Monday, 15 July 2019

Pagan Pride Farewell (2017 & 2018)

Sadly in May of 2019 it was announced that the ninth Pagan Pride had been the last. This is a sad but understandable move. The organisational work and expense involved in the creation of such an initiative, had increased every year. Both had reached levels beyond the comprehension of most of us.

I read this announcement with both understanding and disappointment. Pagan Pride Nottingham has been a huge influence upon the Pagan Community within the Midlands and nationally, raising the awareness of Paganism within sociality as a whole. I would have like to have seen just one more event, a tenth and final Pagan Pride. With my own small projects and initiatives; including ten years as a Pagan Federation Officer, I felt that the number ten was a suitably complete number to end with.

I attended the first Pagan Pride in 2009, the penultimate Pagan Pride in 2017, the last Pagan Pride in 2018 and the majority in-between. I have been at the front of the parade dressed as a jester and when I was a Pagan Federation Interfaith representative, I delivered a talk on that subject. I have been a stall holder and I have attended as an ordinary member of the public for shopping and socialising.

In both 2017 and 2018 Pagan Pride took place without the preliminary parade from the city centre of Nottingham to the Arboretum. There were several reasons for this, not least of which being the expense required to organise such a venture. Certain fees are required to be paid by the organisers of Pagan Pride Nottingham to the Nottingham City Council. These are to cover insurance and the necessary policing. Costs of a similar nature are naturally required in regards to the main event at the park. It is important to note that the parade had in those last year's numbered several hundred people and the event itself, often attracted in excess of two thousand people to the Arboretum. These figures alone are a measure of the success that was Pagan Pride Nottingham.

The Pagan Pride main event hosted music in the bandstand, dance displays, various talks and workshops, a market and other entertainments, spread across most of the park. There was always something to see or do. Many would attend in costume or ritual garb, which added to the colour of the event.

That last Pagan Pride, although none of us knew that would be the last at the time, took place on Sunday the 5th of August. It was a truly beautiful summer day and I attended purposely as two people I know in real life were speaking. Reviews of their talks will be published separately. It was also the last time I saw a young woman whose passing is I am sure, felt deeply by all who were involved in Pagan Pride.

Rather than dwell unnecessarily on the loss of this event however, I prefer to remember the positive impression it has left upon the community at large. I remember the high quality of many of the presentations, some by very well known names; including Diane Narraway, Ashley Mortimer, Tony Rotherham, Sean Woodward and Shani Oates to name just a few.

In looking back over the nine years and whatever happens now to Esme Knight, other founders and the subsequent organisers of Pagan Pride; we should all wish them well. We should most importantly recognise the great achievement they have made. An achievement that they can all regard with genuine Pagan Pride.

Pagan Pride 2012 A Community Asserts Its Identity



Paean to Hekate – 6th October 2017



Sean Woodward at Pagan Pride 2018

Sarah Louise Kay 9th April 1992 - 5th January 2019 In Memoriam

Sean Woodward at Pagan Pride 2018

Sunday the 5th of August 2018 was the last Pagan Pride in Nottingham, although of course none of us knew that at the time. I attended purposely as two people I know in real life were speaking. Conveniently they presented their talks in the same tent consecutively.

Sean Woodward is a writer and artist known in occult circles for his Gnostic works. He is the author of Keys to the Hoodoo Kingdom (a book launched in July of 2018) and the British Grand Master of Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua and La Couleuvre Noire. I had only recently been introduced to Mr Woodward. I met him in London when I was attending the 'Art in the Crypt' event and his book launch (see link below).

Sean began promptly at 4pm, vainly attempting to find shade in the gazebo tent erected for the talks. His talk 'the Witch Queen' began with an introduction to Hesiod and references to the Goddess of Sky, Earth and Sea. Moving on and exploring the three faces of change, it became clear that the number three was to be at the heart of this presentation.

After briefly discussing the open and wild places of the Trivium; the three formed crossroads being a common location for the statues of the deities Hecate and Hermes. Sean quickly moved onto the subject of household spirits, Triadytis, the three places, the three eyes and prophetic vision. The Key of Life was alluded to with reference to the two pillars plus a third within the Typhonian tradition.

Discussing the Gnosis of the Dreaming Sabbat and the vision of the Skull, Temple, Shrine and the Holed Stone, we were introduced to the Chaldean origins of his subject matter, the Greek development and cautioned with the observance that many interpretations are relatively modern.

Continuing with a very brief discussion of Fairy Lore, Mr Woodward made references to Queen Mab, the writers Spencer and Blake, Artemis and Morgan Le Fey. Returning once more to the signficance of the number three, we were introduced to the three headed goddess, snake symbolism and the four virtues. One of which being wisdom formed a very clever link to Sophia and the study of Gnostic philospophy.

