February, 2016

Merry Meet

February, 2016

imbolc

                           Welcome

 

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In This Issue…

Mabh Savage features two great interviews this month.

 

pauldavies

 

The first is with Paul Davies, aka Oddie, is an independent Druid, a Norwich Quaker, a photographer and a pacifist. He’s also the editor of This Ancient Heart, a book that ‘reveals the connective pathways where beliefs, actions and metaphors lead to dynamic, practical and spiritual lives’.

ely

 

The second is with The Bard of Ely; Steve Andrews. Dubbed as both a wizard and a bard, Steve Andrews is hardly your everyday herb expert, if there is indeed such a thing. Mabh, caught up with Steve to find out about his music, his love of plants and his writing.

 

elemental witch

 

Jazz has an interesting book review for us on Magick for the Elemental Witch by Deanna Anderson.

 

rhodonite

 

Having problems with irritability?  Learn about which Crystals for Irritability can help you in Stones Corner.

 

soulwork

 

Learn how to survive Mercury Retrograde in Witches Soul Work.

 

and so much more!!!!

 

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Join us on Facebook, Twitter, & Etiary!

 

 

Happy Reading!!

 

 

 

Tink About It

February, 2016

Spoon-fed Witchcraft

I have always been interested in witchcraft, spirituality and related stuff. Since my teens I read lots of books, magazines and later on websites. When I wanted to actively start experiencing it, it was quite a struggle. It was hard to find good info and even, how could I know which info was good? There weren’t many books available in my local library about these kinds of subjects. One of the first books I read was ‘Book of Shadows’ by Phyllis Curott. It was a personal account of how the author discovered her path, but could also be used to try out things for yourself. Both sides of the book appealed to me very much. I started to experiment with exercises and experiments she described. And I started to look for people that did the same. That wasn’t easy at all! I knew they had to be there, but I couldn’t really find anyone… Around that time I got internet access and the first word I put into a search engine was ‘heks’ (Dutch for ‘witch’). The second was ‘witch’. Wow… a whole new perspective opened for me! Step by step I got a bit further with my search for information and kindred spirits. It took quite some time and energy, but it was very much worth it. The way towards my goals was equally important as the goal itself. I learned to find my way all by myself by experimenting, making mistakes, improvising, even by bluffing. Trial and error. When I was really stuck I met people that could help me to take the next step. The universe provides! I travelled quite a lot to pub moots, workshops and meetings to find the right people. Yes, I found info and people, but the search keeps on going. The search and the goal are both rewarding. I wouldn’t want to have done it any other way!

Nowadays I come across a lot of seekers on the pagan path that want all the answers straight away and they want it NOW. I try to tell them the above story and give them some pointers to take the next step, as others did for me. But that’s not always appreciated… Unfortunately a lot of people don’t want to invest time and energy to find their own way. So many people already walked the path, so why invent the wheel again? Just tell them the outcome, clearly define the shortest way. I call it ‘spoon-fed witchcraft’ as they want to be handed instant information a.s.a.p.! It is such a pity, they don’t know what they are missing out on. Of course there are teachers that jump in this demand and offer fitting courses. You get all the answers and how-to-do’s ready-made, no need to think for yourself. Follow this course online, pay this amount and become an instant witch! Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but not as much as you’d think unfortunately. But hey, everyone does this in their own way, so maybe I’m just old-fashioned or a nagger.

The explanation could be that everything has to be quick and instant nowadays. Everyone is always in a hurry and doesn’t have time for things that take… time. Perhaps the internet is to blame, or the social media? I don’t know and you know what, I don’t really mind. I’m not that interested in blaming anyone but ourselves. Yes, myself too, I’m not holier-than-thou. It’s so much easier to get something ready-made, it can be a bit addictive even! Still, it’s no surprise that a completely different movement is gaining ground: mindfulness, taking things slowly, taking time to think and decide what is good for you…
I’m not against internet and social media, on the contrary. It has brought me a lot too! I’m quite addicted to it to a certain point to be honest. I just use the internet in different ways. Sometimes I want an immediate answer. ‘Damn, where do I know this actor from?’ -> take laptop, phone or tablet, check IMDB and ‘ha, that’s it!’. Sometimes I even need an immediate question in an urgent situation. Man, am I glad to have the internet at hand in those cases! Nevertheless, there’s a risk in using the internet, especially when we are not talking about facts. Because you read something on Facebook, it’s not automatically true! That might be obvious, but also not everything you read on any other website is always true. It’s very healthy and smart to always question things you read and the sources.
Back to witchcraft. All of the above is true there too. Know your sources and don’t believe everything you read. Think for yourself. Absolutely nothing wrong with using the internet, as I said it makes life a lot easier sometimes. When I need something for a ritual or for my altar, the possibilities are endless. This applies to materials, but also to information. When I have an idea for a ritual, I always search for information on how others do it, tips and tricks so to speak. I also ask others personally, look in books, my own notes and diaries, etc. I use all of those as a tool for research and inspiration, but I still write my own rituals. I look into the right time (moon phase for example) and place to do the ritual and shop or search specifically for things I need. Again, I put quite some time and energy into this because it’s worth it to me. Sure, sometimes I do an instant ritual and that’s not necessarily bad or worse, it doesn’t have to be. My point is that some witches want an instant spell, take one from the internet and blindly do exactly what is says. That can be a nice experiment, I did that too in the beginning. Still I always wanted to know the source the thoughts behind the ritual, why some materials or actions are chosen. I never blindly followed or believed something or someone. Okay, that made me a pain in the ass for some teachers, haha! I still needed to find the balance between listening to my elders and teachers of the craft on one side, and questioning things and thinking for myself on the other. That too went by trial and error… and I don’t regret much of it.
Is there a lesson in all of this? That depends on you. Read it as my personal rant (‘cause oh yes, it is!), that’s okay too. Still I invite you to think about it and see if you agree or not. Ponder a bit about it. Do not take my word for it, challenge me the way I challenged others… All I want to say is: take your time, do some research, ask questions, find answers instead of demanding them from others. It’s okay to make mistakes, or better yet: it’s necessary! Witchcraft is a path of experiencing: doing , making mistakes and learning from it. Don’t say: ‘but I don’t know how, I’m just a beginner, you tell me!’. Make an effort and think for yourself. Believe in yourself and your intuition. Go for it and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. And yes, you can!

