Saturday, 16 June 2018
Sweet, lovely lady for god's sake do not think,
That any has sovereignty over my heart but you alone.
For always, without treachery,
Cherished have I you and humbly;
All the days of my life,
Served without base thoughts.
Alas, I am left begging for hope and relief;
For my joy is at its end without your compassion.
Sweet lovely lady but your sweet mastery,
Masters my heart so harshly,
Tormenting it and binding,
In unbearable love.
My heart desires nothing but to be in your power.
And still, your own heart renders it no relief.
Sweet, lovely lady.
And since my malady,
Will not be annulled.
Without you, Sweet Enemy,
Who takes delight of my torment.
With clasped hands I beseech,
Your heart, that forgets me,
That it mercifully kill me,
For too long have I languished.
Tuesday, 5 June 2018
From time to time I am asked which books have influenced my path, my life and my perspective. This isn’t an easy question to answer with absolute accuracy, things can change and time can change how one perceives works. Newer publications or discovered works, may replace those already listed.
With this in mind I offer the best eight, a list that I compiled some years ago now. Offered with the proviso that an updated list of fewer works is in preparation and I provide links to reviews that I hope, may supplement this list for you the reader.
Pagan paths: a guide to Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, Shamanism and other Pagan practices by Pete Jennings. Published in 2002 by Rider.
This work is written by the former president of the Pagan Federation and the current “High Gothi” of Odinshof, it is non academic and easy to read sociological survey of the primary Pagan paths and the Pagan community found within the UK. Each broad path, Witchcraft, Druidry Heathenry and their respective sub-groups are described, enabling the reader to gain an insight regarding beliefs and practice.
Hedge Witch: a guide to solitary Witchcraft by Rae Beth, published in 1990 by Robert Hale but available in the USA as “The Hedge Witches’ Way.
With her first book Rae Beth re-invented the solitary Craft in the UK and apparently founded a new Tradition. This is a warm and well written exploration of the lone path from the perspective of the kitchen witch. Written in the form of letters to students, the basics of the Craft and the festivals are well covered. This is not “hedge-riding” and in recent years’ the alternative term “Hedge-Wytchery” has been used to distinguish the two paths, one modern and one perhaps more traditional. This is a good solitary Craft book that makes a refreshing change from Cunnigham, particularly here in the UK.
The Wheel of the Wiccan Year by Gail Duff. Published by Rider (2002) and available in a second edition but retitled.
This is a good all round exploration of the modern or contemporary eight festivals based upon the familiar Gardnerian template. Each festival has background information, development, prayers, chants and rituals This is a well written work useful for planning celebratory group ritual.
Earth Dance: a year of Pagan rituals by Jan Brodie and published in 1995 by Capall Bann.
A brief but well written ritual book aimed at group and solitary practitioner alike. Each festival is given a concise introduction, two rituals (one group and one solitary) and supported with other useful information such as traditional recipes and suggestions for incense.
Rites of Shadow by E.A St George. Originally published in 1972 as “The Devil’s Prayer Book” and republished in 2000 by ignotus’corvus.
This book is an enigma, with disputes over authorship and hidden away when the original publisher went bankrupt. The first version of this book was written by Peter West but it was so anti-craft that Karen West rewrote it. Sadly West/St George passed on soon after her classic was republished.
This is a somewhat none Gardnerian and independent interpretation of the Craft, quite traditional in parts and not afraid of discussing the curse in a sane adult manner.
The Call of the Horned Piper by Nigel Aldcroft Jackson and published in 1994 by Capall Bann.
This is very much an earthy and Traditional approach to the Craft. This work has a refreshing emphasis on the place of both Gods and Goddesses within the Traditional British Craft. As opposed to the popularist Wicca or Gardnerian perspective that often over emphasises the feminine aspect of diety.
The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill by Robin Artisson.
Published by Owlblink Bookcrafting Company (USA).
ISBN 978-1-4116-8193-4 also available in paperback
This book is a personal examination of the theory and practice of the British Traditional (non-Gardnerian) Craft. As such it combines elements of a book of shadows or more correctly, grimoire, with explorations of the underling spirituality and magical practice.
Subtitled “the gramaryre of the folk who dwell below the mound and a sourcebook of hidden wisdom, folklore, Traditional Paganism and Witchcraft” this work makes some quite ambitious claims that are I think, generally fulfilled.
This is however a controversial choice. Artisson’s name is not well regarded in some quarters due to the deliberately confrontational stance he takes on the web. I have never met him but I have witnessed this disappointing aspect of his behaviour. Ultimately I am rather more interested in what he writes and what he writes here is earthy, traditional and like nature, red in tooth and claw. Artisson is also like me, a polytheist. I like this one but I add the caveat, that I have been less impressed with at least one other of his later works.
Witchcraft a Tradition Renewed by Evan John Jones with Doreen Valiente, published in 1990 by Robert Hale.
