February, 2017

The Love of Chocolate by Guest Author Lilith Dorsey

February, 2017

The Love of Chocolate 

 

 

Dark and delicious, almost everyone loves chocolate. This little bean is not only tasty but also quite magickal. It has a long history of use throughout several countries and cultures.

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree, discovered over 3,000 years ago in the rain forests of Central America. Originally it was used as an alcoholic beverage. Prized by Ancient Mayan societies, Chocolate from the very beginning was an integral part of rites and rituals. The Mayans has uncovered a way to cultivate the beans. Next they dried, roasted and ground them into a paste. This was then combined with chili peppers and cornmeal to make a strong beverage. This ritual drink was used for everything from initiations to burial rites.

The invasion of Mexico by the Spanish brought chocolate to Europe. There it was prized as a beverage of wealth and power. It was reserved for the elite as a supreme delicacy.

Even if you’re not a magickal person it is easy to see how chocolate is a sensual delight. It’s smell, texture and touch lend themselves to passion. Because of this chocolate is a wonderful ingredient to use in your love spells and workings.

In my book Love Magic, I talk about combining two great aphrodisiac ingredients, chocolate and strawberries. “Strawberries are one of the many plants ruled by Venus. This recipe blends two great romantic pleasures—both strawberries and chocolate—to conjure up some sweet romance.” Craft this recipe witch care and magickal intent and you will be able to manifest your desires.

 

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries Recipe

1 pound strawberries, washed and dried
2 Tbs. butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chunks or chips)

To make dipping easier, leave the leaves on your strawberries. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Dip strawberries one at a time into melted chocolate. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy with your love.

 

***

About the Author:

Lilith Dorsey M.A. , hails from many magickal traditions, including Celtic, Afro-Caribbean, and Native American spirituality. Her traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I., New York University and the University of London, and her magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo . Lilith Dorsey is a Voodoo Priestess and Psychic, and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly , filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation, author of Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism,The African-American Ritual Cookbook, her latest book Love Magic and also choreographer for jazz legend Dr. John’s “Night Tripper” Voodoo Show.

 

Lilith can be reached at the following:

 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LilithDorseyAuthor/

Twitter https://twitter.com/LilithDorsey

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lilithdorsey/

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/lilithdorsey

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Merry Meet

February, 2017

imbolg

 

 

                  Welcome

 

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We have a great Issue for you this month, featuring great articles, reviews, & interviews like…

 

Melusine Draco

 

 

An Interview with Melusine Draco: Author, Teacher and Witch with our own Mabh Savage.

 

StandingRock2

 

Interview  with Supporters of the Water Protectors.  How their visit to Standing Rock changed them.

 

Lilith2

 

 

Guest Author Lilith Dorsey Shares her Spell “The Love of Chocolate” ….delicious!!

 

brigid

 

 

Book Review of Pagan Portals: Brigid by Morgan Daimler 

 

and so much more…!!!

 

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Join us on Facebook  & Twitter!!

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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2017

Imbolc 2017 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings,

Here in Central Ohio, we have enjoyed temperatures in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in late January this year. We are lulled into a false sense that Spring is here due to the warmth. Winter isn’t over yet.

Or is it?

Our ancestors would say this time of year IS the beginning of Spring, regardless of temperature. First signs are everywhere from groups of returning birds, to animals awakening from hibernation, and buds on the trees.

For me, it means time to start planning the garden again. I dug out my seed stash, sorted what I do not want, communicated with my gardening partners, and I have a seed catalogue on the way!

This week, I’ll buy some soil and start sprouting seeds that need to be transplanted to the ground in eight to ten weeks. I will go bastshit nuts planting, tending, and harvesting clear up to Samhain, and then, do garden cleanup. I will be tired of it all for a month or two and then start dying to get started again by mid January next year. My crazy has it’s own “Wheel of the Year!”

I was pleased, in researching what I’d like to write about, to find some new things I did not know about Imbolc! I’ll share what I learned, and then share a simple working I’ll be doing, myself this year.

Light it Up!

While much of the attention is given to the celebration of the goddess Brigid by Pagans, and then St. Brigid by Catholics, what gets little attention is some of the candle ceremonies that happen.

Some Pagans have their candles they have at the traditional places on their altars, and just stick with that for all Sabbats. Ancient Pagans had different practices.

For example, some Germanic and Celtic Pagans celebrated in late January that bears, sacred animals, came out of hibernation. They had torch lit processions and bonfires. With days continuing to grow longer, the awakening of these animals was seen as more signs of Spring. Fires were used as blessing and purification, but also emulated the light the people were enjoying more of.

It is speculated it was these very practices that were used to inspire Xtian churches to create festivals of light at this time of year. Instead of the returning sacred light brought by the gods, and the return of the spiritually powerful creatures like bears, the sacred purity of Mary, mother of the Xtian god was celebrated.