Blessings

Book Review: Magick for the Elemental Witch by Deanna Anderson

February, 2016

Magick for the Elemental Witch by Deanna Anderson

elemental witch

 

Magick for the Elemental Witch, as a whole, was a very excellent and educational book. She covered such a vast array of topics and religions. I was very impressed. Honestly, the main downfall was there were some very obvious grammatical errors, especially once you hit the middle of the book. I would easily suggest this book to anyone wanting to expand their knowledge or if you are just starting out. Anderson talks about a great variety of things and I think anyone would be able to find something useful. She gives great personal examples and also talks about different spells. All-in-all, I’m a fan.

I would suggest people read the Forward and she explains how she will be doing the book and gives a bit of her background. Then her first chapter touches on the four classic elements. She breaks that down into 4 sections. The first one is about the basic elements. The thing that stood out the most from this chapter for me would be “Working with all the elements either separately or combined can really lend a sense of ‘old-world’ or ancient power to magick and rituals. Exploring and working with each element separately helps one to get attuned to that element and know it well, if it is an element that they feel a kinship to or it is of their birth sign it may even help a person explore their inner selves and learn more about themselves. When combining the elements it adds power to what a person is doing and gives a primal connection to the world, the universe and to life.”

Moving into section 2 she talks about correspondences. She talks about a lot of different cultures like Celtic, Chinese, Japanese, Hinduism, Buddhism and Tibetan. After that she moves into Tarot. She breaks down what Tarot is, and the basics and even talked about a new way of reading Tarots I had never heard of. She calls it the “Universal Message”, and she separates all the suits and arcana’s, where they each have a different area in life. The wands are the working life, swords the intellect, cups is emotional, pentacles are the physical life and the Major arcana represents the spiritual life. She does tough on Dragon Magick as well in this chapter, which I personally got pretty excited about, as not too many resources touch on that.

Section 3 is all about the Tools of the Elements. In the first paragraph Anderson states “… all of magick is based on a motto of “take what works for you and use it… paganism is the ideal path because of its flexibility and allowance of incorporating other ideas and influences into practice.” But, there was something she says when talking about the pentagram that I really don’t agree with. She talks about how the pentagram, when upside down is signifying materialism before the spirit and that it is used in Satanism. Now, I’ve briefly talked about this before in an old column. Allow me to quote myself. “One of the most controversial aspects of either symbol is when it is inverted. (2 points up, 1 down). It is seen as evil by not only Pagans, but Satanists, Christians and just the general public. It is often seen with a goats head drawn inside it. In my personal belief an inverted symbol is not evil at all, in fact even in Chinese Feng Shui and inverted pentagram can be used to banish. An inverted Pentacle is even used in the Gardnarian 2nd degree initiation. It shows that you need to deal with the darkness within yourself before it can rise up. Most modern day people avoid it since it is widely associated with Satanism but in historical times it wasn’t nearly as taboo and was in fact often used in banishing spells.” I personally even have some inverted pentacles tattooed on my arm. Mainly because I saw it as symbolizing the banishing of my past life, and moving onto a new life. Now, I don’t want to talk too much about myself here, and I’m sure many people would disagree, but I’m just stating my personal opinion.

Reaching the last section of The Four Classic Elements, Anderson writes about working with the elements. This was one of my favourite chapters and I took a lot away from it. She speaks of Low and High Magick, and sums it up greatly by saying “An easier way to remember this is that in Low Magick means the practitioner is doing the work and the God and Goddess are merely invited to the party. In High Magick the God and Goddess are the party being asked to do the work.” I love how she talks about Cauldrons and even mentions how to make specific cauldrons for each element. You also get a feel for her personal life as she makes personal connections and mentions her family and history lots. Anderson also touches calling and dismissing the quarters. She gave me a great idea on making a new charm bag, as I hadn’t made on in years. I love that about reading books like this, is sometimes it’s just a reminder and refresher. She gives some brief information on altars. Such a wonderful chapter. She packs a lot of information and just words things well. In this chapter alone I felt this would be a good recommendation for someone just starting out.

The first element she goes into is the Earth Element. There are 8 sections for this element. The first section is just a rough overview. “…to truly know the earth element is to rely on, utilize, and know intimately each of its cycles and what they can bring to us”. Then she gets into correspondences where she touches on a large number if things, and you get the feel for the format that she uses for the rest of the book. I did wish she had some pictures or drawings of some of the symbols she talks about. Luckily for me, I’m already familiar with most, if not all of these. She moves on to talk about the Tools of Earth and working with Earth. I love when she writes about the Witch Ladders. She goes into detail on how to make them and what they stand for. One section I was happy to read was all about all the different soils and salts one can work with. She even throws in a recipe on making your own bath salts, which I will be trying. Section 6 is all about rocks, stones and pebbles. Reading about this she mentions holey stones, worry stones, cornerstones and more. The next section is all about plants and trees. “ There is no harm in using natural vegetation for use in magick of mundane practices but make it a point to use what has fallen naturally, grow it for a specific use, or replace what was used.” She always mentions these nice reminders on respecting the earth and, I’m a supporter of that of course.

