Book Review – Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

February, 2019


Stang & Sword

A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape

by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

Special Opportunity:

and Tara will be teaching at Delmarva Pagan Pride Day on April 28th.

The Green in front of Legislative hall in Dover Delaware

Info: FB page-

is a stirring within the community of those who identify as witches
as what was old has been lovingly and carefully made new again by
those who stand at the gates of modern witchcraft. Besom, Stang and
Sword is a guide of practice that evolved from the reweaving of
Traditional Witchcraft and adding just enough of the evolved form of
that practice to create something unique, new and highly relevant to
our times.

authors have done due diligence in both the scholarly rationale and
the grassroots approach to the practice of witchcraft and its newer
derivative form of Wicca. What emerged was the creation of their own
path called the Blacktree Tradition…..
a modern, nonreligious form of traditional witchcraft that is rooted
in each witch’s specific region. Instead of deities, it deals with
the spirits of the land and the ancestors-no gods, many spirits…

right into the discussion of what Traditional Witchcraft is at its
roots. As the authors state there are many types of practice that
have presented themselves forged from the essential of a practice
that is steeped in cultural practices such as Shamanism, Seidr and
Hoodoo and magickal traditions, such as Victor and Cora Anderson Feri
and Cultus Sabbati. All of the usual topics related to a pagan path
and in particular, that of witchcraft are given attention and
perspective that pulls together some of the more disjointed pieces of
a puzzle that is complex, rich and deep. The Devil and the negative
connotation that has come to be associated with those practitioners
of the craft is addressed and the reality of this beings energy as
being neither good nor evil, but a necessary component in the natural
order of a practice rooted in the land. Blacktree calls to the Devil
as the Witch Lord, the Lord of the Paths and is considered the
embodiment of nature itself. This is a perspective that takes us
beyond the semantics and associations accumulated around these that
prevent us from seeing beyond and more broadly as to the deeper

will find within each chapter the basics of teachings that form a
solid foundation for stepping onto the path of the witch. Spell work,
Diviniation, the Sabbats, Lunations, Hedgewitchery and more complete
this instruction. Each chapter rich with theory and magickal
technique. For those who are familiar with a Wiccan or other path
that is similar to the principals of witchcraft, you will see the
variances in application and tools that are of prominence in
traditional witchcraft that have often take a side place of
importance more recently.

title of the book, Besom, Stang and Sword give reference to these
three tools being those closely related to the natural world. This is
further evidenced in the premise of Traditional Witchcraft and its
roots being tied to the earth and at a time when many of the
manufactured ritual items that adorn our altars and work were not
available. Use of the Besom and Stang takes us back to those cultural
roots of witchcraft and making use of and empowering all that we were
given from the land itself. We are also introduced to some
lesser-known tools, their purpose and how they may be used or

author’s statement in the introduction nicely sums up the treasures
and value of this book..

perspective anchors itself with one foot firmly planted in the
lessons of the past and the other stepping into the boldest future,
while staying focused on the natural evolution of the craft…

would highly recommend this book as a required read for those new to
the craft and more importantly those who consider themselves seasoned
and working witches. My gratitude to Christopher and Tara for being
able to in such an articulate and grounded way call forth the best of
what was and the vision of a practice that evolves and grows in an
organic and natural way that we have long forgotten the simplicity,
complexity and beauty of.

For More Information about Blacktree Coven:

Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape on Amazon


the Author:

Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

Written in the Stars


Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon


Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

the Paths on Amazon


Year With Gaia on Amazon

Eternal Cord

of the Sun and Moon on Amazon


Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

Collection of Esoteric Writings

Elemental Year on Amazon

the Parts of SELF

Enchanted Gate on Amazon

on the Magick of the Natural World

with the Goddess on Amazon

of Devotion

Weekly Reflection on Amazon

for the Year

books are available on Amazon
on this website
her Blogs
be found at

Instagram & Facebook.

Gael Song

December, 2018

Midwinter and Christmas Spirit Magic


(Image from

As nearly everyone knows, light seeds of what will manifest during the coming year, are sent by the spirit world down Arthur’s sword of light to the base of everyone’s spine on Midwinter dawn. I can usually feel a sizzling at the base of my spine that day, when I first step out of my little cottage into the daylight. But there’s much more that follows after, which no one at all seems to recognize. As a light healer, reading energies, it’s easy for me to see these. And so, this month, I want to write about what I’ve observed over many years. Those Arthurian light seeds of the year ahead settle down into the energetic soil of everyone’s womb (both men and women have inner female and male structures inside in light), where they remain for three days, while the Goddess decides the exact form and timing the new impulses of light will take over the year to come. The dark cosmic sea, keeper of all things unborn, floods every person’s abdomen as well. One could call it the unconscious, for it is.

