Welcome to the page of the Chattering Magpie, Summoner of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel. The Hearth of the Turning Wheel is an independent and progressive Pagan group based in the English Midlands. Our praxis and ethos are inspired by but not necessarily limited to, the traditional custom and belief found within British and European Folklore. To contact Chattering Magpie and the HTW please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 24 March 2017
Moots, Markets and the Vernal Equinox (2017)
many of us, the latter part of March has been characterised by a general build
up towards the Vernal Equinox. This for us in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel,
began even before our moot on Thursday 16th,
held in an excellent public house in Derby called the Exeter Arms.
Our moots are not open to the public, invitations are automatic
for those who are members of the Inner Court, the Outer Court and Friends of
the Hearth of the Turning Wheel. Other invitations are made in person,
privately via Facebook or via email The FotHTW is our Facebook presence, our
public manifestation representing our actual working group.
The Exeter Arms lies on the edge of the city centre, on the east
side of the river and close to one of the main roads that enter Derby itself.
It is on the outside an unassuming, modest building in a rather sadly neglected
part of the city. Not that Derby is a ‘real’ city, more an overlarge market
town that lacks a market of note.
Inside the building we discover that the Exeter Arms is a hidden
gem. A rather basic set up; bare floors and wooden tables, with decorations of
a rather traditional theme, all merge to create a ‘country pub’ atmosphere. The
pub is out of place, it doesn’t belong here but in the Peak District, nestled
in a village catering for tourists and locals. The use of the word catering is
deliberate, the pub has won numerous awards for its atmosphere and its quality
food. The Exeter Arms is a real ale pub, serving fine beers and ciders to those
of a more discerning palate. The staff are efficient and extraordinarily
somewhat crowded for a Thursday I walked to the back of the pub, to a room
known as the cottage and found friends already waiting for me. Soon more
arrived and we soon realised we had a surprisingly good turnout for what is a
private, invitation only moot. It should be noted that any number above six is
considered satisfactory when a moot is invitation only and not advertised
publicly, one does not expect a packed house. We are deliberately select and
make no apologies for it.
were honoured to welcome to our merry gathering two guests from Staffordshire,
journeying a not inconsiderable distance to join us for dinner. Since these
guests were knowledgeable traditionalists and practitioners of the Cornish
Witchcraft Tradition, the talk naturally drifted towards the matter of circles,
the compass, totems and eventually books.
discussion was perhaps rather more detailed than usual and stimulated interest
across the table as the question of different approaches was touched upon. My
own praxis that has influenced the HTW, shares two totems with the Cornish
Tradition, the hare and the crow. My other influences as should be obvious,
I first encountered the use of the term Compass, I wrongly assumed that it was
an alternative name for a circle. It is not. Whereas a cycle can both contain
power and keep the unwanted out, a compass has a very different methodology.
There is no barrier as the map stretches to the horizon, above and below. The
Compass does not necessarily prevent admittance but rather enable the land to
remain intrinsic to the working area.
half of those present had more than a passing interest in herbalism, it wasn’t
long before that subject became the focus. This came the Defender of the Hearth
an opportunity to one of his favourite stories, about the time I (mildly)
poisoned myself when I was away camping with him on pilgrimage. I will not tell
that story here, I will not spoil his tale for future moots. It is far more
humorous when he tells it.
had as usual taken a few books with me for attendees to examine and discuss, specifically
three small volumes published by Troy of Cornwall. I was able to share with
those present details of my own most recent purchases, the complete works of
Shakespeare and a vintage copy of the Mabinogion. This particular volume was
printed in 1910 and is a charming pocket book, in exceptionally good condition.
was a late night, the food, the drink and the company made the time fly past
and closing time came far too quickly. As we said goodbye to our guests and one
member of the Inner Court about to move to Alba, we could reflect deeply on the
meaning of friendship. The joy of company and companies of worth, bonds of
faith and virtue. I am already anticipating excitedly our April moot.
weekend I should have been attending the Original Re-enactors Market (TORM)
near Coventry. Unfortunately the friend I should have been travelling with and
our designated driver, was called into work to cover sickness and our plans
were cancelled. I
very much enjoy my infrequent trips to such markets and fairs, one is able to
view, handle and purchase many replica items, often of museum standard in accuracy.
I particularly enjoy the weaponry, the jewellery and the many handcrafted
items. Often the stall holders are in costume, indeed it is the norm.
buy an athame with a cheap resin handle, when you can buy a bollock dagger or
an antler handled seax? At many re-enactment fairs and markets, the goods are
simply of better quality and of greater authenticity than most outlets
had prior to the weekend, arranged to collect mead from one of the stall
holders and now, finding myself unable to travel. I was beginning the
embarrassing email to cancel the order. Fortunately I received a telephone call
from Carol who with her husband, had arrived at the market. Carol very kindly
offered to collect my half dozen bottles and would bring them with her to the
next moot. Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.
weekend was as expected busy, I was preparing myself and the house for
visitors. We in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel do have our own rather
idiosyncratic interpretation of the significance of the Equinox. This is
reflected in my discussion pertaining the significance of the triadic grouping
of Robin Hood, Little John and Guy of Gisbourne in my monograph ‘Pagan
symbolism within the Sherwood Legends’ and the link is below.
important element within our own approach is seeing the time of balance and
shifted balance, as being specifically that point of symbolic change between
the Kings. In many groups the Solstices are regarded as being the points of
change but our approach is quite distinct. To us it seems anomalous that the
Holly King should reign at Summer Solstice when the light is still dominant
although diminishing. Equally anomalous is the concept that the Oak King should
reign at the Yuletide, when darkness is strong and the tree itself is asleep.