The candle magic, which Catholics would hardly call magic, however, is practiced at many Candlemas celebrations. Some devotees bring candles to church to have them blessed to use in their homes for the rest of the year. This emulates the pre-Xtian Pagan practice of having a communal bonfire and letting each participant take a lit stick of fire back to their own homes, and lighting their hearth fires from that.

The whole point of the lighting of fires and candles was to emulate the strengthening sun, and longer, soon to be warmer days, approaching the growing season. For Pagans, it depended on what deity they served, and for Xtians, of course their god was “the light of the world.”

divination was also practiced around Imbolc time. One method in Wales entailed lighting two candles and having each participant take turns sitting between the candles. A horn filled with beer was given to them, and once they drank it, they tossed the horn behind them. If it landed upright, it meant they would live a long life. If it did not land upright, it meant they would not live as long.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning was also practiced by some. There was more light to work by, and dust and cobwebs in corners would be more noticeable. Plus, in parts where people decorated for either Yule, Solstice, or Xmas, it would be the time to take all those decorations down if it was not done by then. I don’t know about you, but one of the happiest days of the year for me is when I get all the holiday décor packed away and I get my house back to normal. In Ancient Rome, they would burn the evergreen branches they had used, while in modern times, we pack up our artificial trees.

Each of us who have groups will observe whatever is most meaningful to us collectively. For Earth Based people, as well as people who have cabin fever by now…(raises hand) …holidays that mark returning and strengthening light is a wonderful time, indeed.

Blessing the Earth

One thing I read about was people blessing the grounds before preparing it and then planting seeds, and for me, being a gardener who is VERY VERY excited about gardening again, I thought I would make a garden blessing ceremony including light as well as holy water in the working. It’s very simple and can be done discreetly if you are not out of the closet and don’t want neighbors nosing about, or with as much ceremony as you prefer.

Saoirse’s Imbolc Garden Blessing Ceremony

Set up an altar to your liking or one that is appropriate for your tradition. You will be blessing your garden space or garden pots you grow things in. You can bless your garden tools as well if you like.

You will need to do this outdoors in the garden space. Have a little gift as offering for the critters. Something like birdseed, a salt lick for a deer, a bat box or birdhouse, or even a cat house for a stray works nicely.

On your altar, place one thing of your choosing to represent each element or Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and you, yourself will be the representation of Spirit. Place the items in position that is most meaningful to you. This may entail the traditional Earth in the North, Air in East, Fire in South, and Water in West or not. However, for the sake of using fire in this, for the actual representation for the element of fire, make sure to use a candle, any color you feel is appropriate. Green for life, or red for fire and magic for example, or even gold to represent the sun.

Cast circle as you see fit, or do this open circle. If you do cast circle, remember to cast it around your whole garden space you will be blessing.

Light your candle first and say “I welcome the strengthening light. Shine down upon this earth where I grow food and flowers. Bless it with abundant life, protect it from drought, and give me a great harvest. So mote it be.” Then walk around your planting space, holding the candle over it, emulating how you want the sun to shine on it. Replace the candle on the altar.

Pick up what represent Water and say, “I welcome the waters of rain. I ask you to bless my garden the whole season long with all the water it needs to grow. I ask protection against floods, washing away of plants, and water logging. Give me a great harvest. So mote it be” If you used water or holy water, sprinkle it across your garden space. If you did not use water, wave your representation of water over the garden as you did the candle. Replace the representation of water onto the altar.

Next pick up the representation of Earth, Say “ Hail Mother, Earth we walk on, and which gives us food season after season. I will touch your body, and tend it this growing season with love. I will nurture plants and share with the creatures that live here with me. Guide me to know what you need and what I can do to make the best harvest for all of us. Blessed Be.” Pass the representation of earth over your garden patch. Replace it on the altar.

Next, pick up the representation of Air. Say “ Breath of life, move upon my garden. Breathe growth, and health into it. Begin growing it with me, and grow it with me until we have a bountiful harvest together. So mote it be.”

Leave your gift for the critters as an offering to the spirits of nature.

Do not banish.

Put everything away.

May your garden be glorious and abundant.

Blessed Imbolc

Blessed Be.

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Book Review: Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore by Melusine Draco

February, 2017

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore by Melusine Draco

Published by Moon Books, 2012

 

seashore

 

Yes, this book has been out a few years, but this series had sort of passed me by and I’m now trying to catch up on them. There are six Traditional Witchcraft volumes by Melusine Draco, all looking at slightly different aspects of the craft. The seashore volume stood out to me because, well, I love the sea, always have, and also the cover is awesome. Yeah, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it, but if I see a moody sky with sea crashing against rocks, I get excited. I cannot help myself.