Always, there’s one central thrust of growth for each person over the year to come, growth that will involve facing specific fears or outer challenges meant to build a brand new part of the self within. This new gift or talent is always divine, a small piece of each person’s self-of-light or highest destiny that will eventually emerge during everyone’s final lifetime on earth. This divine self was seeded into us at the very moment of our creation into light, long, long, ago, on the Creator Sun, the highest light structure in the seventh heaven, so say my druid guides. You could think of this new self-of-light that grows into fulness each year as each person’s own divine child of that cycle, too. That’s how my guides speak of it, anyway. Our own divine qualities always reflect the Creators, too, the White Tara and Oghama, Goddess and God.

So, after three days in the cosmic sea, the first structures of the year’s divine child emerge from everyone’s abdominal unconscious and move into each person’s high heart or thymus. The thymus is the inner child heart, where our divine children anchor in most strongly. This happens on Christmas dawn. This child within looks like an infant-of-light, and I find this time most magical, for I can always feel the soft loving-kindness essence of the divine children filling my spirit on that morning. Even amid the bustle of cooking for visiting relatives, I try to find a few moments of quiet to sense what this impulse of growth for the year ahead may bring for me. And this divine infant is one of twelve parts of our inner spirits that everyone has, all twelve with specific vibrations, regencies of the spirit, and directives in life. You could call these twelve parts of everyone’s spirit their personality, too. These twelve parts of our inner spirits exactly match the twelve gods and goddesses of the Creator Sun as well.

And always this emergence of the divine child inside everyone releases a bright beam of hope, a ray of clear diamond light. It will see that, during this first druid moon of the year, the Birch moon, some memory or long-cherished desire will be brought to each person’s attention. This is the first hint of what will manifest for each of us at the end of the coming year, something we’ve long wished for. And this promise of fulfillment stirs up desire from our depths to face and heal whatever fears may be in its way, so this dream will definitely come to be at the end of the year.

Over the year ahead then, this impulse get fleshed out as we push against the thorns and briars in our paths. On Imbolc, the little girl part of each person’s spirit emerges from this abdominal sea. On the Vernal Equinox, the toddler boy emerges. Then the feminine virgin on Bealtaine, the masculine virgin at Midsummer. The inner god and goddess are active during the Oak (May/June) and Apple (July/August) moons, not the solstice/equinox/cross-quarter-day festivals. The inner mother part of our spirits arises at Lughnasa, the inner father at the Autumnal Equinox, the feminine grandmother at Samhein, and finally, the inner grandfather at Midwinter. This is when our new divine part of self is finally complete, fully born into all twelve parts of our inner selves-of-light. It’s the realization of our sweet dream of the year before.

May your own divine child for the year to come be utterly miraculous, bringing an end to want, perhaps, a special destiny, a love like no other. I always hope for the beginning of real peace, unity between peoples, an end to war and privation in the places of most intense global suffering. But these are dreams that will take us all to achieve. For now, it’s enough to feel that sword of light and let it lead you all year long. Let’s walk this road together into the awakening of everyone’s divinity, all of us a shining star in our own personal areas of endeavor. May this season of magic be the very best you’ve ever had!


About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to Arthurian Fulfillment on Amazon

Brighid’s Healing Sword: Imbolc

February, 2018

This turn of the Greater Wheel moves us towards a place of newness and the quickening of what was brought to light at Yule, the Winter Solstice. We stand at the mid-mark between the act of revealing (Winter Solstice) the fertility that lay dormant from the triple harvest and the action of sowing and planting (Spring Equinox) what we hope will prove viable and grow to its fullest potential. This is the time of quickening and enlivening the hidden seeds of transition and preparation of what will wither and die and what will germinate a become viable product.

Our coven, Oak and Willow of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition, uses Imbolc to focus on the Celtic Goddess, Brighid. We craft candles, infusing them with her healing properties. We make oath and re-dedicate to our Coven and Tradition that the quickening of our minds and hearts awaken what can blossom in the months ahead. And, we call upon her creativity to inspire us as we move forward towards the next turn of the Wheel. This year we will call forth the Goddess as Warrior and wielder of the healing sword.

