Sunday, 11 April 2021

Totems of Iron in Pictures

 Forestheart -

Mill Forge -

PILLARS IV – (Vol.2, Issue.1) – ‘Circling the Compass’




Daniel Bran Griffith - The Chattering Magpie




In April of 2021 a member posted a series of questions in a Facebook group that raised many interesting responses. Unfortunately the posts and the comments were eventually deleted. Fortunately I had kept rough notes of my own responses and contributions to the discussion. I have therefore been able to rewrite my own thoughts and these I now share. I do so in the hope that they will provoke some consideration by the reader. Ask what relevance these questions have to you? Ask yourself, 'How would I have answered?'

What has been the influence of Alex Sanders on contemporary Paganism?

Alex Sanders is one of the most controversial and influential figures of the twentieth century, within Witchcraft and the Occult. He has been so influential that one of the main branches of Wicca/Witchcraft has taken his name. He has influenced the lives and works of many since his highpoint of activity and not just the famous Farrars; who have in turn influenced many others since.

One cannot deny that he had some traits that are best described today as embarrassing. He was without doubt a showman and his claims regards his childhood initiation, cannot be taken seriously in anyway whatsoever. Sadly there are still a few around today who attempt to impress with these ridiculous 'Granny stories' but back in the twentieth century, such stories were ubiquitous.

Despite all of this, his name lives on in the tradition that carries his name and in the lives of those down the line from him. That in my opinion, is a major achievement.

Is there an expectation that new seekers or members of a specific tradition, be familiar with the names of the founders or elders?

In my opinion, yes there is. You do not join an initiatory tradition without some awareness of its history and heritage. It is not a requirement to sit a history exam but some understanding as to where people fit within a general time frame is to be expected.

One would not join the OTO and be ignorant of Crowley, one would not join the Theosophical Society and not know the name Helen Blavatsky, one would not join the Fraternity of the Inner Light and be ignorant of Dion Fortune (Violet Firth).

In posting this question, the member also asked if Sanders and Gardner were false Messiahs. Unfortunately there was no explanation as to what was meant by 'false Messiah' or even by 'Messiah' in this context. It is regrettable that no further clarification was forthcoming. However, all Christians know who their Messiah is. So yes, I would expect a new seeker to know the names; if not necessarily the complete biographical details.

Would Paganism exist today were it not for Alex Sanders and Gerald Gardner?

Possibly but not in the way we see it now. Some of the 'Paganisms' that we have today, stem from the occult revival of the late Victorian period. Not just the Golden Dawn but the Pre-Raphaelites, Freemasonry, the Theosophical Society and various Folklore studies. The revivals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had many streams flowing into them.

Sanders, Gardner, the less well known but equally important Ross Nichols, were all a major influence in moving Paganism away from the more 'ceremonial magic' origins of the movement. By doing so they have made Paganism more accessible to the public, primarily through their writings but also the writings of those of the next generation.

Monday, 29 March 2021


Today is Sunday the 28th of March 2021 and Britain has changed to British Summer Time, by putting the clocks forward one hour. This means that the annual British tradition of wondering around in a semi-confused state and not knowing what time it is, is currently in full swing. Not that it really matters. We have been in one Lockdown or another for twelve months now. For twelve months many have not known what day of the week it is and at times, what month it is. Putting the clocks forward is the least of our inconveniences.

The twice yearly clock change is for some an inconvenience but for others, an amusement. It is also a puzzle. It is one of those 'traditions' that we all do but we are not really sure why? Why do we do it, why did we start doing it and why do we still do it? I am told it originated during the Great War as an adjustment to save energy and allow armament workers an improved shift pattern, so increasing productivity. So over one hundred years later we still 'Spring' forward and in the Autumn, we 'fall' back. It is all so wonderfully quaint.

As readers will be aware, I have been documenting my experiences regarding the Lockdown semi-regularly over the past year. I had no idea that in March 2020 when I wrote the first instalment, I would write a series over the course of a year. My opinion and perspective has changed markedly, if gradually. I have no intention of going back and editing my previous posts. I shall leave them here for all to read. It is a matter of integrity that all can read, what I got wrong and what I got right. The blog will remain public and free to access.