I’m delighted before I even get into the body of the book by the information on the chapter headings. Each of the chapters is named for a piece of classical music that has an oceanic theme, such as Sea Pictures by Elgar. A short quote from The Tempest and I’m into chapter one, Sea Fever.

Melusine writes in a slightly poetic style, describing the coastline in a beautiful, evocative way that immediately makes me long for the shore. She speaks of moods and movements, and summoning the voice of the sea by listening to a shell, something I have done since I was tiny; for as long as I can remember.

This book fills me with an awesome sense of nostalgia, which is something that is often missing from works of non-fiction. Memory is a powerful thing, and carries emotion and energy, and any reference book that can leave you awash with waves (pun intended) of longing for a particular place or environment is doing a very good job indeed.

Melusine gives a good deal of information about tides, seasons, almanacs, estuaries; in fact, any aspect of the ocean or the adjoining waters you can imagine is probably covered at some point in this volume. She explores the liminality of the shore, and how to plug into this power. I also find her section on weather lore absolutely fascinating.

In chapter two Melusine moves onto the traditions and superstitions of those who work the sea, something I am particularly interested in. Magic and superstition have strong links at times; what we may dismiss as ‘simple superstition’ often has roots in folk magic, or is a kind of sympathetic magic in its own right.

Chapter three explores the salty nature of the ocean, and exploring and using things found on the shore, such as driftwood and shells. The third chapter takes a more metaphysical turn, looking at colour and elemental power amongst other things. I particularly enjoy the short section about sea caves, as I have always found them magical, wondrous places.

Where necessary, Melusine points out the dangers of the sea and gives very practical advice about practicing magic around water. She recommends equipment and clothing for seashore expeditions, and the book is full of practical exercises which are inspiring and most importantly, very do-able. There is nothing that requires particularly specialist equipment. Melusine even describes how you can bring the magic of the sea to an inland home.

This is a great book because you can read it for the sheer joy in the words themselves, and because it is full of folklore, tradition and magic. A very useful and very entertaining read for any witch, any lover of the sea and anyone who wants to be transported to the shore from the comfort of their own chair.

 

***

Mabh Savage is a the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com.

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Notes from the Apothecary

February, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Snowdrop

 

snowdrop

 

 

Imbolc is upon us, and I am now seeking snowdrops with every step. Snowdrops symbolise the first stirrings of spring very strongly to me, ever since I placed a closed flower on my altar and within minutes of my ritual it had fully opened; a tiny, star like wonder. Although they grow all over Britain and the US now, they weren’t classed as a ‘wild’ plant until the 18th century, as they were only introduced from Southern Europe in the 16th century. They have some delightful alternative names: February fair maids, Eve’s star, white bells, dew drops and even death’s flower, presumably a reference to the fact that snowdrops are poisonous. As well as causing physical harm when eaten, there are some superstitions that snowdrops are very unlucky, particularly if taken inside the house. There are some English anecdotes of people dying suddenly after someone brought snowdrops in to decorate the home, however I have never suffered any ill effects from using them on my Imbolc altar.

The Kitchen Garden

Snow drops are not edible at all, but they are extremely beautiful. If you decide to grow snowdrops, you can usually get the bulbs via mail order, or your local plant nursery. Please don’t dig up bulbs from the woods or from grass verges. The Latin name is galanthus, which you may need if ordering online. One fantastic thing about snowdrops is that they are perfectly happy in shade, so they can be used to fill a space in your garden where other plants would miss the sun. Plant your bulbs in the early fall, in loose soil and a bit of compost. Don’t leave your bulbs too long before planting or they can dry out. Mark the space where you plant them, as when the flowers die down, the ground may look bare again and you may accidentally dig them up!

 

 

snowdrop2

 

 

The Apothecary

A fifteenth century glossary classes the snowdrop as an emmenagogue, something which promotes menstruation. There are also hints that it may have been used as a digestive aid, however the effects of the toxin in the plant are actually harmful to the digestive tract.

John Gerard, the 16th and 17th century botanist, claimed that the snowdrop had no medicinal value, but Mrs Grieves disagreed, citing the above information which pre-dates Gerard’s findings.

Currently, there is some research being undertaken into the properties of galantamine and how it can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and galantamine is found in snowdrops as well as some other spring bulbs.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The snowdrop is a clear indicator that spring is on the way, and as such, carries all the symbolism that this implies. You can use snowdrops to symbolise east, the sunrise, new beginnings, air, winters end, and as an offering to Brigid or Persephone. If using on altars, please keep out of the reach of children and animals as they are toxic.

As well as the physical associations with winter’s end, you can take a more metaphysical approach and use the snowdrop as a symbol of something coming to an end that you have been struggling with. Seeing snowdrops in a visualisation or meditation may mean that something in your life is about to change, or that a goal you thought was out of reach may be coming close; look out for opportunities and grasp them when they occur.

