I have never been trained under one particular tradition, and I have never really found one that I thought ‘Yeah, I want to stick with this!’ So my path is very eclectic, with a strong emphasis on working with nature and self-improvement.

Did you grow up in a houshoad that had pagam/spiritual leanings?

Not at all. My parents aren’t particularly religious, but the school I attended was very Christian.  Whilst Christianity was a religion that made me uncomfortable, as it just didn’t seem right to me, it taught me how to form a bond with divinity through hymns and prayer, which is very important to me.

Have you ever done/experience anything Pagan related which has scared you?

When I first started practising rituals and spell casting, I was quite young, and eager to jump straight in, so I did a lot of work without knowing fully what I was doing. In hindsight I had nothing to fear, but at the time sitting a candle lit room invoking the Goddess was pretty scary. The only real occasion I can recall ever being really scared in was when I was doing some crystal scrying one night during a particularly powerful full moon; it was all going fine, when suddenly I saw a man’s face, so strong and vivid and a voice clear as day saying ‘Beware the man with the moustache’. It really unsettled me for a couple of days afterwards, as I’ve never had a vision so strong or so ominous.

Do you wander from your path? And what brings you back?

I lead quite a busy life, what with work and all the volunteering I do, and sometimes it is quite easy to stray from my path. Sometimes I find that I don’t have the time to even say a little prayer in the mornings. Sometimes stress draws me from my path; I never lose faith, but I always feel guilty about not being as dedicated as I should, or want to be. Sometimes it is hard to get back on the path, but I find that eventually I will feel the pull so strong I just slip back into it. Other times, I need some sort of impetus. There are three main ways in which I bring myself back which always seem to work; I read a pagan book or watch a pagan-related film (sometimes even Buffy The Vampire Slayer is enough to ignite my passion again, as unrealistic as I know it is). Another thing I do is go for a long walk in nature, if I can, to St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester; it has a pretty powerful ley line running through it and I’ve had some amazing experiences up there. My other guaranteed technique is to browse the pagan friends forum; with a wealth of information and friendly people with tons of experience to share, I can’t help but feel inspired by my friends.

have you faced negativity about your path life from friends, family, employers, neighbours, etc ? and if so, how have you handled it?

The main prejudice I faced was at high school, when I was first exploring my path. Being excited about it, and it being a small school, it soon got around that I was pagan. Even my own friends laughed at me for it, which was hurtful; being so young, and having your beliefs trashed for the first time is not an easy experience! It lead me to creep into the closet for several years, until I reached university and met other like-mided pagans. It gave me the confidence to come out into the open about it, and through my openness meet other pagans in my area. My boyfriend laughs at me about it, but that is just because he loves any excuse to wind me up! At the end of the day he is very accepting.

Paganism is something I have broached with my family, and not to successfully; the believe it is all a bunch of nonsense, and so whilst they know I am very into ‘new age stuff’ they don’t really know the extent of it!

I tend to keep my beliefs quiet at work too, after a bad experience in a previous job. I was 19, at university, and working at a call centre for a bit of extra money. My boss noticed the pentacle around my neck, and asked me if I was a devil-worshipper. I replied no, and told her that my nan who was superstitious had bought it for me to protect me when I went off to university, hoping that would be the end of the conversation. It wasn’t, and she then proceeded to tell me and everyone I was working with in the call centre that she went through a ‘phase’ when she was a teenager and studied demonology extensively, and that I was most definitely a devil worshipper. I was so mortified that a boss could take this sort of attitude and behaviour with one of her employees that I couldn’t fight back or defend myself. I left the job a week or so later, but now tend not to wear a pentacle necklace to work; I have a small, silver pentacle ring I wear which is discreet and very few people pick up on.

do you have daily rituals? or is your pathworking more kind-of as and when?

I would love to have daily rituals, and I always start them with the best intentions; and then I find that life kind of gets on top of me and I end up abandoning them, so my pathworking is very much as and when. I do make a point of talking to my Goddess every day, but otherwise I am constantly having to look for chances to perform any sort of working; for example, when making dinner I tend to fuel whatever I’m cooking with a specific intent as I’m stirring it, or if I’m sat in the park on my lunchbreak eating a sandwich, I will leave a bit of it under a tree as an offering. I am currently looking to work daily meditation into my routine, even if it is just ten minutes before bed, as I feel it is something I have been neglecting recently, and meditation is a big part of my personal path.

do you follow the wheel of the year?

I do follow the wheel of the year, and even though I try to plan them days , sometimes weeks, in advance, they still sneak up and take me by surprise! Being a solitary pagan means that sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to keep on top of these things, but just recently I have discovered other pagans in my area and we have begun spending Sabbats together, which is great. However, if I am celebrating it on my own, even if I am short on time will at least light a candle and say a little prayer.

Is there a Sabbat that holds most meaning for you?

My favourite sabbat is Imbolc; I feel empowered by the thought of new beginnings. Also, it is the first of the fire festivals, and my element is fire, so I always feel drawn to it.

how do you normally celebrate it?

I have always celebrated Imbolc as a solitary. If I have the time, I like to go for a walk and gather any bits of nature I can find to decorate my alter. Then I decide on a goal, something I want to achieve that year, and do a ritual to honour the coming of Spring, and ask for blessings in my specific goal, make an offering and then have a merry little feast and leave a candle burning. The alter usually stays up for the whole day. However, if I don’t have time to do anything ritualistic, I will usually just light a candle and meditate on the meaning of Imbolc, give thanks and ask that the Lord and Lady continue to bless me with their presence in my life.

do you have any working tools, crystals, herbs, oils, etc or practices you would call your favourites?

Whilst I am a person who relies on visual stimuli and triggers a lot, I don’t really own that many tools. I still use the same wand that I made when I first started practising in all my rituals and workings, except for the Sabbats when I use a more decorated one I made at a workshop at Witchfest one year. My favourite tool is probably my amethyst pendulum; it took me so long to find a pendulum that I felt I could actually connect to, so it is really special to me. And I couldn’t live without Lavender Oil; it’s a godsend for someone as clumsy as me!

Where do you go to find sacred space? Do you have a favourite location to be in?

Unfortunately there aren’t many secluded outdoor spaces near me, so I tend to create sacred space for workings in my room, and when I’m not working I keep a clear quartz point pointing clockwise on the windowsill to help keep the positive energy flowing. My favourite location, however, is St Catherine’s Hill in Winchester. I went to university in Winchester, and spent a lot of time up here, watching lunar eclipses or meditating or just wondering around. I found out just after I left Winchester that there is a pretty big ley line running through it, which explains a lot! I haven’t managed to find the time to go back there since I left university, which is a shame, so I am hoping to find the time this summer.

Ever been anywhere you didn’t want to stay because it’s vibe was wrong? Any weird happenings?

Not anything to really talk about. I’ve had the whole bad-vibes thing when walking into certain buildings and found that I had to leave as soon as possible, but that is about the extent of it.

What’s your “take” on fate?

I believe that we all choose our own fate. But if we ask our Gods and Goddesses, they will show us the way that is best for us; for example, casting a spell to attain a certain job, only to find out a couple of days after the interview you didn’t get it. To me, that isn’t that your spell didn’t work, that is divinity intervening because they know there is something better waiting for you. If you don’t want divinity’s help, then don’t ask for it, but I reckon I have been a lot better off in life for it!

Has your Path developed/changed over the time you have been Pagan? If so, How?