When she moves onto talking about flowers, there was a slightly funny grammatical error. I know she is talking about flowers, but there is a line that says” Today, people don’t think about the color of flowers but instead go with the basic red or with a floor that is the recipient’s favorite.” The end of the section she introduces me to the topic of a grass journal. I suggest people look into it. Wonderful idea. My favourite section is all about the mythology and folklore. One of my favourite lines is “Remember, the earth is over a million years old; so respect your elders”

Anderson then moves onto the water element. “…water gives life to animals, plants and humans; it is warm and relaxing; cool and refreshing; it nurtures and nourishes; it cleanses and cleans; it anoints and blesses and it is an essential element that we, as humans and pagans cannot do without.” Like I mentioned, she sticks to the same format for each element, so the first section is all about correspondences, where she explains some basic information and touches on various religions. The tools of water is next and then she moves into working with water. Which on the first page there was a sentence I really liked. “Another correspondence that may be surprising to some is that of mirrors; they are reflective surfaces like water and appear to have a depth to them like bodies of water do.” This stood out to me, as I believe she is very accurate when she writes about how not a lot of people thing of a mirror as a tool.

Now, the section on sea salt and water is fantastic… except for the grammar issues again. There were a couple in this chapter, and honestly it’s a little distracting. There are wonderful points and it shows that Deanna is knowledgeable of at least four religions and is aware of their legends, mythology and origin stories. The next section as well has some major grammar issues. And it was in this section that I wondered if the book was edited at all. The information, of course, was accurate and can help a lot of beginners out. But, with grammar issues like “…but legend has it that they are doves and finding the, is believed to promote piece.” And “Maybe thee are from trees or branches that were broken….” How did ythee even make it past spell check?

The section on physical and metaphysical health has a recipe on a salt base for bath salts that I am going to be trying. I love the idea of making my own rather than buying them from the store. The section all about mythology and folklore is by far my favourite.

The next element Anderson moves onto is the air element. Again, she starts the chapter with a great description. “Air is our breath; it is our very existence and life. If we are sitting in our houses without water near us, no fireplace and our feet are not touching the bare earth we are still in the air element. It is all around us and is vital to our existence.” Section two is about correspondences, and section three on tools. She does a good job of explaining things in a way for new witches and a refresher for those who have been practicing for years. Section five is my favourite section for this element. It’s titled “When the wind blows” and mentions wind correspondences, wind in folklore, spells and rituals and has a fun idea about a balloon anger release and balloon wish. She writes about kites, leaves, divination and austromancy.

The following section is about our winged friends. Once she starts into insects, she is writing about an experience she had with bees and there is another grammatical error. “I kept seeing bees near my when normally I would never see any…”But, this whole chapter is fantastic. She touches on so much and does a great job of wording things in an easy to understand way. After that Anderson gets into Weather magick. Now, she had mentioned before, and she touches on it again that you need to be careful while working with weather magick as you don’t want to fool around with Mother Nature. She does write about cloud scrying, which is one of my favourite things to do. I’ve always been drawn to looking at the clouds, so I was happy that she mentioned it.

Getting into the mythology and folklore section she states “The creation of air is one of no creation at all. Of all the elements in this book, air is the one that seems to always have been around and was not created by anything or anyone. Fire was given to or stolen by the humans, earth was created by gods, water came from the skies or melted from glaciers, but air was always around and not created. It is one of the elements often taken for granted and yet we can only live a few moments without it.” I love this. I think she worded it well. After that she does get into elementals and has a nice variety there.

Next is the fire element. “Regardless of how it is used, fire has a long history in the world and with that comes a long history of superstition, folklore and magick.” Fire is my element, so I loved reading this whole section, even though I already knew most of it. When she talks about the tools of fire in section 3, of course, the candle comes up. “Early occultists believed that the candle represented a human in that the flame was the spirit, the wick was the mind (or intellect) and the wax was the physical form. A candle can also represent all five classic elements with the flame as fire. Melted was as water, solid wax as earth, smoke as air and the spark that created it as spirit.” Section four is about working with fire and section five is all about flames and fire.

The section on flames and fire is well done. She touches on a lot, and gives some older and newer information. She throws in a few spells and rituals and the chakra spell is one I will be trying. I’m surprised I haven’t thought of doing it yet. Deana touches on ashes and smoke in the next section and mentions believe it or not… the boy scouts!

She moves into a section called “Fire in the Skies” which mentions things like meteors, the sun, stars and lightening. Again, more grammar issues, like putting the word starts instead of stars. Anderson touched on fire mythology, which is a great section. I personally really enjoyed when she talked about the phoenix.

Last, but not least, Anderson reaches the element spirit. Now, I’ve read about all the elements before, and some mention spirit, while others do not. I’m glad she did. Section three is all about the tools of spirit, and I was pleased to see she mentioned the poppet. I love poppets. She writes “Poppets are instruments of magick that are used to cause something to occur to a particular person. This is a form of sympathetic magick, which means that the action by the practitioner resembles what they want the outcome to be.”

Section five is all about “The Incorporeal Soul” and is about ancestral worship. Sabbats, spirits. And divination. My favourite topic in the spirit element is about animism, which is something I feel strongly about. “Animism is a widely accepted belief system that follows a doctrine that everything in nature, either animate of inanimate, has a consciousness or soul.” She writes about some spells, totem poles, spirit houses, effigies, and again, divination. All in all a very informative chapter. The second last section is about the hidden realms, which is sometimes called the Otherworld. She touches on some magick that just seems fun and sometimes I will be looking into more. Can you guess what the last section is about? Mythology and folklore of course. Again, some great points are made and she shows her knowledge of various religions.

Overall, this book is a great read. I would strongly suggest this book. Literally, the main negative thing I have to ding it for would be the grammar and spelling. I would suggest people just starting out in the pagan/wiccan path read this book. It’s filled with wonderful insight and she touches on a vast array of topics, and the format of the book was well planned. I will be looking to read more from the Copper Cauldron books, and hopefully the grammar is better. Deanna Anderson knows her stuff. I’m very fortunate to have gotten the chance to review this book and I hope I did it justice.

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2016

February 1, 2

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.

Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil (see above)can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.

Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).

Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).

Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.

Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.

Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.

Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.

Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.

Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.

Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

MagickalArts

February, 2016

The art of Seeding

Magick moves strongly through the month of February as Brighid weaves her magick of healing, creativity and preparation for the new life of Spring in just a few more weeks. Each year at this time, I spend some time thinking about what I wish to plant as the seeds of new beginnings and endeavors in the coming year that will become my beautiful garden of creative effort. And, so towards those ends I offer a 2-part magickal pathworking to stimulate the senses and flow of crafting a sanctuary and growing place for your intention. Enjoy…

The Secret Garden

Part One

This meditation can be used to plant the seeds that will bring abundance into your life, whether it is health, financial or personal growth. Form your intent and then enter your Secret Garden.

Part One would be aligned to use at the New Moon and Part Two would be empowered at the Full Moon. You may hold this cycle in place for as long as you need to draw to you what you wish.

Sit in a comfortable position with a white candle lit in front of you a few feet away. As you stare at the flame of the candle allow your gaze to soften and the rhythm of your breath to become slowed and easy of pace. As you continue to gaze at the candle flame allow your eyes to gently close and retain the image of the flame within the center of your higher consciousness. As the flame expands and becomes brighter and luminescent of white light see your physical image standing directly in front of this veil of white light. Give as much detail, shape and form to that image as you can. And when you feel ready step through this white flame of purification.

As you emerge through it’s dense veil, you find yourself standing at the outer gate of what appears to be a garden. The wrought iron of the gate is slightly rusted with weathering and is embraced on either side by a brick wall that seems to extend infinitely on either side. As you look upwards the tops of scantily budded branches reach upwards towards a clear blue sky and the promise of lush greenery is just a few months away. It is Spring and time to prepare the ground for new planting and growth in the months ahead. You move towards the Gate and barely reach forward with your hand as the Gate gently swings open, allowing you entrance. This Gate has no need for lock or key for you are the only one who has the powerful energy to open its gate. Your thought, your intent and your will are gatekeeper, gardener and master designer of all that is contained within this sacred space. As you move forward, the Gate closes gently behind you and the warm Spring air embraces you. Each footfall provides the crackle underfoot of stone and dirt and you take a moment to look around and drink in the sights and smells of this place bursting with new life.

As you continue along the Path you can feel the energy of new growth underfoot and surrounding you but that is not your focus this time and your eyes come to rest on a dark patch of earth a few feet ahead of you. This ground will need tilling and clearing so that it may be a place of nurturing for what will be planted soon. You kneel in the center of this ground covered with dried and dead weed, root and thorn that are no longer of use or conducive to new planting. As you sit centrally, take a moment to ground, center and focus your will and intent on clearing and purifying this space.

Now you are ready to begin and as you reach out to pull out the first patch of weed and overgrowth, feel the release of this action. Sense the sigh of the earth as you continue in this manner to un-tether and uncoil dead root. Move around the circle of this space and remove and untangle all unnecessary growth; carefully and completely removing all of it.

When you have removed the last bit of overgrowth take a moment to look around and acknowledge the strength and transformative power of the task you have just finished. You can feel the gratitude of the earth below and the un-constricted flow of the fertile energy of this space. The piles of weed and tangled root you pulled from the ground encircle the space and as you have expected, slowly they begin to be drawn down into the surrounding earth; consumed and absorbed by the Great Mother to be transformed and renewed within her womb. These are no longer of concern or care to you and the plans you have for new growth in this place.

It is now time to complete the last stage of this process of clearing away and preparing. As you rise to a standing position you hear the gentle sounds of the music of the winds playing through the branches of the trees. The music is sweet and gentle and you begin to move rhythmically around the newly cleared earth. Your feet are moving lightly here and there as you move the soil around; aerating, mixing and blending all of its parts. Continue dancing, feeling the soft, pliable earth below as you blend energy and breath. Your heart is light and the feeling of freedom moves throughout your being. You will know when the ground is just right and the foundation lain. And when this moment arrives you slow your movement, catch your breath and close your eyes with arms outstretched at your sides offering thanks for the energy provided and foundation laid.

Your work is done for now and it is time to leave this place. The earth will settle into just the right form and space and the energy of new growth will continue to build as the sun provides nourishment and strength. And, the moon, offers the opportunity for rest and renewal. As you move out of the space you have prepared and step once again onto the path you are filled with joy and anticipation of what potential and opportunity awaits you on your next visit. You continue along the stone path and see the Gate just ahead. Turn and take one last look at your surroundings. You will return to this space again and as the seasons change so will the colors, smells and sights that surround you.

As you approach the Gate it gently swings open and you step through. The soft clanging of metal closing echoing in your ear as it shuts. You turn again to face the front of the Gate and wall and take a moment to give thanks for this space and what is contained within. You turn away feeling the presence of the white veil and its energy and density beckon you. Step through and emerge once again as observer. Allow your focus to move gently from this center of consciousness and return to your physical being, the rhythm of your breath, the rise and fall of your chest and the physicality of yourself sitting comfortably in your room.

Part Two will post next month…..

Interview with Steve Andrews: Bard of Ely

February, 2016

Steve Andrews: Bard of Ely

bardofely

Dubbed as both a wizard and a bard, Steve Andrews is hardly your everyday herb expert, if there is indeed such a thing. I caught up with Steve to find out about his music, his love of plants and his writing.

 

Mabh Savage: What inspired you to write your upcoming book, Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets?

Steve Andrews: I have been interested in herbs for a very long time and I like to research subjects I enjoy. I found information about planetary rulers for various herbs in books on herbalism and thought it would make an interesting subject in its own right. Also I could see that many herbs do have characteristics that match those associated with a specific planet. For example, herbs ruled by Mars have something aggressive about them, such as spines or sword-shaped leaves, and this is because Mars is the god of war. The dragon tree was an obvious candidate for being included in the herbs under the dominion of the Red Planet, because it has red berries, red sap known as dragon’s blood and spiky leaves.