I have a lot of respect for the late Valiente and although jointly credited this is really Jones work. When published in 1990 this was a very fresh and alternative perspective compared with the then current trends within the Pagan Craft movement. The background beliefs and spirituality of the Craft are covered in some considerable depth, with discussions of Craft tools and symbolism. The ritual elements of the work focus on the Cross Quarter days with the lesser or Solar festivals put aside. This is quite possibly the most important theological and liturgical work on the none-Gardnerian Traditional Craft to be published prior to Oates and Gary.
Thursday, 31 May 2018
Following on from a recent blog post (link below) I share a selection of screen captures from a Facebook communication. My offering is made partly to amuse and it is amusing, yet importantly my offering is a warning. A warning regards scammers, hackers and persons using the Internet to farm the unwary.
We have all I am sure, heard about the Nigerian email scam. An individual claiming either to be a prince or a relation to a politician, emails you claiming he needs to get out of the country and take money with him (it is usually a man). Importantly he must transfer the money before fleeing the home country and to do this he is willing to transfer a huge amount of money to your bank account. Then when he is out of Nigeria and safely in London, Paris or wherever, you agree to return the money less 10% for your trouble. To do this you are required to send him your bank details. What actually happens if you are foolish enough to fall for the trick, is that he will empty your bank account.
This example below is not that usual scam but a straightforward begging letter sent via Facebook. The problem is that I have no idea who this person is, how he ever joined my friend list (I am careful) or why he thought I was a suitable target. It is possible that he joined my list by some underhand means, possibly a hack, I really do not know.
Unusually, I have left his name on all the captures. I have done this as a warning, should others receive messages or even a friend request. When it is a question of the Internet and in particular Facebook, it is wise to be wary
Facebook and the Puzzle that are Friend Requests
Life confuses me, people confuse me. Sometimes I think I am the only sane person, adrift in a world of lunacy. Nothing makes me feel this way more, than what I see on the Internet and that pervasive part of our lives, Facebook.
It has often been observed that the Internet magnifies human behaviour, whether for good or ill; human social interaction is somehow exaggerated, becoming overblown and often ridiculous. It is also sadly true that we now live in an age when any fool can have their own website and thanks to social media, access a wider audience. This blog and the fool writing it is proof of that.
It is some aspect of the Internet and in particular Facebook, that is able to bring the flaws of human behaviour so starkly into focus. It is remarkable how easy it is to make fools of ourselves on the web, without actually realising how foolish we are. How inhibition, etiquette and general good manners drift away from many users of the magic keyboard.
With this in mind I offer the reader three examples of conversations taken directly from Facebook, for amusement and as a general example of the flaws to which I refer.
In this first example I received a message referring to my then profile picture, an ancient statue in Rutland. My reply consisting of a weblink to the history of the statute, was obviously unsatisfactory but was it really necessary to reply with an expletive?
Because I have been stalked on the web and because I have had security issues in the past, I now routinely screen all friend requests. I send out a basic and standard message asking anyone friend requesting me on Facebook to introduce themselves, to show a genuine wish to interact, to communicate and to prove they are not spam-bots.
Some people reply and introduce themselves, some reply with a rude message but most ignore my message. These after a decent period of waiting for the reply that never comes, are deleted from the pending queue. In this second example of poor Internet etiquette, we are introduced to the friend collector. That peculiar individual who considers the quantity of friends, to be of more value than the quality of friendship.
Even today I am amused by the inference that I should have been grateful to have received his request and disappointed that he wasn’t going to add me. His final ‘sorry mate’ still makes me smile.
My final example, more recent and perhaps even more peculiar; is one of those individuals who attempts to claim a mutual friendship in support of a friend request. In this case however, realising I am not so easily fooled and that I want more by way of clarification. They choose to both withdraw and to block me.
This is an action I cannot fail to see as being highly suspicious. Were they a spammer, a hacker or a potential stalker? I don’t much care but their behaviour confirms how correct I was to be wary.
I have a minor qualification in psychology but to understand the behaviour witnessed on social media, I would need at least a foundation degree. So much of what I experience, whether viewed from a sociological or psychological perspective, is well beyond my own comprehension.
So in signing off this instalment of my irregular blog, what can I say dear reader? Oh of course I know the very thing; so until next time, blessings and moonbeams darlings.
Monday, 28 May 2018
Where the gentle Avon flows,
And a trailing rambler grows,
There’s a window shining into the night,
And a casement curtain flutters and blows in candle light
And a girl sits listening there
To a haunting old world air
As if someone played so softly below.
All entranced, she hears that sweet serenade of long ago
All the while her wonder grows
As that music comes and goes
Ah. What magic makes this rare delight
Her calling awakes the midsummer night
Who can it be playing out there,
Playing for me such a sweet air!
Clavicord bells tinkling in time,
Why do you chime? Why do you ring ding ding?
Tell me, minstrel; tell me the tale of love you sing!
Phantom answer came there none,
But she waited on and on
Till her window grew bright with dawn’s early glow,
And that bygone lover haunting the night was silent below.