My path has changed so much over the years, it makes me proud to look back on and see how far I’ve come. When I first started out, I was very Wiccan; the thought of cursing and hexing scared me out of my mind, just the names of certain deities had me trembling in my shoes, and to be honest, I didn’t really know of any other paths or traditions. Since then I have definitely become more open minded and better read. Wicca, although still an influence, is not a major influence of my path anymore. I have thought about and questioned karma and the nature of healing and hexing and reached my own conclusions, and some of those deities that I swore I would never work with have become my patrons. The more I studied, the less I feared, and the more I learnt the more I wanted to know.

Who and/or what in the Pagan World have influenced you most?

Those people who have influenced me the most along my path have been the everyday pagans; my pagan friends, and members from the pagan-friends forum. It is so inspiring to hear and read and see for myself the way that they incorporate their beliefs into their everyday lives, to really see what is possible and what I could achieve for myself if I just studied and practiced and believed. Whilst I find authors are a great source of knowledge and inspiration, they lack the personal touch that you get through friendships, and I think that is one thing that really spurs me on.


Celebration!

Thanks to everyone who sent in photographs of themselves celebrating; our favourites were from the Pagan Families and Friends of West Michigan group.

The group’s next gathering will be on the 6th May; visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pffwm for more details.


Honey Cakes

By Suzannah Defoe
I don’t know about the rest of you but for me honey cakes are an essential part of any celebration. Little wispy fluffy pieces of honey buttery goodness that melt in your mouth go well with any hot or cold drink and are easy to make, transport and of course share! The recipe that follows is my own personal favourite adapted from fairy cakes but please feel free to embroider upon and change to your heart’s content.

Ingredients.

175g unsalted butter (preferably softened).

175g caster sugar.

175g self-raising flour.

3 medium free-range eggs (beaten).

½ teaspoon baking powder.

2 Tablespoons mead (or milk if making for young ones).

3-4 tablespoons of honey.

This is enough to make 24 small cakes or 12 larger muffin sized cakes.

Begin by heating your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and arranging your trays with cupcake/muffin liners. I find it useful to also make sure all my ingredients are out on the work surface before I begin. Take the butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat them together until the mixture is smooth. You can do this by hand if you prefer but it’s perfectly acceptable to use a mixer. Using a sieve sift the flour and baking powder down onto the wet ingredients. Try to keep the sieve at a fair height above to give your cakes a lighter finish. Stir in the flour and add the mead (milk) and stir again. Your mixture should be smooth and fairly thick.

Spoon the mix into the cake cases so they are about half way full giving them room to rise. Bake them in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller cakes and 15-20 minutes if you are using the bigger muffin cases. Keep an eye on your cakes so they don’t get overcooked. Ideally they should feel firm but spongy when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Turn them out onto a cooling rack.

While the cakes are cooling heat the honey gently either in a saucepan or in the microwave. You aren’t aiming to cook the honey just make it a little runnier. Use a cocktail stick to put several small holes in each cake and then slowly and gently drizzle over the warm honey. Your cakes are now ready to be eaten. Enjoy!

Forest floor
By Cai Thomas


Astro-Theology: A New Way of Interpreting the Bible

by Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq.

[Author of The Royal Arch of Enoch: The Impact of Masonic Ritual, Philosophy, and Symbolism. http://www.robertwsullivaniv.com, http://www.facebook.com/theroyalarchofenoch. Release date: May 1, 2012]

In my new book, The Royal Arch of Enoch, I present a “hot button” subject. It is analyzed in Chapter III; it is an Astro-Theological interpretation of the Bible.  I also forge a nexus as to how this interpretation is symbolically carried on in both blue lodge and high degree Freemasonry.  These concepts stem from what are often called “The Mysteries” or “The Ancient Mysteries” which hold that religion is, in a nutshell, the anthropomorphization of the sun, the moon, the constellations, and heavenly bodies.  In other words, the characters in the Bible are not real, flesh and blood people, but are rather symbols representing the sun, the moon, the zodiac, and the cosmos.

Chapter III of The Royal Arch of Enoch begins,

“The Ancient Mysteries were practiced from approximately 6000 – 4000 B.C.E. in some form (perhaps earlier) to 379-395 C.E. when Christian Emperor Theodosius I outlawed the Mystery Religions; the Egyptian Serapeum, the Library of Alexandria, and the Temple of Apollo at Delphi were destroyed while Nicene Christianity and Roman Catholicism replaced (or appropriated) the Mysteries and became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.  The Mysteries consisted of two primary schools: the Egyptian and the Druidic.  From where these traditions come, likely a lost civilization – Atlantis, Lemuria – is left to speculation and open to suggestion.  The Mystery Schools contained initiatory rites where select neophytes were disseminated wisdom through a system of degrees; the truths or knowledge imparted was not available to the general populous and great lengths were taken to ensure the wisdom of the Mysteries was sequestered from them.  It was through the Mysteries – exoterically called “religion” – that mankind was guided, swayed, if not manipulated.  Once a candidate was initiated into the greater Mysteries he could not divulge the knowledge that was imparted to him, usually through allegorical symbolic metaphor. The Druidic Mysteries dominated the British Isles while the Mysteries of Egypt were naturally practiced on the banks of the Nile.  The philosophical symbolic teachings of both the Druidic and Egyptian Mysteries will now be explored.  The Egyptian Mysteries influenced and informed Judaism, the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the Greco-Roman Dionysian/Bacchus cults – all of which predate Christianity. Comparatively, the Persian Mysteries of Mithraism as contained within Zoroastrianism were intertwined with the Egyptian/Greco-Roman Mysteries and ultimately became the Sol Invictus cult which in turn became Roman state-sanctioned Christianity.  These mystery traditions also found their way into Islam seemingly as the worship of the planets – namely Venus.  The Mysteries contained two schools: one exoteric open to all, one esoteric known only to the initiated few.  The incorporation of the Mysteries into the first state backed “non-pagan” religion was enough to create the Mysterion – the Sacred Mysteries of Christianity – or occult Christianity, within which the true symbolic meanings of Christian religiosity and eschatology were contained.  This point was echoed by church father Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-ca. 215 C.E.) who stated Christianity had, like the Pagan Mysteries, two schools: one for neophytes and one of secret knowledge transmitted to “a small number, by a succession of masters, and not in writing.”[Footnote]  Christianity following the Mystery tradition caused the learned church father Origen Adamantius (ca. 185-254 C.E.) who was a student of Clement of Alexandria to declare:

“The existence of certain doctrines which are beyond those which are  
openly taught and do not reach the multitude is not a peculiarity of
Christianity only, but is shared by the philosophers.  For they had
some doctrines which were exoteric and some esoteric.”[Footnote]

Paul the Apostle (of Tarsus, ca. 5-67 C.E.), in the forth chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians, speaking of the simplest facts of the Old Testament, asserts they are an allegory.  Both Origen and Pope Gregory I (a/k/a Gregory the Great) held that the Four Gospels were not to be taken in their literal sense; and Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296/298 – 373, a/k/a Athanasius the Apostolic) admonishes us that “Should we understand sacred writ according to the letter, we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies.”[Footnote]  In other words if we take the Bible – or any holy scripture – i.e. the Qur’an, the Vedas – literally, we are committing sacrilege and offending God.  In this vein it should come as no surprise that each of the Abrahamic faiths contains its own mystery tradition where the true meanings or teachings were concealed in symbolic allegory: the Mysterion within Christianity, Kabbalah within Judaism and Sufism within Islam. The impact of Sufism upon Masonry will be discussed in The Royal Arch of Enoch.  Christianity incorporates all the elements of the Pagan Mysteries only with new names assigned: Isis became Mary, Osiris transformed into her husband Joseph, Horus/Mithras/Bacchus/Dionysus/Apollo morphed into Jesus Christ[Footnote], etc.  One must bear in mind that many – if not all – of the dramatis personae of both the Old and New Testaments are not real people, but rather are astronomical/astrological or astro-theological allegories based upon the sun, the moon, the planets, and their movements through various constellations or relation to the stars or other celestial bodies or arrangements.  As will be seen, Freemasonry also incorporates elements of these Mysteries as a vessel or preserver of the ancient Mystery Schools.  In turn some Masonic historians traced masonry to the Essences (ca. 2 B.C.E. – 1 C.E.), a mystical Jewish sect allegedly responsible for the creation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes incorporated many elements of modern day Masonry such as different levels of initiation and vows of secrecy.”

