Back, Moving Forward
Every so often in life
something happens which makes you stop and take stock of life. An
event, perhaps small, perhaps large, comes along and forces the mind to
take a pause from daily concerns, to reassess priorities and to
The most recent of these
pauses for me was not driven by one of those
life-stopping events such as the death of a loved one, nor even my
relatively recent separation and hopefully anticipated divorce. It was
something far simpler: the decision to clear out the spare room. You
know the room, the one which should be set aside for the invited guest,
or in my case as a small study for writing, but which in reality is the
place where ‘stuff’ ends up. The place where old
bits of computer and cables wait for me to find a home or use for, the
place where retired rugs and unused curtains quietly rest gathering
dust and cat hairs, the place where all the
I’m-sure-it’ll-come-in-handy-one-day things wait
patiently for their day to come. All but the most organised of us have
such a space be it a loft, room, cupboard, or outside shed. This was
the space my mother used to call the ‘messy space,’
a term which really doesn’t quite capture the quantity a
whole room can hold.
My messy space specialises
paper. Folders, files, specially designed paper storage boxes, and even
plastic carrier bags full of old book drafts, incomplete book
proposals, notebooks I’ve used (with notes taken at meetings
and conferences, or even just to record my thoughts), you get the idea.
Now of course if I’d been sensible I’d have either
dusted them off and put them back, or sorted them out with the same
vigour you use on odd socks. After all, this paper hoard has been with
me through 11 house moves, growing with each passing move and year.
Whilst everything else has been whittled down to make moving easier,
the Papers have grown and multiplied (I think they deserve a capital
letter out of respect for their age and quantity). So instead of being
sensible I sat down, handkerchief bandit-style over my nose and mouth
to prevent asphyxiation from dust, to have a little look. Just a quick
one you understand. Apart from the usual household stuff, historic bank
statements and so on, most of the Papers come from over 30 years in the
Craft and a fascinating peek into the past they are, too. In some ways
old documents, especially those you yourself generated, are almost as
evocative as certain scents and smells. Whilst the scent of fresh
baking might take you back to your childhood, scribbled notebooks can
also take you back to the place, time, and the people around you, even
to the thoughts and feelings you had but didn’t record. I
suppose my next comment isn’t going to come as a surprise to
anyone, but, as I discovered, things have changed in the Craft!
As Witches, we used to be
far more secretive; no wearing our pentagrams
and Goddess symbols openly. No celebrating our Craft in our homes and
lifestyle. We did wear long skirts, but that was the fashion. Visit the
home of almost any Wiccan or Witch today and even the most discreet
will have many clues to their path on display. I’d have
counted myself among the discreet until I took a good look around me.
Without moving from the keyboard I can see God and Goddess statues,
decorative Witches and bats, and even a glow in the dark rat (but
that’s got more to do with having a 10 year old than the
Craft). There’s a crescent moon hanging in the window and a
Horned God plaque over the door. My altar is not hidden, or even
sensitively placed in the bedroom. There are witchy books stacked on
nearly every step of the stairs (which can make coming down in the dark
entertaining), and even the doormat says Blessed Be!
Our secrecy extended further
than appearances; many of my close friends (let alone my neighbours)
lived in blissful ignorance of the Witch in their community.
Click here to
the full article.
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An Interview with
Kate West, Author of The Real Witches' Craft and The
Real Witches' Handbook
has become one of the
fastest growing religions in the US and Europe. What do you see as
driving this trend, and are there any misconceptions about what Wicca
and Witchcraft may or may not be?
I feel that the growth of
Wicca over the
last 20 or so years has come from two key directions: Firstly people
have become disillusioned with orthodox spirituality and organised
religions. As a species we have grown past blindly following the
beliefs and authority figures of our parents’ and
grandparents’ generations; we question, think about, and then
make our own decisions. We seek a spirituality that allows us personal
responsibility and the ability to make our own choices and decisions.
It is also becoming increasingly important to increasing numbers of
people that we live in harmony with the land and the planet, and we no
longer believe that we can freely plunder the Earth and get away with
The second factor is the Internet. Although not all the information is
accurate or reliable, nevertheless it is far easier to find out about
beliefs that were previously considered taboo. And never has it been
easier to share views and information with others, even though they
might be halfway across the world.