For most, the first encounter with this fiery Goddess is one associated with her triune nature. She is Maiden, Mother and Crone holding the keys to creativity, inspiration and deep healing. She is also the Triple Flame, acting as central catalyst of the purpose intended and initiator of those who willingly cross the threshold of transformation. As the patroness of poets, divination and prophecy she is the Fire of Inspiration. In her role of patroness of healers and Goddess of fertility, she is the Fire of the Hearth and childbirth. And, as patroness of smiths, craftsmen and the forge, she is the Fire of the Forge, burning brightly and transforming and transmuting all that enter the heat of the flame.

But, there is also a lesser-known aspect of the Goddess Brighid. Her ancient name of The Fiery Arrow gives some indication of this aspect, although it is usually associated with the Goddess as maintainer of justice and right action; setting the course of action in a balanced way and clearing away all that would interfere or challenge that state. If we take this idea to a deeper place of understanding, Brighid’s energy becomes that of the Warrior who wields the flaming sword that destroys, cauterizes and then heals. It is She, who heals with the precision of the surgeon guiding the scalpel. She, who cuts through the glamour and unyielding ignorance of ego driven will and carves the path of knowledge that becomes true gnosis. And, it is She, who plunges the un-tempered blade of inventive mind into the hellish fires that forge and manifest a blade that is pure, clear and strong in its action and intent.

I have worked with this aspect of Brighid for many years and in many ways, and the mark of its transformation has been lasting and opened the way for growth and a deeper understanding of the process of release and healing. Just as the sword’s blade goes through multiple steps of heating and cooling, resting and shaping to achieve the brilliance and beauty of what will become a finely crafted sword; the process of this healing warrior Goddess tests the metal of your own making. She allows you to see the rough product that is your will and plunges you deep into the flaming desire for what you wish to achieve. If you remain too long from inertia or misguided will, what emerges is misshapen and unusable. It’s brittleness breaks your spirit and the wounds it inflicts are jagged and long to heal. If tempered with enough flexibility to change course as needed, the honing and sharpening of the skills required for successful change are exacted. All is brought to the quickening fires so that what has been reshaped and reformed may become as one and part of the finished product. A time of rest and integration occurs and finally as the blade is brought from its place of synthesis and strengthening, it is plunged once again into the heart of greater Will and the flames of Intentional Desire. The finished product is a work of beauty and a gift from the forge of Brighid.

I offer to you a pathworking, inviting you to invoke the energy of Brighid’s Healing Sword and the opportunity to stand in Her radiance of remaking. May your journey be powerful and may the Goddess bless you with the crafting of your own healing blade.

The Smith’s Blade

Take a few deep breaths and allow your consciousness to settle at the space of the third eye. Turn your attention within and see on this inner landscape a blank screen and allow yourself to be drawn towards it. As you focus on this space you become aware of a small mist of indigo blue energy forming in front and around you. The particles are very small and the energy is both uplifting and relaxing as it encircles you. Take a few deep breaths and step through this veil.

As you emerge, you find yourself standing outside what appears to be a blacksmith’s shoppe. You can hear the rhythmic clanging of a hammer and smell the fires from the forge. It is evening and all is dark around you save for the light glowing from within and shimmering through slats of a wooden building. You step forward towards the open entryway and stand quietly observing a wiry built man bent over and working deftly as the glimmer of unpolished metal flashes.

Repetitively and with great precision, he places the unshaped metal into the forge, heating it and then pulling it out to the edge of the table, gently hammering it into the desired shape or at times simply allowing the red glow to cool before it is placed once again in the hot flames. This occurs for several times and with each heating and hammering, the metal takes on more of the shape of the blade.

He looks carefully at what has been crafted and satisfied that this process is finished, he gently wraps the blade and places it aside allowing it to cool completely. He pulls from the space in which he placed the cooling blade another wrapped item and as he unwraps it you see that this is a blade that had been crafted a day earlier.

He steps over to the grinder and begins to sharpen and finely hone the edges and point of the blade. You notice that this blade seems to glow and has a certain shine to it already, although it is not polished. You feel drawn to it, but remain standing in the doorway, hoping that you will remain unnoticed. He looks carefully at the edges and then plunges the sword into the heat of the flaming forge. Quickly the glowing red blade is retrieved and plunged into a water bath to speed the cooling and hardening process. Again the blade is tempered by heat and water and you think on the process of emotion and will and the need for the correct balance of each to be in place to make for supple yet strong action and purposeful will.

You see the Smith smiling as he lifts the blade upwards, knowingly and assured that it will have a certain amount of flexibility yet still retain its sharp edge. Now the sword is ready for completion. He selects the necessary parts of pommel, guard and hilt and with skill assembles all precisely and artistically. The sword is now complete and he lifts his gaze, staring directly at you, beckoning you to come towards him.