Snowdrops represent hope, light and determination. They are so small and delicate, yet they are the first living things to break through the hard, frozen ground. They are the epitome of hidden strength.

Home and Hearth

If you are troubled by the superstition that bringing snowdrops into the house is bad luck, try drawing or painting some to go in your sacred space instead. You don’t need to be Monet; a streak of green with pendulous white dripping from the tip will do. Experiment and find something that says ‘snowdrop’ to you, and makes you think of the little spears of hope reaching for the sun.

Use your image as a focus for meditation, visualise yourself walking among snowdrops, or finding a sudden patch of them whilst on a woodland ramble. Record how you feel, what else is around you; and sounds or smells that may pop up. Is there a familiar presence? Something you have felt when honouring a particular deity, or perhaps a sense of nostalgia that triggers a childhood memory?

Write down your findings, see how they fit in with your current life situation, and use this time to record your hopes for the coming year.

I Never Knew…

In Essex, as recently as the 1950s, snowdrops were known as Candlemas bells, further cementing the association with the start of February, and therefore with Imbolc.

***

Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com

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Interview with Supporters of the Water Protectors

February, 2017

Interview with Supporters of the Water Protectors

How their visit to Standing Rock changed them

StandingRock2

(Diane Hasz and Debra Cohen prepare to leave Connecticut with a car packed with donations in November.)

Diane Hasz, 70, and Debra Cohen, 65, met as Occupy activists and became friends, coven sisters, Bernie Sanders campaigners and, most recently, supporters who visited Standing Rock in November.

People support Standing Rock for a number of reasons; indigenous rights, thwarting a militarized police force, social justice and others but in the end we all have one thing in common, both women agreed, saying, “We are all connected. Everyone is downstream from one water source or another. Mni Wiconi. Water is Life ”

StandingRock4

(This is a view of the southern border of Oceti Sakowin along the Cannonball River)

The two drove more than twenty-nine hours from Central Connecticut to the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock in North Dakota with ideas of how they could be of service, and returned having done the unplanned and unexpected, and with a changed insight on prayer.

I brought home spirituality from camp,” Debra said.

It wasn’t as if you walked around the camp and hear praying everywhere, but there was a spirit from which everything operated and you could sense you were in sacred space, she said.

I just ran into so many people, native and non-native, whose conversation was all about feeling that they were in a spiritual place and always feeling that Spirit with them, making them feel they were in the right place doing the right thing.”

StandingRock3

(Water protectors and supporters gather around the sacred fire December 5 to hear the announcement that the easement had been denied.)

The expectation from the elders and the people who started the movement was that it was going to come from the direction of prayer” – from a place of protection and not protest, she said.

Not sure she could come from that position of prayer, she chose not to visit the front line while she was there. It wasn’t until after her return that she recognized a shift within herself.

Something in me got a message. It clicked. I don’t know what,” Cohen said. While at Standing Rock, I felt I was in sacred space. I felt that I was in a magical place. I came home less inclined to discount the likely power of prayer.”

On her pagan path, she saw what some of her sisters took literally as being more symbolic.

That’s in the process of changing, too,” Cohen said. “I feel like I’ve a foot on both sides of the line now and I really appreciate the power of prayer.

My understanding of prayer before Standing Rock was that prayer was something that we sent out to somewhere or someone or something, asking that someone or something to do something for us. But I came home with a different understanding of prayer, and that is that prayer can be reaching inward to touch the best part of us. Rather than reaching out for something good outside of ourselves to intervene, it can take us inside to touch the best of ourselves that makes us better prepared to act.

Spirit is within … but I never saw it that way before. So, I came home a changed person. And, I can tell you that I have been prayerful since getting home, in situations that I never would have participated in before.”

Now, when people ask for prayers, “I get what they’re asking for.” She said she hears them “asking me to go deep inside and find a peaceful, forgiving place from which I can be more useful, in stead of going ‘Let’s kill the bastards.’

Now it’s, ‘Let’s kill them with kindness.’”

Seeing the opposition as “redeemable” alters how you interact with those who had previously been labeled the enemy.

Forgiveness is another concept that changed because of her visit.

She spoke of a forgiveness ceremony among natives without going into detail.

Someone had been falsely accused of something and dealt with very, very severely, only to find out that they were probably not guilty of what they had been accused of, and so people who had done the accusing and people who had behaved in particular ways towards this person were asking for forgiveness.

We witnessed this whole, elaborate forgiveness ceremony where the two families came together and the families exchanged gifts and the person who was wronged and the person who committed the wrong ended up hugging and it was really powerful.”

Cohen said, “Forgiveness is another word that’s been added to my vocabulary in a much more intentional way. I’m very far from being able to say, yeah I can do that now, but I have a better appreciation for it.”

