April, 2009

Welcome to the April Issue of PaganPages

April, 2009

Merry Meet and welcome Readers! We hope you all had a blessed holiday! It is finally spring and what a beautiful spring this will be. At our house it is time for spring cleaning!

We have a packed issue for you this month full of great ideas, thoughts, questions, and fantastic Interviews

Kala Ambrose

John Michael Greer

You are welcome to leave your comments at the bottom of each article or you can write us at anytime to admin @ paganpages.org (just delete the spaces).

We are always on the look out for new talent so if you would like to give writing a go you can send us a sample of your writing to admin @ paganpages.org (again delete the spaces).

We appreciate all donations and remember you can donate by purchasing something from our PaganPages Shop on Etsy. Some of our products are below and our stock is always changing.


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Interview with John Michael Greer

April, 2009


Patrick Claflin ©

“The Art and Practice of Geomancy”, by John Michael Greer is a must have for every magician.  Greer has blessed us all with his literary genius in a world where it is sorely needed, granting the reader a precise path leading to an accretion of astonishing magnitude by taking a knowledge long since forgotten and revitalizing it in to an engaging insightful and practical spiritual manner..

~ Michele Burke, Pagan Pages.org

Pagan Pages: This may sound like a strange question to ask to start an interview, but who is John Michael Greer tells us more about the man behind the book?

John Michael Greer: Well, you’ve met computer geeks, right?  Back in my teen years, I was an occult geek, the kind of kid who always had an armload of books checked out from the section of the library your mother didn’t want you to visit. Come to think of it, I still usually have an armload of books checked out from that part of the library, so I may still qualify as an occult geek. When most of my generations were getting into computers and first generation video games, I was studying occult philosophy and practicing rituals. Not a good career path at first – I spent quite a few years working at dead-end jobs while trying to break into print as a writer – but things finally came together in 1995, when I placed my first book with a publisher, and it’s been onward and upward since then.  To borrow a phrase from Jerry Garcia, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

PP: How has being the Arch Druid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), helped or hindered your work in geomancy divination?

JMG: Well, it’s certainly kept me busy with things other than geomancy. When I was elected Grand Archdruid of AODA in 2003, there were fewer than a dozen members of the order, and I was the youngest by nearly thirty years. We had a lot of rebuilding to do. I’ve had a lot of help, from the old guard and a lot of very talented newcomers alike, but a lot of things had to be pushed to one side.

PP: What inspired you the most in writing the Art and Practice of Geomancy?

JMG: The old geomantic texts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The version of geomancy taught in those sources goes far beyond what you’ll find in most modern books on the subject – it’s deeper and more comprehensive, but it’s also much simpler to learn and use. Most of my work on this book was simply a matter of explaining the ancient techniques in modern language.

PP: Geomancy, what is it? And when did you first begin using it as a divination tool.

JMG: It’s a western equivalent of the I Ching, a divination system that uses sixteen figures formed from single and double dots. You cast four of them using a random method, and then use simple processes of rearrangement and addition to create twelve more figures from them, and interpret the resulting chart. Five hundred years ago it was one of the most popular oracles in the Western world; all through the middle ages and the Renaissance, if you wanted a divination, you were as likely to go to a geomancer as anything else.

I got started in geomancy in my teen years, when I began studying the Golden Dawn system of magic. The Golden Dawn teachings include a very simple form of geomancy, and it wasn’t until the early 1990s, when I found one of the old Latin geomancy texts, that I started to realize just how much more there was to the art. It’s far and away my favorite divination method these days.

PP: I have always been very much intrigued by astrology and geomancy, is the art of geomancy a very hard tool of divination to learn, if not can it be self taught or is it better to find a mentor?

JMG: Geomancy is much easier than astrology.  It’s one of the easiest oracles to learn how to use, because there’s not that much you have to memorize:  sixteen figures, a very simple process for casting a chart, and a set of rules for interpretation that most people can pick up in a few minutes. I usually find, when I do workshops in geomancy, that I can take people who’ve never had any exposure to geomancy at all, and have them casting and interpreting charts in about three hours. Still, you do not need a teacher; my book covers everything you need to know, and it’s perfectly possible to learn the art by picking up the book and studying it.

PP: `Can you give the readers a little detail into the history of Geomancy?

JMG: We do not actually know where geomancy comes from, though there is some evidence that it was invented in Africa. It first shows up in historical records in the 9th century in North Africa, and became popular all over the Arabic world. From there it spread into Europe, where it became as common as astrology for centuries. When the magical traditions of the Western world got tossed into the dumpster during the scientific revolution, though, it was almost completely forgotten, and only very simple forms of it were revived – before now, that is.

PP: What is the anima mundi?

JMG: You have heard of the Gaia Hypothesis, the scientific theory that the Earth is a living organism? Medieval and Renaissance magicians were there hundreds of years ago. The Latin phrase anima mundi literally means “soul of the world.” The old magicians insisted that the Earth is a living, conscious being, and the way the figures come out in geomantic charts were believed to be shaped by patterns in the anima mundi.

PP: In your book the Art and Practice of Geomancy the section entitled “the Soul of the World”, you speak about the differences in the traditional geomantic practices from most modern magical paths and can you give a little insight into how these paths can be successfully practiced today?

JMG: Most modern magicians, especially since Aleister Crowley popularized the concept, think of magic in terms of raw willpower forcing the universe to obey. The old medieval and Renaissance occultists had a different view. They saw that the currents of magical force in the cosmos could be used the way a sailboat uses the wind. Instead of trying to browbeat the universe into obedience, they caught the winds and tides of power and let the natural flow of things take them where they wanted to go. It is a much more elegant approach, and geomancy is one of the ways it can be done.

PP: How are the figures and the four elements linked to this form of divination?

JMG: Each of the sixteen figures is made up of four lines, and each line can have either a single or a double dot. Each line represents one of the elements; a single dot means the element is active, a double dot that the element is inactive. So each figure is a chart of the way the balance of elements is working at that moment in that part of your life.

PP: Can you explain to the readers what you feel the ethics of divination are?

JMG: To some extent that’s a question each diviner needs to settle for him or herself. There are things I won’t do for ethical reasons – for example, if somebody asked me for a reading about how to mess someone over, magically or otherwise, I’d tell them they have to ask some other diviner. There are also things I won’t do for legal reasons – anyone who tries to use divination to diagnose diseases, for example, is risking serious legal trouble.

PP: What happens when someone ask you to divine a question regarding a third party?

JMG: Geomancy has a special way of asking questions like that. The geomantic chart has twelve houses, just like an astrological chart, and any other person in your life is represented by one of those houses.  Each house contains one geomantic figure, and so that figure and its relationships to the rest of the chart can tell you a lot about the person who occupies that role in your life.

PP: How are meditation and scrying associated to geomancy?

JMG: Traditionally, oracles such as geomancy were not just used for divination. They are western methods of meditation – most people do not realize that – and of course there is also the art of scrying, which is the old word for what we now call clairvoyance or remote viewing. Both of those can be practiced using the geomantic figures as a foundation, with very good results.

PP: What are the main principles of geomantic magic and what would be a prime example of a geomantic ritual?

JMG: Since the geomantic figures are charts of elemental relationships, you can work very powerful magic by deciding which of those relationship patterns you need to strengthen in your own life, and using the geomantic figure that corresponds to it. The classic way to do that is to make a geomantic talisman of that figure and consecrate it with a ritual at an appropriate time, when the influences corresponding to that figure are at maximum power. The talisman then radiates that influence in your life. It is simple, elegant, and very effective.

PP: So tell me, do you foresee a new book in your near future?   If so will I have one of the first cracks at it LOL?

This has been a very busy winter for me – due to publisher’s schedules, I have had three books just come out and another one due out any day now! Besides The Art and Practice of Geomancy, the books already out are The Long Descent, which is on the subject of peak oil and the future of industrial society, and The Fires of Shalsha, my first published science fiction novel.  The one that is about to come out is The UFO Phenomenon, which ought to offend true believers and diehard skeptics about equally. I’ll make sure you get a copy!

Beyond that, I’m actually between book projects just now – I haven’t decided what my next book will be. I’ll keep you posted.

Bountiful Blessings go out to John Michael Geer for his magnificent work in the Art and Practice of Geomancy.  I want to thank you for giving the world the opportunity to gain a working knowledge of an ancient and mysterious tool of divination.