MS: Who is your book aimed at? Who will get the most out of it?

SA: Anyone interested in herbs, herbalism and astrology should enjoy my book. Practitioners of witchcraft, pagans, druids, and anyone with an interest in the occult would also find it useful.

MS: How hard was it researching this volume? Did you have to search through many dense old tomes?

herbsshaman

 

SA: Actually it was easy to research because I already had a lot of books on herbs and wild-flowers, and many of the herbs included in Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets, I had previously written about in Herbs of the Northern Shaman, also published by Moon .

MS: You featured in the Metro in October as ‘The Real Dumbledore’; how did you feel about this?

SA: It was a lot of fun and some excellent publicity.

MS: Where does your passion for herbs come from?

SA: Well, I have sometimes thought it was sparked by memories from a past life in which I was a herbalist or a witch, but maybe that is just fanciful dreaming? A more likely explanation is the fact that I became fascinated by the natural world as a little boy and started to learn about herbs as a child. They were amongst the wild-flowers I found and read about.

MS: Do you have a favourite herb or plant?

SA: I have a particular liking for the dragon tree, which I have already mentioned and is on the cover of my book. I remember seeing my first dragon tree in Tenerife when I first visited the island in 2002 and the tree had a definite wow-factor!

 

herbssun

 

MS: Where does your moniker ‘Bard of Ely’ come from?

SA: I used to have a column in Big Issue Cymru, when I lived on the Ely estate in Cardiff in the 1990s. I had already been featured in the magazine because of my songs and music, so it was understandable that the publication would dub me Bard of Ely.

MA: Tell us a bit more about your music. What inspires you, and what would you call your style if you had to pigeon-hole it?

SA: I was mostly inspired by singer-songwriters, such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young in my late teens when I first started trying to follow in their footsteps. And I have been influenced by countless bands, singers, songwriters and musicians since then, as well as many styles of music that I have listened to, including soul, Tamla, rock, folk, country, blues and reggae. I have been compared with Neil Young and John Lennon, and I was very flattered with the comparisons. I think of myself as a songwriter but how the finished song turns out on a recording is another matter. I write my songs with the lyrics first and then find the tune on an acoustic guitar. If I was to play a song like that many people would say it is a folk song, but if the same song is performed or recorded with a band with an electric guitarist, a bass-player and a drummer, then it would be a rock song.

MS: What’s been your favourite gig to date, and where do you look forward to playing?

SA: Glastonbury 1998 was a wonderful gig for me because I had an encore for my set and that was despite the conditions because that was one of the years the event was flooded. I remember thinking if I can play for 45 minutes with just a semi-acoustic guitar and get an encore then I must be doing something right! In more recent years I really enjoyed a gig at the Andrew Buchan pub in Cardiff. That gig was memorable for me because I hadn’t played for a while but I still went down really well with the audience there.

I don’t know where I will be playing this year or when or where my next gig will be. I have been concentrating on my writing rather than my music career.

MS: Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets is a Pagan Portal; an introductory volume. Will you expand upon this at any point?

SA: I am planning on putting an online course together to go with the book. [watch this space for more info PaganPages readers!]

MS: Are you planning any other books?

SA: I have written over two thirds of a very graphic autobiographical account entitled The Dropouts and I am currently looking for a publisher.

I have plenty of ideas for other books too, including one about butterflies. I want to keep the details of that one secret though.

MS: You’ve lived in many different places around the globe. Do you find the energy changes depending on the local plants and trees? Are there plants that grow in the UK that you miss when not here?

SA: Tenerife, where I lived for over nine years, has a real mixture of microclimates and habitats, including semi-desert areas, high mountains, and evergreen laurel forests. There is an incredible variety of flora and fauna there. I found many plants I recognised and many others that were totally new to me. I was too excited with what was there to miss plants from the UK. Now I am in Portugal there is a mixture of plants and trees that grow in Britain, as well as subtropical plants. I find the natural world fascinating wherever I am.

MS: And finally, do you have a favourite season or time of the year and why?

SA: I like the spring best because it is when you can see the world waking up and coming alive again. It is when flowers start blooming, trees start coming into leaf again, birds start nesting, and frogs and toads return to the water to spawn. Also it is my birthday on the first day of spring!

Read more from Steve at http://bardofelysays.blogspot.pt/ and follow him at https://twitter.com/bardofely.

 

ely

Interview with Paul Davies

February, 2016

pauldavies

 

Paul Davies, aka Oddie, is an independent Druid, a Norwich Quaker, a photographer and a pacifist. He’s also the editor of This Ancient Heart, a book that ‘reveals the connective pathways where beliefs, actions and metaphors lead to dynamic, practical and spiritual lives’. Having had this brief but fascinating introduction, I was thrilled that Oddie gave up some of his time to answer a few questions about the book and beyond. 

 

Mabh Savage: Tell us a bit about the book This Ancient Heart. How did you become involved with editing this compilation?

Paul Davies: I wanted to invite the leading spiritual and academic thinkers of our time to consider the complexities of a collective ancestry emplaced within nature. In order to avoid chapter clash, I suggested working titles and this seemed to work well.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at? Who will get the most out of it?

PD: This Ancient Heart is of interest to all seekers and scholars with an interest in ancestral landscapes.

MS: Did you have a favourite essay from the book?

PD: Graham’s Foreword is clever and I love Luzie Wingen’s chapter on the ancestry of wheat and oak. (I’m keen to develop ideas of how our human experience of landscape effects the development of future DNA.) Jenny’s [Jenny Blain] chapter on Seidr is wonderfully revealing and it moves away from the Northern Tradition’s usual association with sword wielding warriors. Caitlin’s [Caitlin Matthews] chapter is absolutely pivotal.

MS: Do you think it’s becoming more challenging to connect to our ancestors and the earth, as the world becomes more scientifically and technologically advanced?