The Spring has certainly been a traumatic experience on a personal level. I am a staff nurse and I work at a large acute hospital, in the English Midlands. In January I started a new role but I had completed not much more than half a dozen shifts, before being redeployed back to the wards. This redeployment was to meet the staffing crisis brought about by a new wave of COVID admissions and I spent near two months on an acute unit. For half that time it was a RED unit, full of COVID patients, later the ward went GREEN, returning to Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Although my own experience on a RED unit does not compare to those of my colleagues redeployed last year, those in HDU, ICU or ED. It was tough but less intense. My respect and admiration remains undiminished. I can say that I have done my share now, I have completed my 'tour of duty' and I have seen COVID for what it is. It is a killer. As one consultant surgeon who I used to work for has said, the wards became killing grounds. True words and very sad.

I have been in healthcare for almost twenty five years. Death is not a stranger to me. We lose patients, we perform last offices, it is part of the job. I have been doing this for a long time but the COVID experience is different. Never before as a nurse, have I lost so many battles; in so short a space of time. Daily or almost daily as the situation improved, we lost them. Often there was little we could do, other than make people comfortable; keep the oxygen going and hope. I would spend a shift with a sick patient, go home at the end of the day and return the next morning; to be told that they had passed during the night. This is not an unusual nursing experience but the frequency has made it an abnormal one.

The situation did improve towards the end of February, the pressure eased a little but sick people are still sick people. Even as a GREEN unit we still lost patients to various co-morbidities. One man I remember, he was about my age and obviously ill. He had survived COVID but remained unwell due to his pre-existing issues. I had spent the day struggling with his hypoglycaemia and his hypoxia. Right at the end of the shift, while he was sitting up in bed and talking to me. He died. In midsentence he sat back and died. This is the nursing that journalists don't write about in the newspapers.

The ward that I was redeployed to was exceptionally well managed and had an excellent team, whose professionalism was of the very highest standard. I came away impressed. I was also flattered to be offered a job. I have declined, at least for the moment. Being 'poached' twice is I suspect frowned upon and since I have only just moved from a ward, I really should give the new environment a fair trial. It is a very good feeling however, to know that I made a positive impression and that other units would want me.

As the month progressed the media continued to play with the public as it is want to do. The latest drama being, the oh so difficult existence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. So hurt, so pained and oh so privileged. I did not waste my time watching the now infamous interview. I know a publicity stunt when I see one but it saddens me that so many are fooled by the media today. As a Royalist I have some loyalty and a rather different perspective from most anyway. I am also inclined to note that family business is family business and dirty laundry should not be washed in public. This last observation does rather go against the tide of modern life, whereby every worthless detail of our lives is expected to be shared across the Internet. A couple complaining (or whining) about their lack of privacy and using television to share their moans, does seem rather hypocritical to me. Not that I am particularly aware regards celebrity culture. I had never heard of the Duchess prior to her marriage and my interest in her activities now, is negligible. The response from the Palace was dignified and concise. It is sad that so few today have that same dignity.

The media does of course like to play these games with us, whether it is COVID, vaccinations, Royal news or such like. The real news is kept hidden, free speech is undermined, we turn a blind eye to rioting and HS2 continues to destroy our countryside. One year on and it is clear that many have been forced by circumstance, to view the world through the lens of the media and the Internet. A warped and inaccurate perspective of the world is formed by this lack of social interaction. People really do need to 'get out more' but we have nowhere to go. Facebook for example remains an echo chamber, where people claim to support free expression but any dissenting opinion is quickly silenced.

The 'Road-Map' announced is a sign of hope and I eagerly await the potentiality, of being able to travel on the Summer Solstice. The Solstice this year falls on Monday the 21st of June, the date that could see the complete lifting of the Lockdown restrictions. We should not however, get too excited or too hopeful. We have already been disappointed. One year on and the 'light at the end of the tunnel' seems to be as far away as it ever was. We are a week away from Easter and the Solstice is many weeks away. There is no guarantee of freedom.

The Spring Equinox fell this year on Saturday the 20th of March and the restrictions here in the United Kingdom are in line with the Road-Map, being eased incrementally. This easing of limitations enabled me to enjoy two short walks locally, with friends and suitably socially distanced. One took place on the day before the Equinox and one on the day after. I spent the day of the Equinox itself, alone and in private contemplation. The weather was not perfect, the ground is still quite damp after the heavy rains we have experienced but to be out in sunlight was a pleasure. Many spring flowers are in bud if not necessarily in bloom, the bird life is active and the bumble bees have woken up.