Growing up in Kent, what called
you to your path?
As a very young child I was
live in close proximity to an elderly lady who, whilst she never used
the word “Witch,” was certainly one of the
followers of the
old ways, and she introduced me to many of the concepts of the Craft.
Later as a teenager I found that those early lessons resonated far more
strongly than the mainstream beliefs of my family and school. I had
always felt a strong connection to the cycles of the seasons and the
moon, and knew that magic was real. This was in the days when Alex
Sanders was frequently in the more salacious press and this encouraged
me to look further. After that it was a short step from that to seeking
and discovering Witchcraft. However, it was many years before I
actually found and joined a Coven.
did you go about letting
people know you were a witch? Do you have advice for others making
their faith known, or “coming out of the broom
It wasn’t until I
was in my
thirties, when I started working for a Pagan music company, that I felt
able to come out of the broom closet. Not only were my employers not
going to discriminate against me, I was encouraged to become active in
the promotion and defence of paganism. Also, by that time both my
parents had died, so I knew I wasn’t going to upset or
them. I always counsel people to think long and hard before
‘coming out,’ because not only can it affect their
lives and careers but it can have adverse effects on their near and
pagan parent, have you encountered any criticism from those outside the
Click here to read
the full interview.
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Rejuvenating Your Daily Rituals
The daily rituals are the most commonly practiced techniques by the
modern Occultist, Beginner and Adept alike; for one to halt their
practice altogether would most likely prove to be unwise. Yet, I am
sure most would agree that the monotony of the day-to-day continuation
can tend to become boring or even tiresome. The following are some
techniques to rejuvenate the power and manifestation of your daily
rituals, including the Lesser Banishing Ritual.
Z Budapest, author of Summoning the Fates, talks
about the the meeting of feminism and witchcraft in the US, the
turbulence of the Sixties, and her own personal journey with the Fates.
Foster an Ethic of the Land
How can we create a sustainable world? Are we doomed to extinction, or
is there hope? Clea Danaan, author of Sacred Land,
believes we can craft a new world, one garden at a time.
An It Harm None: Pagans, the Military, and the C.O. Question
Stefani E. Barner
As the United States continues to be engagd in not one, but two, wars,
Stefani Barner, author of Faith and Magick in the Armed
Forces, proposes the question: how should pagans deal with
the the topic of war?
Back to Top
Midsummer Garden Party
Dream Tarot Spread
Your Daily Rituals
Local Gardens Foster an Ethic of the Land
An It Harm None: Pagans, the Military, and the C.O. Question
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The first day of summer is Litha, a festival that honors the Sun at its
zenith. Summer Solstice.
2)A name for the summer solstice used in many modern Pagan traditions.
It has been claimed as the original Pagan name for this festival, but
no evidence has been presented to back this up. The actual origin of
the term appears to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy, The
Lord of the Rings; in the calendar Tolkien devised for the fictional
race of Hobbits, midsummer’s day is named Lithe.
A length of cord tied with thirteen knots. In modern Wicca/Witchcraft
it is used to keep track of counting during changing or meditation. If,
for example, a chant were to be repeated nine times, the Wiccan/Witch
would use a cord with only nine knots and slide his or her fingers
along the cord during the chant. Each time the chant is completed the
Wiccan/Witch slides their fingers to the next knot until all nine knots
have been encountered.
Another type of
Witches’ Ladder is used for magickal binding. Personal items
such as a hair clipping, and symbolic charms or items are tied within
the knots. This is believed to bind an offender and prevent him or her
from further acts of harm. The cord is kept inside a box until the
person is released from the spell. Untying the knots and burying the
items in the soil will negate the magick.
There is a specific type of energy that many occultists call the Odic
(pronounced Oh-dek) Force. It is believed to be the underlying
principle of metaphysical nature, behind the physical forces of
electricity and magnetism (as well as light and heat). In metaphysical
terms Od (pronounced like the word owed) is the very fabric of the
universe and is present in all things to varying degrees.