These concepts are not “new” and I am not the first Mason to present this information. Other Masons that spoke on this controversial subject include Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833), Albert Pike (1809-1891), Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990), Albert Churchward (1852-1925),  and Albert Mackey (1807-1881). However I am the first author to link these concepts which are to be found in The Book of Enoch or I Enoch, a sacred text left out of the Bible.  The influence of this book upon the high degrees of Freemasonry is the primary subject matter of the of The Royal Arch of Enoch as it presents a previously undiscovered historical anomaly.  It should also be pointed out that the influence of the Mysteries on the Abrahamic Faiths, namely the mysteries of Egypt, fascinated a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher in the seventeenth century.  On Kircher I explain:

“Amun Re/Ra, later Horus – the spiritual, not material sun – was also the “risen” deity representing the sun as it “rises” in the east every morning bringing life, salvation and divine light to the world.  In the morning the sun (Amen Ra/Re, Horus) is “born again” as the supreme “Holy Father” defeating the darkness of the night (Typhon), at high-noon at its apex it is a youthful son/sun at full strength, and at evening the sun enters the ghostly underworld beneath the western horizon becoming a “Holy Ghost or Spirit”; the sun thus has three distinct phases: growth, maturity/strength, and decay.  To the Egyptians the sun was a symbol of immorality – it died each night only to be born again in the morning reaching full strength at noon.  This is where the concept of the divine trinity of  “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” derives from within Christianity – from the Egyptian – as accepted by Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher (1602 – 1680);  the word “trinity” does not appear in the Bible.  Kircher was a Jesuit honored with the title “master of a hundred arts” who published numerous works on oriental studies, geology, and medicine.  Kircher, a hermetist-cabalist, continued the Renaissance tradition of interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphs as symbols containing divine truths; the hieroglyphs on the obelisk of Heliopolis to Kircher contained the fore-runners of Christian symbology including, among other things, the sun placed over a Christian cross seemingly crossifed or crucified.  Although one finds frequent reference to both Hebrew Kabbalah – its Sephirot – and Christian Cabala in his works, Kircher condemned the practice of cabalistic magic.  He published, among others, Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta, Obeliscus Aegyptiacus, Obeliscus Pamphilius, Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs, Prodomus coptus sive Aegyptiacus, Rituale Ecclesiae Aegyptiacae sive Cophititarum, Sphinx Mystagoga, sive Diatribe Hieroglyphica, and Turris Babel. These texts were the first real studies of Egyptian hieroglyphs and forged a nexus between the Egyptian religion and Roman culture; the Egyptianizing of Rome itself in other words. (insert b/w frontispiece with caption: Frontispiece of Athanasius Kircher’s Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs, 1665, featuring an eye in the triangle inside a cabalistic sun – as God – as the source of knowledge surrounded by nine angels.  A cosmological sphere sits below it representing the heavens while two Persian Magi stare in awe. The magi on the right contemplates the 47th Proposition of Euclid – the future emblem of a Masonic Worshipful Master.)  In Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652- 1654) Kircher compared Christianity to the religion and mysticism of Egypt arguing that Christianity’s origins were born out of the Egyptian Mysteries; he also believed that Moses and Hermes Trismegistus were one and the same. At the end of Oedipus Aegyptiacus, just after the hymn from the Pimander with which he concludes, Kircher places a hieroglyph enjoining secrecy and silence concerning these sublime doctrines. And, in effect, in this survival in seventeenth-century Jesuitism of the most enthusiastic type of Renaissance religious Hermetism we have something like another of those esoteric channels through which the Hermetic tradition is carried on, which perhaps explains why Mozart could be a Freemason as well as a Catholic.[Footnote]   Kircher assisted Gian Bernini in the erection of an Egyptian obelisk in Rome’s Piazza Navona near the Fountain of the Four Rivers as a symbolic gesture to Christianity’s true occult origins.  The symbolism of an obelisk – associated with the spiritual solar energy Amun Ra/Re –  was well known to Kircher.  Regarding the divine trinity Kircher concluded that the Egyptian solar winged orb represented the Egyptian scarab beetle with its wings spread; it symbolized the beetle rolling it’s dung ball from east to west infusing it with it’s new seed – life, just as the sun by rising in the east and setting in the west infuses the earth with life and fertility.  Kircher also equated the Holy Trinity to occultism as inherited from Egypt and practiced by famed alchemist Paracelsus (1493-1541): the Holy Trinity was fire, water, air – three elements found on earth but not earth themselves.  They were salt, mercury, and sulfur: the “Holy Trinity” – God – the universal seed of nature. This occult alchemical philosophy was adopted by Germanic theologian, mystic, and sage Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) who called the Trinity The Three Witnesses, by which the Invisible is made known to the visible, tangible universe.”

Within the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the “Sun/Son of God” – the light of the world – who is assisted by twelve apostles. The twelve apostles are the twelve houses of the zodiac that assist the sun on its annual journey.   The break down of the apostles and their respective zodiacs are as follows:

1. As Aries the Ram is the first house of the Zodiac, so is Peter the first leader of Christianity after Christ.  He is fiery, impulsive, yet changeable – he is the rock upon which Christ founds his New Church of the lamb. Etymologically the name “Peter” comes from the Greek “petra” meaning rock.

2. Taurus the Bull is the dogmatic Simon Zelotes – he who is concerned with property and finance – who rebelled against the payment of taxes. Taurus is admonished by God’s Sun: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…..”. Economically it is the sign of Taurus from where the term “bull market” originates.

3. Gemini the Twins is James the Lesser – intelligent but incapable of independent thought. Slow to accept the teachings of the solar messiah, but became an eloquent preacher of the church in Jerusalem and an active evangelist.  Astrologically the city of London, England is aligned to Gemini; its Great Fire of 1666 was predicted by English astrologer William Lilly (1602 – 1681) in 1652.  His hieroglyph shows twins – as London – burning. (Insert Lilly engraving with caption: The Great Fire of London of 1666 showing Gemini/London burning. It was published in 1652 in William Lilly’s book Monarchy or No Monarchy in England.) The English monarchy rules from St. James Palace/Court of St. James as an esoteric homage to Gemini.

4. Cancer the Crab is Andrew the home-body who dwells with his brother Simon Peter (a/k/a Peter). His first thought when he discovered the Messiah was to run and fetch his brother.

5. Leo the Lion is John; as Leo is ruled by the sun so then is John the most inspired and the most beloved of Christ’s apostles.