PD: Science and spirituality have always been complimentary. One does not preclude the other, and most people will instinctively understand this. To see ancestry in terms of science versus religion where the two antagonise each other is very wide of the mark. For example, science produces data; anthropologists will understand that data in one way and druids another. Both are relevant, and both produce knowledge and inform identity in very different ways. However, my thesis was never meant to deny or condone science, simply to focus on ancestral landscapes from a specific vantage point, and yes, to also challenge assumptions and convention.

MS: When did you start your own study of earth spirituality?

PD: Back in the 1980s. After reading The Spiral Dance by Starhawk I began to focus my pacifism more toward a Spiritual Green Anarchism.

MS: What was it that attracted you towards becoming a druid?

PD: I came across Philip of the OBOD and Tim Wally the SODs at a Mind, Body, Spirit Festival in London the 1980s. (I focused on OBOD and met up with Tim many years later on Pultney Street in Bath.) The Gwersu of OBOD seemed to be in harmony with my spiritual ideas and I felt, very strongly, that I should join this group. Tim seemed to be in harmony with my political vision.

MS: What are the benefits of being associated with several druid groups?

PD: I joined different groups as the spirit called, mostly as an associate member. For example, I worked closely with the SODs for 1 year but remain an associate. With the OBOD I felt compelled to work methodically through each lesson (but after many years, I still haven’t finished the Druid Grade). Each group constitutes an important spirit that is very different from other groups. I am now active within the Peace movement and the Quaker Community in Norwich, especially in terms of sustainability and social equality. (Quakers have their vision within social processes where spirit and politics are in harmony, and Druids are getting to grips with this).

MS: How do you feel about Historic England’s (previously English Heritage) decision to not rebury the human remains discovered at Avebury? How did you become involved in this debate?

PD: I feel that EH were in a difficult position where the only option available to them was to deny the request. The remit was weighted in their favour, Tim was dying in hospital and tensions between competing groups were high, hence the situation was not conducive for an equitable settlement.

Several other factors were also against us. For example, we requested the reburial of human remains and received a public consultation focused on museum retention. By placing emphasis on bones as scientific data, issues became primarily concerned with school education versus earth spirituality, and that ensuing conflict was unhelpful. It’s time to look beyond the consultation.

The inspiration for the ‘reburial campaign’ began while I was reading Archaeological Theory and Social Anthropology at Lampeter. While reading Conflict in the Archaeology of Living Traditions by Robert Layton, I felt inspired to request reburial on behalf of the ancestors on display in museums in Britain and Eire. A bright light shone within my mind and I felt peace. The book detailed the problems experienced by tribes-people in North America and Australia where museums refused requests for reburial, usually on the basis of a lack of cultural affiliation with human remains that were thousands of years old. Decisions were evidence based and therefore negated belief, religious experience and identities that flowed from the ancestral spirit.

Academically informed, and spiritually inspired, I initiated the process of reburial by writing a letter for Tooth and Claw (BDO). Unbeknown to me, Philip and Emma were already on the case working with EH. They were the 1st. Jenny and Robert wrote academic papers and the ‘campaign’ then rested silently for many years. 9 years later, I felt inspired to make contact with Tim, and the SODs in Bath and Glastonbury, who helped place the issue in a more public light. This ensured that ancestry became a mainstream concern, both in the media and among Pagans around the country. By the time the request for reburial was made to the AKM at Avebury, Emma had initiated HAD and was already working with Jenny, Robert and others. Odd things began to happen. As the process developed, I felt, very firmly, that this work was simply part of a larger awakening. Indeed, I began to notice the influence of ancestors everywhere, and on many subtle levels, I felt we are not working in isolation. We received much support form kind people and kind spirits, and that was helpful in times of inter-group conflict. For example, at one point in the consultation I felt I was being bashed on the head by every archaeologist in the country (and half of the Pagan community at the same time). As an archaeological theorist, anthropologist and Druid, these group conflicts told me that I must be doing something right. We were asking the right questions.

MS: Do you think the decision by EH may be overturned in the future?

PD: With love, and with much reasoned debate, a harmonious compromise may be found. I’m not convinced that a win/lose mentality is helpful though. Small, peaceful, steps are the way to co-operative living. No need for swords.

MS: You are vocal on social media about the myths surrounding GMO. What makes this a subject you are passionate about?

PD: I like to resist stupidity wherever it raises its head, and the current focus of many environmental groups is rooted in a fear of science, often on the basis of what may or may not happen. Their lies are a spiritual poverty and that is not acceptable.

MS: What do you think the role of Druids is in the modern world?

PD: Like many Pagans, I focus my spirituality within nature, and I love the interaction that flows between nature and myself. My vision is not complicated really: to share my peace, love and light with the world, to uphold truth, share this with others and, of course, resist all forms of stupidity.

MS: You’ve been involved in the campaign against nuclear weapons. Do you still support this, and do you think with the changes in UK politics, disarmament may come to fruition in our lifetimes?

PD: Yes, peace is certainly achievable simply by shining a light of co-operation and by resisting the bully boy poverties of lesser logic. Trident is a great example where the threat of nuclear murder made against civilian men, women and children (the nuclear ‘deterrent’) is used to maintain ‘peace’ between nations. That is a nuclear lie.

MS: Do you have any further books on the way? Any other compilations you are involved with?

PD: Yes, I’m editing a new compilation of essays for undergraduate and postgraduates. It’s called A Modern Pagan: Thought and Practice and is due out later this year.

MS: Do you have a hobby? How do you relax?

PD: I love travelling to Germany, and I’m a keen photographer.

MS: And finally, what are you hoping 2016 brings, more than anything else?

PD: Solar and wind energy will become more popular and that should undermine the need to create more nuclear waste and frack for oil and gas.

I’m also keen to focus more on peace work in Norwich and to improve my photography around North Norfolk and the Broads.