May the blessings of Dagda be always with you.

Works of John Michael Greer:

Paths of Wisdom (Llewellyn, 1996; Thoth, 2007)

Circles of Power (Llewellyn, 1997)

Inside a Magical Lodge (Llewellyn, 1998)

Earth Divination, Earth Magic (Llewellyn, 1999)

Monsters (Llewellyn, 2001)

The New Encyclopedia of the Occult (Llewellyn, 2003)

Learning Ritual Magic (with Clare Vaughn and Earl King Jr.; Weiser, 2004)

Natural Magic (Llewellyn, 2000; reissued as Encyclopedia of Natural Magic in 2005)

A World Full of Gods (ADF Publications, 2005)

Academy of the Sword (translation of 1630 original; Chivalry Bookshelf, 2005)

The Druidry Handbook (Weiser, 2006)

The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies (HarperElement, 2006)

Pagan Prayer Beads (with Clare Vaughn; Weiser, 2007)

Atlantis (Llewellyn, 2007)

The Geomancer’s Handbook (Renaissance Astrology, 2007)

The Druid Magic Handbook (Weiser, 2008)

The Long Descent (New Society, 2008)

The Art and Practice of Geomancy (Weiser, 2009)

The Fires of Shalsha (science fiction: Starseed Publications, 2009)

The UFO Phenomenon (Llewellyn, 2009)

The Ecotechnic Future (New Society, 2009)

Associated Links:

Ancient Order of Druids in America, http://www.aoda.org

Archdruid Report blog, http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com

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Interview with Kala Ambrose

April, 2009


Courtesy of Kala Ambrose

“9 Life Altering Lessons”, by Kala Ambrose, Kala’s inspirational genius leads the reader on an expedition throughout the ages revealing the secrets therein. Secrets that when practiced can lead not only the seasoned student but those just beginning to search for answers to life’s mysterious lessons.

~ Michele Burke, Pagan Pages.org

Pagan Pages: What were the driving forces that led you to write the 9 Life Altering Lessons?
Kala Ambrose: It was a very natural extension of myself to write 9 Lessons, though I also had a great amount of urging from both students from my mystery school here on the earth plane, as well as my guides and muses from the other planes.  There was a sense that the time has come, for mystery schools to come forward again and return to the place they once held, as a temple of light, learning, healing and magic. We’re evolving again as a species and each time the light circles back around for a renewed period of growth, mystery schools come forth again to teach as they say, to those who heed the call and who have the eyes in which to see and the ears to hear.  Mystery schools are always here in one form or another on the earth plane, sometimes more in the public eye than in other times.
PP: From which mystery school do you draw your knowledge?
KA: My knowledge comes from several mystery schools from Egypt, Greece, India and Sumeria, as well as a lifetime of study of comparative religion and ancient myths. As a child, I spent every moment I could in the library, reading and engaging in discussions with anyone who would listen to me there, about what was written incorrectly in the mythologies. I came back with intuitive ability as well as many memories from former lifetimes. I was very fortunate to have many family members who were both supportive and understanding of these abilities. My mother was a wonderful force for me in this way, allowing me to study the Tarot at the age of 13 as well as astrology and other ancient arts. I had a desire to attend as many different types of churches as I could experience and she allowed me to follow this feeling, rather than forcing me to only attend the church our family attended.

I’ve lived around the country, from Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, Hawaii, California, Washington, Florida and other beautiful and sacred spaces. This allowed me to meet and attend a wide variety of temples, churches, and spiritual centers as well as study and interact with people from all religions.  I also enjoyed studying comparative religion, with a special attraction not just to Egypt, but to India, Sumeria and the Celtic culture.  I realized that all of these paths were leading me to the same place, which had to do with the ancient teachings of the mystery schools of ancient Egypt and Greece.  As I continued to work on myself spiritually, teachers began to appear to me in synchronistic ways, two of them from mystery schools that are very old and do not advertise, their belief is that if you are meant to find a teacher from one of these orders, your path will cross. When the time came, I did meet them and was able to study the teachings. This led to undergoing a series of rituals, which then fully opened the connection to my past lives, and remembering Who I Am, Where I Came From and What I Am Doing Here in the lifetime. A third mystery school that I studied with, which is a public school and is open to anyone, is Astara, which I highly recommend.  I now teach students at my mystery school, which is The Temple of Stella Maris, (www.templeofstellamaris.org)
PP: Did it take you a long time to write the 9 Life Altering Lessons?
KA: That’s a great question. Can I answer Yes and No. 🙂  I say Yes, because the book is based on lifetimes of learning bringing me to this point as a teacher of the ancient wisdom teachings, where I can effectively share this information, so the background work and research on this book, was literally lifetimes in the making.  As far as putting it onto paper, I find that I’m a fairly quick writer once I get started on a project. The actual writing of the book took 9 months. The number 9 was with me in many stages of this book and as in all things, I found this to be no accident.
PP: What are the main principles of the 9 Life Altering Lessons and what would be a prime example of these principles?
KA: The main principle of the book is to connect with the concept that we are not bound by the third dimensional world that we currently understand. We are able to explore, create and activate in the fourth, fifth and sixth dimensions and we are rapidly opening up to many more.  When working in these dimensions, we realize that we are limitless, ageless and part of the infinite. It is through this understanding where all magic takes place, in nature, on earth, in the higher realms and within and through each of us.

This is not a new concept that we are Creators and that we have the ability to be more than we imagined, we’ve been taught this throughout the ages. The principles in my book, the nine (life-altering) lessons, explain the journey taken by students who wish to explore this path and connect with this flow of energy.   I mention how everything “old is new age again”, meaning that these conceptual teachings have been with humanity from the start and continue to cycle throughout the ages.  They have been shared in “exoteric” form, which loosely explain how one can think about something enough to attract it to them, but this is not the full teaching.

Esoteric teachings explain the deep inner process, which takes a dedicated amount of study and transformation from the soul level. To be a Creator, there is work to be done and it requires more than wishing or thinking about it. There is a hermetic teaching, As Above, So Below, As Within, So Without.  This is a very deep teaching, which explains how the universe works and flows. It corresponds with who we are and that what we think about is expressed outwardly.  Each of the nine lessons build upon each other and are intertwined. For example, we really can’t explain As Above So Below, without referring to Lesson Five: We Are Greater Than We Remember Ourselves To Be, which discusses the axiom of Man Know Thyself, as was carved above temple doorways in ancient Greece. Until we can fully answer the question, Who Am I, it’s difficult to understand what is within or without or how we can activate and operate in the other dimensions. Humanity often searches outwardly to seek for answers, which leads to entertaining, but not necessarily enlightening answers. The knowledge you seek, is living inside of you at this moment. You have only but to seek to find.  This is why I say that I am not a teacher, but rather a guide, I am here to help you remember what you already know on a soul level.
PP: Can you give the readers a little insight into the magical universe we live in?
KA: Many of the fantasy movies you’ve seen, the books you’ve read, the thoughts you have, the dreams, no matter how fantastical, have truth in them.  You know this at a soul level, which is why the older and wiser the soul, the more you connect with the old ways and the new ways and are a dreamer and creative spirit. This is because you remember at a core level that anything and everything is possible. It feels very confusing sometimes to live here on the earth plane, where at this stage so many have forgotten about the magic of the universe and have tried to replace it with cold disconnected forms of logic, which physicists will one day prove, is completely illogical.  This is all part of the process and good comes from each experience. We move forward with each step, for we have moved out of a former period that was based on superstition without the balance of logical thought. The pendulum always swings widely to self-correct and we have been in a period of disconnection, where science became the new answer.  We are now headed toward a new period of understanding where science and spirituality will work together to further understand and uncover the mysteries of the universe in a more balanced and cohesive manner.