Cohen had thought she would work in the kitchen or offer her Reiki skills in the medical tent. Hasz saw herself able to provide rides to people to and from the camp.

I needed a purpose,” Hasz said of going. “What my purpose was, was once we were there, was abundantly clear, but it wasn’t anything I thought it would be.

What you have to do is you have to arrive and put your agenda away. You have to go there to be of service, and what do you think you’re going to be of service doing is often different than what you what you’re thinking that you’re your service would be.”

She had no idea before leaving that their hotel room would be a place people came to take showers – 18 over five days. They were also able to provide a safe place for someone who needed it at that time.

Cohen remembered being asked by a native activist on that trip, “So, what tribe are you from.” She found herself answering that she didn’t know. Although she was raised in a Jewish family, she has not followed the traditions, and therefore felt she had no right to call herself a Jew.

The ah ha moment came after she returned home, when she came across a pendant that had been her mothers: it was the Hebrew word for “life” or “long life,” according to Wikipedia. It’s also the symbol for the number of 18, and it drives gifts and donations in multiples of 18.

Seeing that, and adding it to the same chain that holds her coven pendent, Cohen acknowledged that while her Jewish faith might not be spiritual, it was cultural and historical, and was, in fact, her tribe.

Like Cohen, Hasz agreed that one of the lessons they learned reinforced the knowledge that you are always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.

And,” she added, “that right thing is probably not what you thought it would be.”

Also like her traveling companion, Hasz’ definition of prayer was challenged.

I have a hard time defining prayer because their idea of prayer, I believe, is much different than mine was or is,” Hasz said. “They don’t conjure up things. Even when they’re dancing and drumming, that’s prayer. When they’re walking through the campground, a lot of it is just doing everyday mundane stuff, but you can see how thoughtful [it is being done]. “

She found the mood at the camp “joyful yet solemn.”

I watched two different families put up their tipis and while there was interaction, like there would be when you’re putting up a tent, it also was done beautifully and purposefully, like a ritual. I think that’s awesome.”

The warriors were acting in prayer, participants in frontline actions were prayerful.

And they’re non-violent,” Hasz said. “They’re focused.”

Asked about the sacred fire, she said, “It was quite unassuming.”

StandingRock5

(A full moon rises over the camp.)

Yet it was powerful and the space was sacred.

You didn’t smoke near the fire. No animals were near the fire. I believe if a woman was having her period, she was not to be near the fire. … No garbage. No swearing. No pictures.

It never went out. It was truly treated with respect. When you’re sitting or standing near that space, you feel that energy, you truly do. I sat as far back as I could because I wanted to see what was going on without my energy being in there at all,” Hasz said.

The experience of visiting Standing Rock “confirmed the fact that I was right in having to go inward. Just being in a space that was prayerful without being … it’s just really hard to explain that part.”

In December, Cohen flew out to Standing Rock with Sara Ward, a friend who was going to provide psychological first aid to veterans who were arriving at the camps and standing on the front lines.

She and Ward were only able to be at the camp for one day because a severe snowstorm prevented their return. On that day, Cohen recalled, “We decided it was getting late in the day, it was going to be cold. ‘Let’s go back to the hotel; we’ll get a good night’s sleep; we’ll come back tomorrow.’ As we drove toward the south gate, which is the exit gate, there was this line of people, a hand-holding chain, that had been formed and it was going around the entire perimeter of the camp. … I could see this arch of people holding hands, colorful against the snow. I told Sara, ‘Let’s pull over and join this circle.’ So we parked the car and we joined this prayer circle and within a couple of minutes of us joining the prayer circle, this guy comes walking around on the outside of the circle, making this announcement, ‘The easement has been denied. DAPL has been stopped. The easement has been denied.’

The energy in that circle was absolutely wonderful. I tied my whole new understanding of prayer to that experience of joining the prayer circle.”

After it broke up, the two made their way to the sacred fire to hear the formal announcement.

This is great, but it’s not the end. The denial of the easement was a temporary stopgap to give them time to do more environmental surveys. So the black snake is not dead,” Cohen said when interviewed in mid-December.

She and Hasz both plan to return.

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(Debra Cohen assisted Sarah Ward on a trip to the camp in December.)

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Interview: Melusine Draco- Author, Teacher & Witch

February, 2017

Melusine Draco: Author, Teacher and Witch

 

Melusine Draco

 

Melusine Draco is a very prolific author, with titles ranging from Pagan Portals: Pan to Starchild I: The rediscovery of stellar wisdom. Melusine talked to Mabh at Pagan Pages about her writing, her teaching and other mysteries.

Mabh Savage: Why are some of your books under the name Suzanne Ruthven and some under Melusine Draco?