6. Phillip is Virgo: always precise, calculating, enquiring yet practical.: the decans of Virgo.

7. Libra is Matthew the even minded tax collector who uses the scales to weigh and collect money.

8. Judas Iscariot is Scorpio the Scorpion, the deadly backstabbing traitor who delivers his deadly sting or “kiss” shortly after the autumnal equinox sending the sun of God into death or winter. The “30 pieces of silver” that are paid to Judas in return for his betrayal are an occult reference to the moon and the 30 day lunar cycle.

9. James the Greater is Sagittarius, the wise teacher who along with the other two fire signs – Peter and John – are the most anxious to spread the light of Christ’s solar church.

10 Bartholomew – Nathaniel is dependable Capricorn in whom “there is no deception”.

11. Thaddeus – Jude is Aquarius, the social liberal who sought better living and working conditions and an overall better “state of being”. He interrogates Jesus at the Last Supper as to how Christ would manifest this.

12. Pisces the Fish are Thomas.  The two fish represent both the positive and the negative: just as Thomas believes and is courageous one moment (positive), he doubts the next (negative).  While believing Christ is the messiah he is best known for disbelieving the Resurrection; as such he is a “doubting Thomas”.

The Bible seems to document this symbology based on a phenomenon known as the Precession of The Equinoxes.  Based on the Precessional cycle the earth moves backwards one degree every seventy two years through each house of the zodiac which gives rise to the concept of solar ages, where the sun remains in each sign for approximately 2000-2100 years.  Thus we have the Age of Taurus, the Age of Aries, the current yet waning Age of Pisces, and the coming Age of Aquarius. The Royal Arch of Enoch documents how the adoration of the sun in each of these ages gives rise to the respective religion born out of that age.  In conclusion, one could argue that the Bible is a solar astrological calendar or sun dial more similar to the Mayan calendar than one may initially think.

About the author: Robert W. Sullivan IV is a philosopher, historian, antiquarian, jurist, theologian, writer, and lawyer; The Royal Arch of Enoch is his first published work and is the result of twenty years of research.  Mr. Sullivan received his B.A. from Gettysburg College in 1995, having spent his entire junior year studying European history at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University. He received his J.D. from Widener University (Delaware Campus) in 2000. He studied International Law and Jurisprudence at Trinity College, Oxford University.  Mr. Sullivan is a Freemason having joined Amicable-St. John’s Lodge #25, Baltimore Maryland in 1997; he became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1999, Valley of Baltimore, Orient of Maryland.  A lifelong Marylander, he resides in Baltimore.  

Copyright Robert W. Sullivan IV, 2012. 

Courroux, Switzerland
Photography by Benjamin J. Kirby

Rose & I go to see the Fairies

True Story

By T. Fox Dunham

As the spring weather comes, I feel the earth’s energy renew my fractured body. In the warm air, the sunlight, the renewing energy of thunder showers, I find rejuvenation. The summer. The spring. These are my times and tides. When winter bullies back into the year, I hide in my fox den and hibernate till the sun comes home.

The seasons have their spirits just as the land. They grow old as the year turns and are born again just as I am. Their children seed the hills, the forests, the tundra, and the seas. They have been given many names—elves, sidhe, erls, kami, the golden ones—and they exist in every folk tradition, often with condign natures. They are the fey. And they are with us.

In my journeys, I have encountered the wee ones—though some are not so small. It is hard not to encounter the folk. They live in most corners and caves, in oak caverns and behind the clay pots on our porches. Shamans encounter these beings as we step into the other world, and they act as guides or tricksters or lovers, all with vital lessons and often fun chaos. They walk in the layers of this world just as we do, and when the conditions are right, when states align, you might even be fortunate enough—or unlucky—to see them with your own physical eyes, real and material. I have seen them in this reality three times in my life sans the aid of shamanic transition. That’s when I knew I’d never be alone.

When I was 20, I went for a stroll at the end of April with an old girlfriend, whom I’m pleased to say became a good friend to me after our love did not survive our maturing. Rose couldn’t win a height contest with a caterpillar standing on its back legs—a little thing, sweet like a violet. The wind blew her hair curly dark. She loved to sing country sings, but she feared anyone hearing her. Once, she let me listen to a tape she’d recorded. I couldn’t tell the difference between her and a professional star. We deny the world much beauty when we don’t believe in ourselves.

My hair had grown back, all blond and curly after chemotherapy. For the three of you who follow my eccentric essays, you know that I’m a cancer survivor, as I often remind you. I professed high spirits and magick, but really a part of me had grown old so fast. I had seen so much, lost so much, even my love, and after I survived my rare cell type of lymphoma, I became a very dangerous thing: a wild fox searching for meaning, for justification to the suffering I had witnessed.

The magnolia trees wore white dresses along the canal. Their white hands fluttered to the trails, carpeting the grass with powdered sugar. I asked Rose to take a walk with me, into the wood behind the canal. I fetched my doctor’s bag filled with my magical wares, including a bag of fennel seeds. I had a special offering with me and a jar of milk.

We crossed over the still canal on a fallen oak. You could still spot hunks of coal that had fallen from barges that horse teams used drag up the canal. My grandfather brought me here to fish often through my life, though they’d stopped stocking it this far up. Carp ruled the shallow waters, fish who would torment my fishing and once even snapped my fly rod. Clever fish are carp. If you ever need wily advice and the fox aren’t coming out, summon a carp spirit. It’ll probably cost you some fomented mulberries.

We walked the opposite trail, the place where four years ago a tick crawled from the bordering wood to drink of my healthy blood. The 1990s were an era of over-development in my area, the coming of the stagnant armies of condos. Construction devoured the farmer’s fields, the woodland, the open spaces. This concentrated the deer populations or drove them off, and the ticks exploded onto the residential area. I was one of many to suffer in the bloom of lyme disease. Poison sumac masked the bull’s eye rash. I remember it so clearly now. When finally found two years later, the disease had wrecked my body, and the treatment triggered my lymphoma. This was a difficult place for me to go. I didn’t blame nature. I blamed the greed of the construction companies who devoured with little consideration of the future.

We crossed through the threshold, through the portals in the sticker bushes and brambles. We followed the trail along the ferns and sycamores and to the creek that split the wood. As we traveled deeper, you could sense the pressure of the forest building, pressing down on you. This is the deep heart of the trees. Every forest has one. It is where they dwell.

The ground sloshed under our shoes. Yellow sassafras grew high in the tall grasses on the edge of the bog. The mocking birds sung in three notes. The earthy smell of rotting wood cleared my head. We came to a tree stump. I knew this was the place. My third eye, my compass, felt it sync.

“Shhhh now,” I said to her. “We wait until the sun goes down. It’s the time in between. The ‘tween places. This where the fey traverse our world. They dance along the shore between the ocean and land.”

The sky ignited in pink, painting the clouds. I could feel the alignment in my chest. I opened my doctor’s bag and removed my wares. I came without any real intention. I just wanted to pay my respects, say salutations. I’ve always felt closer to their world than ours, probably one of this reasons this world has done so much to reject me. In chalk, I drew several symbols on the face of the stump. I called to them in several names. I tossed the fennel seeds into the far bog. Then I made my offering, my sacrifice.