We are incredible beings made from the spark of pure light and the possibilities of what we can create are infinite. Some souls remember this and carry the magic with them back into this lifetime and do their best to share it with others. The good news is, we are moving into a new cycle on this earth plane where the Divine Feminine energy returns. We are in the last breath of a patriarchal cycle and it is going out with a bang with one last expression of masculine energy, with the best and the worst displays including war and destruction, but also with some of the greatest creations and inventions to connect us all in this world. With the matriarchal energy returning in 2012, we will see a return to inner and outward connectedness and love along with a return to the fluid energy of intuition, a deeper connection with nature, and experiencing beauty in its true form.  Each soul chose to come back at this time and should be honored as it takes a great amount of energy from each soul on the earth plane to assist with the transformation from an old cycle into a new one.  The biggest risk is getting bogged down and thinking that the sorrow and struggle that we see here is overwhelming and we begin to feel disconnected. In actuality, in times where it seems that all is lost and that we are at our darkest hour, this is when we are but moments from the new dawn where all is made new again! Talk about a magical universe, did you know that every morning, at sunrise, there is a harmonic vibration that activates the energy for that entire day? When one studies the esoteric teachings, you can connect with that vibrational energy at sunrise and go forth to create your day. The universe is a fluid existence and each thought, word, action and deed causes a ripple or wave in the energy that is carried throughout. Reflect on that for a moment and realize the greatness living within and amongst you!
PP: How are we the creation of our thoughts?
KA: Here’s how I explain it to my neophyte students, (neophyte meaning new to the teachings).  I state, “There is no reality, there is only perception”. I give this example:  Imagine we are all standing in a park observing the scene around us. In the distance, we see a small boy holding a red balloon. In this moment each of us begin to have thoughts about this scene. One of us thinks, I miss being a kid, I love balloons, another person thinks, Red balloon, that reminds me of that 80’s song, 99 red balloons, another person thinks, where is that child’s mother, I cannot believe this child has been abandoned and left unattended in the park, another person thinks, Why is that child allowed to have a balloon, how irresponsible, as that the balloon will be let go and it will litter the environment and possibly choke a bird, another person thinks about wanting a child of their own; I could continue with this for hours of what each person would think. The point is, which is the reality of all of the thoughts we had here?  Our thoughts run in tandem with our personal experiences, wants, fears and desires. How we see the world is based upon all of these things in which we then perceive and create judgment.  When we live in our lower selves, our ego is very strong and has the belief that it is right with what it believes and convinces us that we know the right thing and others are doing the wrong thing. It’s a complex system and contributes to 99 percent of the anger, sadness and disconnected feelings we have in life. Your thoughts create your beliefs, which in turn create who you are, how you feel, how you react, and how you live.

As a student of the ancient wisdom teachings, we learn to step out of ego and observe how our emotions can run out of control, which leads to so many problems in our life. We are human, and we have ego and emotions for a reason. The point is not for them to go away, but rather to master them, understanding their purpose and reining them in so they don’t run rampant and end up controlling us instead.
PP: How does one know that only the good is real? If the good is all that is real then what is the bad?
KA: As I say on Explore Your Spirit, “We are All One, One Energy, From One Light”.  This is the Alpha and the Omega, where it all begins and ends. The rest is the shadow, which is reflected in our fears.  These concepts are challenging to explain in a short answer, I’ll try to be as concise as I can. While we experience many emotions, when you boil them down to their basic nature, they are all connected to either love or fear.  We are born and created in the loving energy of the universe and come to this plane (playing field) to have experiences. During this process, we lose touch with our connection and the rest of the journey is to understand this connection and reconnect with it in different ways, thereby discovering and uncovering more about ourselves.  Along the way, we are met with unpleasant experiences. This leads to fear within us, as we wish not to feel further disconnected. When we feel fear, we describe it as bad, but even through that experience, we are learning more and growing, which is also expressed in the teaching, All that Happens, Happens for Good. Nine lessons goes into this concept in greater detail, as these are very esoteric, deep thought questions to ponder.
PP: In the 9 Life Altering Lessons you say “we are all one”, how so?
KA: To continue on this thought from the previous question, it is only here on the earth plane that we experience the concept of duality, male/female, summer/winter, yin/yang, sun/moon etc. We are all part of the one energy, which is seeking to know itself in continual unfolding levels. One way to do this is to experience the earth plane and its sense of duality. This journey teaches us more about ourselves and in doing so, brings this wisdom back into the greater consciousness. There are so many examples of how we are connected and part of the whole, which I discuss in depth in the book. One example I use to explain the concept of how we are separate but part of the whole is this visual… Each of us is a particle of sand and the (Universe/God/Goddess/Divine Energy) is the beach! Without the beach, a particle of sand is fairly meaningless, but without the sand, there is no beach…  To take this concept even deeper, it takes but a particle of sand in an oyster, to make a pearl…
PP: If we are all one what is the connecting factor that makes us so?
KA: Our soul, which is connected to the higher consciousness matrix. This matrix extends into every plane and we are each connected to it with a cord of energy running through us. This cord allows us to reach beyond our physical bodies into the higher realms.
PP: Can you explain to the readers what you meant when you said “We are greater than we remember ourselves to be”?
KA: Going back to where I discuss the magical universe in which we reside, I explain some of this concept. The point is, you simply are. Anything you have dreamed, you can achieve. Think back to some of the stories where the angels remarked that humanity was created in the image of God as well as being given the ultimate gift of free will. I mention the biblical reporting by angels as it’s so well known in the western world, but look at teachings of the eastern world as well as ancient wisdom and pagan teachings from around the world, they all say, we were given a great gift.  The esoteric teachings explain this gift in great detail and unravel its meaning to the core. One example of a teaching is the understanding that the earth was created with a word. A Word! And we are the only species on the earth plane with the power of speech, to express ourselves with words. Think about that, what power exists in the word and what do you create each day with your words? Has humanity been given gifts that are right under our noses and we don’t even recognize it?
PP: If we are as you say “children of the universe” and “we are limitless and ageless” then how is it that “all that exists is now”? Would it have not also existed in our pasts as well as our future, our destinies as it were?

In the past, we understood time to be a linear movement, like the historic timelines we were shown in school. Time does not move in a linear fashion, it is cyclical, it winds around. Ok, so here’s the bigger concept to understand. We do not go through time… time goes through us! We are standing still, while time flows by. This is a deep teaching and when one understands the depth of this wisdom, this is how one can access and create at every level.  We are all we have ever been or will be. It is the perception of time that allows us to connect with a certain moment and gives us perspective of past, present or future.  All that exists is now, now is all there is. The rest is perception of time. It’s a brain buster I’ll admit, which is why the esoteric teachings are studied for years and not easily explained in short bursts. Trying to explain this in the form of a short answer, already brings about more questions, such as, well if we are all that we have ever been or will be, what’s the point of doing anything, since it’s already been done, which is certainly a logical question. It goes back to that gift we were given of free will and what I mentioned earlier about the universe not being solid, but instead being fluid, and each ripple or wave we create, causes an impact. Thus we are fluid, time is fluid and the universe is fluid and ever changing, so we as creators, have the ability to change time and space. Wow, talk about being greater than we remember ourselves to be!  These are the life altering, mind bending questions that students discuss in the esoteric teachings and where I begin in the 9 lessons book.
PP: Can we look forward to reading any other books from you and if so I am going to get the first crack at it? LOL
KA: Thanks for asking. I’m working on my next book now and would love to share it with you when it’s released.  Right now, I’ve created a series of Guided Meditations for people who want a more interactive form of connecting with their higher selves. The series is a three-part edition including the Spirit of Hawaii, Egyptian Mystery Temple and Tibetan Mountain Journey. These meditations are unique, as they are active and take you on a journey where you interact with guides, teachers and beings from other worlds. The energy builds in each one, raising your vibrational energy through the chakras and moving your consciousness into the higher self.  The meditation series is available for download through Audible.com and iTunes and will be released in CD form through Amazon in April 2009.  I will also be traveling and conducting workshops this fall on the wisdom teachings of ancient Egypt as well as holding workshops through tele-seminars and webinars online. Updates on where I’ll be traveling, teaching and upcoming online seminars and workshops can be found by subscribing to our free newsletter on the Explore Your Spirit website.

PP: Bountiful Blessings go out to Kala Ambrose, thank you so very much for grating the readers and I such a fortuitous chance to get a firsthand look into the 9 life Altering Lessons. It has truly been awe inspiring. Again thank you.

KA: It was a pleasure to connect with you Michele, thank you for your time, your energy and the wonderful questions. From my heart to yours and to all of your readers, I wish you great joy and abundance and encourage you to remember what an amazing and special soul you are!