You are ready to speak, but he lifts a finger to his lips indicating for you to be silent and to follow behind him as he brushes past you. He steps outside and you turn towards him, both of you facing a sky that is now colored with the rising of the morning sun. He lifts the blade upward and it shines brightly as the first fiery rays of sunlight stream across it. The brilliance of its reflection expands and for a moment you close your eyes, the intensity is so great. You open them and see that the blacksmith is gone and hovering mid-air the sword glows red and pulses with heat that seems to course through you. The flaming glow fills the space and from its center the blade elongates and transforms into a woman of great beauty and flaming red hair. Her eyes glow like sunlit embers of flame and you bow in homage to the Goddess, Brighid. As she approaches you feel the power and strength of Her presence. You see that she carries the sword that you witnessed being crafted and you feel a gentleness about Her that offers you comfort as to how this Divine sword might be used. She has come as the healing sword to offer her many gifts if you ready for her transformative energy.

You approach and kneeling before her you speak of what needs healing and transformation. Each word spiraling up and out like wisps of smoke heated and released by her power. You surrender to her all your doubts and fears and one by one each is dissected and removed from your being leaving you feeling light and unencumbered. When you have finished offering all that has troubled you, she bids you to look upwards and as she lifts her fiery blade warm droplets of healing water shower down about you. Compassion and warmth envelope you and you are held in the embrace of the Goddess as she quickens and enlivens you. Rest in this state for as long as is needed.

When you have received all that is needed at this time, you gently rise and offer up gratitude to the Goddess for the blessings she has given. As these thankful thoughts quicken in your mind and move easily from your lips, you begin to step backwards, as flames begin to rise where Brighid was standing. They reach upwards like strands of red hair caught in a breeze and give the appearance of flickering with shades of emerald green and flashes of silvery metal. You stand taking in the beauty of the sight and the warmth of its heat and the knowledge that you have been transformed by the Goddess, Herself.

The flames gently dwindle and fade and in their place is the smith holding the sword of the Goddess. He walks towards you and gently places it in your hand, softly telling you that it had been crafted for you. He tells you that the gift of the healing sword is given to those who will use it wisely and courageously. And, that the Goddess who offers this gift is always near at hand, ready to inspire and offer her healing so that you may thrive and grow as Her Divine Child.

You take a deep breath in and close your eyes, holding the sword tightly to your breast and as you exhale and open your eyes, you see that your awareness has returned to that of observing the blank inner screen of your consciousness. You take a few deep breaths in and with each exhalation your awareness settles back into the space of your physical being and space surrounding you. You gently flutter your eyes open and look around at your surroundings with keener sight and the knowledge that you carry the healing blade within.

So Mote It Be!



About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:


The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars


Click Image for Amazon Information


The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths



A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord


Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions


The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

Click Image for Amazon Information


The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World


Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion


A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year


Her books are available on Amazon or website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 


Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram 

Tarot Talk

November, 2014

This month, we are going back to the Minor Arcana suit of Swords, and we will explore the Two of Swords, one of those cards whose message can be either a help or a hindrance to a Seeker.

The Two of Swords is a Minor Arcana card so it is most likely referring to a day-to-day issue, rather than a long-term or widely-sweeping one, but this does not take away from its potential to assist us, or to cause discomfort. The keywords for this card stretch all the way from avoidance and being stuck, to peace and serenity. How do you effectively respond to such a card? By understanding it. The best way to understand something, even something we don’t understand, is to break it down to its most basic ingredients. So, let’s get started!

The suit of Swords, which corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow, seems to use “no pain, no gain” as its motto. Maybe the tendency for discomfort has to do with the fact that Swords usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation of some kind, or they tell of a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them; these actions are different from the Fiery Wands cards because they are deliberate, rather than as a response to random effects presented to us by the elements around us. These actions are different from Watery Cups cards because they are sourced from analysis and the workings of the intellect, rather than emotions and feelings. They are different from Earthy Pentacles cards because they represent the mind and the thinking processes, rather than the physical world and the workings and needs of the physical body. Simply put, the effects of the Swords cards are sourced from within us; we are the main catalyst that creates the manifestation of a Swords card. In many ways the Swords cards represent our attempt to manifest our chosen reality, and they tell us that we might be causing the very challenges we are trying to prevent.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Thus, the Swords cards indicate our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we take (or don’t take) in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression. We are talking analysis and intellect and logic here, without mercy or compassion.