Melusine Draco: For many years the ‘day job’ was working as a creative writing tutor, author and editor of a creative writing magazine. In order to keep the persona different from my esoteric writing there had to be a different name for readers to identify with. I’ve written fact and fiction under both names, and the lines get blurred sometimes but there’s no real problem anymore as I do very little tutoring work outside my own personal writing interests. Nowadays I use my real name for the non-magical novel series, i.e. The Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries (set in the antiques trade) and The Vampyre’s Tale series, although my first magical novel, Whittlewood, was published under that name. Melusine Draco writes all the magical stuff including the novels in the Temple House Archive series.

MS: What is the book you are proudest of, if you have one?

MD: Actually there are three and for completely different reasons. The Dictionary of Magic and Mystery was never intended for publication having been compiled for my own personal use. John Hunt thought it might make a good addition to Moon Books since it has more entries than anything similar in publication. Wearing my writing tutor’s hat, I can honestly say it is a really useful book for esoteric writers.

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones reflects the essence of the magic taught by Coven of the Scales in that we draw our energy from what’s beneath our feet. One of my tutors had a doctorate in geology and so I had a thorough grounding in the subject and this was my offering of thanks in recognition of the knowledge that had been passed on.

Root and Branch: British Magical Tree Lore has just been re-released and gives a glimpse into the world I grew up in – a countryside unspoiled by urban development. Again there is another aspect of CoS teaching encapsulated in its pages.

MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

MD: I enjoy writing novels because there are no limits to where the imagination can take you. With non-fiction you are confined by the factual brief of the subject matter – although one reviewer commented that one of my non-fiction titles ‘feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet’. I was very moved by that comment because I felt as though I’d reached out and touched him.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about Coven of the Scales? How did it start, and how many students do you have?

MD: The Coven is traditional British Old Craft and was founded by Meriem and Bob Clay-Egerton from a lineage that can trace its roots back to the mid-1880s in Cheshire. I’ve been acting as caretaker for the past ten years since their deaths, and officially retired as of 1st January, because I have a wonderful husband and wife team to take over as Magister and Dame – although I remain Head of the Order to help with any magical queries. Students have to complete a year’s probationary course before they are accepted as full members; and since we are an Initiatory Order, this is the next step on their magical journey. We currently have a dozen full members and some twenty students at varying stages of study.

MS: How do you balance the needs of your students with being such a prolific writer?

MD: Ten years’ experience as a conference organiser means you can balance anything! I have set days for dealing with specific jobs

MS: You are also involved with the Temple of Khem. Do the two groups have any cross over, or are they completely separate?

MD: I am Principal of the Temple of Khem and the Egyptian Mystery Tradition has always been my first love. Now that I’ve discharged my obligation to CoS I have returned full-time to ToK. They are completely separate organisations and do not interact with each other since the magico-mystical methods and techniques are not compatible. The existing ToK members have been with me for a long time

MS: Do you find one aspect of the Craft appeals to you more than the others? Or are they all equally fascinating?

MD: Back to those natural earth energies and tides, I suppose. It never ceases to amaze me just how simple it is to harmonise with them and utilise them for magical purposes.

MS: In several places, your teaching methods are described as ‘Highly individualistic.’ What is it that makes your mentoring style so unique?

MD: The wording isn’t mine, by the way, it came from a student who was asked how it was for him, and it stuck! The simple answer is because I don’t teach from books or any provide set answers – and it’s possibly very much a case of ‘you have to have been there’ to fully appreciate the technique. Each student is catered for according to their needs and strengths and each one is completely different; therefore, the teaching comes from the student’s answers to a question, and my response in order to open up a dialogue about magical applications – and not just a straightforward Q&A session.

 

Melusine Draco2

 

MS: Your latest book, Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root, is already receiving some great previews ahead of its February release. What inspired you to write this volume?

MD: Yes, people are saying some very positive things about the book and it gives a nice warm feeling inside to read them. The inspiration came from research I was doing for one of my novels and, like Topsy, it just grewed!

MS: Do you have your own garden of poisonous or unusual plants?

MD: No, but I have an acre of uncultivated land surrounding the cottage and many of these plants grow quite naturally without any help from me. In the summer and autumn my woody nightshade is a joy to behold.

MS: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? And what was the best thing about the process?

MD: At the risk of sounding flippant, there was little challenge as it wrote itself. The most interesting thing about the process was the direction it took in making the point that the poisoning Olympians of history weren’t witches at all.

MS: Another popular series you have written is the Traditional Witchcraft series, of which there are six volumes currently. Are you planning to add to this series?

MD: No. I’ve said all I have to say on that particular subject since the series takes the reader on a journey from beginner to initiate without giving any ‘secrets’ away. Book learning is always only an introduction to any esoteric system – it’s the personal journey that provides the answers. We can, however, arrive at Initiate level and still come to realise that we know nothing!