Links to Kala Ambrose:
Author Website

Authors RSS feed

Authors Blog

About the Book:
9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of the Mystery Schools Unveiled




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Runic Divination

April, 2009

History of the Runic alphabets and divination

As far back as primordial time’s man found himself fascinated by the mysterious writings of almost forgotten prehistoric languages, e.g. hieroglyphs from Egypt, American Indian inscriptions.

According to the University of Nottingham (2006)

The earliest undoubtedly runic inscriptions currently known are the short texts (mostly single words which might be names) scratched in the metal of weapons and other gear excavated from the bogs of Illerup and Vimose, in Denmark. Archaeologists have dated these to around 200 A.D although a comb found at Vimose may be about half a century earlier. (¶. 7)

However, the destiny of the mystical runes has had a much more fortuitist existence in that their sagacity has not been compromised throughout the ages, even after the Latin alphabet gained dominance in Europe. E.g., runes were inscribed on coffins and coins; they were also used in the making of calendars up until the end of the 18th century.

Some modern day linguists believe that the runes posses a much more cerebral meaning, to which one cannot find in hieroglyphs, ideograms, or in contemporary foreign alphabets; this unseen meaning exists in the subconscious realm of the mind. Runes were and are still to this day the embodiment of the world around us, in other words the quintessence of how one views the world around them. Through the mystical links amidst the differing runes a man is able to convey nearly every emotion and circumstance by combining them. Throughout the ages runes have changed their meaning, and as such through this system of adjusting dozens of meanings for one same symbol has been created (confirmation of this conjecture can be seen in that any given rune in one language had a completely different meaning in another).


For thousands of years now runes have been used in the art of divination, nevertheless at first it can seem like an art that would be better left in the past because there is no one set method of runic divination and as such it is solely up to the practitioner to decide which method to use.

I have been divining with runes for well over 20 years now and my personal rune of choice is the Elder FUTHARK runes. The first step one must take when beginning to learn to read runes is to get to know the runes themselves. This however, does not mean you have to memorize each individual interpretation of the runes. It has been my experience in teaching the art of runic divination that it is extremely important to start at the beginning with the fehu (F) and meditate on that individual rune for a day and then move on to the next until you have gone through and meditated on each and every one of them. There are several exercises one can use daily to assist in the learning of the runes, e.g. visualization, word association, physical bond etc…




As I stated before, there is no one set method in using runes for divination purposes.  Nevertheless, there are certain distinct characteristics when it comes to making runes which in turn may make them better suited for casting them, e.g. most runes are made by carving the runic symbols onto small pieces of clay, stone, or wood. These are materials are better suited for the scattering and picking up the runes. The choice of materials used to make your set of runes is an individual one, I personally follow the Druidic path and as such only use stones as I hold trees to be sacred living beings therefore my set is made from stones.

That being said I will attempt to briefly explain how to divine with the Elder Futhark runes.  Unlike the tarot when the runes are cast they are read as they fall regardless of the position they landed in because they often times land at odd angles or sideways. However, for the most part each person generally devises their own personal method of reading the runes. One method I use when looking for a simple one question reading is to pull three stones from the pouch and cast them onto the table or casting cloth if the runes fall with two of them (or all three) in the upright position and one reversed then the answer to your question is an astounding yes however, if only one is in the upright or all are reversed then the answer is no. Other methods include the Norns, Roman method, and the Nine Rune cast but we will go into that in the may issue.


Beginning in May’s issue of Pagan Pages will be starting a new online class. We will be starting first with learning the meanings of each rune and what it stands for and from there we will move on into actual art of runic divination.   I will be teaching the class.  Pagan Pages would like to see if our readers have an interest in learning Runes.  If you are interested we would appreciate you leaving a comment below so we can plan forward with our future issues

Bountiful Blessings

Bibliography and Works Cited

University of Nottingham. (2006). What are the Earliest Runic inscriptions. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from http://runicdictionary.nottingham.ac.uk/faq.php#earliest

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Faeries, Elves and Other Kin

April, 2009


The Selkies are placid creatures, seals by day women and men by night. Also known as Selchies, Sea People or Water Kelpies; In their mortal form the Selkies are described as having a characteristically unearthly magnificence with dark eyes and hair. Noiselessly they appear from the sea shedding their skins and frolicking along the sandy beaches. Like the merrows (the Irish and Scottish equivalent to the mermaid) their toes and fingers are webbed (When no signs of webbed fingers are present their palms are wider than their human counterparts’ showing hints of their watery beginning) however, if a mortal man or woman finds their skin, the Selkie is obliged to obey them until such a time as they find their skin. Selkie women have been said to make exceptional wives. Nevertheless, it is the Selkie women’s they nature to be quite and solitary. Frequently they will roam from their earthly homes back to the cliffs down by the sea to sing their mournful songs and reflect. When their husbands (fisherman) have been lost at sea, they sing their melancholy songs from high upon the cliffs in an attempt to lead them home.  If and when the she finds her seal skin again, she, too, will return home to the sea. However, dissimilar to the merrows, the Selkie never stops thinking about her mortal family and are oftentimes seen swimming near the seas shore watching over them for generations to come.
A Selkie Song
An earthly nurse sits and sings,
And aye, she sings by lily wean,
And little ken I by bairn’s father,
Far less the land where he dwells in.
For he came one night to her bed feet,
And a grumbly guest, I’m sure was he,
Saying “Here am I, thy bairn’s father,
Although i be not comely.
I am a man upon the land,
I am a Selkie on the sea,
And when I’m far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie.”
And he had ta’en a purse of gold,
And he had placed it upon her knee,
Saying: “Give it to my little young son,
And take thee up they nurse’s fee.”
“And it shall come to pass on a summer’s day,
When the sun shines bright on every stane,
I’ll come and fetch my little son,
and teach him how to swim the faem.”
“And ye shall marry a gunner good,
And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be,
And the very first shot that he e’er shoots,
Will kill both my young son and me.”

Bibliography and Works Cited
A Selkie Song, (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2009, from

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Celtic Awareness

April, 2009

Belenus – Celtic God of Beltane

In Celtic mythology the Sun God Belenus worshipped in Britannia, Gaul, Italy, Northern Spain and Austria. Belenus has had shrines erected in his behalf from Aquileia (on the Adriatic) to England (Kirkby Lonsdale). Associated with healing and heat, the meaning of his name is Henbane God or the Shinning one.

It has been said the Belenus may be in fact the same deity as the God Belatu- Cadros from the Roman Empire period and thusly identified with Apollo. His companion is Belisama. Belenus’s name has appeared on inscriptions, concentrated primarily in Cisalpine Gaul and Aquileia, however, these inscriptions have also been found in Noricum and Gallia Narbonensis as well as other distant lands.

Beltane/May Day

Over the years Beltane has been known by many names, in contemporary Irish it is known as Lá Bealtaine, in Scots Gaelic it is known as Bealtiunn, the Welsh know it as the Calends of May (Galan-Mai) and on the Isle of Man (Manx) as Laa Boaldyn, Laán Tourey (Day of Summer) or Shenn da Boaddyn. Beltane is the start of the Summer Half of the Celtic year but what ever the name it is a festival of absolute joy.

A Large number of mythological Celtic events are associated with this day, balancing out it is opposite Samhain. The first people and co-creators of Ireland first landed on the island on Beltane. 300 years to the day later the inhabitants returned to their Other Worldly plane. It was on Beltane that the Tuatha De Danann invaded Ireland. On May Eve Pwyll and Rhiannon’s (the rulers of the Welsh Otherworld) son Pryderi was lost and later found by Teirnyon Twryf Vliant on another May’s Eve after which he was later returned to Pwyll and Rhiannon. The majority of these events concern the forces of darkness being defeated by light

Modern Day Beltane Festivals

One of the major sabbats today is the primeval Celtic fire festival. The Celtic fire festival is the time to observe the unification of the Sun God and the young Goddess, the time when winters darkness copiously retreats and life once more returns to the earth. Like Samhain, during Beltane the shroud between this world and other worldly realms is at its thinnest, in times of yore this was viewed as a time of impending mischief or danger from seditious spirits. Thusly, during Beltane it was a time to mollify these spirits and to begin preparing for the soil in hopes of a good harvest later in the year.