The Vernal or Spring Equinox is a date associated with the symbolism of new returning life, increased activity and with light. The days are becoming palpably longer now, in the sense that daylight now overtakes the hours of darkness. This seasonal symbolism is of an extended period, covering the Equinox, through to Lady Day and into the Eastertide. Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation, is the Christian observance of the visitation of  the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. This appearance was to inform the Virgin of her pregnancy and the eventual birth of the Christ Child. Easter of course has its focus upon suffering, redemption and resurrection. Although the vernal symbolism of hares, bunnies and eggs will have little if anything to do with Christianity, there are many overlaps of an esoteric significance. Birth, rebirth, hope and rejuvenation, the list can be expanded.

Tuesday the 23rd of March 2021 was the one year anniversary of the start of the first Lockdown and here in the United Kingdom, it was observed as the National Day of Reflection. I say observed in a rather broad sense. I and many others missed the announcements in the build up. I and many others missed the various activities and were ignorant of such, until it was all over and done. Not that missing the activities is of primary importance but the actual day itself is. It provided a reminder and enabled us to contemplate the significance and the impact of the past year. We in healthcare remember not just the patients we have lost but importantly, our colleagues. A few moments to pause and consider the implications and the losses, is of value.

The Vernal Equinox, Lady Day and the approaching Easter. All share a common theme of hope.  They all share the symbolism of a positive and bright light, leading us forward to a beneficial future. I however, do not yet see this light at the end of the tunnel. We all have hope but the future holds no guarantee. We all seek our own resurrection, whereby the stone is rolled away from the tomb that is our Lockdown and we can rise again like the Christ on that first 'Easter.' We all continue to hope but do we hope in vain?

The Toxic Internet & Intolerance

The Toxic Internet & Misinformation


Young Earth Creationism and the Televangelist Movement

American Christianity & Politics



Perceptions – Misconceptions & Change

A Witness for the Prosecution

Mankind’s Great Achievement

Dignified – no further comment necessary


Lockdown 24th March 2020

Lockdown Part Two & Clap for our Carers 2020

Lockdown Part Three – Clap for Boris & Easter Weekend 2020

Lockdown Part 4 – Maytide & VE Day 2020


Lockdown Part 6 – When this is over

Lockdown Part 7 – Autumn 2020

Lockdown Part 8 – Hallowtide 2020

Lockdown Part 9 – Candlemas & Lambtide 2021

An Introduction to the Hearth of the Turning Wheel

One Pagans Perspective of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Mankind's Great Achievement

On the 20th of July 1969 man landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong became the first to walk upon our satellite. His words; 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'' has become one of the most famous quotes in our history. Today his phrasing would no doubt be different. To pander to the snowflakes that now write the agenda of the global media, he would I assume have said; that it was one giant leap for people-kind or something equally ridiculous. Since I do not pander to the easily offended, those that seek to be deliberately offended, the snowflake or the politically correct. I will on occasion, continue to use the traditional terms man and mankind; to describe the entirety of humanity.

I was four and a half years old when that first moon landing took place. I remember watching it on our old black and white television set. I was far too young to understand what it was or appreciate the importance of the event. I remember being told to play quietly that Monday. Every adult in the house was glued to the BBC News that evening, as film recorded during the early hours was replayed continually. I remember a blurred image of a man in white hopping across the Lunar landscape in a later live broadcast and the awed silence that it inspired. I was but a child, yet I saw and I remember.

Within a year or two many toys had a space theme. I had a spacesuit by the time I was six and a sort of indoor tent affair in the shape of a Gemini capsule. This would be erected in the living room or the garden, depending on the weather. I would then bravely spacewalk in costume, from room to room. Sometimes I would explore the garden for the rare and exotic alien plant life.

Television shows increasingly incorporated a space theme as time passed and obviously more toys did the same, as they reflected the television shows of the time. We had alien play sets and ray guns, action figures and story books. The influence of the event; that magnificent human achievement, touched our lives in a million different ways. The event was historic and it changed the world.

Today more than fifty years after this great, wonderful and courageous happening, we have people denying that it ever took place. Truly the intellectual capacity of humanity must have regressed, for people to now believe that the world is flat and that the moon-landings were hoaxed. Why do people believe such foolishness? What has caused people to turn away from a proven, documented event? That question is not one I can answer. I am at a loss, as I often am when looking at the strange and bewildering world around me now.

Throughout our history, from what we call romantically the 'very dawn of time' there have been discoveries, innovations and developments that have had a far reaching significance. The development of agriculture, the invention of the wheel, writing, and music, the domestication of certain animals and the discovery of weaving. These are just a few examples of mankind's steps towards civilisation as we know it. What the great Professor Jacob Bronowski would have called 'the Ascent of Man.' We could add the steam engine, electricity and the computer, there are many more. Innovations, discoveries and inventions often linked or building upon some earlier development, have brought about some new creation.