Sacrifices, offerings to fey and gods are often in traditional forms such as golden bread or white milk or burned herb. There is a deeper magick in intent, in a true sacrifice of something that will not return. My gardening teacher would often give the last cigarette out of her pack when she knew it would be some time before she’d refill. This was her sacrifice, and it held meaning, intent. I’d written poem, deeply personal words. I wrote the simple verse on paper, then with a lit incense stick, I burned it on a small cauldron of sand. In my mind, I sung the words. This was my gift, and I’d never write the words again. This was my sacrifice. Then, I poured the milk.

We waited for a time as the sun set. I played my little flute. The energy shifted, and I felt it was time for us to travel back. As I gathered my wares into my doctor’s bag, Rose froze. Her face cracked. I’ve seen a similar look from people in dark places when we’d hear something knock. I followed her gaze to the base of the stump. At first, I thought they were lightning bugs giving us a spectral show, flying low to the ground. As I studied them, their bodies materialized. They had legs and arms. They stood even shorter than Rose. A group of them huddled around the given milk soaking into the mud.

You smile. You grin so wide your face muscles ache. And it fills your heart with a golden light. They were the sidhe, going about their business. The veil had lifted. We could see them with our eyes. I’m not sure if they’d traveled to us or we to them. I might have thought myself mad if Rose hadn’t pointed them out first.

“Sweet Bride,” I said, naming my deity.

“Do you see them?”

I nodded.

Rose darted through the wood. She ran like a hare. Concerned, I chased after her. She followed the trail in the dark, running to the distant lights, the haven of blind civilization. I finally caught up with her, and we left the wood and walked back to my apartment.

We didn’t talk about what we’d seen. It gave her quite a shock. She wasn’t ready to believe. She held the light so close to her heart, the pagan faith, but she hadn’t accepted it as real. She still lingered in the ‘tween places. What had affirmed my world to me had frightened her, and we never spoke about it.

I hope that it planted a seed in her soul just as it had nurtured mine. Magick lived in the world. We had suffered for something true. The fey walk among us.

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA—author and historian. He’s published in over 100 international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham


Gypsy Love Cards

By Jessica Howard

The Gypsy Love Cards are a divination process I encountered when reading Cassandra Eason’s ‘Ancient Wisdom’. I had not long been studying paganism when I picked up the book for a couple of quid in my local Woolworths, and so for a beginner I felt it was an easy way to ease myself into divination. It was the first form of divination I really tried, and even after all these years and having spent time studying practises such as tarot and pendulum divination and scrying, I still count it as my favourite method of divination. Yes; as you will see, it is easy enough to pick up, but once you have practiced for a while and really get to know the cards, you will find the depth you can take a reading to is truly fascinating.

Yes, these cards are mainly used to divine matters of love. However, once you become acquainted with them, you will find that you will be able to read on matters of friendship and family too.

All you need to use Gypsy Love cards is a pack of regular playing cards. It is important that you use the same pack for every reading, and use them only for reading if you wish to build a strong bond with the cards and enhance your readings. Although it is considered bad luck to read the cards concerning your own romantic situation, I have found that it has never done any harm. Readings for friends have also been very successful. Remember, you are not attempting to tell the future; the true purpose of the reading is to use your natural intuitive powers to being all the hidden factors to the surface and discover the best way forwards along a rarely smooth path.

All credit goes to the amazing Cassandra Eason for the interpretation of the cards; I highly recommend you checking out any one of her books.

The Method:

Shuffle the cards and lay out three rows of three cards, one row below the other and the next below that. Turn them one by one, row by row, read them separately, then as a row, and then put it all together to get a complete reading.

Row 1-The Cards of Your Relationship: These three cards concern your current or projected relationship as it is now and any questions or doubts you may have.

Row 2-The Cards of Outside Influences: These cards talk about the influences of others in a relationship or potential relationship, such as an opposition or pressures to marry or have children, and can be the hardest cards to interpret in my opinion.

Row 3-The Cards of Suggested Action: These three cards offer you the way forwards.

The Love Card Meanings:

(Note: These have been modified to reflect the original meanings and to take away the purely fortune-telling aspect that can deny personal choice).

The Suits:

Diamonds-Practical issues in a relationship, such as money or domestic arrangements.

Hearts-Emotional issues, such as passion, jealousy, trust and loyalty.

Clubs-Communication issues in love or the relationship.

Spades-Not bad luck, but challenges or changes. These can arise from the natural development in a relationship, such as whether to move in together or have a family, to unexpected pregnancy or illness that can seem to herald the end but in fact can offer new opportunities and a new path.

The Joker-Listen to other peoples instincts rather than listen to others advice or the old solutions. Take a step into the unknown.

Aces:

These talk of new beginnings and a new approach to an old problem.

Ace of Diamonds-Try new practical arrangements. If you are single, you may find a new relationship begins in a shared activity.                                                                                                                                Ace of Hearts-You may need to learn to trust someone again, despite previous heartache. Or it may be time to begin a new stage or a deeper commitment in the relationship.

Ace of Clubs-You may be uncertain about how to communicate with your partner and need to trust your instincts; you need a new perspective in an old problem.

Ace of Spades-You may find yourself facing a major change, but be confident and see the positive advantages.

The Numbers:

Twos-Balancing things within a relationship. Sort out your priorities, make any choices necessary and accept that you cannot keep everyone happy all of the time.

Threes-Expansion, whether taking on more responsibilities or moving on to a more permanent level of commitment, which means extra input but promises a deeper happiness.

Fours-Take a chance and don’t let the desire for security prevent us from trusting someone and taking a risk. We may be risking the loss of material benefits or rejection, but it is a risk worth taking.

Fives-Accepting that lie and people are rarely perfect and no letting temporary illusion or boredom destroy the benefits or potential positive qualities of a relationship.

Sixes-Harmony and idealism, and not only the outer calm but the inner peace or need for it. It is not a time for action, but for enjoying today and resolving any minor differences.

Sevens-Dreams and searching for something more that life in material terms. This can be a time for discovering what you really want in a relationship and beginning  to make some of your dreams come true.

Eights-Responding to set-backs or limitations. They are full of movement and change,  escaping from negative factors or people that may be bringing undue pressure.

Nines-Place of one’s own identity and separate needs in a relationship and suggest only if you are strong and happy in your own life can you fulfil the needs of others. It can also indicate that one or both partners may be pressurized by demands and needs a little space.

Tens-Completion, total commitment and fulfilment. Whether the card represents a period of material security, contentment in the home, emotional joy, communication on a deep level or making a major decision, when it appears in a reading you can be sure that you are doing the right thing and your relationship is on track.


Astroflash Monthly Horoscope for May 2012

by Flash Silvermoon

The Beltane Fires kick off the lusty month of May on the first of the month. The Eve is also celebrated as we will do here at Moonhaven in Melrose. Earth Religions worldwide enjoy this time of feast and frolic to coordinate with the raising of the sap in nature which extends to our own warming desires and aspirations. A great time for us all to raise the fire within for whatever purpose we mjght require.

In 1976, I had the honor of meeting an Ancient Native Wise Woman by the name of Mello Rye  who shared a May Day ritual with a group of us which I have enjoyed over the years.
She told us to go to the ocean at dawn and as the sun is rising, the group should stand at the water’s edge and stamp our feet all together chanting Awak – nia over and over, this is to awaken the Earth Mother to stand up for Herself and feel the support of Her people.
This is a simple ritual practiced  in one form or another by indigenous people all over the world feel free to enjoy and share.