The May Pole

the May Pole represents the impregnation of the Earth Goddess by the Sun God, in the traditional May Pole dance, weaving the ribbons, joins two elements to form the third which represents life at its creation. The fire of Beltane lit in a pit or cauldron represents passions fire. Traditionally, one will jump over the fire for luck or fertility in the upcoming growing season. It is said that a woman will be exceedingly blessed if she becomes pregnant on Beltane. Men wear circlets of green while the women don blossom of circlets.

Excerpt from A Tree Song

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, or he would call it a sin;

But we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in!

~ Rudyard Kipling

Bibliography and Works Cited

Kipling, R. (A. D. 1200). A Tree Song. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/kipling_ind.html

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Role of a Mentor

April, 2009

Like many others my age, the first witch I saw on TV was Samantha on the show Bewitched. But there was real life witch in my area whom I saw on TV several times. Jeffrey B. Cather RN, better known as Lady Circe of Toledo, OH, was respected by the media when they turned to her as the unofficial representative of the Pagan community. She was well spoken, knowledgeable and had an air of leadership about her. When I saw her on TV in the 70s and 80s, I was not yet studying the old ways, but it was in the back of my mind and the knowledge that such people existed kept the spark of my interest alive. When she passed away in 2004, I read she was a WW II veteran and since this was before the VA decision to add the pentacle as a symbol of belief, I’ve wondered if her headstone was ever changed.

Shortly after I was hired by the Postal Service in 1994, I saw a documentary called “Witches, Werewolves and Vampires.” It was more on the lighter side, but I was intrigued by what the Witches were saying about a magical nature centered religion which included a goddess. This was the moment I decided to see if what the Witches were saying was true and if this was something for me. Its funny how the words and attitudes of someone we never meet and who have no idea we exist can change our lives, so perhaps our words and attitudes can in turn affect people we will never meet and may not even know they exist.

I looked in the library in Port Clinton, OH where I was working at the time and found a book, the name of which I have long ago forgotten. It claimed to be about witchcraft, but with instructions to self initiate that included saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards three times at midnight and making a wand stuffed with a blood soaked cotton ball, it sounded weird even in my naiveté. Fortunately it disappeared never to return before I could check it out. Perhaps someone was keeping me from starting out with misinformation.

Eventually I found a few useful accurate books at the library and bought some at a bookstore in another town. But I yearned for contact with a like minded person, someone I could learn from, ask questions, and gain understanding. There was a woman on my mail route I wanted to talk with as she received metaphysical catalogs, had a stained glass pentacle on her door, stickers on her truck reading “witches heal” and “born again pagan” and had a banner in her window wishing “Blessed Samhain.” One day she was sweeping her sidewalk, so I stuck up a conversation, complimenting her on her Halloween decorations. She replied that it was important to her as she was a Witch. I replied that I was a newbie Wiccan and she offered to be of help.

I learned so much from Soraya. She explained the difference between Witch and Wiccan and elaborated on her path of Hedgewitchery. She was the first other Pagan I had met in person, so being a newbie, I tended at first to hang on her every word, something she discouraged. Instead, she encouraged me to listen to different views, try different things and see what worked for me. There was an author whom I idolized at the time, but my mentor had a rather negative opinion of her. I was able to step back and be objective about that author as well as any other. We were comfortable disagreeing agreeably and I never felt pressure to agree with or imitate her. I was a fan of the TV show Charmed and she thought it was stupid. She thought the movie The Craft insulted our religion but I could watch it over and over although I understood how those not familiar with our ways could get the wrong idea. Practical Magic was a movie we both enjoyed.

Soraya encouraged me to interact with other Pagans. She started a local meet and greet called Pagans in the Pub and invited me to come. I was too reluctant to do so and unfortunately after two meetings, it stopped due to lack of interest. She was a member of a Cleveland, OH based group and drove to their monthly meetings. We talked about me riding with her sometime but again I was reluctant. Considering the problems I have now finding the time to participate in Pagan groups, I wish I would have went.

I did manage to find other Pagans online and she pointed the way. She recommended the Witch’s Voice and a few other quality sites as well as setting up her own Pagan message board, Soraya’s Witch’s Tavern. I was one of the first members at her invitation and as I sat at the library internet computer pondering a user name, it came to me, Postalpagan, a name I still use 12 years later. It amused me when she said that some of the other members asked her if it was a reference to the term “going postal”, and she replied that I was her mail carrier. When someone asked her how she changed her hair color like one of the girls in The Craft did, she replied that she started by going to the drug store and buying a box of hair color. One Imbolic morning I knocked on her door because I had been feeling like I had way too much coffee since an early morning ritual. She went through a checklist of the steps of ritual and when she got to grounding and centering at the end, I realized my omission. Once I followed her advice to perform the missing step, I felt myself calm down. One thing she would not do was let me join her in ritual as she said she was strictly a solitary.

Her proudest moment during the time I knew her was the front page story on her in the local newspaper. She had called them about ten days earlier to point out the error in a Halloween article that claimed the Celtic god of the dead was Sam Hain and Samhain was named after him. After she replied yes to a newspaper staffer’s question if she was Pagan, she agreed to an interview at home. The article with a photo of her on her porch swing was published October 23, 1999 in the Port Clinton News Herald. It was spot on both in regards to her personally and our religion. Only one of my coworkers at the Post Office criticized her as eccentric and I defended her even though I was still in the broom closet. In spite of her fears, she did not receive any threatening phone calls or hate mail. I walked into the newspaper office to praise both the article and their willingness to be open minded. Sadly, I found out a few years later from another newspaper staffer, who was Pagan, that they received so many complaints that the editor decided that they would never run another piece on anything Pagan.

A little over two years later, I transferred to Clyde, OH and said goodbye to Soraya thanking her for her help which had meant so much. She encouraged me to keep learning and practicing as well as remaining active at the Tavern. But she soon closed the message board and I heard she moved to North Carolina. I saw her on the membership listing of Witchvox under that state for a while, then she disappeared and repeated web searches have found nothing. If perchance she is reading this, I would like to give her a big thank you for being my mentor and my dream is that someday I could be as helpful to a new Witch somewhere.

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Greetings From Afar

April, 2009

The Search for the Mary Gloster

“I’ve paid for your sickest fancies; I’ve humoured your crackedest whim —

Dick, it’s your daddy, dying; you’ve got to listen to him!

Good for a fortnight, am I? The doctor told you? He lied.

I shall go under by morning, and — Put that nurse outside.

‘Never seen death yet, Dickie? Well, now is your time to learn,

And you’ll wish you held my record before it comes to your turn.

Not counting the Line and the Foundry, the yards and the village, too,

I’ve made myself and a million; but I’m damned if I made you.

Master at two-and-twenty, and married at twenty-three —

Ten thousand men on the pay-roll, and forty freighters at sea!

Fifty years between ’em, and every year of it fight,

And now I’m Sir Anthony Gloster, dying, a Baronite”

(Rudyard Kipling, “The Mary Gloster”, 1894)

As with many of Rudyard Kipling’s works, the story of the “Mary Gloster”, as related in the poems “McAndrew’s Hymn” and “The Mary Gloster” seems to be true. He has apparently changed only the names of the persons, companies and the ship involved, as many of the participants were still living at the time of original publication. Much speculation has arisen over the years as to the actual identity of “Sir Anthony Gloster”, and, of course, his late wife, as well as that of the characters referred to in these works as “MacAndrew” and the Gloster’s surviving son, “Richard”. Needless to say, these are ongoing mysteries, as the information apparently went to the grave with Mr. Kipling. The end of the story does not end, however, with the sinking of the “Mary Gloster” and the carrying out of “Sir Anthony’s final wishes.

Almost as soon as the last of these works appeared, in the fall of 1894, stories began to arise concerning the sighting of a “ghost ship” in the Maccassar Strait area, and along normal route that a ship of this time would have taken to reach that vicinity from England and Scotland’s Clydeside. The story goes that an old-fashioned sail-steam brig of mid 19th century vintage can often be seen passing in the night. It is a neat, trim ship, in good repair, and proceeding at a leisurely four to six knots, under a good head of steam. On deck, a man and woman are visible at the helm; the man dressed in the uniform of a Ships Officer of the same period as the vessel, and the woman in civilian attire of the same period. If hailed, the ship will respond, the Ship’s Officer responding through a large, brass “speaking horn” of the kind commonly used today by cheerleaders. The name of the ship is always indistinguishable, but a port of origin and a destination is given, as is common to maritime protocol, along with the number of hours out of port… The ports of origin and destination, either Java or The Port of London, are interchanged, depending upon the location and heading of the ship. The ship then continues on course until it is out of sight. It does not, however, according to modern accounts, show up on radar, and has no sonar signature. In short, by all means known to modern technology, it does not exist, except to those who physically see the ship. It is most commonly observed in the Maccassar Strait, and in the South Indian Ocean, near Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).