The suit of Swords is not all bad; after all the element of Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance and allows us to understand what we are dealing with. Air is the medium of our voices, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds; Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. Of course, words and communications are double-edges swords, too, and they can heal or hurt. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered. That’s what happens when we successfully deal with a challenge!

The number 2 usually represents balance, polarity, and the energy of “distance between.” The Ace of the Tarot Minors represents the Point and the concept of Position; the 2 represents the Line (the “distance between” two points) and it brings us the concept of comparison. The number 2 offers creative partnerships, duality, tension, cooperation, diplomacy, and decisions; it offers both direction and connection, and can be considered a gateway. In the Tarot, this number represents the first time the element appears as itself, manifested. Within the suit of Swords, we have the potential to be effective while using logic and analytical thinking (the Ace of Swords), and we have the building of the protective barriers that bring us quiet and solitude and non-action or non-manifestation (the Two of Swords), so we can focus on the message of the intellect.

The astrological correspondence for the Two of Swords is the Moon in the constellation Libra, and this offers us a bit more depth of understanding of our card. The Moon is the brightest object besides the sun in our sky, and besides feelings and emotions and illusion and imagination, it is also associated with a need for security, mainly because of the unease brought by the darkness. It is feminine and passive in nature, even melancholy at times, and it represents our emotional life. Things look different when lit by the light of the Moon; colors change and shadows distort. Often the Moon helps us to see a different side of our nature. Libra offers the concept of “we are,” and it is diplomatic, objective, cooperative, and calm, and is about partnerships and balance; Libra can also be vague, distant, indecisive, dependent on others, and can lack confidence. When the Moon is in Libra, it offers adaptability, balance, harmony, and tranquility. It also tells us that conflicts are uncomfortable, and we may do a lot to avoid them because we need stability and predictability, which may be difficult to maintain because standing up for ourselves brings that conflict we are trying to avoid. The interesting thing here is that it is in the astrological correspondence for our Two of Swords that we find the feelings and emotions that are generally not found within the suit itself; here is our balance, duality, and polarity!

The traditional image of the Two of Swords is of a woman holding two Swords by their hilts before her, with her wrists or the Swords themselves crossed in front of her, as if the two Swords were blocking out the world and preventing the world from affecting her. Often, she is blindfolded, and there may be a representation of the element of Water or the Moon (both connected to each other, and to emotions, feelings and imagination) in the background, as if the woman is not even acknowledging their presence. The woman may be seated or standing, but she is stationary, well grounded, and well balanced. The image on the Thoth Two of Swords, which uses “Peace” as a keyword, shows the two Swords piercing a lotus flower, representing the intellect being restrained in a balanced manner by love. Perhaps that is how Peace is achieved, according to the Thoth Tarot.

On the Tree of Life, the Tarot Twos correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, the first actual manifestation after the pureness of Kether (Kether represents the cause of manifestation). Chokmah is found at the top of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. It is seen as dynamic thrust, and as the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus this sephira is connected to the Wheel of the Year. It represents dynamic male energy and is the origin of vital force and polarity. In Chokmah, pure being becomes pure force (and thus, pure formlessness), and independence is possible. Thus, the Twos of the Minor Arcana show the full power of their element and correspondence, in the purest expression. For the Two of Swords, this purest expression is manifested as inner peace, without influence from the outside world.

The Two of Swords can be seen to represent the barriers we build in order to achieve a pure focus inward. There is always danger to be found in this kind of deliberate walling off of the world. Refusing to make a decision, avoiding the truth, or denying our own feelings and beliefs can certainly be harmful to us, and they can separate us from reality. Even simply giving in to lethargy and deliberately clinging to stagnation as the world passes us by can cause us to ignore the symptoms of decay and corrosion, and allow them to grow and have more influence. Choice, after all, is a power that no one can take from us unless we allow them to take it, and refusing to chose is in the end a choice.

However, there are times when blocking out an instinctive response to the world around us is a good thing as long as it is just for today, and maintaining our cool while dealing with a difficult situation brings clarity. A temporary disconnect from the world can help us to recharge our battery, and allow us to do a bit of system maintenance by cleaning out our “temporary files” and de-fragging our “hard drive.” The Two of Swords can also represent the keeping of a secret of some kind; that, too, can be helpful or destructive.

While it is beneficial to sometimes close out the world, we should always remember that closing our heart will not bring a happy ending. We can and sometimes should create the peace that happens when we shut out the world for a little while, but we need to stay connected to our own self and to our own heart; sometimes it is during that peace and quiet that we can see our heart center with the most clarity.

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown. Yes, the Two of Swords offers that kind of peace.