Monday, 27 August 2012

O Wonderous Beloved by Shani Oates

Embrace this flaming spirit,
Nay, shift me as you will!
But know only that my death is completed in you.
My journey through life disperses your emanation.
From the hearth of my ancestors to the hearth of my children.
From the arcane tree,
From the primal hunt,
From dreaming visions.
Through fire and ice I call upon my destiny.
To manifest in the halls of eternity,
Where I become you and you become I.
Together we are legion among the pure.

From “A Paean for Hecate” by Shani Oates ©2012

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Picture by J. Palfreyman copyright 2009

It has been approximately a quarter of a century since I began to walk this path I now call, Traditional Paganism. In the beginning my path was less Traditional but has always been and remains, Pagan.

Like many whose journey began in the nineteen eighties, my influences were primarily Gardnerian. What today we may call “Wicca” although at that time, that was a word few heard or used.

Within the past decade my practice has changed, as have my beliefs somewhat modified. I have become perhaps more earthy, polytheistic, increasingly inspired by folklore, less “wiccanesque” and increasingly, what some may describe as “Traditional.”

My studies began with correspondence and the type of year long postal course that many today dismiss without thought. However, I was lucky. My exchange was with a couple in Yorkshire, whose sound advice and level headed approach has served me well. Although I am less “Wiccan” in my approach now, their teachings remain an important foundation of my praxis. I am indebted to them and they remain my spiritual parents.

Over the past decade I have developed further than in the previous decade and a half. This has been facilitated by my improved opportunities to socialise with other Pagan folk, the formation of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel, with the attendant development of coven working and brainstorming sessions with persons whose friendship, I sadly no longer enjoy.

In recent weeks emails and visits from persons new to Paganism, has caused me to reflect upon my own first steps upon this Crooked Path. They come to me so insecure, so full of questions but with a fear of making themselves appear foolish or ignorant. Twenty five years ago, that was me and I sought the very same answers.

This has all given me “pause for thought” as I have found their questions difficult to answer. Not because they are complex but because they are simple enquiries. The questions are often difficult as they relate to matters that do not apply to my own specific path. They are difficult because there is so much that I no longer do. Nor are their questions foolish or stupid, they are rational and sensible; even though they may think that they are indeed, asking “stupid questions.”

Is the fault mine? Is it really so difficult to communicate with someone who has not read the same one thousand books? That being a conservative estimate is not boasting but has relevance. Reading has been a significant influence upon my development.

It is therefore, proving increasingly difficult to communicate ideas and concepts relating to my own beliefs and practice, in an intellectual sphere, simply because so much of my own praxis is instinctive. I feel totally under-qualified to teach but that is preferable to being a self-proclaimed expert on everything under the sun.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats.
There we've hid our fairy vats
Full of berries,
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by farthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands, and mingling glances,
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap,
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away! O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes,
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout,
And whispering in their ears;
We give them evil dreams,
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Of dew on the young streams.
Come! O, human child!
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping then
you can understand.

Away with us, he's going,
The solemn-eyed;
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hill-side.
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast;
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
he can understand.

The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq by Ibn al-Arabi tr. by Reynold A. Nicholson 1911

Chapter XI
1. O doves that haunt the arák and bán trees, have pity! Do not double my woes by your lamentation!
2. Have pity! Do not reveal, by wailing and weeping, my hidden desires and my secret sorrows!
3. I respond to her, at eve and morn, with the plaintive cry of a longing man and the moan of an impassioned lover.
4. The spirits faced one another in the thicket of ghaḍá trees and bent their branches towards me, and it (the bending) annihilated me;
5. And they brought me divers sorts of tormenting desire and passion and untried affliction.
6. Who will give me sure promise of Jam‘ and al-Muḥaṣṣab of Miná? Who of Dhát al-Athl? Who of Na‘mán?
7. They encompass my heart moment after moment, for the sake of love and anguish, and kiss my pillars,
8. Even as the best of mankind encompassed the Ka‘ba, which the evidence of Reason proclaims to be imperfect,
9. And kissed stones therein, although he was a Náṭiq (prophet). And what is the rank of the Temple in comparison with the dignity of Man?
10. How often did they vow and swear that they would not change, but one dyed with henna does not keep oaths.
11. And one of the most wonderful things is a veiled gazelle, who points with red finger-tip and winks with eyelids,
12. A gazelle whose pasture is between the breast-bones and the bowels. O marvel! a garden amidst fires!
13. My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
14. And a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Ka‘ba and the tables of the Tora and the book of the Koran.
15. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and my faith.

Excerpts from Hymn to Aphrodite by Sappho

Part I Chapter I

Shimmering-throned immortal Aphrodite,
Daughter of Zeus, Enchantress, I implore thee,
Spare me, O queen, this agony and anguish,
Crush not my spirit
Whenever before thou has hearkened to me--
To my voice calling to thee in the distance,
And heeding, thou hast come, leaving thy father's
Golden dominions,
Come then, I pray, grant me surcease from sorrow,
Drive away care, I beseech thee, O goddess
Fulfil for me what I yearn to accomplish,
Be thou my ally.

Part I Chapter II

Peer of the gods, the happiest man I seem
Sitting before thee, rapt at thy sight, hearing
Thy soft laughter and they voice most gentle,
Speaking so sweetly.
Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters,
And, when on thee I gaze never so little,
Bereft am I of all power of utterance,
My tongue is useless.
There rushes at once through my flesh tingling fire,
My eyes are deprived of all power of vision,
My ears hear nothing by sounds of winds roaring,
And all is blackness.
Down courses in streams the sweat of emotion,
A dread trembling o'erwhelms me, paler than I
Than dried grass in autumn, and in my madness
Dead I seem almost.

Part I Chapter III

A troop of horse, the serried ranks of marchers,
A noble fleet, some think these of all on earth
Most beautiful. For me naught else regarding
Is my beloved.
To understand this is for all most simple,
For thus gazing much on mortal perfection,
And knowing already what life could give her,
Him chose fair Helen,
So must we learn in world made as this one
Man can never attain his greatest desire,
But must pray for what good fortune Fate holdeth,
Never unmindful.