Sighting what has become commonly known as the”Mary Gloster” is something of a boon, in that the ship seems to be a “Flying Dutchman” in reverse. Sighting little ship is considered to be an omen of general good luck, and an omen of something very fortunate to happen soon. For a newlywed couple, or a pair of soon-to-be-wed lovers to be among those fortunate enough to witness the vessel, it is a sign of a long, happy and prosperous marriage. For those who are single, it is considered a sign that they will soon find that Mr. or Miss “Right”. For ship’s crew, it is a sign of general good luck, a safe voyage, and a long and rewarding career.

Perhaps one day, the world will know the identity of the “Gloster Family” and “Fleet Engineer MacAndrew”. Maybe one day, some distant descendant will discover some yellowed document, some letter or other correspondence, that finally solves the mystery Until then, she will be, to those fortunate enough to site her, “Mary Gloster 19 hours out of Java, bound for the Port of London! And who hails her?” Until that time comes, if it does, she will always be, as Mr. Kipling so aptly called her “Sir Anthony Gloster’s carriage”

Perhaps but with the passage of time, the question of who these people — a man who could love his wife so much to literally span the world, even in death, to be at her side and a couple who’s love for each other was so strong that it literally rent the veil of death, itself actually were, is still a matter of speculation. As is the case with any “paranormally” related subject, it would most likely prove to be impossible to either “prove” or “disprove” the existence of the “Mary Gloster” as a “ghost ship”. Certainly, there have been sightings, and just as certainly, those sightings continue But it might not be “impossible” to prove who these people actually were

One prominent theory, in light of research, it makes a great deal of sense. It is more than likely that Rudyard Kipling either knew the people involved in this story personally or was otherwise socially associated with them in some way. This being the case, he made some “changes” which would “protect” the surviving family and friends from any scandal that might ensue from the full details, or a significant portion of them, being released to the public. Whoever this person, or these people, they were well enough known, at the time, that even with these changes, speculation was rife. It seems to be very much similar to the case of “who was Jack the Ripper”. There are almost certainly those who knew his identity, and most likely those who still know.

Now, this analogy can’t be taken too far. With the case of “Sir Anthony Gloster” it is most unlikely that the “cover” is that extensive. It certainly does not involve any government entities, or agencies, and could not possibly be “controversial’ after the passage of so much time — certainly not to the point that the discovery of Jack the Ripper’s identity would be. It is most unlikely that Kipling intended for this “secret” to be kept for, what amounts to “all eternity”. It is possible, extremely likely in fact, there were still living family members at the time of Kipling’s own death in the mid-1930’s. It is conceivable, given a mid-1850’s date of birth for “Richard Gloster”, he could. In fact, have been living, although a relatively old man, at the time of Kiplings death. This might well have been the case, as Kipling was roughly part of the same generation. Whether or not it was the character he identifies as “Richard Gloster” it seems apparent that had Kipling managed to out live whoever this person was, the facts of the story would have been made known.

Now, here is the reasoning for this theory. The account that Kipling gives of “Sir Anthony Gloster’s” final meeting with his son, actually

an account of the old man’s death, is both too detailed, and too “rough” to be pure fiction. Certainly, any good writer could invent the details that surroud such an event, and Rudyard Kipling was, without doubt, an excellent writer but… the way it is worded, the sometimes tiny and strategically placed aside comments —  constitute facts involved that are simply too overwhelming to be invented and the way the material is presented — in a first person narriative — indicates that Kipling received the information from someone who was present at the time… most likely the person that he identifies in the poem as “Richard Gloster” the sole surviving son. This  is especially compelling toward the end of the piece, where the old man, obviously dying is seemingly hallucinating. It just rings true, and the content would only be known to a person who was present.

The same applies to McAndrew, only to a lesser degree. Kipling was a journalist by profession, and the content of “McAndrew’s Hymn” seems, from the perspective of a journalist, to be composed from either an interview with this person, or from an interview with someone who knew the man intimately and over a very long period of time. While there is indeed an arguement to be made that McAndrew might just be a “stereotypical” dour, Scotts engineer (let’s face it, they even had one of them in “Star Trek”), the amount of detail, not technical detail, which is abundant, but personal detail, including descriptions of people and their conversations, is just too great to have been invented out of whole cloth.

It is possible, likely in fact, that Kipling wrote the poem “Mary Gloster” as a tribute although an anonymous one, to a friend. The earlier work, “McAndrew’s Hymn” which was at first intended to be merely a study of the unsung and unseen engineer, accidentally and unintentionally became an introductory piece to the later work. Given this, it is more than likely that somewhere, someone knows who these people were. It is not impossible that somewhere, there is a yellowing letter, manuscript or diary that shows the content of the interviews, at least with one of the people involved.

The identification of McAndrew first, and through his career, the identification of the “Glosters”, might also be a viable course for any research on this subject to take. The man was, according to Kipling, in the later stages of his career, Chief Engineer or Fleet Engineer of a major shipping line… granted “this is na th’ Cunnard”, but it was a major line, nevertheless. Note that his employer is identified by name as — “Sir Kennety” he is simply not identified by family name. This could well be the man’s actual name, or part of it, and in “Mary Gloster” McAndrew is said to be “Chief of the Maori Line”. Now, while it is not known, at this point, if there actually was an historical “Maori Line”… there is/was very possibly something extremely similar. There is also ample information, presented in both poems of this series, of the routes that McAndrew’s line followed. The character, in fact, speaks, in the present tense, among other things, of calling at Kergulen, and sailing in the South Atlantic. How many major shipping lines of this time followed these routes?

Now, what is actually known about these people, specifically “Sir Anthony”and “Mary Gloster”? Actually, from gleaning the combined text of the two poems, quite a lot.

1. Anthony Gloster was a member of the British Peerage — a Baronite, however he was born a commoner.

2. Anthony Gloster had, on at least one occasion had a formal dinner with either Prince Albert, the Prince Regent (Queen Victoria’s husband) or with Edward Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII).

3. Anthony Gloster had been prominently mentioned on several occasions quite prominently in London papers of the time. The line “not the least of our merchant princes” has the ring of truth to it, considering journalistic style of that period.

4. Anthony Gloster was a ship’s master at age 22, and married Mary Gloster at age 23.

5. Anthony and Mary Gloster had one surviving son, who, at the time of the story, is in his mid-to late thirties, by implication, over 35 years of age, yet not yet 40 years of age.

6. With the poem concerning the death of Sir Anthony having been written in late 1894, this would place Richard Glosters birth between 1855 and 1859, with the earlier date being the more probable of the two.

7. Mary Gloster died in childbirth, with Richard. This would place her date of death at the same time, between 1855 and 1859, again, with the earlier date being the more probable of the two.

8. Mary Gloster had given birth to several other children, before Richard, who did not survive infancy (common in those times). This would indicate that by the time of her death the Glosters had been married for at least five years. While the number of other births is not mentioned, it is mentioned that there were several and an

average of 18 months between births would be fairly common.

9. The ship, Mary Gloster, is described in such a way as to indicate that it was a sail/steam sloop or brig, which was capable of making headway under sail, should the steam engine fail. In the poem “McAndrew’s Hym”, reference is made to the maximum running steam pressure of 10 pounds per square inch, which indicates that the ship was in the “first generation” or very early “second generation” of seagoing steamships, most likely built between 1845, and 1860, with a date in the middle, around 1850 being most likely.