See Oddie’s photography at www.facebook.com/photographydigitaleye/ and buy This Ancient Heart:Landscape, Ancestor, Self at Amazon and all good book retailers.

ThriftCrafting: Witching on a Budget

February, 2016

Give-Away

Thriftcrafting

Merry meet.

We witches love stuff, and over time, we can accumulate a fair amount of it. As time passes, there are some items that may fall out of favor.

Perhaps after reading that book on druids, you decide the information wasn’t something you would incorporate into your practice. You might be given a pentacle you like better than the one you’ve had on your altar for years. A tarot deck – or two or three – may no longer speak to you. The black skirt that no longer fits got pushed to the back of the closet and forgotten. Candles you thought you’d use are gathering dust. And that voice of the person on the meditation CD you were given reminds you of someone you’re trying to forget.

If you have a small collection of such items, chances are others you know do, too. A swap or a give-away is a wonderful way to pass on what you no longer want or need to someone who would welcome it – and give you the chance to pick up something you’d enjoy owning. All at no cost.

Consider organizing a give-away at your next sabbat gathering or a swap on the next full moon.

An eclectic Goddesswoman group to which I belong gathers each Mabon for a weekend retreat, and more often than not, we have a give-away. (The photos are from one of our first.) Anyone who brought items puts them int he designated area and everyone is invited to help themselves. At a pagan discussion group, it’s not uncommon for someone to put items up for grabs in the center of the table. I’ve given away bunches of herbs picked from the garden and books and gotten a snakeskin and lavender salt that way.

While it could be an add-on to an existing occasion that will be drawing people, your swap can also be a stand-alone event. Just get out the word, perhaps post a few photos to entice people to participate and then enjoy seeing items go to new homes where they will be loved.

Merry part.

Aromatic Life

February, 2016

This month we cover and cleanse with Soaps

 

soaps

 

Witch Soap

4 lbs lard
13 oz lye (1 can)
5 cups cold water
1 tbsp lavender oil
1 tbsp patchouli oil
1 cup fresh strawberry juice
1/4 cup dried soap bark herb (optional)

In a large enamel or iron kettle, melt the lard over very low heat.
(never use metal) In a seperate pot, stir together the lye and water.
Heat lard until small bubbles begin to appear- do not boil.

Remove from the heat and slowly pour the lye solution into the lard.
With a big wooden spoon, stir the lavender and patchouli oils, the
strawberry juice and soap bark herb. Simmer for about 30 minutes,
stirring frequently.

Pour into 2-inch deep greased pan and allow to cool overnight. Cut
the soap into squares and leave in the pan for at least 3 days before
removing. Place the soap bars on waxed paper and allow to age in a
draft-free area approximately 4-6 weeks.

 

 

Lavender and Rosemary Soap

Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) each have a mild yet stimulating effect on skin. Both are antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and beneficial for treating wounds, blemishes, boils,
dermatitis, fever blisters, and more. Begin this soap by making and infusion of fresh lavender flowers and
rosemary leaves. To make an infusion, pour one cup of steaming hot water over three tablespoons of dried or fresh lavender flowers and rosemary leaves (proportioned as you like) and steep for ten minutes.

3 cups glycerin soap base
1/4 cup lavender flowers/rosemary leaves infusion
1 1/2 tsp. lavender oil
1/2 tsp rosemary oil
1 tsp pulverized dried rosemary (optional)

Combine melted base and herbal materials. Stir until blended, then pour into molds and cool.

 

 

Fresh Aloe Vera and Nettle Leaf Soap

1 c. glycerin soap base
1/8 c. aloe vera gel
2 T. crushed dried nettle leaf
OR
2 T. simmered, macerated fresh leaf

Mix together all ingredients and pour into molds. Once cooled, pop
out of molds, and store them in a dark cool place.

 

 

Earth Clay Soap

1 lb. vegetable glycerine soap
1 Tablespoon Clay
2 Tablespoons Jojoba Oil
1/4 Cup Distilled Water
Colorant and Scent

Be sure to mix the clay separately. I put the tablespoon of clay in a
dish and spoon a small amount of the melted soap and mix it into a
paste, then add it to the soap. This eliminates lumps of clay and
makes a nice smooth soap.

 

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap

16 oz. goatsmilk or opaque m&p soap
1/4 cup finely ground oatmeal
1/4 cup finely ground powdered milk
3 tbls natural honey
1 tbl melted beeswax
1 tbl vanilla fragrance oil (Lavender EO or Peppermint EO may be
substitute

Makes 4-4 oz bars
Melt soap base in microwave on medium for 3 minutes in glass
microwave safe container or on stovetop double-boiler method.
Add all other ingredients, stirring constantly until smooth. As soap
base cools, it will thicken to a pudding consistancy. Pour into
olive oil coated molds or small loaf pan. Let completely harden and
slice or remove from molds. Let air dry 24 hours before packaging.
Great for dry winter skin. Wrap with corrigated cardboard and raffia
for a nice gift idea.

 

 

Calamine Soap (for poison ivy):
1 cup glycerin soap base
2 tablespoons calamine lotion
2 tablespoons liquid glycerin
1 tablespoon French white clay

 

 

Problem Skin Soap:
3 cups glycerin soap base
1/4 cup whole lavender flowers (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons lavender essential oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary essential oil

 

 

Antiseptic Soap:
2 cups glycerin soap base
2 tablespoons tea tree essential oil,
or 1 tablespoon lavender essential oil

 

 

 

 

Seeing the Signs

February, 2016

The Tarot Illuminati

I first saw images from the Tarot Illuminati back in 2012 or so on Deviart.com – the Empress card was one of the very first pins on my Pinterest page and I wrote that “these cards aren’t published yet – I can hardly wait to get a set!” Beautifully rendered by Erik Dunne (http://elric2012.deviantart.com/), the entire deck was not ready for publication before May, 2013. I personally did not get my own set until this past Yule. You can see Erik’s new Tarot deck, Tarot Akropolis, at the above link – only a few cards have been posted but they are very much alike the Tarot Illuminati in artwork and theme. I particularly like the Queen of Cups but what is she doing with that apple?

