Friday, 24 July 2015
DAY OF MYSTERIES AND MAGIC II (SATURDAY 25TH OCTOBER 2014) LEEDS UK
In October 2014 I travelled once again to the wonderfully vibrant and ever friendly city of Leeds. This was a weekend away to take in the Royal Armouries as an extra treat, complimenting the main reason for the journey, the second Day of Mysteries and Magic.
The event was organised by the West Yorkshire Pagan Meet-up Group, whose representatives Steve Jones and Gordon Mewse were in attendance to oversee the day. It was held at the Swarthmore Education Centre, a small but friendly venue just on the edge of the city centre proper and easy enough to find.
The event ran from twelve noon with an official end time of six in the evening, featured five talks or presentations covering a surprising variety with regard content and aimed at varying levels of knowledge. The event also incorporated a small but interesting Pagan themed market at the back of the hall.
The day began with a brief welcome from the organiser Steve Jones, who also made a presentation to his co-organiser Gordon Mewse. Mr Jones is the organiser and founder of a moot in Wakefield, which the longest running moot in the UK, he is also organiser of the West Yorkshire Meetup and a founder of the Oak Leaf Camp. So in organising events such as Day of Mysteries and Magic I and II, he is able to call upon a significant amount of previous experience.
With only a brief pause after the welcome address, Mr Jones deftly began his own presentation entitled ‘Masonic Wicca.’ In his presentation he expertly examined the historical links between Freemasonry and Gardnerian Witchcraft. Noting that Gardner was a Mason, that the three degree system and elements of the Wiccan initiation ceremonies, all have their counterparts in Freemasonry.
Equally Mr Jones was able to show that the term Blessed Be and the Five Fold Kiss, are derived from Freemasonry. In the last instance, the five points of the ‘Masonic Hug.’ It was also noted that the well-known ‘So mote it be’ of Wicca, is also found in Masonry being derived from a Jewish form of Amen.
The presentation was enlightening, educational and significant. Mr Jones had delivered this particular presentation only once before and that was at the Pagan Federation National Conference in 1999. His research at the time was considered pioneering and inspired several other authors to investigate further.
Steve Jones will reprise his presentation at Pagan Pride in Nottingham (UK) on the 2nd August 2015. Please see the link below.
The second presentation was by Tony Chapman who together with his wife Sue, runs the temple of Athame in Humberside. Mr Chapman is both a professional paranormal investigator of thirty years’ experience and a professional photographer. His presentation ‘Further in to the Paranormal World’ was wide ranging and informative. Starting with ghost sightings such as the Roman Legion of York, he covered apotropaic items such as animals and others, often found buried in older buildings.
Briefly mentioning saintly monks manifesting stigmatas, out of body experiences, divination and the Curse of Tutankhamun. He moved on to discuss the levitation of Daniel Douglas-Hume, cases of possession, the Witch Finder General and the famous medium Helen Duncan. Mr Chapman’s talk was essentially an exciting whistle stop tour of the weird and wonderful, peppered with anecdotes and observations from his varied career.
The third presentation was by Kai Roberts, a gentleman with several folklore works to his name and his presentation ‘Grave Concerns’ examined the history, significance and media hype of the alleged grave of Robin Hood at Mirfield Farm on the on Kirklees Priory Estate in Yorkshire. This presentation was of particular interest to me having written on the esoteric but not the historical significance of the Hood legend. That I leave to learned historians such as Mr Roberts.
Mr Roberts talk was highly in-depth and covered the history of the site from the earliest Hood associations that predate the introduction of Tuck and Marion, to the later and rather fanciful appearance of the Kirklees Vampire. This was a journey liberally mixed with historical references regarding the history of the Priory, its importance and influence before the final dissolution and the legendary associations.
In doing this Mr Roberts was able to provide an extensive range of citations from the Sloane manuscript, the writings of John Leeland and the letters of John Saville. Noting such important details as the 18th century introduction of the final arrow, that is not found in earlier sources, that the grave may have once born a cross of 13th century origin and that the epitaph itself, is very late and not at all original to the older parts of the structure.
The presentation ended with a discussion regarding two paranormal investigators, who each having their own theory relating to the Vampire, have engaged in energetic if completely pointless arguments on their respective BLOG sites. The audience could observe that rather than conduct research, each appeared far more interested in conducting themselves in a manner which would unavoidably damage their credibility.
The final conclusion was that although the historical Robin Hood is unlikely to be buried at Kirklees, the legendary and historical significance of the site sets it apart and that it therefore deserves preservation.
Kai Roberts has written a book looking at the Kirklees Grave in detail.
The penultimate presentation was from Mr Alan Millar, the Magister of the Milesian Order of Clanna Gadelus; a Traditional Craft cuveen sharing both Scottish and English roots. A professional music manager, publisher and author, Mr Millar is a well-known name in Craft circles and currently resides in Sheffield.
His talk ‘Forefathers of Modern Witchcraft’ provided us with an extensive catalogue of names from the early days of the Craft revival, covering Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Traditional Witchcraft. All the expected well-known names were all included but enough less public influences were provided, to keep the subject matter fresh and lively.
Mr Millar’s presentation is actually in two parts, reflecting the detail of the subject matter and due to obvious time constraints, we heard only the first section. This led to a post talk discussion that would most likely have contained elements of part two, as some of the questioning explored the more contemporary influences at play within Paganism and Witchcraft.
Mr Millar may be contact via the Witchcraft Research Network of which he is the founder: http://the-wren.webs.com/
The final presentation was by Mr Paul Bennett, author and Earth Mysteries Researcher, who with a highly extensive slide show titled ‘Standing Stones and Earth Mysteries, explored the Neolithic rock art of Yorkshire, the North of England and Southern Scotland. Here Mr Bennett drew cultural comparisons between cup and ring markings, rock carvings and various ancient monuments to illustrate the potential spread of ideas and even belief.
The slide show was wide ranging, covering the geographical areas mentioned discussing some officially undiscovered sites, while presenting a hypothesis for origin and context. The enormity of the research necessary to present the visual material was breath-taking.
Thrown into this heady mix were such observations as the near global occurrence of the Swastika, with examples in Europe dating from 18,000 BC. That there are 3000 petroglyphs in Yorkshire alone and that similarities in rock art found at Kilmartin in Scotland and |Newgrange in Eire, suggests both trade and communication.
The second Day of Mysteries and Magic II was a highly enjoyable and informative event, a specialist and pleasant change from the more common MBS events that take place. I sincerely hope that one day, there will be a DM&M III.