MS: What other books do you have planned for the future? Are you working on anything currently?

MD: The second book in the Hugo Braithwaite series is at the proofing stage and the third in the series of The Temple House Archive is almost finished. Then it’s back to The Vampyre’s Tale … there are a few non-fiction ideas moving around in there but nothing concrete yet.

MS: Do you have a favourite sacred or spiritual place that you like to retreat to?

MD: I’m in the throes of creating an authentic Japanese Garden in a private corner that will be my own private space for musing and meditation.

MS: How do you relax when taking a break from teaching or writing?

MD: I’m (un)lucky that writing is my work and my hobby, so I find fiction writing to be my relaxation. Now that I’m officially retired from Coven of the Scales I hope to find the time to create a new vegetable garden complete with greenhouse. So that should keep me busy for the summer.

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

MD: Nothing for the moment but I dare say I will soon have my lot quaking in their boots when they hear those dreaded words: “I’ve had an idea!”

Find out more:

Website: http://www.covenofthescales.com

Website: http://www.templeofkhem.com

Blog: http://melusinedracoattempleofkhem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Melusine-Draco-486677478165958

http://www.facebook.com/TradBritOldCraft

http:// www.facebook.com/TempleofKhem

http://www.facebook.com/TempleHouseArchive

https://www.facebook.com/BraithwaiteMysteryRuthven/

https://www.facebook.com/VampyresTale/

 

***

Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com

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Good God!

February, 2017

GoodGod!

Meet the Gods: Februus

god

(Image by Samantha Sullivan)

Merry meet.

February is named for Februus, the Roman God of Purification. He lived in the underworld and became known as the King of the Underworld, but then his name became so intertwined with Pluto, eventually it became another name for Pluto, the God of the Underworld who judged the dead. (The Greek called him Hades. He is the one who abducted Persephone.)

According Wikipedia, “He was also worshipped under the same name by the Etruscans as the god of purification, and also the underworld. For the Etruscans, Februus was also the god of riches (money/gold) and death, both connected to the underworld in the same natural manner as with the better-known Roman god Pluto.”

Februus was taken from the Sabine people of the Apennines by the Romans who conquered them. In the old Roman religion, Februus meant “purifier.” To get on this god’s good side, they held a festival in his honor, and then named February after him.

One source theorizes that he may have been named in honor of the more ancient Februa, the name of a spring purification festival held on the 15th of the month. It was celebrated with washing and ritual purification. In the Roman calendar, February was the last month of the year as well as the beginning of spring. Thus, the sense of “spring cleaning” emerges with this festival. Februus could be the personification of the festival, Februa, that was marked by sacrifice and atonement, and offerings to the gods.

February would be a good time to invoke Februus as part of your practice.

During the month, might choose to invoke Februus as part of your practice should you decide to purge what you no longer need for your highest good and greatest joy, cleaning out things or thoughts that are cluttering your life. Or, if you were looking for access to the underworld, he could be your key.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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The Blackbird

February, 2017

The Blackbird: Piper at the Gates of Dawn

 

blackbird

mage Credit: Manfred Schulenburg via Wikimedia Commons.

Lon Dubh in gaelic, the blackbird is one of the most liminal birds I have ever encountered. It sings at dawn and dusk, the miniature master of the times of transformation. I have always seen it as the guardian of boundaries; it sings only when things are about to change, to mark the edges of time and space. It was no surprise for me to discover, then, that the Celts associated the blackbird with death and rebirth. Rhiannon, a Celtic goddess or otherworldly being who features in the Welsh Mabinogi, is connected to three mystical birds, possibly blackbirds, who have the power over life and death. They could also sing people into a death like sleep (Birds: Myth, Lore and Legend; R. W Chadd, M. Taylor, Bloomsbury, 2016).

The blackbird pops up at various moments in Celtic or Celtic inspired literature, such as on the shoulder of the mysterious Derg Corra in Finn and the Man in the Tree (Revue Celtique, Tr. Kuno Meyer, 1904). Here the bird shares a nut with Derg Corra, then after Derg splits his apple with a stag waiting at the foot of the tree, they each drink from a white, bronze vessel filled with water, in which swims a trout. I adore this imagery, of this man who shares all that he has with a creature of the earth, a creature of the sea, and a creature of the sky. This feels very druidic to me, and while I wish we knew more about Derg Corra, I also love the mystery, and that the blackbird so often appears at those times of mystery; that which has no explanation, and brings wonder in to our lives.

In Greek mythology, the blackbird would die if it ate the luscious seeds of the pomegranate, a tale which seems to link the bird to Persephone, daughter of Zeus and bringer of spring. Persephone was lured into the underworld by eating the pomegranate, and thus had to live between two worlds; two states. The blackbird, similarly, is most active between two states; between light and darkness.