The Tarot Illuminati is published by LoScarebo and it has probably the most elaborate and beautiful packaging I have ever seen. Most tarot decks come in a box with a booklet – generally pretty cheap. Kat Black’s Golden Tarot came in a small but sturdy box in which to keep the cards and the booklet was quite well written, if brief – but I have never seen the likes of this. The Tarot Illuminati are in a box the size of a 500-page novel and if you set this box on the shelf next to one of your favorite fantasy novels, it would fit right in and nobody would be able to tell the difference. Which might be the whole idea behind the packaging. On the cover of the box is the High Priestess – the one who holds the key to the Illuminations within. The box opens easily and is held closed securely with a magnet – very impressive to say the least. Inside is a booklet written by Kim Huggens – apparently, you can buy an E-book for your Kindle (if you have one) with more information but this little booklet is quite informative and honestly, the best way to get the know the cards – any deck of cards – is not within the pages of a book but by using the cards themselves. The cards are in a recess and brought out with a shiny golden ribbon. They are thick and glossy and have golden edges.

The high quality of the card stock is actually one of this deck’s drawbacks. Because the cards are so thick, they are very difficult to work with. The cards also stick together. I have never had a deck of any kind – tarot, oracle or playing card – that cling together the way these cards do. Even after a month of using these cards, they still manage to elude a smooth shuffle. The first week I had them, I didn’t even bother trying to shuffle them. I spread them out in a circle on my bed and mixed them up manually.

tarotdeck1

(Bobby helping me with the cards)

Once I was able to shuffle the cards more easily, I spent time shuffling them and pulling out a single card and looking it over carefully. Some of the cards spoke to me immediately – usually the ones depicting women – especially the Princess cards, which I found to be most beautiful and compelling. Some I didn’t like at all. The Death card I find especially ugly. I didn’t like the Temperance card either and that is usually my favorite card. It looks like the head of Fabio on the body of Frankenstein – check out those feet. This deck is one of those decks where the cards you love you really love – like the Empress – and the cards you hate, you just don’t get anything from them at all. On some of the cards – like the Empress, but also the Queen of Cups, the Princess of Swords and the Princess of Pentacles – the artwork is absolutely stunning. I agree with Janet Boyer, who writes on her blog, “The Tarot Maven”, “Some of the card images by Erik C. Dunne are stunning and vibrant, but the mishmash of CGI, cartoonish illustration and cut-and-paste collage has a jarring, skewed result. Some of the heads and hands are too small or large for the figures, and the photorealistic backgrounds (or actual photos) with detailed foreground smashes the planes together for a flat effect.” Until I read this, I wasn’t sure what was bothering me about some of the cards but this is exactly it – the “mishmash” of images which sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t.

Like many other reviewers of this deck, I found using The Tarot Illuminati in an actual spread a challenging aspect. The booklet features four spreads – generally very simple three- and four- card spreads. I found it interesting that the Celtic Cross – which is featured in every Tarot booklet I have ever seen – was not even mentioned, but perhaps the creators of The Tarot Illuminati are aware that this is not a deck that lends itself to large spreads. I did try a Celtic Cross a few times and while I did not find that “there is a limit to how many cards can be laid out in a spread before chaos sets in” as Joy Vernon writes on her blog, “Completely Joyous”, I did find that the sumptuous design of the cards clashed with one another. It was like being at an impossibly noisy disco where everyone was dressed in as gaudy clothes as possible and the drinks were way too expensive. However, I did not find that carnival atmosphere to be a problem for divination.

tarotdeck2

(Celtic Cross using The Tarot Illuminati)

But the way I think the Tarot Illuminati works the best is with a pendulum. I have been doing this daily for several weeks now. I shuffle the cards and cut them three times – for the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone – and then I set the three piles in front of me. Then I pick three cards from each pile and arrange them in an arc in front of the piles.

tarotdeck3

(The lay-out: Nine cards from three piles)

Then I take my pendulum and hold it over each card. If I am to turn over the card and read it, the pendulum will move. If not, the pendulum stays still. I am constantly amazed at how uncanny this is. The pendulum always seems to know exactly what cards to choose and which ones to leave behind.

tarotdeck4

(Upturned cards: IV The Lovers and II of Wands)

The other application that I think this particular deck works really well with is the daily draw. Because of its ornate and opulent design, the one-card draw works really well with this deck. You can even make it into a meditation – imagine walking through a dark wood and suddenly there is a bright spot – illumination. Focus on the light and pick your card. Leave it on your altar or carry it with you to look at throughout the day – this is your illumination for the day. Today I drew XIII Death – which I said before is a particularly ugly card – but perhaps by the end of today I will have seen something in the card I didn’t see earlier. One thing I know about The Tarot Illuminati is that every time you look at a card, you see something new.

Personally, I like a simpler deck – I think “less is more” – but as a collector of tarot decks, I am more than happy to have the Tarot Illuminati in my collection. I think any serious collector would feel the same way. It’s not for beginners. It’s not for children. I’m not even sure it’s quite serious. But it is magnificent.

If you would like to see the entire deck, go here: http://newvisionsbooks.com/tarot-illuminati-by-erik-dunne-2/

Works Cited.

Boyer, Janet. “The Tarot Maven.” http://janetboyer.typepad.com/blog/2013/06/tarot-illuminati.html

Vernon, Joy. “Completely Joyous”. http://joyvernon.com/Blog/deck-review-tarot-illuminati/

Dunne, Erik. “The Tarot Illuminati” http://newvisionsbooks.com/tarot-illuminati-by-erik-dunne-2/

Dunne, Erik. Deviantart. E.C. Dunne. http://elric2012.deviantart.com/

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