He no longer played that sweet serenade of long ago.
Sweet serenade of long ago.
Music by Ronald Binge.
Lyrics by the poet Christopher Hassall
Friday, 4 May 2018
‘It was many ages before the earth was shaped that the Mist-World was made; and midmost within it lies the well that is called Hvergelmir, from which spring the rivers called Svöl, Gunnthrá, Fjörm, Fimbulthul, Slídr and Hríd, Sylgr and Ylgr, Víd, Leiptr; Gjöll is hard by Hel-gates.’ The beguiling of Gylfi.
The Maytide has come and with it some improvement in the weather, lifting our spirits from the doldrums of a wet spring. This time period in reality, doth extend beyond the one day. Existing as it does as a tidal flow of change, of growth and of influence.
Our calendar follows the progression of four tides of the year. Lambtide or Candlemas is as our starting point, the tide of Lustration or sowing. This is followed by Maytide or Roodmas, as the tide of Activation or growth. Lammastide is the tide of Consolidation or reaping, finally the Hallowtide is the tide of Recession or death. We say finally but mark you that the cycle begins again.
There is more to the Maytide than the fanciful stories of woodland orgies or even genuine yet private coupling. True it is a time of union and fertility, when we and our ancestors become aware of the great wonders of nature. The need to of all our creatures, wild and domestic, civilised and barbaric, to pair.
From the agrarian perspective we recognise that the need to pollinate and indeed to mate, is linked directly to the production of our food supply. The associated procreation and raising of children, is linked historically to the need for a labour force to work the land, as it is to our observing a natural inclination.
Underlying this is a harnessing of the new fresh and vibrant energy, hinted at within the symbolism found within the festivals of this time. Before May Day falls the Feast of Saint George, it is followed by Roodmas and Witsuntide. All are to some degree celebrations of the start of summer here in England, marked by the budding of the oak and the flowering of Hawthorne.
‘Bred in a stubborn land,
This hedge of hawthorn grabs frozen soil,
With clenched clawed roots.
Its trunks - thick, twisted, gnarled hide-
Rough as an elephant’s skin.
Its twigs, stubby as shorn corn,
Thorns interlock like rutting stag’s antlers.
Nature’s barbed wire fence, uprooted
By neither wind nor storm.
Its softened face wears small whit flowers
In green hair- harbinger of spring lambs,
Summer sun.’ The Hawthorn by June Walker
That weekend of the Feast of Saint George, our patron saint of foreign birth, was a weekend of patriotism, loyalty to the monarchy and a precursor to the Maytide. That same weekend in 2018 saw obviously the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, the birthday of her Majesty the Queen and the birth of a royal prince. An exceptionally regal conjunction without doubt.
Yet what is this dragon story? Is it a vain copy of the story of Saint Michael? Are there indeed shared elements? The traditional Christian perspective is that the story is allegorical, representing the victory of the pilgrim over the beast within. Hardly fitting when Maytide is for some, a celebration of our natural desire.
Perhaps from an esoteric perspective we can suggest an alternative interpretation? That the bountiful energy now so apparent in the land, is the dragon awakened? The pilgrim does not slay the dragon but seeks instead to master the dynamic energy of the Maytide.
My visit to Derby’s own celebrations of the Feast, which included a parade and other impressive activities, was held on Saturday the 21st of April. The Hearth of the Turning Wheel held its first ever lunchtime moot on the Sunday after. This was also in Derby at a Bookcafe on the old Cornmarket. As usual an invitation only event and not publicly advertised, we still numbered some half dozen. This included a couple from Nottingham and a cat called Yoda.
The daytime moot was an experiment that shall be repeated, it will take time to gauge interest and we in the HTW will review the need later in the year. Our main moot held on the 26th of April as usual at the Exter Arms was better attended. At both moots those present could enjoy good company and fine food.
Our Maytide observance as a Hearth took place on the 1st of May and as is our tradition, we elected a Queen of the May. This year a guest and member of the Outer Court, who serve in office for the usual twelve month. This is naturally an important element of our meeting, which unusually this year had a more heathen theme, having been written by the Defender of the Hearth.
Yet amongst this, the mead and the cake we also enjoyed music. A solo song from one member and the demonstration of the kettle drum by a guest. Maytide is indeed a time to celebrate.
‘Lady spin your circle bright,
Weave your web of dark and light,
Earth, air, fire and water,
Bind us as one.
Mother in the coming night,
Gather in your ancient might,
Sage, warrior, Horn’ed Hunter,
Guide us to you.
Blow winds, winds blow,
Rain will come and pain will go,
Flash of lightning to guide the lost ones,
Through the coming storm,
Master lead your hunt tonight,
Bathed in your Lady’s silver light,
Earth, air, fire and water,
Ride in your train.’ Anonymous.
So with the improving weather and the awakening of the Dragon however perceived. May you never thirst, may you never hunger and may the Queen of the May herself, govern with wisdom, justice and love.