Mr Woodward's presentation was to be a short one, it was delivered at speed but gave the audience a taste of what is to be found in his writings of an obvious greater depth. His explorations of Gnosticism, the Templars, the Rota Wheel, the Square of Tanat, the Serpent Lady and the mass, were brief samples designed to awaken the appetite of the listener.

Drawing his talk to a close Mr Woodward touched upon the symbolism of the frog, a controversial and disputed area in regards to Hecate. Associations with a Frog Headed Goddess of Egypt being rather more appropriate and credible. This did however, serve as a link to Hekate's Fountain. A fountain not of water but of blood. His final and pertinent observation being that the Witch Queen lies hidden in the Square of Tanat. A key that is worth the searching for.

Art in the Crypt

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Baa baa black sheep (HTW 2010)

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the Master, one for the Maid;
And one for the Covenors who live down the lane.

The Flying Scotsman 29th June 2019

The LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman is without doubt the most famous steam locomotive in the world. Originally built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in Doncaster and designed by Nigel Gresley, it enjoyed an forty year career and has set two world records. On the 30th of  November 1934 the Flying Scotsman was the first steam locomotive to officially reach 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h). On the 8th of August 1989 while touring Australia, it set the record for the longest non-stop run by any steam locomotive with a journey of 422 miles (679 km).

Employed on the long distance express East Coast Main Line, most notably on the London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman service after which it is obviously named; the locomotive was retired from service in 1963 after covering 2.08 million miles The Flying Scot has enjoyed fame in its post retirement preservation under various owners and today the locomotive is owned by the National Railway Museum (NRM). Often touring the United Kingdom its fame has been spread by international tours, including visits to the USA, Canada and Australia.

It late June it was announced that the Flying Scotsman would journey from London to Edinburgh on Saturday the 29th. The locomotive often tours the United Kingdom but not always under its own steam; sometimes it is towed or transported. This journey was to be special as it was to be made under its own steam and was to follow as closely as possible its old route. To see such a famous locomotive, to see a real train; not a diesel or an electric but an iron dragon breathing fire and smoke, that is always of interest to me. The opportunity holds a certain attraction. The proposed route ran along the Derbyshire Nottinghamshire border, only a few miles from where I live.

To see the locomotive pass was in my opinion, worth a little effort on my part. So I travelled to Sandiacre, a small Derbyshire town on the border that nestles closely with Stapleford, its Nottinghamshire neighbour. Here I took a very pleasant walk along the Erewash Canal, looking for a crossing point of both river and railway. On such a very bright and very hot day, I could appreciate the beauty of the environment in its full glory. It is remarkable how the simple act of turning away from the main road, can lead us into a hidden corner of such beauty.

Here I fell into conversation with a dog walker as we passed on the tow path. He had not heard that the train was passing and wished to join me, suggesting a vantage point nearby. On retracing my steps with him, I realised that this was the turning I had been looking for. I had missed it. I know this area but not well, now I had local knowledge guiding me. Always beneficial.

Deviating towards the River Erewash we turned north again to take up our positions on the river bank next to the track. Here the line crosses the river and therefore the county border. We joined a young couple and stood on the Derbyshire side looking into Nottinghamshire. The expected crossing time had been given on the internet as 11.17am and we took up our position with a full fifteen minutes to spare.

The route of the train once leaving Leicestershire was to wind its way along the border, first entering Derbyshire at Longeaton, Nottinghamshire briefly at the Toton sidings  and then back into Derbyshire at Sandiacre. From here it would travel onto Chesterfield and Sheffield.

From our vantage point we could look across to the distant Toton Sidings and watch as the crowds began to gather on the two bridges we could see. Clearly we had been fortunate in taking up our positions on the side of the track lying next to the river. We were at ground level and although more people had joined us, we were few and had an uninterrupted view.

The River Erewash here is quite wild but perhaps less pretty than the canal to which it has given its name. The water flowed with good speed and was clear. I stood and watched as a hen mallard danced her way upstream. I was surprised and pleased, to see a shag fly overhead.

One could sense the expectation rising and I could see people milling about on the bridges. At 11.18am there were shouts of excitement as the whistle was heard for the first time. There she was, the famous Flying Scotsman complete with a row of period carriages. Stately but in full steam she approached us, passing under the distant bridge and then the nearer. On such a beautiful clear day, she was the vision of a bygone age, her steam adding to the heat haze already visible. Sadly her passing was all too brief. It was a moment to savour and remember. Yes it was worth that small effort on my part and I have been left with a special memory.