By May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, the moon will be full in Scorpio which always promises a level of intensity for many of us spiritually and emotionally. We are also experiencing an intensification of changes in the electromagnetic field of the planet, which as I have described in last month’s Astroflash, has been more challenging to us all including our animals.

With the Sun in Scorpio’s opposite sign Taurus, we are once again invited to contemplate our values and what we hold most dear and how does this motivate us to run our lives. The Full Scorpio Moon says, ” Very well, then, how are you willing to transform your beliefs and life to support the times economically, emotionally and  how do you use or misuse power and resources?” Important questions that we all must ponder to make all our lives work better. Because these are fixed signs, the energies may feel more rigid and they are. The issues that I bring up are likely to flare up in one way or another, personally and or globally at this time.

Word to the wise, it is always better to meet the challenge of the changes as you begin to recognize them brewing even if only incrementally rather than wait for the roof to fall on your head. By meeting these shifts before they are full blown you have the gift of meeting the issues on your own terms rather than having them foisted upon you with no alternatives when it is too late.

With Mars in Virgo opposing Chiron in Pisces, the asteroid of the wounded healer, we are being invited to find material ways to make changes that particularly move to preserve and heal our water.With Neptune and Chiron both in Pisces, it will be all about our water for a long long time.
In case you haven’t noticed, the devastation daily being poured into our oceans from  the never healed BP gusher and  hundreds of other oil spills globally and the radioactive leakage from Fukashima, we are in trouble and whoever is in office is going to have to make this a priority. [After I wrote this part, the news  broke through about a huge oil spill in Russia.] When will the oil lobbies take their collective feet off the auto industry and let them economically make the cars that Tesla designed that didn’t need petroleum? Just maybe that time is coming soon as power becomes decentralized. I’m telling you, It’s all in the stars!

As I and many of have said over the last 2 years, there has been a major cover up about this contamination and with a Scorpio Full Moon, the veil will be lifted and is being lifted as we speak. {today Apr 24 right after I wrote this the first BP engineer is being convicted of obstruction of justice for destroying thousands of posts that showed the BP leadership KNEW that  triple the amount of oil per day was leaking into the ocean, see ABC News! Finally somebody in the mainstream is also crying FOUL for BP spending $82 billion to hype the Gulf as being safe as far as food and touristry rather than paying the locals back for destroying their lives and lands not to mention the rest of the world that will inevitably suffer.

Before a healing can begin in earnest, the Powers that Were need to publicly announce and agree that these problems exist thereby ending a media blackout so folks keep your ears to the ground and your eyes to more liberal news to hear the real stories as they trickle out.

Starting in June, I will resume doing musical Full Moon rituals to Heal the Waters here at Moonhaven . Last month we joined with Soulfire4theGulf  to do a series of ceremonies to Heal the Waters of the Gulf which was a global initiative with great result. See their website http://www.turtlewomenrising.com for more info. We were most proud to be involved with such an incredible project and if this turns you on, know that this was just the beginning and  as this movement builds you will see notices on this site and my own.

Remember that no matter how dark these times get, this world runs on vibration and the more that each and everyone of us can become energetic beacons of positive thought and action the more quickly that we can elevate and co create that critical mass to make the kind of world that we want to live in. There’s more to it but that simple and sometimes not so simple practice will keep you being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Saturn will be retrograde in Libra all month and Pluto will be retrograde in Capricorn and these two intense celestial bodies can really effect the global theater. When planets are retrograde, their energy has to move inward before it manifests changes outwardly so for better or worse, the fever pitch of revolutionary zeal may  slow down for a bit and simmer. Mars is out of retrograde in Virgo so we can expect some wordy saber rattling but not as much “action” as we were seeing some months ago when Uranus and Pluto were in a tighter square with each other.
In a way, this is good because these pauses during retrogrades allow us to integrate and digest the  transformations that seem to fly into our lives jet propelled.

On May 15 til June 27, lovely Venus turns her back and goes retrograde in order that we re evaluate our relationships or our desires for them. Because Venus is in Gemini, this can be a great time for integrating some deeper communication and reviewing past decisions so that more understanding and fulfillment is possible. Talk, talk, and more talk and you will find yourself in the middle of a happier day.

A fun exercise to do with  your partner is for each of you to draw up a Top Ten Turn On list [this needn’t be sexual but can include sexual things too.] You may be delighted by the  things you discover to enjoy together. Have some fun with this we all need to lighten up and enlighten up about now.  Good news is that Venus and Saturn are trine which is a flowing relationship so that some relationships are liable to find an even greater security as a result. Very important under that aspect not to let your love become stale and joyless. Make that list and check it thrice and find out if your honey is naughty or nice!

This IS NOT a great time to begin a new relationship unless you don’t care if its a permanent one as you will simply not have all the information needed to choose the appropriate partner.  If you are just looking for a fling do your thing but don’t look at a Maserati and expect it to turn into a station wagon just because you have a bond OK!
Be that all as it may, it is never the wrong time to OPEN YOUR HEARTS WIDE and that is precisely the energy that will help us all move through these times with more grace and fluidity.

Holy Light Waves gang we are due for a Solar Eclipse on the New Moon in Gemini on May 20. These Eclipses can be quite profound and can signal major shifts personally and politically. Energetically we will be getting a major download of reshaped energy and information. I have noticed that many wars have begun and ended on Eclipses and this can be a time of beginnings and endings. The energetic spiral of change that we are weaving grows ever tighter and hence faster and such times herald this quickening.

Embrace the miraculous as it is quite possible that we will see miracles in many realms this year that we heretofore believed were impossible. We are quantum leaping and if you were to ask someone in 1950 about some of the things that we use everyday like Cel phones etc, they would have told you that you were crazy so, stay open for the miracles as they are coming.
We may also see some intense seismic upheavals near Japan, the West Coast, and  weather or other difficulties in Texas too as this eclipse will connect strongly in these areas.  If you live near those areas it would be good to have a plan for how to contend with potential Earth Changes and for all of us, stocking up on special items and medicines that you want to be sure to have is a good idea just in case.

According to astrologer Stephanie Austin, this Eclipse is conjunct the Pleiades Star Cluster which is venerated in many Ancient cultures. This will surely result in  some amazing and magical occurrences and a major time of reseeding a new consciousness. If you want to hear more about the amazing beings from the Pleiadies you can Utube The Pleiadians and listen to many beautiful videos. As some of you know not all on Utube is worth  viewing so if you find one that doesn’t ring true click it away. Astrologer Barbara Hand Clow also writes some great volumes on the subject as well.

To maintain your balance during these rapidly changing times treasure and seek moments of peace and serenity when you can find them and create them for yourself  as often as possible. Spend time in nature and with loved ones of the two and four legged variety and try to spend your free time with those who bring out the best in you and support the positive new beginnings in your life.  Many alternative healing techniques can give you relief from stress and pain. Be aware of  people who will vampirize your energy and leave you feeling empty, you deserve more and you will serve your best interests by sharing with those who give back. Obviously with illness and age that isn’t always possible but you do get what I mean. Remember its time for more balance…Saturn in Libra demands balance and so does your body, mind, and spirit.

See my suggestions below that are all available at Moonhaven Magical Rocks and Things in Melrose that will offer you healing, serenity and elevation.

Aries – There’s no stopping me now with Mercury and Mars moving forward. I have some Big Plans and I finally have just the right time to put them into place. Seems like I have been spinning my wheels a bit lately and haven’t been in sync either so I may need to recalibrate this brain with the rest of the planet so I can move forward more effortlessly and harmoniously with others. I just love Spring, it brings out the best in me and lifts my spirits just by looking out my window. Flash you did say the sap would be rising didn’t you, well….let her rip!