There have been instances in our history, when a visionary has had the idea of some new invention but their aims have been stymied by the lack of available technology or resources. The genius that was Leonardo da Vinci being one such man. At other times an innovator has been able to set themselves a goal and realising that the technology is not available, has set about the development of the necessary technology. Flight, healthcare, the telephone, the bouncing bomb and space exploration, are amongst the potential examples of this category of development.

When the USA and the then USSR set about the exploration of space, the technology did not exist. It did not come into being overnight or in some 'light bulb' moment of revelation. A goal was set and the technology was then sought, developed and in the process of doing so, new discoveries were obviously made. This is one of the reasons that our reaching the Moon is such an outstanding achievement. It was not the step by step innovation of ideas, building upon what was known to lead to a new discovery. Rather it was the other way around. The goal was set and then the question was asked, how?

How can we do it? What do we need? These were the questions that faced the USA, in setting itself the goal of going to the Moon as envisioned by President Kennedy. The aim was set and by hard work over several years that goal was eventually achieved. Three courageous men, Neil Armstrong, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and Michael Collins undertook a mission that was not without risk, to raise the standards of human achievement. Two walked upon the Lunar surface, while Collins had the responsibility of piloting the orbiter and monitoring the mission. Sadly history neglects his importance because he did not walk upon the Moon, yet his role in the success of the mission was vital.

To achieve such goals and developments in scientific advancement, it is necessary to study and to research. Those that deny that we ever went to the Moon or that spaceflight is possible, will tell us that they do their own research. A form of independent research that exists outside of the official channels. These official channels, all of whom are part of a great conspiracy to hide the truth; cannot be trusted. So it is claimed. I am unsure what this great secret truth that is hidden from us may be, I am as yet not part of the Illuminati and therefore, I am not yet privy to such information.

This independent research consists of the regurgitation of poorly reviewed and misunderstood papers, web-links and YouTube videos that due to their inaccuracies, have an almost comedic element. The mistakes, misconceptions and lies have been disproven time and again. Yet the conspiracies, the foolishness and downright stupidity exists. It won't go away.

We could of course ignore it all and that is possibly the best approach. Yet what matters outside of the obvious spreading of misinformation, is how these so called conspiracy theories appear to represent a disturbing subculture of society. They are all part of a now fashionable denial of reality. Whether it is spaceflight, chem-trails, the Flat Earth, anti-vaccinations, anti-Evolution or simply a misunderstanding of what the word theory actually means. They are a select club of 'special' people, wanting to be different by being all the same. They are the real snowflakes of our world.

Even more importantly however, is that their denial of reality, devalues the great achievements of our species and our civilisation. The men and woman who strive to push the boundaries of cultural, scientific and artistic progress should be celebrated. The courage of the men and woman that undertake space exploration, should not be questioned. Yet instead we witness a growing anti-intellectualism that is damaging our society. From the 'Ascent of Man' we are degenerating and we can now witness the descent of human intelligence.

The first successful manned mission to land upon the Lunar surface, represents the unified pinnacle of scientific achievement and human endeavour. It is still some fifty years later, our great accomplishment and an outstanding example of the human spirit forever triumphant. It deserves to be celebrated.

The Toxic Internet & Intolerance

The Toxic Internet & Misinformation


Young Earth Creationism and the Televangelist Movement

American Christianity & Politics


A Witness for the Prosecution

There is a memory of an incident that I have not written about before, although I have spoken about the matter privately. It was an incident that for me today, looking back upon it. Serves as a positive example of our human integrity and perhaps my own professionalism; in the face of something quite disturbing.

It was February 2017 and I had finished a shift on the ward, it was past 7.30pm. I was walking along the corridor towards the main hospital entrance. I was tired and I wanted to go home. I very much wanted to go home.

In the distance I saw couple, who were as best as I can describe it; rather playful. A little frisky shall we say. I saw a tallish man and a young woman, shorter than he, generally fooling around. The woman was being held close. The man had an arm about her and reaching down over her shoulder with his right hand, he was clearly fondling her breasts. This is perfectly normal behaviour for any couple but perhaps not in a hospital corridor. I thought it was a bit much, to be in rather bad taste. We all enjoy such behaviour but the thought, 'get a room' was in mind.