Solstices are symbolically times of ‘birth,’ as either the Holly King or Oak
King begin their respective journeys. The Solstices are also the times when one
or other King reigns at his peak. It is the Equinoxal points that see the shift
from light to dark or dark to light, so for us the Equinoxes are when the crown
met for our Vernal Equinox observance on the Eve of the Equinox. Partly a
deliberate choice to emphasise the significance of the coming dawn, partly a
recognition that childcare and family commitments have to be allowed for today.
to the meeting I had purchased a dozen chocolate eggs and I had taped to the
outside, verses chosen randomly from the Anglo Saxon Rune Poem. The link to
this poem on another blog post, can once again be found below. The verses or
stanzas are attached to the eggs with the wording hidden, this creates our own
version of a fortune cookie. These were placed in a bowl on the altar and
horseshoes were used to mark the cardinal points. I give the basic text of our
ritual below, a very simple rite which I hope readers will find of value.
Rite if the Vernal Equinox 2017
This ritual is based upon the Ostara Meeting of 2012 written by
the Chattering Magpie and is in turn adapted from the Hearth of the Turning
Wheel Alban Eilir Ritual of 2007, that was originally written by K. Clegg.
gather in a circle and one person says:
“Hail, Guardian Spirits of this place,
We ask for your blessings on this our rite.
We come here to celebrate the Spring Equinox.
We ask, in peace and with respect,
That you might accept our presence.”
Group gather in a circle and placing their hands upon the
Hearthsword, the Druid Oath is intoned three times:
“We swear, by
peace and love to stand
Heart to heart
and hand in hand
Mark, O Spirit
and hear us now
this, our sacred vow.”
Male: “Beloved Bloodmother of this our clan. Welcome us at this time, with your heart and womb. Let us learn to live in love with all you are and so our seeking
spirit shall serve the Sacred Wood.”
Female: “Beloved Father, speak to us in vision
and do not abandon us to the grave. Nor hand us over to Hard Fate utterly, nor
those whom our love protects.”
All in unison: “We call thee, we call thee, we call thee. By
flesh, blood and bone we call thee.”
a suitable oil and using wand, athame or hand bless and say: “I do consecrate
and bless this oil, to drive out all impurities and make fit for use in this
Each person will anoint the person to their left with this sign (the rune Sigel) while saying:
“You have walked this path in spirit (and) now (you)
do so in flesh.” The words in brackets are optional.
the incense, using wand, athame or hand bless and say: “I do consecrate and
bless thee O' elements of air and fire, to drive out all impurities and make
thee fit for use in this our rite.”
three pinches of salt into the water, using wand, athame or hand bless and say:
“I do consecrate and bless thee O' elements of water and earth, to drive out all
impurities and make thee fit for use in this our rite.”
Pick up the incense and say: “I scent
this circle with air and warm this circle with fire. This I do in the name and
power of our God the Lord of the Greenwood.”
The compass points are scented, north, south, east and then west
Pick up the bowl of salt-water and
say: “With water and salt the symbol of our labour. I cleanse and bless this
place in the name and power of our Goddess the Lady of the Light.”
Sprinkle a little salt-water at each
compass point, north, south, east and then west.
Time for talking stick and the insertion of suitable prayers.
One individual reads (Adapted from
Duff G. (2002) The wheel of the Wiccan year. Rider.):
“Ostara is new light, soft sweet air, the running hare and spring
The bursting of buds and the straight following of new paths.
May the spirits of the air guide our thoughts when we set out on
May the spirits of the Sun and fire give us vitality and passion
to make new ventures successful.
May the spirits of water help us to tread new paths with balanced
May the spirits of the earth give us physical balance so we may
draw life and health from the strengthening Sun.
May the Gods watch over us this Springtime and may we continually remember
to give thanks to them for this new season.”
All present take an egg from the bowl or bag. The attached mottoes
may then be read.
To bless the chalice and the meal together and at the same time,
lift the plate or dish of food with the left hand and lift the wine with the
right hand, high above the altar and read 'Sigdrifa’s Prayer' from Sigdrifasmal:
sons of day!
night and her daughter now!
on us here with loving eyes,
waiting we victory win.
to the Gods!
all the generous earth!
to us wisdom and goodly speech,
healing hands, life-long.”
The meal is passed to the left with
the words: “May you never hunger.”
The person receiving the meal will take some of that offered and pass the
remainder to their left with the same words.
The cup is passed to the left with the
words: “May you never thirst.” The
person receiving the cup will drink and pass the cup to their left with the
After a pause all in unison say: “By the fire of dreams and the
compulsion of sorcery. By knowledge, daring will and silence. By the tides of
Earth, Sea and Sky. May all beings and powers of the visible and invisible
depart in peace. By flesh, blood and bone we do thank thee.”
One solitary voice: “This rite is now ended, may all depart in
peace, with our blessings.”
The stanza I found attached to my own egg is that below and with
that enigmatic verse, I shall end this blog.
“The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men. Often
it traverses the gannet's bath, and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps
faith in honourable fashion.”
Artisson R.(2006) The Witching Way of the
Hollow Hill: the gramaryre of the Folk who dwell below the mound. Owlblink
Bookcrafting Company USA.
Bellows H.A. (trans.) The Poetic Edda. Forgotten Books.
G. (2002) The wheel of the Wiccan year. Rider London.
Grey W. (nd.) cited by Jones E.J. (1990) Witchcraft: a tradition renewed.
Robert Hale, London.
Jones E.J. (1994) The Roebuck in
the thicket. Capall Bann.
Valiente D. (1978) Witchcraft for
tomorrow. Robert Hale, London.
The Anglo Saxon Rune Poem http://chatteringmagpie-summonerofthehearth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-anglo-saxon-rune-poem-in-modern.html Chattering
Magpie on Etsy