Taurus – Move over Aries  cause this is at least partly my month and I want to revel in every sensuous moment, every morsel, every warm breadth. The glowing growing greenery that blankets my home and yard evokes such a feeling of happiness and satisfaction that even the difficult things feel better. As the immortal Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful” and lately too much works too fine for me. While expansive Jupiter is in my sign, I am really not feeling much like curbing anything but I suppose after awhile, I will have curb everything but my enthusiasm.

Gemini – Oh it’s gonna be my birthday soon oh yes it is, and I’m gonna have a party, uh huh and I’ll invite all my friends and I will  live in a social whirlwind. With Venus in my sign and then going retro right back again, I will be the life of the party. Hmm, this loving little Gemini had better not put too many partners on her dance card or she will find that her popularity might work against her if they all find out about each other. I know this might be all well and good for the single Gemini’s [aren’t we all at least doubles] but if you want to maintain your relationship, it might be best to encourage some role playing and short trips to kick in some variety.

Cancer – I just want to know one thing, why is my system so damn intimate with the planetary process? I mean I don’t mind sharing  some vibes here and there but these earthquakes and tornadoes more than rock my world. Can’t wait to start swimming so I can feel the water in a real way. The waters, they rock me in their arms and clear my energy field of all the junk that I so often pick up from my environment. OK so I’m a psychic sponge. Not much to be done about that but the water is my friend and cleans me up again. Frogs call to bring the rain and fill the Mother where She wanes.

Leo – Not a lot happening for me on this map but I will take my fire where I can get it. Fortunately I am a most creative soul and there is just enough juice out there to make my love light shine. Believe it or not this fixed old lioness is finding new ways to awaken a few interests. Don’t be surprised if you see some new project with my name on it that screams Leo front and center don’t dim the lights!

Virgo – Don’t complain if I am a little grumpy and fidgety at the beginning of the month because both the Moon and Mars are near each other in my sign.Some people thrive with a bit of chaos but it just drives me crazy. I need some order in this asylum we call life. I suppose if I were a groovier type of person I would enjoy this unbounded  more liberated energy but maybe that just isn’t me. With so much in Pisces, my opposite, I feel like I am on  a growth edge asking me to once again let go a little more and to free my mind, and as those funky Divas said, and the rest will follow!

Libra – Damn, I look at the news and my It’s Not Fair Button is pushed to the edge.
I know that somehow that old Karmic Wheel spins true but once in awhile I would like to see that Cause and Effect relationship in front of me and see things set to right.
I also know that sometimes we better be careful what we ask for because that might just be a movie we won’t want to watch in 3 D. I know that I am usually not so serious but its just how I feel right now. Might make me feel better if I knew that someone else felt this way too.

Scorpio – I am feelin’ full of Moon this month I am tellin’ you and it’s actually kind of nice. New love and feeling a new way of loving has got me singing with the radio and putting a spring in my step. Is it just the Spring? I don’t think so but I haven’t felt this relaxed in awhile. The weight of the world somehow got yanked off my shoulders and what a gift that is. I know that I am safe with some special people and that I can  really share my dreams and aspirations without fear or their resentment. What a world I live in! I hit the jackpot never mind the lottery.

Sagittarius – Send in the cavalry. Oh wait, I am the cavalry. How scary is that! Somehow, I am supposed to know just how to navigate this crazy ship of life but nobody gave me a good map or even AAA. My moral compass is pretty good but the rest feels more lost at sea. Thankfully my faith is strong and deep down I do feel like everything will work itself out just fine but between here and there  is a whole lot of territory. More meditation will  give me a more solid  sense of myself and that is just what I need. Somebody give me a piece of smokey quartz the size of a basketball.

Capricorn – By the time 2013 rolls around, I am going to have the cleanest karma
on the planet. This transformation biz is not for sissies and it can be so much easier to just keep my head down and keep a low profile but I know that we are coming closer and closer to a time when I will have to choose which side of the fence I want to support. I feel a sincere desire to become more of a leader and less of a sheep and I am going to find a way to create that opportunity.

Aquarius – Nice to feel so unencumbered. I know this is only momentary but I will take that big release when ever I can. Its time for all of us to run on something other than caffeine and adrenalin. I must confess that I like  the buzz and I would have to be asleep to not notice the increasing intensity all around me. These are the times that  we were born into and on some level we chose this period of metamorphosis, there I go again getting all philosophical but that’s me feeling full of Aquarian Age inspiration.

Pisces – Pleiadians, I hear your music on the meadows, and your whispers as I meditate. I know that help is near and that we are all in this together. I can see kindred spirits everywhere that I look and many others who have worn a cloak that rendered them invisible are standing up and clarifying the mission plan. How to piece that together with life as we know it, now there’s the rub?  I know that I feel most free when music is moving through my fingers on one instrument or another and that is my way to create a link to that wonderful interstellar grid.
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Through My Monthly Astroflash,  I have endeavored to offer more gender neutral astrology to speak to all sexual preferences and identities.
If you know your Rising sign, your personal reading will be more accurate if you read the passage for that sign as well as your Sun sign.
For deeper questions and readings of an Astrological or Psychic nature, feel free to call 352 4752432 for an apt.or contact me through my website www.Flashsilvermoon.com

Modalities To Help Yourself Through These Changes:

For both animals and humans, Flower Essences [Greenhope Farm Essences] are a good source for healing as are Gem Elixirs and I use and make them. Stones and crystals are also a great support at this time particularly those of a more grounding nature like smokey quartz particularly the elestial variety, hematite,carnelian, raw ruby, agate and jasper to name a few. In preparation for these more challenging times, I have made Gem Elixirs called The Shift 2012, Earth Changes, Aura Cleanse, Lithium Quartz, Profound Ground, Fiery Wall of Protection,  Raise the Vibe aka Lemuria Rising and the newest, Deep Peace and there are others. Many are having great results and the animals in the Sanctuaries that I tend to are loving them. They have no scent so they can fly under the radar if need be. Get in touch with me on my website if you like or at my shop here at Moonhaven in Melrose.

Visit Flash’s blog, ‘Flashes of Insight’ at: http://flashsilvermoon.com/category/blog/


Five Plant Poems
by Hilary Sideris

Visit Hilary at http://www.hilarysideris.com for more of her work.

Nutmeg
Mandrake
Leek
Garlic
Oregano

Nutmeg

Ground to powder,
swallowed with
an equal dose

of clove & vinegar,
you chill my wronged
heart’s heat,

keep fever at bay,
sway my daft mind
to right thinking,

mitigate lust, draw
out my weeping
ulcer’s pus.

Mandrake

Adam-like, you
rise from muck,
a human form but

full of Satan’s luck
& contrarian charm.
If a person suffers

in the neck, back,
arm, let him ingest
that part of you

& hang what’s left
over his bed, Saint
Hildegard said.

Leek

On a field of you so
green it seemed blue,
Saxon battled Celt

& lost—your darker,
bitter end is what smart
soldiers steered clear of.

Nero ate your blanched
bulb & chartreuse
Vichyssoise stem,

your hula fringe,
but couldn’t mend his
madness or marriage.

Garlic

Charm against shipwreck
& lovesick ex: old wives would
steep a gargling tea ten hours,

pour your warm oil in aching
ears, snap the hysteric out
of it with one deep whiff.