10. Since all of Mary Gloster’s children were born “at sea”, according to the poem, it is safe to assume that the ship was purchased, by the Glosters, either in the first year of their marriage, or early in the second year. “Marriageable” age, in England, at that time was commonly 16, but this was uncommon, the average tended to be around 18. Given this, and the assumed date of Richard’s birth, the following can be assumed.

a) The Glosters married in/about 1850.

b) The ship was purchased that year, or early the next.

c) This would give an approximate date of birth for Mary Gloster of 1832 to 1834, with the earlier date being most likely. This would have made her approximately 20 to 24 years of age at the time of her death. This is consistent with the statement of “how young we were” in the poem “Mary Gloster” and with the fact that she had had several earlier pregnancies. In a five to six year marriage, in this era, it is safe to assume three pregnancies, with the strong likelihood of Richard’s birth being the fourth.

d) Men were usually older than their brides in this period, by a factor of, generally speaking, two to five years, sometimes (although rarely) considerably more. This would place Sir Anthony’s date of birth somewhere in the mid 1820’s. This is consistent with his cause of death, a series of strokes. In 1893, he would have been in his mid-to-late sixties. Which was a common lifespan among people of his social class, at this time, and also consistent with the stated age of the surviving son, Richard.

1. Anthony Gloster was residing in London at the time of his death. While his address is not mentioned, the address of his son, Richard, is it is on the Cromwell Road, one of the more affluent sections of Victorian London.

2. The shipyard owned by Sir Anthony Gloster was located at Clydeside, in Scotland.

3. Sir Anthony’s company was involved in governmental contracts, notably for armor plate, most likely for warships.

4. Sir Anthony had a mistress, and the fact was well enough known for him to instruct his son to pay her off, and to warn her that “his lawyers would fight”.

5. Sir Anthony Gloster owned a vault or mausoleum, which remained unused, in Woking. This was, in all likelihood, eventually used by other members of the family.

6. Sir Anthony Gloster had a business partner, called McCullough, in the poem Mary Gloster, who died “in the fifties”.

7. The ship Mary Gloster was maintained on the company register until the time of Sir Anthony Gloster’s burial at sea, whereupon it was scuttled, with his body on board. Given the approximate death of Sir Anthony’s death, it would have disappeared from Admiralty or Maritime Registries in 1892 or early 1893.

8, Sir Anthony Gloseter was not dead at the time Kipling wrote “MacAndrew’s Hymn”. Both poems were written while he was living in the U.S.  in Vermont. Therefore it is likely that even though “The Mary Gloseter” was published before “MacAndrew’s Hymn” Kipling suspended work on the latter upon learning of “Sir Anthony”s death  and published it as an “afterword”.

Perhaps one day, the world will know the identity of the “Gloster Family” and “Fleet Engineer MacAndrew”. Maybe one day, some distant descendant will discover some yellowed document some letter or other correspondence, that finally solves the mystery Until then, the little ship that is arriagelly sighted in the remote passage of Maccassar Strait, will be, to those fortunate enough to site her, “Mary Gloster 19 hours out of Java, bound for the Port of Lodon! And who hails her?” Until that time comes, if it does, she will always be, as Mr. Kipling so aptly called her “Sir Anthony Gloster’s arriage”

For the heart it shall go with the treasure – go down to the sea in ships.

I’m sick of the hired women – I’ll kiss my girl on her lips!

I’ll be content with my fountain, I’ll drink from my own well,

And the wife of my youth shall charm me – an’ the rest can go to Hell!

(Dickie, ~he~ will, that’s certain.) I’ll lie in our standin’-bed,

An’ Mac’ll take her in ballast – an’ she trims best by the head. . . .

Down by the head an’ sinkin’, her fires are drawn and cold,

And the water’s splashin’ hollow on the skin of the empty hold –

Churning an’ choking and chuckling, quiet and scummy and dark –

Full to her lower hatches and risin’ steady. Hark!

That was the after-bulkhead. . . . She’s flooded from stem to stern. . .

Never seen death yet, Dickie? . . . Well, now is your time to learn!

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Elemental Perspectives

April, 2009

Diving Deep

This is the second in my Elementals Perspectives series for PaganPages.  For those who didn’t read the first one in the series last month, let me briefly review what I’m trying to do with these articles.

Most of us have a working knowledge of the classic four Elements (Air, Fire, Water, and Earth) and the so-called fifth one, Spirit.  It’s a handy way of categorizing the universe and that’s useful when we work magic or even for just getting a handle on what’s going on.  It’s easy to think of the classical Elements in much the same way as we were taught to think about the Periodic Table of Elements in our science classes.  But, even though the ancient notions of atoms and elements were the seeds of modern physics and chemistry, we must remember they weren’t really applied in the same way as that.  Instead, they were a system of categorizing the forces and characteristics of the observable world of the ancients.

As magic workers and as priests and priestesses of our own spirituality, learning to use this simplified but flexible system is extremely valuable because it provides an adaptive structure able to support and strengthen all our works.  But to accomplish this, we must practice using it as our model.  Though hardly anything in our universe is solely of one, pure Element, we can use each of the Elements as a perspective on the world around us.  When we do so, we are able to clear away some of the more distracting aspects and see it in a less complicated manner.

This article will deal with the Water Element, which most magical systems put in the west, though it can really be any of the directions.  The Water Element is in many ways the most important because it deals with emotions, how we feel about things.  I say this is likely the most important because how we feel determines what something means.  Last month, we dealt with the Earth Element, which is all about how things are manifested in the world.  But before they are made manifest (come into being), they must have some kind of meaning; we must be able to relate to them.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t even be able to recognize them as part of our world.

As kind of an example of the truth of this, let me introduce you to the xchirtelizer.  This handy-dandy little thing is quite possibly the wonder gadget of the century.  But if you don’t know what it means, it won’t do you a lick of good, will it?  Would you be able to recognize the xchirtelizer if it were in your world?  Absolutely not, because you don’t even know what it means.  What if I now told you that the xchirtelizer was the Lower Slabovian word for a Swiss Army Knife?  Ahah!  I have now brought the xchirtelizer into the world of the five senses (the realm of the Earth Element).  And, because I told you earlier that the xchirtelizer was the wonder gadget of the century, you feel good about it (Water Element) and will want to run right out and buy a dozen, right?  Well, okay, maybe a half a dozen.

All right, that was kind of cheating a bit.  I didn’t set up any new feelings about the xchirtelizer; I used the feelings you had about Swiss Army Knives.  But to further illustrate the importance of feelings, let’s look at something we’ve seen in the news and how our feelings make it what it means.

You can’t turn on the news or look at a magazine cover right now without being bombarded with gloom and doom titles and stories concerning our economy.  It’s a mess; it’s catastrophic; it’s been going on since (fill in date); it’s hardest on (fill in group); it’s the worst since (another date); the numbers are (find some statistic that’ll scare the bleep out of everyone).  So says (some expert you never heard of before).  Everything sweet and comforting, like chocolate, is selling better and better these days.  To the guy making a bunch of noise on the street corner, this is a sure sign of the beginning of the end.  The sky will fall this afternoon at precisely 3:34 p.m.; news and pictures at 11.  In the words of Ben Stein in the Visine ad: wowwww.

I’m not trying to make light of the problems being faced by a huge number of people at this time.  I’m grateful that I still have a paycheck and a roof over my head and I truly hope for better times for any who don’t.  But stop and think about conditions and attitudes not much more than a year ago.  According to some reports, the last two decades have been one long road to financial hell.  And yet everyone felt comfortable and fairly secure until sometime around the spring of 2008 (that’s right; the time the heavy political stuff was getting started).  That’s when the first whispers of the R word (recession) started to creep into the media.  Somebody thought this or that; somebody found this or that number and it didn’t mean the same for them today as the numbers meant yesterday, even when they were the same numbers.  Just the year before, one bank swallowing up another meant a few hundred layoffs and a stronger stock market tick for the swallower.  Ask anybody on the street except those directly connected to the banks in question and they’d give you the standard ‘who cares?’ shrug and pass on by.  Banks that couldn’t keep in the black closed up and crawled away all the time.  Does anybody reading this know how many banks got closed or swallowed up in 2007?  Did you even care?

Nowadays, banks don’t go out of business; they fail.  Spending is down; the stock market is down; unemployment is up; homelessness is up.  And it’s all bad news.  How does that make you feel?  According to recent reports, the sky actually started to fall in October, 2008.  Or was it August?  Some say it was late May, 2007.  News and pictures (and talking heads) at 11.

Is everybody sufficiently depressed we can now call this a depression?

If you’re one of the homeless, the unemployed, the person getting hit by a piece of the sky, you’re hurting and, again, I wish you the best.  I am currently engaged in trying to make your lot better.  But, for the rest of you, let me ask you a few questions.