The piper at the gates of dawn is normally a reference to Pan, but I have transmuted it into my own private title for the blackbird. Especially in winter, I can be found nursing a hot mug of tea, on the doorstep of my home, listening to the blackbirds herald in the sunrise.

Correspondences

New beginnings

Dawn

Dusk

Transition periods between seasons e.g. late spring into early summer

Moments of mystery: a sudden burst of blackbird song may indicate you are in the presence of something magical, or that something significant is about to occur in your life.

Astral travel

Physical travel

Boundaries, both protective and between worlds.

Portents of death but also of birth, so careful with this one!

A blackbird feather is a lucky find indeed, and one placed on your altar at east will not only symbolise air and the spirits of the sky, but be a catalyst for any sacred mysteries you explore whilst using the altar in this state. You may also find that if you honour any Celtic deities, they may become more prominent or you may be more aware of them while the feather remains.

Blackbirds are quite prone to albinism, and I remember a school trio where the teacher pointed out a white blackbird that was hopping around the park. He said that the pale bird had been there every year he had been bringing students. I was fascinated, but it wasn’t until much later that I learnt that white variants of normally darker creatures are often messengers from the ‘other world’; either beyond the veil, where the dead reside, or from inside the hollow hills where the fairies dwell. Either way, seeing a blackbird with either partial or full white plumage means you are likely being watched by something not of our realm.

Seeing a blackbird in meditation may mean you are on the cusp of a great change in your life. It may also mean that something that has been static or stagnant in your life for a long time will start to resolve itself, or move forwards. This could be a stale relationship, a job you feel stuck in, or perhaps a period of depression. I suffer from quite low periods of depression, and the blackbirds’ song always reminds me that change is coming. It may not be tomorrow, or the day after, but at some point, I will open my eyes and the sun will have risen on my shadowy mind. After all, as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before dawn.

 

***

Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is currently writing a new book on the magic of birds, including the wonderful blackbird. Follow Mabh at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.co.uk.

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MagickalArts

February, 2017

Lilith and the Dark of the Moon

 

DoubleMoon

 

The Moon wanes towards its Full Light on February 10th and the opportunity is ripe to reach out to the potency of this energy and claim the light of your own fullness. As the Goddess completes her lunar transformation she blankets her radiance in a knowledge that is deep in its interior reach within the very core of who we believe ourselves to be.

Although, we often speak of the discomfort of standing naked and vulnerable in the brilliance of light’s examination what is overlooked is the ability to hide within that light and make excuse for why we are not self-aware. We seek the illusion of solace in the dark; yet are afraid of what we may find there that stirs the wild and primal self into action. And, emerge from this space still unaware and afraid of the power and truth of who we are. The key is seeing the illusion of both and calling forth the truth within each to co-create as sisters supporting our spiritual and personal growth.

The Black Moon Lilith is another less commonly used aspect of the Moon and the energy of Lilith as creatrix and keeper of the sexual energy that is potent and seeks its space of quickening. This is aspect of the Black Moon occurs as a point that is directly opposite the Full Moon. It is the polarized seed point of dark that counter balances and interacts with the fullness of the physical Moon’s light. You might say that this is the Moon behind the Moon. This is the space of harnessing the potency of new birth held in the shadow of the Lilith’s Moon and the Fullness of Light that Mother Moon reveals. This is a center point that holds the Earth as the center point between it and the physical Moon itself.

 

BlackMoon

 

The waning towards the Dark Moon embodies our occult self that feeds the illusion of who we are and; if embraced in the fullness of our creation of the pervasive darkness of our truths, reveals what lay beneath the surface waiting to be used and transformed.  This is the work of the Goddess as the Crone. She holds nothing back, invites you to look at the truth of your own reflection and then demands that you release what serves no purpose and what hinders your growth. She carries the wisdom that has grown through experience and she knows the secrets of the darkest of places and holds within the Light that illumines those who have courage to enter. And, this is an overt calling of Lilith as Queen of the Dark and holding the potential of change within.

The dark moon of Lilith’s mantle calls to you to arise and come to her in all your splendor and beauty as a being of Dark and Light…..

Lilith

I am the pervasive darkness
That lay behind my sister
Of Light and fullness.

I am the Witch and weaver of
A deep magick that requires
Going into the depths of your
Darkened being and reclaiming
The power of your hidden light.

I stand strong in the knowledge
Of my power and fierce will.

I am untamed and I am wild
And free in all of my gifts that
I choose To give.

I am death and I am life
I am healing and I am truth
I am lust and I am pleasure
And I am all that you fear
To BE!

Who will you seek as the moon wanes towards its Newness? How will you call to Lilith as the Moon rises Full in the sky..

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