Great War nurses in a pinch
smeared you on leaves & moss
they wrapped wounds with.

I tie you to crossed sticks
at a crossroads so he’ll
forget me & move on.

Oregano

Joy grew wild on
Greek mountainsides,
a two-lipped, pinkish

flower easing an aging
matron’s sighs. Pliny
advised a poultice of

your leaves for sprains,
scorpion & spider bites.
Bald men applied your

balm to sun-baked scalps,
your hardy, hairy stem
giving them hope.


Treadwells Events

For more information on any of these events, visit the Treadwells Website.
2 May (Wednesday)
Floralia Beltane Rite
with Introductory Lecture
With Caroline Wise and Friends

The Roman festival of Floralia, held in honour of Flora, the Goddess of Flowers, took place between 27th April to 4th May. Many European Beltane observances come from it: Flora’s echo is in the May Queen and the garlands of flowers worn in modern Beltane celebrations. Tonight is a talk on Flora and Beltane followed by a Beltane ceremony in her honour, welcoming the coming summer and the flowering of the land. This event is suitable for beginners and those experienced in ceremony alike. Beginners to ritual especially welcome. This evening is led by Caroline Wise, an arch-priestess in the Fellowship of Isis who runs events in the UK, Germany and the USA. For the last 30 years she has been working in discovering and celebrating the goddesses of London. She returns to Treadwell’s by special invitation.

Price: £10.00 Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm (please note early start time)
5 May (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:
A Guided Teaching Walk for Aspiring Hedge Witches
Natasha Richardson

Knowing your herbs is an essential skill in the path of the hedgewitch. Natasha Richardson leads seasonal walks to help you learn just this. She identifies native plants that are important in British folklore and in herbal medicine in this two-hour foraging walk in a part in Central London. Along the way Natasha will share stories, superstitions and also some basic biochemical facts about each. A lively speaker, she is both a hedgewitch and medical herbalist with her own established practice, Rowan Remedies. This walk concentrates on herbs which flourish in May.

Price: £8.00 in advance Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure, Regents Park tube station.
9 May (Wednesday)
Madame Blavatsky:
Magician, Radical, Feminist
Gary Lachman

Say ‘Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society’ and we think of the mystic East; yet Blavatsky’s roots lie rather in the western esoteric tradition. She synthesised Eliphas Levi, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Mesmer, Paracelsus and Neoplatonists into a thrilling mix. And though she worked with spiritualists, she declared herself a magician, able to command elementals and not merely be a medium for the dead. She also espoused left-wing politics, allying with progressive, even radical movements. To top it off, she was a woman, a female in a world where the male magician was the norm. See this amazing character in a new light. Gary’s forthcoming book is Madame Blavatsky:the Life and Times of the Mother of Modern Spirituality.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start
16 May (Wednesday)
Hygromanteia:
An Important Byzantine Grimoire
Ioannis Marathakis

Tonight we meet the grimoire which is the father of the famed Key of Solomon. The Hygromanteia is an incredibly important magical text which has languished outside of Western awareness due to its being Greek, but is now at last properly identified and brought to the Western European audience. Editor and translator Ioannis Marathakis comes to Treadwells to bring this wondrous grimoire to life in a breathtaking slide lecture. For all who are enchanted by the books of spirit magic, planetary magic, seals, sigils and angelic beings: this night’s for you. Copies of the book will be on sale.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start
21 May (Monday)
Bohemian Occult Subculture in the 1890s:
Artists, Actors & Writers of the Golden Dawn
Christina Oakley Harrington

The Order of the Golden Dawn is an icon for modern occultists: it’s the late Victorian ceremonial magic organization which created the template for subsequent Western mysteries, Kabbalah, Celtic mysticism, and even Wicca. The 1880s to 1920s saw an occult renaissance, sudden and powerful: historians stress the founders’ connection with freemasonry, giving the impression that it was a club of old Establishment men. In fact, the Golden Dawn was driven by a bunch of young creatives – friends working in ad hoc collaboration. Meet these young bohemian women and men, and be inspired. Christina Oakley Harrington repeats this illustrated lecture at the request of those who could not attend the sold out performance last autumn. Early booking advised.
Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for 7.30 pm start

30 May (Wednesday)
The Triple Goddess:
Her History, Ancient and Modern
Prudence Jones

When is the earliest appearance of the threefold goddess in history? What does it mean to modern pagans who speak of the Moon, and the Goddess of Nature as ‘Maiden, Mother and Crone’? Why should you sing the praises of a Cambridge scholar named Jane Ellen Harrison? Prudence Jones answers these questions and more, in a lively scholarly talk. By the time you leave, you will know why and how the triple goddess lived, and lives again. If you’ve ever gazed at the moon, done a magic spell, or secretly worshipped a goddess, this night is for you. Prudence Jones is a writer and commentator on European Pagan traditions and associated spiritual systems, especially Wicca and astrology, though she began as an academic philosopher at Cambridge. A past president of the Pagan Federation, she is co-author of History of Pagan Europe.

Price: £7.00 Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 pm start

6 June (Wednesday)
Learning the Tarot:
Foundation Course for Beginners
Sue Merlyn Farebrother

Learn to read tarot with a gifted, experienced teacher. In an active lively class, progress from basics to more complex classic tarot, grounded in mystical symbolism. Includes homework, handouts, and backup support. By the end of the eight-week course, students can do basic readings and use tarot in meditation. Tutor Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been reading tarot for 30 years. The class runs for eight Wednesday evenings, starting 6 June.

Price: £160.00 (£80.00 deposit, balance due on first night) Time: 6.45 for 7.00 pm start


What’s On Elsewhere:

5th May 2012, 9.30am

Cardiff Beltane Bash Spring Fayre

The President’s Lounge, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Stalls to include local artists, crafters, pagan supplies, complementary therapies, tarot/oracle card readers and more.

6th May 2012, 20.00

Tales For The Turning Year: Beltane

Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff

Bring in the May, for summer is a-comin’ in and winter’s gone away-o, so there’ll be another night of stories and songs to celebrate the turning of the seasons. Tales of May Eve goings-on and much more from Cath Little, Blanche Rowen & Mike Gulston, Richard Berry, Elinor Kapp, Kate Hibbert, Viv Small, Nimrod Jones and possibly more tbc. A whole evening’s entertainment for a mere three of your earthly pounds.

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

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

Wishing you a fantastic Beltane from everyone at Pagan Friends!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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An Interview With Lucy From The Pagan Friends Forum

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

What would your perfect pagan day be?

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

Earth, Air, Fire or Water??

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the motto you live by?

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

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

Did you have a moment of enlightenment with paganism?

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

Is it important to have pagan lineage/family history?

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

What ritual/spell has worked best for you?

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

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

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

How did you know your path was right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meditation Guidance
by Beth Holtum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Su-Luh Ceremony

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

Translation:

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

I leave you with this old Mesopotamian proverb:

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

Thank you for reading
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Amber Meditation
A guided meditation

by Beth Holtum

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

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

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

Settle yourself into this safe stillness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slowly adjust you to your everyday surroundings.

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

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

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Politics, Media and Paganism
by Simon Cash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are at a unique point in our social history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light your fires and be wonderful people…

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

Magical Combat is a right pain in the arse.

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

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

But I feel comfortable sharing it on here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘No Daddy, please no!’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Yes please,’ they said in unison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Why choose me?’ said Megan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aqua
by C.B. Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and India.
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The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.