Have you noticed any drop in the congestion on the freeway during rush hour?  Has there been any less number of advertisements on the tube lately?  How long did it take you to find out what the heck a ‘Ponzie scheme’ was?  I guess you aren’t making enough money to worry about it (neither am I).  Of course, I’m old enough to think it was something from a show called Happy Days.  But maybe that was Fonzzie.

So, are you scared yet?  Are you feeling bad enough that you’ll stop buying those fancy whiz-bangs for Junior at Christmas?  Will your spending be down and your investments less?  Well, it seems that you’re not in the minority.  Just about everybody is doing just that.  And for good reason:

The market for fancy whiz-bangs dropped this last Christmas season.  Spending is down enough to lay off umpty-ump thousands of people, which makes it really difficult to make spending go up.  And who wants to invest in a market that’s making noises like a flushing toilet?

Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t listened to those talking heads on the tube and spent more last Christmas.  Maybe your job (making fancy whiz-bangs) wouldn’t have dried up.  Maybe you’d feel better about starting to invest some of that hard-earned cash in a market account.  The price of stocks is almost as low as in your dad’s day and the opportunities are really tempting.  Or maybe you could give away a dollar to that crazy guy on the corner shouting about the sky falling.  After all, that’s just a piece of paper, right?

In your pocket, that paper isn’t doing anything for anybody.  But you’re reluctant to spend it because it might be the last one of them you’ve got.  Without it, you might not eat tomorrow and that is scary!  At the same time, not spending it might mean that your friend next door might not eat tomorrow.  And that means the person next door to them might not eat.  If you spend that dollar today and get some food to eat tomorrow, the guy next door can make a buck because he sold the food to you.  And maybe the one next door to him will also make a buck because he sells heating oil to your neighbor.  So why are you not happy to whip that piece of paper out and spend it?  Because you’re scared, right?  Because you fear a future… that you are helping to make.

Franklyn D. Roosevelt said it well when he spoke to the American people during the Great Depression (and, really… what exactly was so great about it?): “The only thing we have to fear…” he said in his best Wall Street tones, “is fear itself.”  It is this feeling of fear and such that has made all this happen.  The feeling has made the meaning!

Do you know how to start a stampede?  Just say, “boo” to the right cow.

Our feelings create meaning.  How we feel about something is what it means.  Change how you feel and you change the meaning.  Change the meaning and you change the ‘reality.’  Our attitude, how we feel about our situation from moment to moment, is the sole determinate of what our world means.  There’s a cliché scene in movies where somebody is seeing a shrink, talking about events in their life.  And the psychologist or psychiatrist leans toward the patient and asks (with total sincerity) “And how do you feel about that, John?” This is not only a very legitimate question; it’s an extremely vital one.  A single event can happen to five people in exactly the same way and mean five different things.  The meaning of it can be completely opposite for one person when compared to another.  The event may be the same… but its meaning is up to each person’s feelings.

This Element’s ‘secret’ has been so life changing for me that I have sometimes come close to being another crackpot on the corner shouting out my brand of ‘truth.’ It has become a central part of my understanding of both magic and spirit.

It is also one of the key factors in the work of a friend of mine.  He works as an arbitrator, a sort of ‘referee’ who helps people come to an agreement in disputes.  One of the ‘rules’ he applies in his method of conflict resolution has to do with what he calls ‘case building.’ Case building is where a person says this or that caused such and such problem.  In big issues between powerful companies or entities, it still usually comes down to some version of, “He made a face at me and stepped on my toy, so that’s when I hit him with the baseball bat.” Whenever negotiations begin to break down to this kind of thing, he halts the conversation and reminds the party or parties that case building is not allowed.  Then he redirects them to state how they feel about the events or circumstances.

Believe me when I tell you that this can be extremely frustrating.  We all tend to justify our actions and thoughts by dredging up selected events and using them as ‘evidence’ against our opponents.  And this is true even if our ‘opponent’ is our own life!  We rattle off our Exhibits A, B, and C and claim them to be the reason for X, Y, or Z.  And it nearly always is some twist on, “… so that’s when I hit him with the baseball bat.” My friend is quite adept at recognizing case building and nips it in the bud usually within the first ten words.  If you aren’t used to this, it can get your blood boiling almost instantly.  It frustrates everyone and, before I became convinced that this method was really terrific, I sometimes felt like hitting him with a baseball bat!

But if you continue on, if you cooperate with him and honor his rule about no case building, something wonderful happens.  Eventually you get past the frustration over being told to stop talking about what happened and how it was the reason for (fill in the blank), and you begin to catch yourself before he points it out to you.  You begin to look honestly at your feelings about the circumstances.  Then, while trying to find words for these feelings, you begin to understand that it was how you felt about it that made the ‘meaning’ of the event.  Sooner or later, you realize that the ‘conflict’ is 99% your attitude, your feelings… and you can change what something means simply by working on your feelings.  Since such conflicts almost always are about events and circumstances that are in the past, it’s usually easy to change how we feel about them.  This is a marvelous moment; it’s an empowering moment.  It is a moment when you face the truth, power, and magic of that one simple sentence:  “How it feels is what it means.”

Getting in touch with the Water Element is perhaps one of the most transformative moments of anyone’s magical development.  Learning to dive deep and swim easily in that Water is well worth the effort.  It will mean everything to you.

Next Month, we’ll look at Fire.  Before we do, however, I suggest you review all the warnings and instructions your parents and others told you about fire when you were young.  They weren’t wrong.

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May Day, May 1

April, 2009

Beltaine, also called May Day by many Christians. This Sabbat celebrates the fertility and union of the Horned God and the Goddess. At this time, life is renewing itself. Birds and animals are mating. In the fields, newly planted seeds are beginning to grow. Great fires are lit honoring the fertility God Belenos. Some leap the fires to show the exuberance of the season.

A Maypole is erected and bright ribbons are hung on it. The Maypole, a phallic symbol, represents the masculine. The soft colored ribbons are the feminine. The union of the two symbolizes the union of the God and Goddess. This is the time to fertilize your dreams with action. It is legend that children conceived at Beltane were gifted by the Gods. These children became known as Merry-Be-Gots.

The Return of the Sun

Beltaine is an anglicization of the Irish “Bealtaine” or the Scottish “Bealtuinn.” While “tene” clearly means “fire,” nobody really knows whether Bel refers to Belenus, a pastoral god of the Gauls, or is from “bel,” simply meaning “brilliant.” It might even derive from “bil tene” or “lucky fire” because to jump between two Beltane fires was sure to bring good fortune, health to your livestock, and prosperity.

When the Druids and their successors raised the Beltaine fires on hilltops throughout the British Isles on May Eve, they were performing a real act of magic, for the fires were lit in order to bring the sun’s light down to earth. In Scotland, every fire in the household was extinguished, and the great fires were lit from the need-fire which was kindled by 3 times 3 men using wood from the nine sacred trees. When the wood burst into flames, it proclaimed the triumph of the light over the dark half of the year.

Then the whole hillside came alive as people thrust brands into the newly roaring flames and whirled them about their heads in imitation of the circling of the sun. If any man there was planning a long journey or dangerous undertaking, he leaped backwards and forwards three times through the fire for luck. As the fire sunk low, the girls jumped across it to procure good husbands; pregnant women stepped through it to ensure an easy birth, and children were also carried across the smoldering ashes. When the fire died down, the embers were thrown among the sprouting crops to protect them, while each household carried some back to kindle a new fire in their hearth. When the sun rose that dawn, those who had stayed up to watch it might see it whirl three times upon the horizon before leaping up in all its summer glory.

Beltaine was a time of fertility and unbridled merrymaking, when young and old would spend the night making love in the Greenwood. In the morning, they would return to the village bearing huge budding boughs of hawthorn (the may-tree) and other spring flowers with which to bedeck themselves, their families, and their houses. They would process back home, stopping at each house to leave flowers, and enjoy the best of food and drink that the home had to offer. In every village, the maypole—usually a birch or ash pole—was raised, and dancing and feasting began. Festivities were led by the May Queen and her consort, the King who was sometimes Jack-in-the-Green, or the Green Man, the old god of the wildwood. They were borne in state through the village in a cart covered with flowers and enthroned in a leafy arbor as the divine couple whose unity symbolized the sacred marriage of earth and sun.

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