When they had come closer, bearing in mind that I was walking towards them and they were approaching me, I had something of a shock. I stood rooted to the spot. I must have been staring, as the man had now removed his hand from her breasts. This was not a young courting couple as I had thought. I now estimated that the man, a well built fellow, to be in his late sixties or possibly his early seventies. I will never as long as I live, ever forget that red, pockmarked face.

My shock was that his companion was not a woman at all but a young girl, who I estimated at the time to be about fourteen. She was giggling, rather well developed for her age but she had a 'look' about her. In my judgement this suggested a learning disability. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a vulnerable child and that I had just witnessed a sexual assault. I was nauseated. I was disgusted.

I turned in the corridor to watch them pass me by and found myself staring in to the eyes of a tall female Healthcare Assistant, who was white with shock. I asked her because I was beginning to doubt myself now, the shock was palpable; 'Did you see what I did see?' Her reply was, 'I am so glad that you asked me that.' We were in complete agreement. We had both witnessed an assault but were surprised at how in a crowded corridor, no one else had noticed. The question was, what do we do now? I wanted to go home, I was tired. I was going to miss my bus. We both knew that we could not ignore what we had seen, we had to act.

We walked to the reception desk to ask the concierge if she had seen the couple. The answer was negative, so the two of us tried to follow them. We lost them in the corridors. They had gone up at least one floor but we had no way of knowing where they were heading. We asked at the nearest ward to the first stairwell we had climbed but no couple of that description, had entered the unit. We had definitely lost them.

We returned to the reception desk and called the security office. There was little they could do at that moment other than take our details and a brief statement over the phone. I was assured that they would be contacting the Police and that CCTV footage would be reviewed. I was later to learn that only my details were recorded and not those of the Healthcare Assistant with me. This was rectified when the police became involved but it is a procedural error that I hope has since been corrected.

  Within a few days I had a telephone call from the Child Protection Division of the County Police Force, this was a serious matter. A few days later a plain clothes officer, was sitting in my living room ready to take my statement.

I went through everything I could remember. I had a map of the hospital and in highlighter ink, I drew my route and the route of the couple, marking with numbers the significant points. Where the couple were when I first spotted them, where we passed and where we lost them. It was an in depth statement and I was informed that due to the serious nature of the incident, prosecution was certain. I was informed that CCTV footage had been retrieved and was now in the hands of the Police. The couple had been identified.

Later details that did not appear in the newspapers came to my attention. The man was seventy five years old. The girl was not fourteen but twelve. She was or is vulnerable, she does have a learning disability. The most shocking revelation however, was that the girl was his granddaughter.

Over the next few months preparation began for a court appearance and I had regular updates from the Crown Prosecution Service. In preparation for my 'day in court' I even bought a new suit. I also began to have something of an emotional crisis. The responsibility of my actions began to feel like a weight. I was about to put a man behind bars and to ruin his life. My friends were quite forceful, pointing out correctly that he was responsible for his actions. I was protecting his granddaughter, her school friends and goodness knows who else, from a predatory paedophile. I was doing the right thing and although I never really doubted it, it was good to hear. To have it confirmed.

I also found myself perplexed by his behaviour and this almost made me ill. I found myself asking why? How could anyone and least of all a grandfather, do such a thing? I have seen my nieces at bath time almost up to their teenage years, ten years old anyway. The idea of touching 'my girls' in any inappropriate manner could never occur to me. Such behaviour is beyond my comprehension. I expressed these thoughts to a friend who is a school nurse. Her words were comforting; 'it wouldn't occur to you because you don't think like that, you are normal.' Never before have I been so happy to be called normal.

Just weeks before the trial began, the defendant changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. He was sentenced without the need for a full trial but appeared behind closed doors. We can be fairly certain that he did this on the advice of his legal team. He would have been advised that he would be found at fault and that by pleading not guilty, his sentence would be the greater. As it was he was sentenced to fifteen months in prison and placed on the sex offenders register for ten years post his eventual release. In my opinion the sentence should have been longer but I am not a judge, I am a nurse.

Looking back at the experience some three years later, I have a sense of satisfaction but not one of pride; that I put this man behind bars. He deserved everything he got. There is little sympathy. I and the other witness acted for the good of society, to protect the victim and potentially her school friends. That surely must count for something. I was once asked if I would do the same again? The answer is yes, absolutely. I am a registered health professional and I have a duty of care but it goes much further than that. We all as members of society, have the same duty of care. You reading this, have that same duty of care.